Archive of ‘Faith’ category

Some days it can be hard to follow Christ instead of the world

Some days it can be hard to follow Christ instead of the world.
And for that, I think God maybe disappointed and a little ashamed of me.
Some days it’s hard to display grace to others.
Some days I try hard to be a ‘good Christian’ but know, deep down I am failing.
And that makes me feel ashamed of myself.
Some days I am guilty of spending more time online, reading blogs, than reading the only Word that matters.
Some days I am scared when I see what is happening in this world.
Some days I am sick when I read the hate that comes out of a fellow Christian’s mouth, or from behind a computer screen. That also scares me.
Some days I don’t love thy neighbor.
Some days I wonder if I am doing this for His glory, or for mine.
Some days I see the evil in this world and I cry real, full-on tears.
Some days speaking the Truth is scary when the world demands you to be tolerant of every other belief, even when they are not tolerant of yours.
Some days I forget that I am a sinner too.
Some days I forget Christ died for my sins, all our sins.
Some days I forget that the laws made here on earth are not the laws made in heaven.
Some days I can’t find the words that I am feeling in my heart.
Some day I hope to get it right, but I won’t hold my breath.

Lately it feels like Christians have struggled with a lot of some days. Last week’s Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states has caught many Christians off guard about how to respond.

Some days the world feels crushing and confusing and out of its mind, but Christians have a choice to make. How will we respond? Some days we will respond with love, other days not so much. Because we are human. Christian does not equal perfect.

Some days speaking the Truth gets you yelled at IN ALL CAPS, especially when it is not among popular opinion of this world. Thankfully, the opinion of this world is not the one I worry most about.

I wanted to share four posts that have made me stop and think this week in some way. This ruling has made me think deeper about my faith than ever before. Being Christian is not about being perfect, or having all the answers. It’s a journey.

We Are That Family | “This is What I am going to do today (in response of the Supreme Court Ruling)”
Into The Wild | “Dear Homosexual America: I am Sorry. An Open Letter From a Christian”
The Blaze, Matt Walsh | “Yes, Gay Marriage Hurts Me Personally”
Grace to You | “Why Biblical Christianity Is Intolerable in an Age of “Tolerance”

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.” 1 Timothy 1:15

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LINKING UP with these amazing bloggers who continue to speak truth: Holley Gerth’s Coffee for your Heart and Bonnie’s Spiritual Whitespace. l visit other bloggers writing from the heart.

God Created us to Create

I’ve thought a lot about creativity lately; and why we, as humans, are creative.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1

This is God’s first act of creating something from nothing. He is the ultimate artist.

Later, in Genesis 1:27 it says, “God created mankind in his own image…” When he created Adam (Genesis 2:7), Adam was given the task of naming all the animals God had created. (Genesis 2:19-20)

This is the first recorded act of creativity in the history of mankind.

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:17 God is an artist quote

God created us in his own image and if he is the ultimate artist, then it stands to reason that when we create we are His reflection.

Bezalel is a prime example of that reflection. If you’re like me, you probably skipped over the story of Bezalel tucked away toward the end of Exodus.

It’s here we read about Moses leading the Hebrews out of slavery. They were having a self-pity party, wandering around in circles in the wilderness, and making their own idols. Because of this idol making, and wondering away from God, therefore God decided that a Tabernacle would be built.

The Tabernacle was a portable dwelling place built for God. Now, if you are going to build a dwelling place for God, well, you can’t just slap a few 2x4s together and call it good. Nope. It must be spectacular!

You need a fine craftsman to plan and build a grand Tabernacle. You call an artist. {Ring, Ring} “Hello, Bezalel.”

The Lord says to Moses that he has chosen Bezalel to “make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.(Exodus 31:1-11) God gave Bezalel an assistant named Oholiab, plus a whole bunch of other skilled craftsmen to help with the task.

God didn’t set Bezalel out on his own, He gave him a team of talented artists to work with. I bet Bezalel was freaking out at the idea of building the great Tabernacle, but he trusted the talents God gave him and went for it. It worked out well for him.

How’s that for a holy commission? God could have picked a priest or a warrior for this job, but He didn’t. He picked an artist!

God loves beautiful things.

  • The very nature of the written Word is affirmation of creativity.
  • He created the stars and calls them by name. (Isaiah 40:26)
  • We are God’s ‘image bearers’. When we create, we are sharing his likeness.

Creativity looks different for each of us. We are given a variety of gifts. Like Bezalel, God chose to give you creative gifts…use them. Don’t hide them away or waste them. He created us to create.

I want to be like Bezalel. I want to create something beautiful for Him.

LINKING UP with Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart and Suzanne Eller. As always, check out some amazing blogging inspiration. Choosing to lift you up, not bring you down!

Who Was the Real Mary Magdalene?

The Bible doesn’t tell us a lot about Mary Magdalene’s past. Her back story is hidden from us, left to speculation by many.  Was Mary Magdalene a prostitute, Jesus’ wife, the most loved disciple and Peter’s adversary? We can speculation all day long, or we can look to the Bible for clues about the real Mary Magdalene.

the real mayry magdalene

Background Image Source: StockVault

Luke first introduces us to Mary Magdalene, “Mary who was call Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out…” (Luke 8:2)

Mary was called Magdalene because she was from the fishing village, Magdala on the northwest shore on the Sea of Galilee.

We know Jesus had exorcised many demonic possessions in that area, so we can assume that He was the one who released her from Satan, and because she was following Him. It makes sense if He saved her, she would then follow Him.

Satan tortured her with seven demons…SEVEN! The number seven in the Bible is symbolic of something being finished or complete. In other words, Mary was completely possessed. Read more about the number 7 in the Bible.

Demon possession is bondage of an evil spirit. Mary’s exact afflictions we don’t know, but because of the number 7 we know it was severe. There is enough information in the New Testament that we can imagine what her afflictions could have been. The New Testament tells us such afflictions included insanity, blindness, anxiety, self-loathing or any other disorder(s) commonly described as demonic possession.

Mary Magdalene was truly suffering.

No worries, though. Jesus Christ delivered Mary from all that torment.

Side note: people tormented by demons never sought out Christ for healing/deliverance. They were always brought to Him by loved ones. I assume that was because the demons were rightfully afraid of Christ.

Other than being saved from demons, we don’t know anything else about Mary’s past, but we do know her life after Christ.

So, what does the Bible tell us about the real Mary Magdalene?

  • Because Mary Magdalene was saved by Christ, she was free and righteous (Romans 6:18). Mary Magdalene was born anew.
  • Mary Magdalene traveled with Christ and his 12 disciples. (Luke 8:1-3)
  • Mary Magdalene used her “property and personal belongings” to help support Christ and his ministry. (Luke 8:3)
  • Mary Magdalene was faithfully devoted. She prepared cleaning spices after Christ’s death. (Luke 23:56, 24:1)
  • She was faithfully devoted to Christ. She was there at Pilate’s Hall when His death sentence was announced. She stayed with Him during the crucifixion. She was there when a Roman solider thrust his spear into Christ’s side and pronounced Him dead. She stayed to the bitter end. (Luke 23:54-55)
  • Christ revealed himself first to Mary Magdalene after the resurrection. (John 20:12-17) She was the first to know the most important event in human history. Christ chose a woman to reveal the Good News to the disciples.
  • Mary Magdalene loved Christ with all her heart and soul. He saved her from her demons and for that she gave her life to Him.

Mary Magdalene is a shining example of the power of Christ’s redemption. He is glorified when He rescues us from our demons then uses us for a greater purpose. His purpose. Like Mary Magdalene, we are rescued from a hopeless life to a life that knows the deep love of Christ, but only if we seek Him.

Let’s be like Mary Magdalene. Let’s seek Him. Always.

LINKING UP at these encouraging faith blogs: Counting My blessings, Simple Moments StickJennifer Dukes Lee, Holley Gerth’s Coffee for your Heart, and Missional Women. Go. Read something to lift you up this Friday morning.

Do You Remember the Earthquakes of Nepal?

On April 25, 2015 a 7.3 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal, then 17 days later another earthquake, 7.8 magnitude, hit the area again. Do you remember the earthquakes of Napal?

Nepal earthquakes 2015

In the wake of two earthquakes and multiple aftershocks, the nation of Nepal is desperately struggling to rebuild.

Sure, the News covered the devastation, but quickly moved on to more ‘pressing news’ of the personal lives celebrities and Presidential hopefuls. Living in America, we are so very easily distracted. Sometimes I think we have too much time on our hands, we’re too privileged. No, I know we are.

Even when I feel stressed to the max because things aren’t going my way, that stress is nothing compared to living in a place like Nepal and losing everything, especially people I love.

But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required. Luke 12:48

Translation: Christians are called to give, whether it be our talent, our time, or our money. We give.

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5 Bible Verses for When Life Gets Complicated

Lately, I have felt that life is really, really complicated. That mostly centers around juggling bills, healthcare paperwork, family obligations, work, family stress, car repairs, so, basically life in general. I’ve wondered why can’t life just be simple?

life is simple quote

I half-jokingly tell my husband that we should just sell everything and move to a tropical island. We could spend our days selling trinkets and seashells to tourists, and nights walking on the beach. We’d live the island life, slow and easy. In my head, that sounds wonderfully simple.

But, we can’t do that. Just check out. Although it’s tempting. Really tempting.

What do I do when I want to quit this and move to a tropical island in the middle of nowhere?

I open my Bible for comfort. I admit I haven’t been doing a lot of that lately. It’s an old habit of trying to do it my way, or the world’s way, instead of His way. It’s an old habit to break.

As believers, we aren’t promised an easy, simple life free of complications. We are promised, however that Christ will be with us in our time of worry, stress, and anxiety. That’s easy to forget in this world.

Sometimes we just need a little reassurance that He has our back. I’ve rounded up 5 Bible Verses: When Life Gets Complicated for this very occasion.

5 bible verses to lift ou up when you are down

Isaiah 41:10
[9] You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, And called from its remotest parts And said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you. [10] ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ [11] “Behold, all those who are angered at you will be shamed and dishonored; Those who contend with you will be as nothing and will perish.…

Luke 12:25-26
[24] “Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! [25] “And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? [26] “If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters?…

Philippians 4:6
…[5] Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. [6] Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. [7] And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

John 14:27
[27] “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. [28] “You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.…

1 Peter 5:7
[6] Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, [7] casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. [8] Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. [9] But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.

“And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span?” That is the million dollar question in Luke. What is all this worry and anxiety getting me? An anxiety attack?

I don’t know how I will fix all that is worrying me today. Only the Lord knows. So, I am letting it go. Right now as I type this. [Letting it go…letting it go…letting it go.]

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RELATED READING :: Read Life is Hard over at {in}courage. I read this post a few days ago and just feel in love with Jennifer’s words.  I used BibleHub took up the verses above.

Believe in Yourself For Real

I see this motivational quote pinned all over Pinterest: Believe in Yourself.

Three little words that are meant as an encouragement, but, do we really believe in ourselves?

Sometimes it is easier to believe the “bad” stuff others say about us, but the good stuff goes in one ear and out the other. Why is that? What would it look like if we believed the good things others said about us? Not just take the compliment, then swept it off with the broom of negativity.

What would it look like if we stopped waiting for others to tell us how awesome, fantastic, glorious we are and believed in ourselves, right here, right now? The heck with others say about us anyway!

It's time to believe in yourself for real

Background photo source: DeathToStock

What would it look like if we believed in ourselves and really mean it? Not just because it makes a great quote. Because if we really believed in ourselves we would stop listening to the negative things people say, and listen to the truth. We would listen to our heart.

We would stop the negative talk that happens in our heads. We would stop comparing ourselves with others. We would be our best cheerleader. We would look in the mirror and see the truth. We would see how great and brilliant we really are.

What would we do if we believed in ourselves? Where would we go?

Let’s make a pact. Let’s believe in ourselves for real.

Don’t be Alarmed. He Has Risen!

  Easter bible verse

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.

Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.

As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.'”

Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.” (Mark 16:1-8 NIV)

I don’t know about you, but if I was the one standing in that tomb to find Jesus had risen, I would have been freaking out. I would have ran away, trembling, too.

Do not be alarmed, in other words, do not be afraid. In the Bible, “Do not be afraid”, and other variations of the phrase (don’t be alarmed, fear not, do not fear) appear a lot. One popular myth is that it appears 365 times, but it is closer to 150ish times. 

Fortunately for us, the disciples pushed through their initial reaction of fear. They went on to spread the Word, despite the fear of persecution; and they had very good reason to fear persecution.

Today is Easter Sunday. Let’s take in the heaviness of that day. The day the women went to the tomb to find Jesus risen. There was fear, at first, then there was hope, and probably tears of joy too.

Even in death, Jesus is teaching us a lesson. Push through the fear because on the other side there is hope. There is also faith, comfort, and courage.

The Lord our God is with us. Do not be afraid.

RESOURCES | 365 “Do not be afraid” phrase in the Bible? Miley’s Scribblings has put together a great list here.

Marriage is…

If you are a Sex in the City fan, like me, you might remember the little episode where Carrie has writer’s block. She is so desperate for a story that she contemplates writing a comparison between French fries and men.

That episode reminds me of where I am right now. I am deep into writer’s block and actually wrote a post about my quest for a new can opener that actually works. That is what we call ‘First World Problems’, people. Fortunately for you (and me), I wrote that one in my head and not in pixels.

Instead, below is a a post that I first wrote in 2010. It may be old but it is still relevant today. And, it’s one of my most popular posts entitled Marriage Is…

Marriage is

Marriage is…grocery shopping together to save a buck
Marriage is…vacuuming the carpet
Marriage is…emptying the dishwasher, then refilling it
Marriage is…taking turns cooking dinner
Marriage is…putting the kids to bed, tag-team style
Marriage is…balancing the checkbook and paying bills
Marriage is…respecting each others requests
Marriage is…when the dryer dies and the mini van needs brakes
Marriage is…sharing your hopes and dreams with someone
Marriage is…sharing in the homework chore with the kids
Marriage is…putting your money together for the common good
Marriage is…listening when the other person talks
Marriage is…really listening
Marriage is…hanging out on the front porch on the swing
Marriage is…running to the store to pick up milk, late at night
Marriage is…watching your kids play, together
Marriage is…sharing in the disciple of the kids
Marriage is…faith in the future
Marriage is…growing old together
Marriage is…changing and growing together
Marriage is…emotionally supporting of another person
Marriage is…having someone to let off steam to
Marriage is...loving someone, even when they are not at their best
Marriage is…having someone to kiss everyday
Marriage is…we, not I

Marriage is…not always pretty and romantic. It’s not what you imagined. It’s not always happy days and passionate nights. It ebbs and flows with life. It’s valleys and hills. It’s a roller coaster ride…with laughing, crying and some screaming. Don’t disrespect it. Don’t take it for granted. Celebrate it. Enjoy it.

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Some great additions from reader comments:

  • Love is a choice
  • Marriage is a choice
  • Great understanding makes a great marriage
  • Great sex doesn’t hurt
  • Marriage is not all bliss, all the time

Whether you are married or not, what would you add to the list? After almost 20 years of marriage I would add, marriage is a marathon. Pace yourself. You will get exhausted and want to quit, but you have to push on to find your stride.

*Aqua wedding cake photo: StockVault.

 

World Water Day | March 22

One of my pet peeves is when I see someone (cue a certain member of may family who will remain nameless) leave the water running for no apparent reason. I get it, we take fresh, clean water for granted. With a quick turn of a handle, it’s right there.

In an age where clean water is so easily accessible for us, there are still millions who can only get water from a filthy pond. And, walk several miles per day to collect that water.

Today is World Water Day. Millions in Asia are without clean water.

  • 3.4 million people die each year from water-related diseases.
    That’s almost the entire city of Los Angeles, CA.
  • Diarrhea is the second leading cause of death among children under five in the world. Around 1.5 million deaths a year, nearly one in five, are caused by diarrhea, which kills more children than malaria, AIDS, and measles combined.
  • Globally, women spend 200 million hours a day collecting water. This is equivalent to building 28 Empire State Buildings each day.

THIRSTY FOR CHANGE? | Read how you can help provide clean water to villages in Asia and share Christ with them through Gospel for Asia. Be a part of bringing clean water to villagers in Asia by donating to the Jesus Well Project, or purchasing BioSand Filters that provide 98% clean, filtered water today.

DONATE NOW

Small Seeds Doing Good | The Prom Dress Project

This post comes from my friend and co-worker. She is a Small Seed doing good works.

In one of the most under-served areas of the Denver metro area, Liz is on a mission to make a difference in young people’s lives. To show them there is a better life for them, there is someone who truly cares what kind of adult them grow up to be.

They are not just a statistic.

Their story matters.

One of her many projects is The Prom Dress Project at Aurora Central High School. This event brings stylist, low cost (really low cost) prom dresses to those who can’t afford a fancy, high-priced dress. All this to make girls feel like Princesses for one night.

She is one person doing good things right where she is. She is making a difference.Tentatively, round two of The Prom Dress Project is scheduled for April 1st.

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With a Humble Heart…

Today was Day ONE of The Prom Dress Project 2015.  The amazing women of Friends of Aurora Central High School Alumni Association showed up.  In grand fashion.  With a humble heart, I’m happy to say that we helped prom become a reality for seventeen young women.  I didn’t know what to expect, and honestly, I am the type of person that is really outcome oriented.  I see black and white, so very little gray… just ask my husband.  This is what I know. Seventeen young women had the opportunity to experience what it is to have someone come alongside you and show kindness, to know that we’re all a part of the same tribe.

The women in my cohort, oh my dear gracious, there just isn’t enough that I can say about a group of women that just “get it.”  From those who donated their time, to those who donated their talent with a few stitches here and there (you know who you are girlfriend), to those who offered their treasures… It just didn’t get better than today.

I didn’t sleep well last night, nerves I suppose.  Wondering if this little event would be successful.  We were expecting the local media coverage from our community newspaper, would we have a story to tell?  Today is a day we have a story to tell, about young women that deserve our best, an interested adult who is invested in their story, their future.  Today we had a story about women who make a difference, and I am grateful they are mine.  With a humble heart…thank you, to the young ladies that we served and to the ladies that I had the pleasure of serving with.

By the way… We’re hoping for Day TWO on April 1, 2015.  No Foolin. #alwaysatrojan

*You can check out Liz’s blog here. Or, if you want to know more about The Prom Dress Project, connect with her on Facebook.

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