How to Study the Bible

IMG_4096Growing up I had no idea how to study the Bible. In fact, it wasn’t until I received some formal theological and seminary training that I actually understood why and how I should study the Word of God. And I even grew up in a Christian home. And went to a Christian school and University. I used to always be that kid who would hold my Bible between my hands, with my eyes closed and face positioned skyward and say, “Ok, God show me what you got!” and then I would open to a random spot in the Bible, hoping the Spirit would move. Don’t get me wrong, God can move that way. I just wish that someone had taught me a practical way to actually study the Word of God and Its importance in my life. Through this blog, I’m going to first briefly explain why we study the Bible and then a practical method I’ve been using over the past two years to study the Bible more in depth.

Why do we study the Bible?

It is our authority.

1 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training up in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Scripture is God’s Word to us.

That is why we study it and that is why it is essential to know it. It is our road map in this crazy world. The Bible is God’s revealed will to our lives. Have you ever just hit a cross road in your life and are crying out to God to show you what to do?
Open your Bible.
God speaks to you through His living and active Word. That also reminds me of Hebrews 1:1-2, “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things and through whom He made the universe.” We study the Bible because it is our authority and It is God’s will He has chosen to reveal to us.

How to study the Bible

 

Through my church I have been taught the method of studying the Word called REAP. It’s an acronym for Read, Examine, Apply, and Pray. I choose one chapter of the Bible and go through all these steps.

1. Read

This step is as easy as it sounds. Just read the chapter. Then in your journal write a short summary restating what was in the chapter. Don’t get too philosophical just yet. Just write a short summary about what you read.

2. Examine

Next, you are going to think about the chapter using these questions:
1) What characteristics of God does this passage reveal? His goodness? His holiness? His compassion? His righteous wrath? His power? What is this passage teaching me about God?

2) What is this passage teaching me about people? What is the state of humanity without God? How do we change with God?

3. Apply

Now apply this scripture to your life. Be honest with yourself. Are there areas in your life, you are refusing to surrender to God? Is there sin in your life that you need to confess through prayer and then turn away from? What characteristics of God are you not believing or accepting? What characteristics of man do you disagree with? How can you use this scripture to bring more glory to God’s name, to know him more, and walk more closely with Him?

4. Pray

One of the biggest roles the Holy Spirit has in our lives is to teach us and remind us of Truth. Whenever I pray I confess whatever sin or unbelief is in my heart. I then ask the Spirit to help me trust in God’s goodness and His plan for my life. I ask the Spirit to conform my heart to be less like mine and more like Jesus’. I ask for Him to transform me. Change me. I ask Him to take away any façade of pride, doubt, or unbelief. Pray about what you just learned and ask the Holy Spirit to change you.

It’s my prayer for all us that God will work in our hearts through the power of His Word. It’s my prayer that when we wake up every morning we would remember Lamentations 3:22-23, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” It’s my heartfelt prayer that God’s Word would reign in our hearts and lives. I pray that His Truth would permeate every single sinful crevice of our hearts and transform us more everyday into the perfect, radiance of Christ.

LYLAS,
Rachel

Why You Should Ditch Your “Husband” Checklist

IMG_3732A little while ago, one of my friends went on a date with a guy. He was attractive, fun, loved the Lord, passionate, and she loved spending time with him. As her best friend though, something about this guy rubbed me the wrong way. He had this long list of qualifications necessary to be his girlfriend. The many qualifications on this list ranged from “sexy,” to “passionate woman of God”, to “hipster.” Needless to say, I wasn’t a fan. How dare he try to fit my beautiful, Gospel-loving, hilarious, adventurous, bold, compassionate, and thoughtful friend into this list where he was trying to play God to find a woman who fit into his ridiculous mold or standard.

I was furious.
After thinking about this, I realized that growing up, I was always told to make a list for my future husband. I had tons of lists. I have lately been convicted of how this took my eyes off Jesus. Before we begin, I want to be sure to communicate several things to you. The first is that you need to know what a biblical man is. If you don’t know, check it out here. Another thing is I am not saying to stay in an abusive relationship. Having been through several myself, I know how hard they are to escape from. If you are struggling, send me an email and I can encourage you personally. The last thing I want to communicate is that I am not letting men bow out of their standard set forth by God. I’m not giving them an excuse to treat you unkindly or in a disrespectful way. That is between them and God. Through this article, I want your heart and love for Jesus to be the focus. Ok, now we can start.

Here are a few reasons why you need to ditch your list of requirements to date you

1. Stop Focusing on a Guy and Start Focusing on Jesus

There are many reasons why making a list might not be the best idea, but this is the most important. Putting anything before Christ is idolatry. Jesus Christ and the Gospel need to be at your core. When you have a deep love for the Gospel, you will be able to trust that within Him, all your needs are met and satisfied. Then you won’t look to fulfillment through a potential or imaginary “soul mate” as your “other half.” You have been liberated and completed in Christ. Until God is where He needs to be in your heart, you are constantly going to be complaining that your partner is not loving you adequately, treating you well enough, or respecting you like he should.

2. It Can Put Unnatural Pressure on Your Partner

Tim Keller said it best in the Meaning of Marriage, “It is the illusion that if we find our one true soul mate, everything wrong with us will be healed; but that makes the lover into God, and no human being can live unto that.” He goes on to say, “If your only source of love and meaning is your spouse, than anytime he or she fails you, it will not just cause grief, but a psychological cataclysm.” God needs to be your first and foremost love-not your boyfriend or husband. Trying to force him to fit into your little list puts too much emphasis on him and too little on Jesus and the Gospel. The Gospel and Jesus is where your identity lies, not in a relationship or man.

3. Your Relationship Shouldn’t Be a Transaction

Think of Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Is your list putting another’s needs before your own? Ultimately it is selfish. Also, I don’t know about you but I do not want my marriage to be a consumer relationship. Tim Keller explains it best, “Throughout history there have always been consumer relationships. Such a relationship only lasts as long as the vendor meets your needs at an acceptable cost to you. If another vendor delivers better services or the same services at a better cost, you have no obligation to stay in a relationship with the original vendor.” Biblical marriage is a covenant relationship NOT a consumer relationship. Keller describes a covenant relationship as “a sacrificial commitment to the good of the other. […] The Bible sees God as the supreme good-not the individual or family.” You should want a relationship built on Jesus and love, not considering how much you can gain through the other person.

4. Christ Came to Serve and Not To Be Served

I always think of this incredible passage in John 13 when Jesus washes His disciples’ feet. Not only was Jesus presenting a beautiful picture of the Gospel to His followers, He was also showing us an example of how we ought to serve others. I remember Matthew 20:26 when considering this, “It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus is our example. We shouldn’t be looking for what we can potentially gain out of a relationship, but how we can demonstrate Christ’s love to that person God has called us to be in a relationship with and how you can further the kingdom together.

 5. Love Like Jesus

Seeing my friend being held to this guy’s ridiculous standard enraged me. It made me realize just how arrogant and egocentric this particular guy was. He didn’t see the wonderful girl before him because he was so transfixed on finding this “ideal” girl developed in his mind’s eye. Instead of fitting someone into your mold, I want to challenge you to love selflessly, expecting nothing in return. One of my favorite pastors Matt Chandler says in his book The Mingling of Souls, “there is a beauty even in loving without response because that kind of love is truly selfless. When we love with no expectation or promise of reciprocity, we know what it means to sacrifice and deny ourselves in ways we wouldn’t otherwise.” Love that way. Love selflessly. Love like Jesus loved.

6. It’s a Control Idol

All sin can be traced to different root sins. Creating a list of requirements necessary in a man is not surrendering your desire to the Lord. It is the opposite. It’s like saying, “God, you are not strong enough to control this, you have too much on your plate. Just let me take care of it.”

Hold on.

Remember that verse in Matthew 10:29-31, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” God knows your desires. He understands. Surrender that to God. Seek His face before anything else and hold on to the promise in Romans 8:28, “God works out all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.”

The Measure of a Man

themeasureofamanA few weeks ago, two of my best friends and I sat down, determined to find exactly what the Bible said we should look for in a man. Sick of reading watered-down blogs with vague qualities we set out to find truth straight from the source. Resolutely, I grabbed my trusty ESV Study Bible and got to work. We delved straight into scripture and through prayer and mediation on God’s Word, we came up with these awesome qualities.

1. Spiritual Leader

If you’re dating for keeps, you want a man who cares about your spiritual welfare. Someone who will pray with you, read the Word with you, and discern your spiritual walk. You want a man who on your first date, asks if he can pray over your food. A man who will continuously spur you closer to the Lord through His heart for God and how he cares for you. Husbands are to love their wives in a completely self sacrificial way, following the example set by Christ, who gave Himself up for the church in a loving sacrificial way. The Biblical picture of a husband giving his life for for his wife is directly opposed to any kind of male tyranny or any kind of oppression. He needs to promote your walk with the Lord. A godly husband is bound by love to ensure that his wife finds their marriage a source of spiritual fulfillment and joyful service to the Lord together. He has to point you closer to Jesus.

2. Loving

Ephesians 5:25 says, “husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” Whoa. That is a high calling. Your man must love you and cherish you so much he would be willing to die for you. Marriage is a picture of the gospel- of Christ coming down to earth, living the perfect life, dying the death we deserved, and then defeating death. Husbands are called to love their wives AS Christ loved the church. Talk about a high standard. Don’t settle for anyone who doesn’t love you like Christ.

3. Truth Speaker

Ephesians 6:14 says, “put on the belt of Truth.” I definitely want my husband to speak the gospel into my life. He should be rooted and established in the gospel to be able to do this. Whenever you mess up, he should be able to point you to the saving gospel and you two should be able to rejoice and praise God for His grace together.

4. Righteous

Righteous means “right before God.” In order for anyone to be right with God, he or she must have Christ as Lord of their life. Romans 10:9 says “if you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” That is how you achieve righteousness, it is by your faith you have been saved (Ephesians 2:6).

5. Gospel-Centered

Ephesians 6 talks about being readied by the “gospel of peace.” The gospel should rule in his life. He should be so firm in his faith and confident in his identity as a son of God that it guides his steps in life. The gospel should produce joy and peace throughout his life. His life should be marked by it.

6. Prays and Values God’s Word

Ephesians 6 calls believers to be “praying at all times.” A godly man is a one who prays and who seeks truth through the Word of God. Ephesians 6 also tells us to carry the “sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” The Bible is our weapon. It has power and the ability to pierce any heart. Hebrews 4:12 is one of my favorites, “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 has revealed himself to us through His word. I want a man who prays and values the Word of God.

Sometimes it feels like there are not any godly men out there. Sometimes it feels like the right one will never appear and the world is only filled with awful men who just want to use you. I completely understand if some of you feel that way. But I want to encourage you of several things if you might be looking for your right man.

The first thing is to make God #1. You should be running after God with EVERYTHING you have. You should be falling in love with the absolute greatest love story of all time-of Jesus Christ dying for YOU.
Just take a second to be in awe of that insurmountable truth.
Rest in that peace and knowledge that you don’t need a man. You have the BEST man. You have Christ. Your identity is in Him and Him alone.

The second thing is that no one is perfect. Guess what, whenever you do get married, you’re going to marry an imperfect human who was saved by gracejust like you. That means he’s probably going to be insensitive sometimes and hurt your feelings. Searching for someone perfect is not right and is opposite from the gospel. Tim Keller said it best in his book The Meaning of Marriage, “It is the illusion that if we find our one true soul mate, everything wrong with us will be healed; but that makes the lover into God, and no human being can live unto that.” A man can not take the place intended for Jesus. It is impossible and unhealthy, but most importantly raising someone to that standard is idolatry. But his life should be marked by a love and compassion that only comes from the Lord. He should be able to say he’s sorry because he definitely will mess up sometimes, and so will you.

-Rach

P.S. If you want to read an amazing book about relationships pick up The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller. This is an amazing book-whether you are single or married. I’m currently trying to convince my parents, who have been married for 35 years, to read it. You can buy it here.

How to Deal with Bullies

Dealingwithbullies.PNGDear My Heavenly Father,
I am broken. Sadness consumes me. I feel completely alone. No one will look me in the eye. I sit at a lunch table and everyone leaves. Girls I’ve been friends with since third grade. I am an outcast. Lord, I don’t understand. I don’t understand why I have this label. I’m depressed. Everything that once gave me happiness I just don’t have the energy for anymore. I feel worthless. Lord, why am I being treated like this? Why am I shut out of every relationship I once had. Why do boys feel like they can treat me however they want? Why do the girls go along with it? Are they afraid that they will be next? Father, rescue me. Empower me. I want to feel your love. I want to feel accepted. I need you.

Love,
Your daughter

Have you ever been bullied? Have you ever been been to feel as though you are worthless or undeserving of love? Middle school, high school, and college are all difficult years, there is no getting around it. Throughout middle school and high school I was bullied. I remember feeling alone, isolated, even worthless. Those years were tough. One thing I wish someone would’ve told me was my identity. I wish so badly someone would’ve explained to me how precious I was and how much God loved me. If you have gone through something similar or are going through it now, I want you to hold fast to these truths about who you are.

1.Your Identity is in Christ

This is who you are. This is your defining characteristic. This is the only thing that truly matters. You have been saved by the blood of Christ and no one can take that identity from you. No matter how hard they try. No matter how they treat you or make you feel. Romans 8:37-39 are my favorite verses, “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 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.”

NOTHING can separate us from His perfect love.

2. You are Beautiful

I want you to know that. You are beautiful. You are beautiful because God created you. You are God’s beautiful and perfect creation. David explains in Psalm 139, “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
You are God’s best creation.
Describing a woman of high character Proverbs 31 states that “she is far more precious than jewels.” Your worth and beauty is found in the one who saves you. Your hope rests in Him.

3. God Approves of You

I struggle with wanting people to like me. Throughout middle school and high school, I just wanted to be liked. I tried and clearly failed (lol). I wish someone would have reminded me that God approved of me. God loved me so much that He sent His son to die for me. God loves you so much He sent His son to die for you and poured his righteous wrath out on His son so that He could be reconciled with you.

God loves you.

He approves of you.

He heard the lies those boys said about you, he saw the way those girls rejected you, and He wants you to know that His opinion is the only one that matters. His love is redeeming and powerful. He rescues his children from death.

4. Boys Do Not Define You

I think this is always going to be a struggle for women. It is so easy to caught up in relationships or in that desire to find “the one.” But Christ should be your #1 and not guys. As women, we live in this society where we all want to look a certain way for validation, to feel accepted and attractive. Before you get into any relationship, I want you to understand your relationship with the Lord. I want you to understand just how amazing, beautiful, loved, and cherished you are. I want you to understand that this because I want you to walk away the first time he calls you an unkind name or yells at you. The first time he is talking to other girls behind your back.

If you understand your value, your beauty, your worth, you won’t settle for guys who treat you less than a daughter of the King.

If you are dealing with bullies or being rejected, hold fast to these truths. Abide in God and go to school everyday armed with the knowledge of who you are and how precious and beautiful you are. Walk in the power and knowledge that God approves of you and you do not need to approval of man. You have been accepted.

-Rach

Discovering God’s Will

FullSizeRender-3Fear gripped her. A lump began to swell in her throat. Booths representing 500 companies from around the state filled the auditorium. She clutched her black leather case holding copies of her resume. Anxiety was etched on every inch of her face. This was her worst nightmare. Four years had gone by so fast. With graduation rapidly approaching, it was time to find one of those job things. Was she really expected to just walk up to these professionals and convince them to pay her when she has zero experience aside from her degree? Just the idea of being on her own, in a new city, completely independent made her want to curl up into a ball and binge-watch Netflix until the problem just evaporated.

Have you ever reached a point in your life where you have no idea what God wants you to do? Maybe you are about to graduate college and the idea of heading into a 9-5 job is terrifying. I know it was for me. Maybe you are unhappy with your current job and are questioning whether or not God wants you to transition into a different one. Or you could be facing friendship or dating issues and have no idea how to handle them. If you have hit that road block and have been crying out to the Lord to reveal His will to you, I have some practical guidelines on where you can discover God’s will for your life.

1. Read His Word

All scripture is “God breathed and useful for correcting, rebuking, and training up into righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). That means all scripture. The Bible is the primary way that God speaks to us. It is His revealed will to us. He lays out exactly how He want us to live our lives through His Word. Jesus explains it more fully in John 8:31, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Spending time reading God’s word will open your eyes to exactly how He wants you to live your life. It is our road map in this life and should be our sustaining force behind everything we do. Abiding in His Word is how we know Him.

2. Prayer

In addition to finding out how God wants you to live your life and how He has laid out His perfect guidelines, spending time in prayer draws you nearer to God. It strengthens your relationship and God hears you. Even if you are frustrated and confused, tell Him that. He wants to know every facet of who you are, He is a God who cares (1 Peter 5:7). I don’t know about you, but I have trouble staying focused during my prayers, so I almost always journal. You will be surprised how God will transform your situation once you surrender your worries onto Him and seek His truth through His word.

Studying God’s word and prayer are two of the Christian’s best weapons to battle this world. As you enter into whatever adventure you are about to face, I want to encourage you to hold fast to your identity: a daughter of the Most High. Keeping this identity at the forefront of your mind will enable you to make decisions and choices that bring glory to Him. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.” Lean into the Lord. Surrender your problems onto Him because He loves you. As you keep your gaze transfixed upon Him, all your problems will slowly fade as you focus on His goodness and allow him to guide you.

What It Looks Like to Follow God

FullSizeRender-3Have you ever wondered what it looks like to follow God? I mean really follow God. Like passionately love and pursue Him with every fiber of your being, to have tears run down your face at church because your heart is so full of thankfulness for the grace He lavished upon us. To fully comprehend and be astounded that we get to call ourselves daughters of the Creator of the Universe. To sit outside and marvel at His creation: at the mountains, the ocean, the flowers, and the sunset. And finally to answer His call to live your life worthy of the calling you have received. You might ask yourself, what is this calling? You might wonder now that you have accepted Christ as Lord of your life, what is next? What does God want me to do now? I have some pointers that will practically help you follow God in every aspect of your life. Truly following all of these points will be challenging; I never said it would be easy. But it will be worth it.

1. Embrace Your Identity

You are His beloved daughter. Although God doesn’t need you, He wants you. And He wants you passionately. So passionately He poured out His wrath on His only Son in order to have intimacy with you once more. He wants to know you. He wants to know how awful school is, how that girl called you out in front of everybody, how that guy broke your heart, how your mom is critical of your appearance, He wants to now everything. Our God is an active, living, and involved Father. He is a Father. And He fiercely loves you. He is always with you. Psalm 139: 7-10 reminds us,
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”

Our God is a loving father who loves and pursues you because He wants to know you.

2. Kill Sin at All Costs

We all have different sin issues that plague our lives and wage war on our spiritual walk with our Father. Whenever I see a sin issue keeping me from walking closer to the Lord I remember Matthew 5:29,

“If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away.”

Metaphorically if something is causing you to sin, get rid of it. Just eliminate it from your life. Ask your godly friends to hold you accountable and to help you battle that sin issue. Our God is completely loving, but He is also completely just. He has to punish sin (which is why He had to sacrifice His son to return unity with us). He is an all-powerful, all-knowing God. He is power. He is strength. He isn’t a God to play around with. Flee from temptation.

3. Draw Near to God

The Bible promises in James 4:8, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” How do you draw near to God? You draw close to God through prayer (journaling works best for me), worship, reading His Word, and through community. I’ve found that the stronger community of believers you have the stronger your walk with the Lord will be. God made us to be in community with others-we were never meant to be solitary creatures all on our own. A solid group of believers will lift you closer to the Lord. Another way to grow closer to the Lord is worship. Worship brings us closer to our Creator. Ephesians 5:19 says,

“speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God.”

Lastly, reading the Word of God brings you closer to Him. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tell us,

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Reading the Word reveals God to us and prepares us for the work He has for us.

If you have ever longed for a passionate, radical, life-changing relationship in the Lord, the bottom line is to seek and love him. Seek Him with all your heart. Love Him above all else. Talk to Him continually throughout your day, keeping him at the forefront of your mind. Don’t compromise. Fight sin with every fiber of your being. Decide that your love for Him is more important than anything else.

How to Use Sin to Draw You Closer to God

FullSizeRender-2Have you ever done something wrong and felt so awful and convicted that you thought you were beyond the salvation of Christ? Have you ever done something and then the next few days had a horrible feeling in your stomach and felt so disgusted about it that you felt like you could get sick at any second? If you’ve ever felt this way, I have some great news for you. You are free from sin through Christ.
Any sin.
Every sin.
All sin.
Once you have realized your brokenness and accepted God’s gift of salvation through His Son, you are set free from all condemnation.
This is liberating.
This is exciting.
This is life changing.

But that feeling of the weight of your sin still won’t go away. You still feel convicted. I am going to go through some helpful pointers to remind you of your identity and some truths that should never be forgotten.

  1. A Christian’s Life Is Not Marked by Sinlessness, but by Repentance

Being a Christian does not magically mean you will never sin again. 1 John:8-9 states, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to forgive us from all unrighteousness.”

In fact the closer you get to the Lord, the more aware of your sin you will be. That means God will shed the light on sins that you used to think may not have mattered as much. Martin Luther said it best, “All of life is repentance.” As a Christian, you will mess up. And you will mess up bad. But the difference is having a repentant heart. That means turning away from the sin and looking to the cross.

2. Your Sin is a Catalyst for Worshipping Jesus

So you messed up again. You did that thing you PROMISED yourself you would never do again. You got convicted, prayed, and repented of the sin. Now what? Now you praise God for His unending mercy and grace for covering that sin by sending His perfect Son to die for you. Your sin reveals how much you desperately need God and revives a thankfulness within you to praise His Name all the more. Jesus is our advocate. He fights for us. 1 John 2:1-2 states, “If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous.” He loves us.

3. Your Faith is Strong because of Who You Trust In

Your faith is rooted in the everlasting, all-powerful, all knowing God. That is where your faith gets its strength. It doesn’t get it from you being able to “be good” or follow every rule perfectly. If it was dependent upon that, you would fail. But no, your faith is derived from GOD. That is where it’s strength is from, not you. So you don’t have to fear because His love never fails (Psalm 136:1).

4. There is Hope

There will be a time when we are reunited with our Lord. At that time, all our sinfulness will be stripped away and we will be in perfect union with Him once more. Revelation 22:5 states, “No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and the Lamb of God will be in it and the servants will worship Him. […] And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”

We live in a broken world. We are sinful people who will mess up over and over again. But the mark of a believer is one who repents and is reminded of God’s salvation through His Son and praises the Lord through that trial. Whenever you sin, praise God for His unending and overflowing mercy that covers your life.

-Rachel

How to Trust God When It Is Hard

trusting God blogThe wind gently pushed back her auburn hair as she gazed out over the Texas hill country. She felt deep longing well up inside her-a desire to run, to be free, to see the world, to get away from the monotony of her 9-5.

She just wanted to go.

Frustration ebbed at her core- why hadn’t God revealed His plan for her? Shouldn’t she know what she wants to do with her life? At 24, shouldn’t she know her calling?

Deep inside all of us, we have a need to impact others-to make a difference. We all want to matter. Sometimes it is so frustrating to not know God’s plan for our lives. Trusting Him can be difficult. Handing control over to Him can be one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do. I mean we’re Americans, right? That means we fix our problems. So completely relinquishing that power and control to the Lord can feel impossible. Last year I remember not knowing at all what God’s plan held in store for me. I remember praying everyday that He would reveal His will for my life. I’ve come up with a few tips and things to remember as you are soul-searching and asking God for guidance.

  1. If God is your #1, You Cannot Lose

If the Lord is at the root of your being-your guiding force in your life, you cannot lose. Remember Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

Who can stand against the Creator of the Universe? Oh yeah and don’t forget-He is your Father.
God is for you.
He loves you, He is fighting for you.

Psalm 18:32-33 says,
“It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights.”
God enables you.
He allows you to stand before His presence in confidence. Keep the Lord where He belongs-as the ruler of your life and you cannot lose.

2. Wait on the Lord

Today I was reading my Bible and I stumbled upon Psalm 27:14, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
Sometimes God wants us to wait.
With our society, that probably doesn’t sit too well. I mean we live for instant gratification-we can see what all our friends are doing instantly on SnapChat, if we want food, we just drive through Chick Fil A. So God telling us to wait seems contrary to what is ingrained within us. But through waiting God is perfecting us-He is building trust within us and building our patience. When we wait on the Lord and seek Him that is making us grow increasingly more Christlike. And that is the ultimate goal- to resemble our Lord more and more as each day passes.

3. Pray

If you are frustrated-tell that to God. He wants to hear about your sadness and annoyances. He wants to know.
He wants to know everything.
Remember Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” We have a God who is alive and active, He wants to hear your prayers. In Philippians 4:7 God reminds us,
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Talk to God.
If you don’t have time-make time. Lately I have been setting five alarms and getting up extra early because it is literally the only time of the day I can find for the Lord. You always make time for the things that matter to you.

Waiting on the Lord and wanting him to reveal His plan for your life is difficult. It takes trusting in the Lord and allowing him to work in His own timing. Focusing your heart on Him through prayer and making sure that He is Lord of your life is the best way to let him open your heart and reveal to you what His plan for you is. Remember Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

Trust in Him and lean into His perfect strength, because when we are weak, He is strong.

-Rach

Why You Should Stop Letting Social Media Control Your Life

social media blogThe two friends analyzed the picture, brows furrowed in concentration.
“But do you think it’s Instagram worthy?” asked the taller of the two. Her small, brunette friend grabbed her iPhone and held it close to her eyes, scrutinizing every detail.
“Yeah, for sure. Your hair looks awesome. Plus that app we found to add makeup makes your skin flawless, you will definitely get at least 100 likes.”
Triumphant, the willowy blonde hit share.
The next hour was marred with compulsive glances at her phone. She bit her lip, she had only gotten 24 likes and it had been up for 45 minutes: an awful like-to-minute ratio. She turned to her friend, “Should I take it down? I’ve barely even gotten any likes. How many people have already seen it? Do you think people will notice if I take it down at this point?”
Her friend fell silent, a sympathetic look crossing her face.

We have have the need to feel loved, to feel accepted. Deep within our souls, we long for validation. We want to be liked. That longing is normal. Who doesn’t want to feel loved or cared about? The rise of social media has made of all highly aware of just of how popular we are among our peers. The number of likes you get on a picture, the number of followers you have on Instagram, or the number of views you get on your snap story has enabled us to quantitatively determine our popularity.
I know I’ve struggled with this.
The scenario I described above is pretty much a conversation I’ve had with my friends countless times. It’s only been over the past year that I’ve realized that the number of likes I get or the number of followers I have does not determine my worth. In fact, it has zero correlation with my worth.

My worth is found in Christ.
Your worth is found in Christ.
He never changes.
He never gives up on you.

Isn’t that truth so much better than finding your value in the hands of your peers? Whose whims change on a daily basis?

We all have that need to be accepted. The need is rooted deep within us. It stems for our need for Christ. Our souls long for completion through an intimate relationship with Him. It’s not really the number of likes you get that you want. What you truly want is to be accepted and loved unconditionally. That type of love and acceptance can only come from having a relationship with the Creator of the Universe, who loves you regardless of your Instagram following. Whenever I struggle with my identity I always recall 1 John 3:1, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” And that is what we are!
We are children of God. Just let that sink in for a second.
When you walk around with that kind of power at the forefront of your mind, does it really matter how many people have viewed your snap story?
Jesus Christ died for you.
When you are armed with that truth, who cares if you get 15 likes or 1500?

Social Media can be a really good thing. It’s fun to share exciting things happening in your life with your friends. But it can be a bad thing when it controls what you do or when you compulsively check to phone to monitor the number of likes you receive. I challenge you to examine your relationship with social media. Does it dictate what you do? Do you find your identity with who likes your picture? Or how many likes you get?

Instead of being focused on your social media accounts, dig into the word of God, grow into your identity as the daughter of the Most High. Spend time praying and drawing near to Him. He promises, “you will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). Find a good book that challenges and grows you as a Christian. Understand that your worth stems from Him and Him alone.

-Rach

3 Ways to Overcome a Break Up

3 Ways to overcome a breakepDo we ever actually break up with people? After a breakup, we remain Facebook friends, Snapchat buddies, and Instagram followers; but the position changes. You go from once knowing every intimate hope and dream of another person to suddenly watching their lives through a frosted glass. The conversations stop and you go from being someone’s main confidant to an outsider. Someone who isn’t welcome anymore. This transition can be devastating, life-changing, and confusing. It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense to be best friends with someone, then the next day you don’t matter. Having gone through some gnarly break-ups, I want to share with you how I have not only survived them, but grown through the miserable process. God CAN and WILL use break-ups to grow you and teach you how to be more Christlike; you just have to be willing to allow Him.

1. God is your Refuge

I wish I could show you my prayers from a break-up I went through a while ago. I remember praying the same prayer over and over again from Psalm 18:2, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
I literally prayed this nonstop.
I prayed this in the car, I prayed this in the morning, I prayed this on my pink moped driving to class.
This prayer sustained me.
This prayer comforted me.
Take refuge in your Father during this time. He is the only one who can make you get through this. Alcohol won’t help. Going out won’t help. Those things numb you.
God saves you.
He rescues you.

2. Singleness Can Be a Blessing

So many girls want a relationship so badly. We want to share our feelings, passions, and love with another person. God made humans to be relational. That’s a natural, God-inspired desire. It’s not bad, unless it consumes you and comes before God. Also, relationships don’t have to be romantic. You can grow spiritually through friendships. God uses different seasons in our lives to stretch and grow us. Over the past 6 months, I have grown more spiritually than I ever have before. And I know a large reason is because I have been single. For once, I haven’t had a man competing for my attention with the Lord.
Singleness can be huge blessing.
Accept that season in your life and see what God does with it. He has a plan we can’t always comprehend. But remember, God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according His purpose (Romans 8:28).

3. Don’t Contact Him

After a break-up, you need time to recover. I know it is so tempting to call/text/tweet/instagram/snapchat/viber (WHATEVER) him. Just don’t do it. Once you break-up, let it sit. Go be with friends who love you and will encourage you to seek the Lord’s face during this time. Seek God’s presence, don’t run to another guy either. You need to be okay with yourself without a man. I know it’s hard to not contact him-he was your best friend right? You are used to sharing your feelings with him. It seems natural. But remember, he is not that person to you anymore. The relationship has changed and the sooner you understand that, the better. Contacting him will not do you any good, it’ll end up hurting you more. If he refuses to stop contacting you, after you’ve told him multiple times to stop, then block him. If you ended it with him and he can’t respect your decision-that significantly shows how much he respects you. A guy must respect that you have choice in the relationship.

Break-ups suck. They can be some of the most awful, heart-breaking, and devastating times of your life. Whenever you go through a breakup, remember to seek God as your refuge. Pray that prayer from Psalm 18:2 all the time. Write it out and put it on your mirror and memorize it. Lean into God’s Truth that you are His daughter and He loves you immeasurably and walk with that confidence and knowledge at the forefront your mind. Remember, God’s love defines you, not a guy’s affection.
You are a daughter of the Creator of the Universe.
That’s who you are.
That is power.
God is watching out for you. He has the perfect man chosen for you who will love you and help you walk closer to the Lord. God closes doors for a reason, and it is always because there is a better one He is wanting you to walk through once you are ready. Allow Him to work in your heart and make you into the woman that He has empowered and called you to be-with or without a man.

-Rachel