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.”

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

5 Dating Non-negotiables

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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