Count Your Many Blessings…

I was looking over the blessings I’ve written down from the past 10 months, and thought I’d share a few.

  • God brings good out of bad situations
  • Letters
  • People opening up to me
  • Winning a wrestling match with my brother (I’ve grown weak since then…)
  • Kayaking
  • People who trust me enough to ask me questions
  • Dancing with my 2 year-old brother
  • Sunsets
  • Friends who care about doing the right thing
  • God gives peace when we’ve had to let go
  • Dreams coming true
  • Getting to laugh and cry with a friend
  • Healing
  • Andrew Peterson music
  • 2-hour long phone calls
  • God’s amazing grace!
  • Fresh spring air
  • Friends who love me in spite of my darkest secrets
  • The blood of Jesus Christ
  • Insane love
  • Beautiful moments that become precious memories
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So I Have This Fear…

(Don’t you like how I get so fed-up with school that I end up posting something? I mean, who needs to know how to figure out the volume and surface of a pyramid anyway…) (On to the post.)

I’m afraid. (Of teenagers, huge spiders, the future, etc.) I’m afraid to try new things, to take risks and chances, because of one particular fear that I’ve let dominate my life: I’m afraid of failing. Why? I’m afraid of what other people think of me.

This fear literally controls my life. I am scared to death of not pleasing other people. It’s not wrong to care about what other people think of you… but I’ve taken it WAY too far. I turn down opportunity after opportunity after opportunity, because I’m afraid of failing where everyone can see. Activities, chances to make friends, answering a question in class… What if I mess up? What if I say something stupid? What if I get the answer wrong? EVERYONE WILL THINK I’M STUPID AND NO ONE WILL LIKE ME.

Have you ever had these thoughts? This is… my social life. (“Oh goodness, I sounded like a jerk, what will they think of me?” *starts going down long hill of self-beating-up-and-criticizing*)

People – this is a horrible (HORRIBLE) way to exist. Because, you see, the truth is that I don’t live for you. I shouldn’t live my life as if you were always inspecting the way I do my hair. I shouldn’t live as if every person on the planet is tallying up my every loud, obnoxious laugh. I shouldn’t live as if all human beings are scrutinizing my every move, grading my speech, and condemning my mistakes.

Because, my dear peoples, God didn’t create me for you.

He created me for Him.

I was created to glorify Him, to “live for an audience of One”, as I always heard it put. This means glorifying God with myself. Makeup on my face, my speech practiced and perfected, and every move calculated is not the way He made me to glorify Him. I have one purpose – to bring Him glory.

God finds glory in me being me.

And, my friend, God finds glory in you being you.

The Truth About You

I know you feel like a failure. I know you look in the mirror and see the ugly step-sister instead of Cinderella. I know it seems like you keep tripping up, always just out of reach from hope.

Believe me, I know.

But it’s not true. All the things you tell yourself, the voices in your mind whispering those nasty words – they’re all lies. Every. Last. Word.

How do I know this? Because of Romans 8:28-30.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

See, these verses are so, so amazing. There’s so much joy and hope to be found in these truths. So let me explain the truth about you.

First of all, we see that through all things, God works for the good of those who have been called according to His purpose. Through every good time, every bad time, every mountaintop and valley, every trial, He is working good out of the situation. There is hope for every dark night, every pain, every hardship… because we have been called, according to His purpose.

This is the second part of the beauty of that first verse: “who have been called according to His purpose.” This shows that it’s not an afterthought, or that He had sudden pity on a nobody and decided to show random compassion. He works good for us because we have been called. He has CALLED us. Is this not amazing?!

We also see that we have a purpose. We aren’t wandering about aimlessly, searching for a future and destiny. We have a PURPOSE. A God-given purpose. And the things that God works out of every situation are for our good, according to His purpose.

Moving on, we see that God has predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son. This one gets to me big time. We are predestined (which is defined as: “to destine, decree, determine, appoint, or settle beforehand”) to be conformed (which is defined as: “to be similar to or the same as something”) to the image of His Son. Does this not just BLOW YOUR MIND?! We have been predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ! *insert squealing*

But wait – there’s more. Those who He predestined, He also called. Those He called… He also justified.

“Justified” is defined as follows: “to prove or show to be just, right, or reasonable.” This means that God has made us just, right, and reasonable to be presented before Him. (Your mind is officially blown now.)

Those He justified, He also glorified.

Don’t believe me? I refer back to Scripture. Yes, you read that right. Glorified. THROUGH CHRIST JESUS.

Tell that to that ugly step-sister when you see her. Tell that to the failure.

The ugly person in your mirror is glorified and predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ. The failure is justified and called.

Apart from Jesus, we are nothing. But through the blood of Christ, we are predestined, called, justified, and glorified. Praise the Lord – Hallelujah!

Why?

Hi. Sorry I’ve been neglecting blogging stuff. Life’s been pretty rough, and I haven’t really had much to say over here.

But I can’t forget about Easter. So while I posted this song last year, this remains my favorite song for this season, so this is as much as I’ll probably be posting this year. Hopefully next year, life will have calmed down, and I can post something more.

My God Is…

I am currently discovering something very sad and disturbing, yet freeing and joyous at the same time:

My view of who God is, and everything that entails, has been skewed for years.

I’ve tried to fit Him into the box of everything I wanted Him to be, and accepted everything I heard preached about Him; even though the entire time I never realized I was doing this. I reiterated what I was told about God’s character, and how salvation, works, freedom, etc. fit into that picture.

Unfortunately, you’ve probably heard all those same things. I can’t change your mind, but I will beg you to seriously mull over what I’m saying here, try to fully understand, and claim these truths as your own. The deep joy, peace, and love that we all hear Christians are supposed to experience, are all found here.

 

  • My God is not a God of condemnation

 

Rom. 8:1-2, Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

I have absolutely fallen in love with these verses, particularly the first one. There is no condemnation for me. Especially as someone who gets so caught up in and torn down by my failures, I find that concept so incredibly amazing.

God does not condemn me for my sins – they are completely forgiven; forgotten; gone. And instead of condemnation… I have received the righteousness of Christ.

Rom. 5:19, For just as through the disobedience of the one man [Adam] the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man [Christ] the many will be made righteous.

We are sinful from birth. (Ps. 58:3) From the beginning, we are bound to sin, as children of the darkness. However, there is good news for us.

Rom. 6:18, You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

We have been set free from sin! We are slaves to righteousness! As 2 Cor. 5:17 states it, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! Our God is justification. He has removed our sins and justified us in His Son. Our God is reconciliation. He has reconciled us to Himself.

 

  • My God is my Father

 

If we can truly accept this, it will be such an amazing comfort. Every thing our earthly father is to us, God is to us. This concept has really gotten to me recently, as I’ve thought over a few resemblances:

  1. God loves us as His children.

Rom. 8:14-17, For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father“. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Gal. 4:6-7, Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father“. So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

2. God protects and provides for us.

Ps. 121 7-8, The Lord will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

Luke 12:24, Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!

3. God disciplines us as His children.

Heb. 12:7, 9-10, Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? …Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.

The discipline especially gets me. When we picture God as our Father, don’t we normally imagine a big pair of arms to just hold us and hear Him say He loves us? We don’t picture a good Father doing something we don’t like! Discipline isn’t enjoyable. (v. 11) But He finds it necessary for our own good, that we may share in His holiness.

 

  • My God is sovereign

 

I’m not going to go down the Calvinism vs. Arminianism path, but I do believe in the sovereignty of God. The sovereignty of God is literally “God’s supreme power”.

I’ve been tested in my belief in this over the past year as I’ve faced trials. Surely God has left me; He couldn’t have allowed this to happen; God can’t be in control here.

But I still believe that my God is sovereign.

I don’t believe we can fully comprehend or understand the sovereignty of God; if we as humans with finite minds could understand an infinite God, what kind of God would that make Him?!

I do believe that my God is sovereign. It won’t always make sense to me, but God knows what He’s doing, in every area of my life. I may not understand, but my job is not to understand – it is to trust in His sovereignty.

 

  • My God is personal

 

It’s taken me years to finally start to grasp that. He is our Father; He loves us enough that He died for us. His love didn’t diminish or change after He reconciled us – He still wants us, to be our first love, to be a part of our lives. Somehow, we’ve got it into our minds that we don’t need Him so much after we’ve been saved; thanks God, we can take it from here!

God isn’t just pleased with sitting on the sidelines and watching you live your own life. He wants to get involved! He wants to be our friend, to be our Father, to be our love, to be our help and salvation. There is so much depth to that that we miss, and try to fill with other human relationships. But it can’t be the same.

I’ve failed to see that in my own relationship with Him. I’ve subconsciously pictured Him as giving out directions and maybe giving me a hand to pull me back up when I fall for the 849734th time. But He’s not like that! His love for me is enough that He wants to hold me when I’m weeping, to discipline me when I go astray, to want me to let Him be my Father.

There’s so much about our God that we fail to see. We need to know Who it is that we’ve put our faith and trust in! Knowing our God changes our faith dramatically.

A Life-Changing Truth

I have titled this post “A Life-Changing Truth” because that’s exactly what I want to share with you today. There is one important truth that has the power to see you through every dark night, every valley, every stormy trial. It’s taken me way too long to realize, but I’d like to share it with you, that it can encourage you and carry you as you face each new day.

Let me paint you a picture of reality, where the world is full of people with a long list of expectations they have for you. They talk about acceptance, loving you for who you are, and meanwhile making mental checks of your faults and shortcomings. There are always a bunch of standards you must strive to meet, from being a “good” neighbor to a “good” friend, from a “good” sibling to a “good” son or daughter. If we don’t meet all the criteria, then basically, we’re just not good enough.

It’s exhausting to live in this world! I know it is! Yet, isn’t this how we live our lives? We constantly strive for something we are unable to obtain. Always working toward meeting these standards, trying to measure up to what is expected of us, we get burned out. We can never seem to meet every requirement, every expectations. We can never be or do enough.

So we live our lives like a hamster on a wheel, going in circles, desperately trying to reach something we will never be able to reach. Life becomes a dark hole; we’re trapped inside this endless cycle. We’re worn. We want to quit. Why bother with even trying if we will never reach it?

This mentality has, unfortunately, spread into Christianity. We try so hard to be a “good” Christian. We work will all of our strength to be everything we think God wants us to be. We never pray enough. We don’t read the Bible enough. We don’t give enough, serve enough, do enough. Enough for what?! For God to be happy with us? For Him to love us? Of course – surely He would be happy with us if we served the right number of hours each week and read 100 chapters every day. I mean, right? This is what we’re being taught, so it must be true… Right?

Wrong! God’s favor is not dependent on what we do. His love is not determined by how much we give or when we pray. Think about the logic of this for a minute. We were dirty, depraved sinners before salvation, completely helpless and unable to do anything on our own to secure or earn our salvation. And even still, God loved us in this state. (Rom. 5:8) He loved us regardless of our sins, regardless of our helplessness.

So turn the tables now. We are saved, and think of the mindset our churches have adopted and drilled into our heads. We must become more like Christ. To do this, you must follow this exact set of rules, all of the time, and work with every ounce of strength you have to be pure and holy, just as God is. If you by chance fail and sin, you must beg God to forgive you, to reconcile you and remove the sin that’s standing between you and Him, and work as hard as you can to essentially stop that sin in your life. Basically, your works are what earn you God’s love and favor.

What happened?! Before salvation, we were helpless, unable to earn anything by our works. But after salvation, something magically happens to make our efforts mean something, so that now we suddenly have the power to make God love us based on what we’ve done?

People, we have done nothing! God’s love for us didn’t change after salvation. Our abilities didn’t change after salvation. We are still incapable of earning anything by our works, and God’s love is still as unconditional and undeserved as it was before.

To try to be like Christ by our own works, to think we can achieve it by our efforts, is literally trying to sanctify ourselves. It will not work! We are human beings, flawed and imperfect; we will mess up – by this system, we will never, ever obtain that state of being just like Christ, pure and holy. Not by our own works. Sanctification is through the work that Christ alone is doing in us. (Phil. 1:6) He is the one who is perfecting us, shaping us, and making us more and more like Him.

Listen to this good news – we live in Christ. We don’t live as ones who are constantly trying to match up to standards, constantly falling to sin – we live in Christ. Literally. If you are a believer, you died to your sins, to the self that was born in sin, and you have been made alive in Christ. Literally.

So here’s the truth that will carry you through the dark nights and stormy trials. God isn’t waiting for you to get your act together, to do “enough”, or to meet a certain set of requirements to find joy in you. He isn’t judging you, giving you a list of standards, or waiting for you to fulfill all of His expectations. As His child, there is no condemnation for you. Read that again. There is no condemnation for you. He has already removed your sin – He no longer sees it. He really, truly loves you exactly as you are, as His beautiful, chosen child.

It’s called the grace of God. We don’t deserve it, but He has given it to us anyway. We don’t deserve to be called God’s children. We don’t deserve to have all of our sins erased forever. We don’t deserve such an unconditional, everlasting love. But it is all ours.

So while we live in a world who will shower us with expectations and standards, we can cling to a God who takes us exactly as we are. When it seems like we’ve failed yet again, we can remember that God does not count it as a failure. Oh thank you, Lord, for your wonderful grace!