5 Dating Non-negotiables

engagement-photo-ideas-07_detail copy

Dating is the training ground for marriage. I didn’t realize that until after I was done with college. Throughout college I dated just for fun and didn’t look for the qualities that were necessary for a godly mate. Now that I am on the other side of college, I have begun to see the characteristics that are absolutely critical to have in a boyfriend. These qualities are rooted in scripture and some in common sense. Whenever you are dating someone, you should be a detective. Analyze how he interacts with others, what he believes, how he spend his money, and where he spends his time. Try to be analytical, don’t be swayed by his deep blue eyes or his elegantly disheveled hair. Look into his heart. These are the non-negotiable qualities a guy should posses if you are considering a dating relationship. We all have other qualities we want in a guy, but these are character traits a man really needs to possess if you’re considering a dating relationship.

1. He Loves the Lord More than He Loves You

As women, we often want to feel like the most important person/thing in our boyfriend’s life. That isn’t healthy. Christ needs to be the most important. Then you second. If the guy knows how to love Christ wholeheartedly, then he can love you correctly. A man who loves the Lord will be more committed to your relationship because he is committed to God first. That means he will take his promises seriously because God tells him to. God commands in Exodus 20:3 to have no other gods before Him, this includes YOU.

 

2. He is Kind to His Family

See how he interacts with his close friends and family. Is he kind to them? Does he have good relationship with them? See especially how he interacts with his mom. If he is kind and gentle with her, even when she’s annoying, then it’s a really good indicator of how he will treat you in the future.

3. He is Gentle

A real man is gentle. He is kind to those in positions lower than his own. He is kind to animals. He is gentle when he speaks to you, even when he is angry. A man should never yell at you. Instead, when they are upset, they should come to you in gentleness and love. Gentleness is a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22) and it oftentimes gets overlooked.

4. He Makes you Grow Closer to the Lord

The purpose of a relationship actually isn’t to make each other happy, that is just a great benefit. But the purpose of a relationship, dating or friendship, is to run after Christ together. To make each other increasingly more Christlike. The man you’re considering ought to not only be pursuing time with you, but pursuing your heart for the Lord. This means asking what you are reading in the Word, asking how he can pray for you, and praying with you. He needs to be able to lead you spiritually.

5. He Serves Others and Tithes

The absolute best indicators of where a person’s heart is, is where they spend their time and money. A person can have the best intentions and a great philosophy on life, but if they don’t act on those good ideas-what’s the point? If a guy consistently serves others in some way-that is a great sign. Also, if a guy tithes, he loves the Lord. Tithing is hard to do. People don’t want to give up their hard-earned cash. So if a guy gives his 10%, he probably loves God.

Girls, don’t settle for less than God’s best. I know it can seem like a guy who loves God and is fun doesn’t exist, but he does. Remember Luke 12:7,
“Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”

Pray and trust that God will provide for you. He knows every minute, tiny details of your life.

Sometimes God’s timing is very different than our own. He is omnipotent and sees the big picture. We can only see what is before us. The best thing to do, is run after God. Run after God as hard as you can. Seek complete closeness and intimacy with Him. Become the woman that God has called and empowered you to be. God should be your first love, not your boyfriend or even your husband. Come to God in prayer and trust him wholeheartedly. He always comes through.

-Rachel

5 Ways to Overcome Guilt

blog about guilt

I don’t know about you guys, but I am a wallower. Whenever I make a mistake, I will beat myself up for hours or even days. Conviction hits me hard. It’s really probably one of my most annoying qualities. All my friends have told me to never, ever wake them up before 9 am. Whenever I am feeling guilty of something, I always have to confess in the early hours of the morning. The Holy Spirit convicts us after we have sinned and that is a good thing: it keeps us in check and makes us continue to walk with God when we’ve strayed. But here’s the thing: we don’t have to feel guilty after we have repented. I want to share some truth with you that I need constant reminding of also.

1. You are set free in Christ

Jesus’ blood has covered you. You are set free from the bondage of sin. You don’t have to continue berating yourself after you have confessed and repented of your sin. Let it go and focus on how you can live your life to honor God instead of analyzing your past mistakes. Dwelling on your past mistakes doesn’t do you any good. Once you repent, keep your eyes focused onward and upward. Don’t live in the guilt and shame of your past mistakes, Christ has covered you.

2. Remember that God Uses Sinners

Whenever I open up Psalms, I thank God that He used David. If you are not familiar with his story, David was a “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22) who messed up royally. He committed adultery and then murdered to cover up his sin. I know God used someone like David on purpose: to show us that God can use anyone. God uses sinners and even sinners like David can still have a heart after God.

3. We’re only Human

One thing to remember is that we’re all on this life journey together. No matter how godly or perfect someone may seem, everyone messes up. Everyone has fallen short of God’s grace. There is nothing we can ever do to deserve it. We will make mistakes, even if we are trying with everything we have to walk with the Lord. We are imperfect people.

4. Learn From Your Mistakes

It’s important to recognize when you’ve messed up and make changes. I know in college, I made the same mistakes over and over again. I kept on messing up and then running to God because I felt convicted. That’s not the way we are meant to operate and it won’t bring you joy. Once you’ve made a mistake, put up barriers to help you not make that same mistake. Ask a trusted friend who loves the Lord to hold you accountable or stop hanging out with people who encourage you to make that mistake. Let your conviction teach you to not make the same mistakes time after time.

5. Guilt Isn’t Always Healthy

There is a natural conviction that you should feel after you have stepped outside of God’s will. That guilt brings you back to Him and makes you change. But if you have confessed and repented from your sin, then the enemy might be using your guilt as a weapon. I know when I have really messed up, little thoughts creep into my mind and tell me that I am not worthy of God’s love or make me doubt my calling. These are lies. God can handle any sin you throw His way. It doesn’t matter how huge it is. He can handle it. Recognize these lies from the enemy and remind yourself of Ephesians 1:7, “In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” Whenever you feel guilt about a past sin, remember that you are forgiven.

We all make mistakes. It’s part of being human. The Holy Spirit will use conviction bring us back to Him. But once you have confessed and repented, don’t continue beating yourself up over a past sin you can’t change. Instead, look to the future. See how God can use those past mistakes to bring him glory. You are not tethered to that sin anymore because you are set free in Christ. His blood has completely redeemed you! I am unbelievably thankful for that freedom we have in Christ.

-Rach

5 Ways to Deal with Jealousy

JEALOUSY BLOGWe all know the girl: the girl who seems to glide through life effortlessly. Her laugh draws others in. She’s the one all the guys want to date and all the girls want to be her best friend. Everything just seems to be handed to her without any effort on her part. It’s annoying when she wins prom queen and gets a full ride to college all in one week. As you watch her charmed life unfold, it’s easy for jealousy for sneak it’s way into your mind and heart. It’s easy for the enemy to begin to embed seeds of doubt into your heart as you begin to want what she has. I’ve found some really helpful tips to battle the green monster of jealousy over the years and wanted to share them with you.

1. Know Who You Are

This is the best way to battle jealousy. When you know that you are so secure in your identity as a daughter of the Most High, everything else fades into the background. Walk in the power and the strength that you are His daughter, embrace your identity as a princess and you will stop worrying about how perfect everyone else’s live may seem. Seek God every day. Make him your focus and your priority; jealousy will fade.

2. Focus on Loving Her

As Christians we are called to be lights to those around us. That means loving others even when it is hard. Instead of seeing other’s successes in a negative way, celebrate with her! Be genuinely happy when something goes well for your friend. Show her Christ’s love. Put your energy into finding ways to love her rather than tear her down.

3. Stop Thinking of Yourself

It’s really hard not to be self-centered. But sometimes we need to be told that we are not the center of the universe. Whenever we get feelings of jealousy, its because we are focusing too much on ourselves. Sometimes we need to step back and ask God to help us not look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:4). We should be exhibiting humility to those around us. The Bible actually tells us to consider others better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). When we keep this mentality, it keeps jealousy at bay and helps us rejoice when others succeed.

4. Do Not Gossip

It’s so easy to pick apart tiny flaws people have when we want to feel better about ourselves. It’s easy to scrutinize a picture and talk about how she edited it and she’s not that pretty in real life. I know I am guilty of this. Whenever you feel the urge to tear someone down by gossiping, remember who you are representing.
You are representing Jesus.
Jesus loves you and He loves her.
Don’t tear down someone else to make yourself feel better. Besides talking bad about someone else only makes you look insecure and it doesn’t make you any better!

What is beautiful is being confident enough to acknowledge someone else’s intellect, talent, or beauty and knowing that it doesn’t threaten yours at all.

5. Jealousy and Friendship Can’t Co-Exist

There’s nothing that kills a friendship more than jealousy. You shouldn’t compete with your friends. Instead you should encourage and lift each other up. You should allow and encourage each other to be the best versions of yourselves. Proverbs 17:17 says a friend loves at all times. Keep that mind. Focus on loving your friends and bringing out their best.

Jealousy is something all girls have to battle. We all struggle with it. Whenever you feel it sneaking up on you remember these five tips and most importantly, remember who you are. Remember that you have been called to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. And remember that you are always representing Christ.

Radically,
Rachel

Discovering Your Purpose

discovering your purpose copy

I had a conversation about a year ago with a friend about what our calling in life was. Both of us were completely bewildered and at a loss about what direction we should go next. The prospect of choosing a career after graduation is a daunting task. It’s terrifying to abandon your “kid” years and jump head first into adulthood. After graduating from Baylor I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. I had a job lined up as an IT consultant in Dallas. But if you have ever had a conversation with me, you would know computers are not my thing. I barely passed MIS. But it seemed like a good company with an awesome salary, so I took the job. God threw me for a loop when He closed the door to that position once I had already moved to Dallas. And it was during that time of change when I discovered that God was calling me into this ministry. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when you are trying to figure out your purpose and God is revealing His calling for you.

1. He is in Control

No matter how hard we try, how much we study, or how brilliant we are; the bottom line is that God is in control.
He can give you anything and He can take anything away.
His love for you is immeasurable and unfathomable.
Whenever I need a little reminder about my worth in Christ, I remember Luke 12:6-7, “Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”
Our God does not forget His children.
He is an active God and is concerned with even the minute, trivial problems that plague us daily.

He is always in control.

2. Keep Christ at Your Core

Whenever you are looking into choosing your major, your future career, or your next leadership position at school, consider how your relationship with God will play into that role. Your relationship with the Lord needs to permeate every aspect of your life. Your love for Him and your relationship should be your distinguishing characteristic. Whenever I meet someone truly on fire for the Lord, their enthusiasm is contagious. They inspire others everywhere they go.

You keep your heart centered on Christ in three ways: 1) praying and spending time in His Word 2) hearing the word of God taught and 3) discussing your promises and how He is impacting your life. I encourage you to find some good friends who love the Lord for the last one. You really need a strong godly support group.

3. Play Your Strengths

I feel like this one is self-explanatory, but it needs to be said. We are all gifted in different ways. For example, I have a friend who is a brilliant doctor. He is incredible at his work, but whenever he has to speak in front of people he completely clams up. God has blessed all of us with different skills. Think about what you are good at and play to those strengths. If you are a writer, go into journalism, if you are an eloquent speaker-be a motivational speaker. Don’t try to do something you’re not naturally gifted at. Think about what comes easily and what you love doing. Pursue that.

4. Point Others to God

Our purpose here on earth is not self-glorification or satisfying ourselves. It is not to get a massive paycheck at the end of every month. Our goal on earth is to try to live our lives worthy of the calling we have received for the glory of the Lord. My favorite verse that highlights this is Galatians 2:20, “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.”

BOOM.
We have died with Christ.

Our old selves are dead and gone.

Our lives are not actually our own, but are the Lord’s. It’s our jobs as Christians to spend our lives in joyful surrender to Him.

Whenever you are entering this type of season of change into your life-it is essential to pray. Seek God wholeheartedly. Ask Him to be straight with you. Whenever I pray, I ask God to slam doors in my face-otherwise I am so stubborn and stupid I’ll continue to try to beat those doors down. I ask God to only open the doors that He wants me to walk through. Whatever you decide to do, keep your purpose at the forefront of your mind: to live a life worthy of your calling as a daughter of Christ and to show others His immeasurable love.

Radically,
Rachel

Girl’s Guide to Dating

Dating BlogI am just going to come out and say it: dating in the 21st century sucks. With all the games we play, technology we utilize, and insanely busy schedules, traditional dating has gone the way of the clog. Meaning it is completely out of vogue. Now tack on being a Christian girl wanting to date a man after God’s own heart and the results are dismal.

It seems like mission impossible.

Over the years, I have compiled some good, godly dating advice and personal experiences that I feel God has called me to share with you guys. Being a twenty something Christian girl in the dating world is difficult, but when your perspective is properly focused and you go into a new relationship with a clear mind, armed with scripture, it makes the whole process 100x easier.

1.Keep your perspective

I say this a lot. And is it numero uno on this list because it is that important. Keep your eyes focused on God. Keep Him as Lord of your life. As women it is so easy to get wrapped up in a new relationship. It’s easy to get swept away in the romance of it all and that can be a good thing. Don’t feel bad for getting butterflies and getting excited when you see him. That is normal! But make sure that he doesn’t take the place that was meant for Christ. Christ can only fill that longing and make you complete. No guy can even come close to filling that place. When you put that type of unnatural pressure and expectation on a relationship, it will end up hurting both people involved and making you extremely let down. Matthew 6:33 states,

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Keep Christ as your #1.

2. To Attract the Best, You Need To Be Your Best

In order to snag the godly guy, you have to be a godly woman. A man who loves God is going to be attracted to a woman who loves the Lord and that is evident through how she treats others, how she serves others, and how she carries herself. I know this should go without saying, but go to church. Get involved. Serve the Lord because you want to become more Christlike. A servant’s heart is one of the most attractive characteristics a person can possess. If you want a man after God’s own heart, you need to be a woman who loves the Lord.

3. Know You Can’t Change a Man

I know women love projects. We love crafting and decorating our tiny apartments. And that is awesome, but do not make a man into your next project. I know we all have had that thought, “he will change for me!” But do not fall into that deception. Yes, people can change, but it’s not your job to fix someone. That is the Lord’s work and when you put that kind of burden on yourself it really is not good. Don’t get into a new relationship wanting to change someone. You can grow closer to God together. But if you enter into a new relationship with the idea that you will evangelize him and lead him to Christ, just don’t. You can point him to God as a friend. You do not want to fall in love with someone who doesn’t have a relationship with the Lord.

4. Have Friends Who Keep You Accountable

You need to have godly friends: friends who you can share your struggles and temptations with. Friends who will make sure you don’t spend the night at his house and friends who are in fight for purity with you. It’s a tough battle and you can not do it alone. As humans, we are made for companionship. You need friends who encourage you and tell you lovingly when you are in the wrong. This is absolutely critical. Proverbs 27:17 speaks to this truth, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” We need friends who will make us better and hold us accountable!

Dating is hard. Dating godly is even harder. Whenever you start a new relationship, keep your heart and your eyes transfixed on the Lord. Go into that new relationship with your priorities in check and with a clear mind centered on the Lord. Have a strong group of godly girlfriends who do life with you and help each other’s walk with the Lord. The most important thing to remember when dating is knowing who and what defines you: your relationship with the Lord. And always keeping that identity at the forefront of your mind.

Radically,

Rachel

5 Ways to Avoid a Best Friend Break-Up

friendsPeople always thought we were twins. Dirty blonde hair, green eyes, and freckles dusted across the bridges of our noses: I don’t think any 10 year olds looked more alike. We did everything together. We were the closest two friends could possibly be. As we grew, we headed into adolescence. We spent late nights giggling over our new crushes, sharing secrets about our cliche first kisses, talking about our dreams, and our far-off passions we were going to pursue. We convinced boys we were twins and laughed at their naivety. We were inseparable: the two best friends. You couldn’t even think one of our names without the other name following involuntarily. Then something changed. A 12 year old friendship evaporated. We went different directions.

Many of us have gone through a similar scenario.

I firmly believe that God makes us go through certain circumstances for a reason. Everything happens for a purpose in the Christian walk. Even going through a best friend break up. Breaking up with a best friend is 100x harder than breaking up with a boyfriend. Ending a friendship is one of the most heart-wrenching, depressing, and confusing experiences someone can go through. I feel like there are a lot of us who have experienced this kind of anguish. That’s why whenever I make a new friend I am intentional and focus completely on loving her and being the kind of friend Christ calls me to be. Here are several ways to avoid a best friend break up.

1. Choose your friends wisely

Choose friends who love you, who want the best for you, and who don’t have ulterior motives. Examine a person’s character. Ask yourself this question: is this a person I would be ok becoming more like? We inevitably take on characteristics of the people we spend the most time with so it’s crucial to chose friends who make you better.

2. Be a good friend

Consider your friend’s feelings. Consider things from her perspective. How would you want to be treated? What can you do to serve her? How can you lift her up and encourage her every day? Once a week I find someway I can serve a friend. That can range from writing an encouraging text to surprising her with her favorite cookie or something little. It doesn’t have to be huge.

3. Be Present

Our generation is really bad about being mentally present. I am largely guilty of having my eyes glued to my iPhone. Whenever you are with your friend, just put your phone on silent. Focus on her and how you can encourage her. This will strengthen your friendship and lead to some really engaging and bonding conversations.

4. Ask Questions

A good rule to live by is that your primary motivation ought to be that you are interested, not interesting. You should ask questions to see how she is doing, to see how you can pray for her, and to see how you can support her. You ought to remember things happening in her life and ask her about them. You have to listen. Listen and remember. The more that you pour into a friendship, the more rewarding it will be.

5. Love her even when it’s hard

We all go through difficult phases in our lives. We all grow and mature. This is especially true from the ages 14-24. Sometimes we walk away from what once meant the most to us. As friends, we must love as Christ loved us, even if our friend is going through a hard time. This is a really tough one. Even when a friend has hurt or rejected us, we have to continue loving her throughout the pain.

Best friend breakups are heartbreaking. Protect your friendships and value them. Love your friends like Christ loves you: sacrificially and selflessly. If you’ve gone through a best-friend break-up, things may not ever be the same. Even after reconciliation, you may never be as close you once were and the inside jokes that you thought forged an unbreakable bond may not be enough. However, I urge you to use that heartbreaking experience to learn a valuable lesson: to loyally value and fiercely protect friendships.

Radically,

Rachel

Why Our Actions Matter

actions matterLast week I met up with a friend that I hadn’t seen in a long time and something she said really stuck with me. We were having a discussion about why it’s important to serve and her response was that what we do doesn’t matter, all that matters is what we think. I strongly disagree. What we do here on earth does matter. We can’t walk around with well-meaning intentions and expect it to make any difference if we fail to act on them. The Christian walk is about having faith rooted in Christ and a deep, passionate love for Him. The things we do are an extension of that love we have for our creator. Don’t mistake me: we are not saved by works, but by faith (Ephesians 2:8). Salvation is a free gift from God and we can do nothing to ever deserve that gift. However, our actions and our decisions do matter here on Earth and here is why.

1. Our Actions Mark Us as Believers

1 John 2:5-6 states, “But if anyone obeys His word, God’s love, is truly made complete in Him. This is how we know we are in Him: whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.” Our goal as Christians to grow increasingly more and more Christlike. That is literally what I pray every morning: that God would strip away my selfish desires and that He would make me reflect His love and His goodness through my actions. We’re not perfect, we’re still sinful humans and we will mess up, but we ought to be striving towards Christ.

2. It Completes Our Faith

James 2:14 states, “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?” James goes on to answer his question by saying, “In the same way, faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17). Action is a natural reaction to the faith we have. It follows the faith. True faith naturally produces good deeds, it points to the Father. When someone is truly saved, it is inevitable that action is to ensue.

3. God Tells Us That Our Actions Matter

James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” Don’t just sit passively at Church and absorb information only to leave and live your life opposite of what God commands. Go out there and obey the word of God. Sometimes it is really hard to obey. Sometimes stealing something when no one is looking might seem harmless and save you some money, but obeying God is what is really important. Think about how much your character costs.

4. We are Fighting a Real Battle

At my church, The Austin Stone, we are going through the topic of spiritual warfare. Ephesians 6:11-12 states, “Put on the full armor or God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world […] put on the full armor of God.” Paul uses the metaphor of armor for a purpose: we are at war. The devil is described as “prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). We should have a sense of urgency in our walk with the Lord and we should be aware of how satan tries to deceive us. We need to remember that we may be the only Christian someone comes into contact in their entire life and it’s important to live our lives to honor and glorify the Lord through our actions. We need to show others through our interactions, our sacrificial love, and our testimonies the love of Christ that surpasses understanding.

What we do does matter. We cannot be saved by works alone, but rather our works are an extension of our faith. It is impossible to have true faith without seeing action. They complete each other! I encourage you to live your life radically and purposefully for him.

-Rachel

Let Go and Let God

shutterstock_250812124 for websiteLately I have been struggling with giving complete control over to the Lord. Mainly this issue has been coming up because I am having trouble trusting Him wholeheartedly. I still try to control things that should be held in His hands. I feel like we all wrestle with the issue of relinquishing control. America has always told us that “the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” (Eleanor Roosevelt). And while that is an admirable sentiment and it does ring with some truth, we need to remember that as Christians, our job on earth is to tell others about Christ and to be lights to the world. Our goal is not our self-glorification. We are only visitors here and our true home is in heaven. The Bible describes our time on earth as a “like a breath; [our] days are like a fleeting shadow” (Psalm 144:4). So how do we live our lives to honor and glorify God? How do we keep perspective when the world is pulling us in a different direction?

Go All In

This is a scary thing to do. My generation is especially terrified of commitment. We never want to label anything. Half the time we date we don’t even know whether we’re “official” because we don’t want to put labels on anything. We take pride in the fact that we don’t fit into stereotypes and we can’t generalize ourselves with a single word. But in the Christian walk, we need to commit 100%. 1 John 1:6-7 says,

“If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by 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 purifies us from all sin.”

We have to go all in.

We can’t live our lives going to church on Sundays but living in debauchery Thursday night- Saturday night. The Christian walk is about having a love affair with the creator of the Universe. It’s an “all consuming fire” (Deuteronomy 4:24). He must pervade every aspect of our lives. You shouldn’t live your life with one foot in the world and one foot in the kingdom of God. You have to go all in.

What does going all in mean?

Going all in spiritually means making God your priority. It means waking up earlier than you normally would to pray, read your Bible, and center your heart around God. It means changing your habits so that they honor God. Philippians 4:8 says,

“Brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”

I’ve had to change many habits because of that verse. It means seeing ways that you can serve others around you to show them the love of Christ. You can serve others through your church, school, or another avenue. Throughout my sophomore year of college I tutored a little girl named Chloe every Wednesday and saw firsthand how Christ used my influence to help her realize her worth in Him.

 You are not alone

Jumping head first into your walk with God does not mean you are alone. It may seem like you are alone when you are trying to walk a different direction than all your friends. But God is with you. In fact, God gives you the strength to walk with Him. Furthermore, without His help, we would not be capable. John 15:4 says,

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”

You must lean into God as you walk. You have to rely on Him to get anything done as a Christian. God promises to give you strength as you realize that in your weakness, His strength is perfected (2 Corinthians 12:9).

It is ok to be weak.

It is ok to be vulnerable.

That is how God wants us. He wants us to realize how much we need Him and how apart from Him we can do nothing. John Piper explains, “Prayer is the open admission that without Christ we can do nothing. And prayer is the turning away from ourselves to God in the confidence that he will provide the help we need.” We need to pray. We need to cry out to God. Having Christ in our heart means that we can approach God with boldness and confidence (Hebrews 4:16). Having Christ dwell in our hearts has instilled a power and strength within us that only comes from the Lord.

I encourage you to jump headfirst into your walk with the Lord. Relinquish control and power. Give it to the Lord. Allow Him to shape and mold your life into His perfect plan. See what He uses to create beauty and further His kingdom. Lean into His word and approach His throne with confidence through prayer and petition. Find ways to serve those around you and minister to them. Allow His spirit to shine through you and your interactions with those around you. We have been set free as daughters of the King and it’s time we started living like that.

Radically,
Rachel

Making Time for God

shutterstock_208020445 copyLately I have been ridiculously busy. So busy that I have been subsisting primarily off caffeine and protein bars. I’ve been running from commitment to commitment trying to fulfill all my responsibilities. Sometimes it’s difficult to find time to spend alone with the Lord. In a world where your attention is being pulled ten different directions, you may find yourself asking the question: why read the Bible? Why spend time reading a 2,000 year old book? Here are three reasons why reading the Bible is essential for the growing Christian.

Why Read the Bible?

1. Its Powerful

Spending time in God’s word is essential for a Christian to grow in her walk. Hebrews 4:12 explains, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
God’s word has to capacity to break down even the hardest heart. God can penetrate even the most rebellious spirit with His powerful word.

2. It makes you more Christ-like

2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” Studying God’s word guides us as Christians. It is the roadmap that God has given us. Glean wisdom from the word of God and use it to examine your heart and your life. Use it to see how your life and your love for the Lord matches up.

3. God commands us to

As if the top two reasons are not enough to convince you to read the Bible, God tells us to read His word. Matthew 4:4 says, “But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” The scripture is our spiritual food. We need it as Christians to survive. It’s necessary for our growth to treat God’s word as sustenance and to partake it in daily. Psalm 1:1-2 states, “Blessed is the one […] whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.” As Christians, we need to study God’s word daily in order to grow.
Making time for the Lord can be difficult. Here are some tips that I’ve found useful with my crazy schedule and centering my life around the Lord. Sometimes we need to find time, even when it feels like we have no time to spare.

Find Time for God

The adage stands true: you make time for what you care about. If your boyfriend texted you, you would probably answer relatively fast because you care about him. You would make time to answer that text. The same goes for God. Wake up 30 minutes earlier than you normally would. Make coffee, sit at your dinner table, and take the time to center your heart around the Lord. Spend time in prayer, reading your devotional, and reading directly out of the Bible. I’ve been having my quiet time during my break at work. I bring my prayer journal, Bible, and book I’m reading (currently it’s The Mingling of Souls by Matt Chandler) and spend that hour with God. Plus it’s a great witnessing tool to read your Bible in public. I work on South Congress in Austin, so a girl reading her bible actually really stands out. I’ve gotten to share my faith with several people as a result. It is essential to make time for God.Your crazy busy schedule is not going to slow down, you just have to prioritize that God is #1.

Protect Your Time

I find myself surrounded with so many distractions. I have this compulsive need to check my phone every few minutes and right as I’m writing this my dog is barking at me wanting attention. I encourage you to protect your time with the Lord. Whenever I have my quiet time, I turn my phone on silent and flip it over so I can’t see it. I lock my door so no one can interrupt my time with the Lord. And I give Gizmo a treat so he will pipe down. It’s ok to be selfish with your time with God. It actually is essential to protect it. Don’t feel bad about not answering a text for 30 minutes because you were praying. It’s alright.

As Christians, we must have Christ as our priority. He needs to be number one in everything we do. That means that everything else: social commitments, sports, work, even school, falls beneath Him. He needs to rule in your heart as Lord. That means putting aside time to grow closer to Him and to allow Him to reveal more of Himself to you. Spending more time with The Lord is an investment worth making.

Radically,

Rachel

10 Qualities of a Godly Friend

shutterstock_229205491 copy                                                                                                                           Friendships are one of the many beautiful gifts God has given us. Friends can bring us closer to God and have the capacity to change us, positively or negatively. Sometimes it is difficult to find good friends who will stay by your side. Personally, I have experienced friendship on the widest spectrum. I have had friends who have loved me unconditionally like Christ and I have had friends who have thrown away our friendship. Difficulties in friendships can be heartbreaking. I encourage you to be the kind of friend you would want to have. It is important as Christians to honor God through these relationships. Here are ten points to consider in your friendships. I encourage you to examine these points in your life to ensure that you are being a godly friend and that your friends have these essential qualities.

A good friend…

1.Is Encouraging

1 Thessalonians 5:11 commands, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up.” That is the kind of friend Christ calls you to be! You should rejoice when your friend receives an award or recognition. You should encourage her to grow in her relationship with Christ. Being encouraging does not mean sugar coating everything, but remaining positive, even when the situation may seem bleak.

2. Is a Truth Speaker

A godly friend speaks truth into your life, even when it is difficult to hear. A true friend loves you and genuinely wants the best for you. They will tell you both the good and the bad. She will tell you when she feels that you are walking away from the Lord or if she feels that you have been walking closer with God. She will speak God’s Truth into your life daily.

3. Says Things in Love

This one goes hand-in-hand with the point above. If you feel that God is calling you to speak a tough truth into a friend’s life, you must say it in love. Gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) and should be exercised throughout a Christian’s life. Speaking a hard truth in gentleness and kindness can strengthen a friendship rather than hurt it.

4. Prays for You

A true and godly friend prays with you and for you. We all go through difficult phases in life and a true friend recognizes the need for a prayerful community and asks how she can pray on your behalf. My close friends and I meet once a week to share our walk with the Lord and even share how we have struggled in our spiritual walk. Having that kind of support and accountability is essential. Sharing your prayers and struggles with your friends is liberating.

5. Is Thoughtful

A good friend thinks of others before herself (Philippians 2:3). She thinks about how she can serve others and encourage others in their walk with the Lord. She remembers birthdays and special days in her friends lives. She is intentional with her friendships and know their purpose is to honor God.

6. Is Secure in Her Identity

A good friend recognizes her immeasurable worth in Christ. She is secure in her identity as a daughter of the Most High. She also knows that is your identity as well. That’s why she doesn’t get jealous when you succeed, instead she is the one in the crowd cheering the loudest for you.

7. Is Loyal

A godly friend sticks by your side even when times are tough. She stands up for you when she needs to and always speaks positively of you. She knows that “out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45) and she only uses her words to build you and others up.

8. Forgives

We have all fallen short of God’s grace and are going to make mistakes. It is crucial to be able to forgive a friend when she has wronged you. Colossians 3:13 commands, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” I am so thankful to have had godly friends who have forgiven me when I have wronged them. God calls us to forgive. Don’t confuse this with justifying an abusive friendship. Although you must forgive them, you do not have to remain in a harmful relationship.

9. Is a Peacemaker

A good friend cultivates peace in her relationships. She doesn’t revel in drama or discord. She seeks peace and harmony. Matthew 5:9 states, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” She doesn’t look to create unnecessary drama and is happiest when people feel included and loved.

10. Brings Out Your Best

Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Friendships are supposed to strengthen your walk with the Lord. A good friend helps you be the best version of yourself. It is also your responsibility as a godly friend to come along side your friends and encourage them.

Being a good friend can be difficult. The secret of being a good friend is to abide in Christ. Remember the purpose of friendship: to honor God. Be the kind of friend God wants you to be. Seek God with all your heart and He will give you the power to be a good friend. Love others the way that Christ loves you and you will become the best friend a girl could ask for.

Radically,

Rachel