12.26.2011

The Cussing Christian

It was sixth grade and AOL's Instant Messenger was the new big thing. My friends and I all had our own 'Buddy' lists of our friends. It was then that I began to take a real notice for cussing. A lot of my friends were doing it. A little piece of my sinful heart began to wonder about it.... Should I do it too?!


I knew it was wrong. Neither of my parents ever said a cuss word. I had learned from my older brothers to not say certain things simply because they were no-no's. In my young age, I was ignorant of what the words even meant. They were just things people said when they were angry... or simply because it was another word to insert into a sentence. After so long of witnessing it, I gave in. Only virtually, that is. During IM conversations I would blurt out one of those words. It made my sinful self feel better.. I felt like I fit in a little more.


What is it about cussing that causes people to take part it in anyway? Is it because those words actually mean something? Is it because it's just what 'everyone' does? Is it just one of those bad habits? Does cussing even mean very much anyway?
Should we be concerned?


It turned out that my God-given and never waning conviction turned the tide in my wrestling with cussing. Shortly after, when the guilt became too much for me, I admitted my little online chatting mistake to an older brother. That was the end of it for me.


Since that time so long ago, I've had a variety of conversations with many people about cussing and whether or not it's right. Some say it's just words. Some don't do it just because they know it's forbidden. Some do it only if they believe their emotions are so heightened that it then gives them the O.K. to blurt out a word or two.

Truthfully, the cussing Christian is one that has always had me baffled. Why do Christians do it? And why do they think it's okay? For those who know me exceptionally well, they know cussing is something I feel strongly about, and something I never waver to (Partially because I've already had my brief experience with it, which was more than enough, and also because, thankfully, God has given me an overwhelming amount of grace to keep me from it). The idea of a Christian cussing simply perplexes me.


I've seen Christians in all areas of my life who cuss. Church. Work. School. Close friends.


Not too long ago, I was inquired by someone about a certain word that is typically deemed a cuss word. They questioned whether or not I believed it was a cuss word. Without a doubt I said yes. Their response was somewhere along the lines of... It's not so bad or as bad, and their use of it is only when necessary. Strangely enough, this wasn't the first time the word had been brought to my attention in a question form.


With so many mixed feelings in the air, what is a Christian to do?
Here are my thoughts, take 'em or leave 'em.
(Skip straight down to #4 if you want to be straight and to the point).

1. Words do matter. They show the state of the heart.
One of the biggest arguments is that cuss words mean nothing. It's just a word, they say.
Well that can't be true. Otherwise we could all say God's name in vain and it would be no big deal. Right?

Luke 6:45
"The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks."

Matthew 15:10-11
"And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”


Talk to a person for a little while. Simply by what they talk about, you'll know a lot of what they value and care for. You'll be able to tell at least a little about where their heart is. Does cussing reflect a heart that is saying "Jesus is Lord over my life and in all things I want to serve and glorify Him"?

2. Speak with intention.
Matthew 12:36-37
"I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Often times, cuss words are spoken vainly and without much thought. They are thrown out simply because they can be. Does this show a desire for wisdom? Or does it show a lack of self-control through speech? Speak not carelessly like the above verse mentions, but instead speak with intention and purpose.

3. Speak only words that edify you and others listening.
2 Timothy 2:16
"But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness,"



Ephesians 4:29
"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."

Ephesians 5:4
"Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving."

As long as I can recall, I have yet to hear a cuss word spoken in joy, in thankfulness, or in a positive way. Cuss words are infamously known to reflect negative events, people, experiences, objects, etc. Would God encourage His followers to use these words to build ourselves and others up?


4. Be honest with yourself: Does cussing glorify God?
1 Corinthians 10:31 says,
"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."


While the other points I mentioned above are important, they all lead to one main point: Does cussing glorify God?
It is the most simple yet most important question. If I am to be straight to the point about the topic of cussing, that is the question I would ask.


And it is not a question just for cussing, you should ask that question in regards to all the things you do in life. If the chief end of man is to glorify God and to be satisfied in Him, then whatever goes against that, we should not do, or at least not desire to do.


As Christians we should not dabble in things that are worldly, even if it's just a little bit - like my friend asking me what I thought of a certain cuss word. We should not say, "Well I think it's OK to go this far, because it's not really crossing the line, and it's really not that bad..." Saying that doesn't show a genuine concern for what pleases God. It shows a concern for how far we can go without entering major sin yet still pleasing our sinful desires.
As Christian's, we are representing the name of Jesus Christ. If someone honestly looks cussing straight in the eye, can they say that it pleases and brings glory to His name?

My goal in this blog post was not to condemn or to make people feel guilty. I realize that once someone has cussed for so long, it is a very difficult habit to break... as they say 'Old habits die hard.' The goal in all of my blog posts is to make people think, to make people connect their life and what they think and do, even the simple things, with their relationship with God. My goal is to encourage and motivate readers to be willing to sacrifice things or make changes, whether easy or hard, small or big, in order to be closer to God and glorify Him more.


As Paul says,

Romans 7:22-25
"So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;  but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?  Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

12.06.2011

Are you loving?

A few weeks ago, I finally picked up the best seller Crazy Love by Francis Chan. In one of the chapters, it presented a great exercise that I never thought of before.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."

I would say most of us, if not all, are quite familiar with this passage of scripture. Here's a new way to look at it. Every time you see the word "Love", replace it with your name. I.e. "Rachel is patient..."
When I did, I was really convicted of the ways I struggle with regarding love.

Let me know what you think!

Note: Crazy Love is a great book, if you haven't read it, you should definitely check it out! The exercise I borrowed comes from chapter 5.

12.05.2011

His Unconditional Love

"...to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God's holy law, and this is my solemn vow."

Recognize these words? They are probably some of the most said phrases, being said in some form or fashion at nearly every wedding. Over this past weekend, I had the joy of attending my uncle's wedding. It was beautiful and I'm so happy for them!
However, as I sat there admiring the picturesque scene of two people pronouncing their love for one another, I had a thought.

When two people get married, they essentially pronounce their unconditional love to one another. Saying that, in their union, they will love each other no matter what happens, whether good or bad.
In Ephesians 5, Paul shares about the comparison of how a husband is to a wife as Christ is to the church. Here comes my thought... 

Something we struggle with as Christians is remembering that God loves us, every part of us. Even the parts about ourselves that we hate. God is not pleased with the bad parts of us, of course, but He knows the sinful state we are in and promises a way of deliverance.
If as humans we promise our spouse our unconditional love, then why do we struggle so much with the idea that Christ promises this too, especially when He promises it with heights and depths of infinity and eternity?

Romans 8: 37-39
"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Personally, I have trouble understanding how God could love someone like me, a wretched sinner with nothing to offer besides mistakes, regrets and selfishness. But that is where the unconditional love kicks in and is most beautiful.

I think a lot of Christians out there need this reminder:
God does love you, all of you. Through better spiritual times, and worse spiritual times. Through when you're feeling spiritually rich and spiritually poor. Through spiritual sickness and health. NOT until death do us part, but in fact, especially in death, when we are reunited and made brand new. Instead of running away from our darkest parts because we have the assumption that Christ "can't handle them", we can know that God will meet us even in those dark places, be with us through them, and provide the way out.

Psalm 139: 11-12
"If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
   and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
   the night will shine like the day,
   for darkness is as light to you. "


Note: I know wedding vows are not necessarily biblical, but I think the general idea presented can be considered truth.

11.30.2011

11.24.2011

WOW! Would you look at the time?!



OH.
So I just happened to notice that my very first blog post was exactly one year ago this day.
UNBELIEVABLE! It's crazy to reflect on that post and see where I was then compared to where I am now.
God certainly moves and works, and is still working in the seen and unseen.

I wanted to say thank you for all the views, comments, and follows. I'm glad to know that God can use someone as imperfect as I to inspire and motivate others!

Much love to you all! ♥

And if you are curious, you can read my very first post by clicking right here!
Enjoy :)

11.23.2011

The Man Next to Me


I wonder if he even remembers me, but he sure did his part so that I would remember him.
It was 8:30 in the morning and I had just boarded the airplane. I was exhausted.
I had gotten back into the United States earlier that morning, arriving in Flordia around midnight. By the time I had gotten to the hotel and fallen asleep, it was nearly 2AM. Asleep for only four hours, I was woken up again at 6 to head back to the airport to return home.

So there I was, sitting in the somewhat comfy seat, receiving a blanket and pillow from the friendly flight attendant. The seat next to me remained open... I always wonder who will sit next to me. A man? A woman? Young? Old? Quiet? Extrovert?
As I watched many file in through the thin aisle, he finally came to my row. He was a middle aged man, certainly the business type. Suit and tie.

"This should be interesting..." I thought to myself.
He sat down and seemed relatively quiet. We exchanged some smalltalk and what happened next, I wouldn't have expected.

For the next two hours of the plane ride he talked up a storm. From books, to China, to why George W. Bush was a bad president, why suburbs led to obesity and isolation, and why I should probably change my window panes. This man was a riot. I felt disrespectful for not having much to say, though truthfully his knowledge was out of my league and made keeping my eyes open even more difficult.

I wasn't terribly fond of the man. He didn't have the most respectful attitude towards the mission trip that I was returning from. But hey, he was an environmentalist and didn't like the idea of 400 people flying planes to another country when we could just send money and have people there do the work. Yet there he was sitting on a fairly large sized plane, ironically.

While most of the conversation remains a blur to me, there is one specific moment in the conversation I remember. He told me that in all of life, I should always remember two things: Proximity and Ultimately.

He told the story of a family member who was satisfied with their job in proximity, but ultimately, it wasn't quite what they wanted. He told me that no matter what I do in life, make sure it is ultimately satisfying and worth all my time and efforts.

How many things in life feel satisfying in proximity but ultimately add up to nothing?

How many things do we do in our every day life that aren't really worth our time, worth our life, worth our thoughts, worth our money, worth our breath to speak of, worth space in our heart?

Consider what is important in your life right now. At the end of your life, do you think you will look back and say "That is what really made a difference in my life, in others' life, in the world!" Especially for the sake of God and His glory.

Dear Christian out there,
Do you value time? Do you really value time?
Like everything else, time belongs to our Lord.
That means you're borrowing something of His.
How do you take care of something you've borrowed?

Certainly the gentleman I sat next to wasn't necessarily the most pleasant person to converse with, but he sure got me thinking. And any person who can make me truly think, deserves some respect.
I am thankful that even on that long, tiring morning, God provided someone that didn't know Him to help me know Himself better.

"Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."
Ephesians 5:15-16

P.S. Happy early Thanksgiving! :)

11.20.2011

The Pursuer



They were exposed and afraid as they heard Him coming in the midst of the garden. Once perfect, and now with shame. It was the day they died spiritually.

If you didn't guess yet, this is the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3.
As most know, following their disobedience was their overwhelming shame and consequent hiding due to their being naked. They had sinned and they felt it. With that, they instantly began to fear the Lord.

The greatest irony is that in the moment of our salvation, we acknowledged our sinfulness and admitted the incurable flaw within us. We lay down all that we are and speak our need for God, for His redemption and grace. However, once past this point, most Christian's forget that all of the rest of life is returning to the Gospel - the fact that we need God's grace everyday and not just the day we began our relationship with Him.
How many times do Christian's run away from God in their sin rather than going straight to Him?
How many times do Christian's think that they need to fix themselves up, that now it is their responsibility to make up for their constant faults?

Living that mindset causes the inevitable. Perhaps you've heard the common phrase:
"If you feel far from God, who moved?"
The obvious answer is that the person did.

Like Adam and Eve, in the middle of sin and struggle, we hide, we run, we disconnect.
Often times due to believing the lie that perhaps God doesn't truly love us, that He hasn't truly forgiven us fully, or that we need to better ourselves first.

Let's return to the Genesis story and see what happened next.
Adam and Eve had decided to hide, shortly after there was the sound of someone coming. It was Him. God. "Where are you?" he called out.

Did you catch that?
He came looking for them.
He pursued them in the midst of their sin.

He pursues us in the midst of our sin. I've been learning this recently and I know so often I forget, so often we forget. God knows our weaknesses, He understands our life-long battle with sin.

God never left Adam and Eve despite their sin.
And God will never leave you despite your sin, in fact, He is pursuing you. Stop running.

Matthew 18:12-14
“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?  And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish."


9.20.2011

I Just Don't Feel like It

Photo credit belongs to my amazing and lovely friend Laura Kindness © Eternity Photos

Love. Say that word a few times. It's powerful, isn't it? Love.

Love is who hung himself on a tree for my sake, for our sakes.
Love is what rescued us from sin.

Most of us, if not all, are familiar with the 'Love Chapter' of the Bible.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."

Emotions are incredible, aren't they? They allow you to feel out of this world happy or excited. On the other hand, they can allow you to feel extremely depressed or lonely. And then there are days when you may feel nothing at all. Most come to realize that emotions can be incandescently beautiful yet also have the potential to be deceptive and unstable all at the same time.

On fire for Jesus. You've heard that one, right? Yeah, me too. It's the coined phrase for any believer who's on a roll spiritually, gaining more and more momentum towards Christ. It's an encouraging sight!

But what about those who.... just don't feel like it?

What about those times when your emotions or feelings have hit rock bottom. You're not so much "on fire" for the King as you originally were. Life can get busy. Good habits start to fade. Christ gets crowded out. And suddenly a burning fire is quenched to an occasional spark, a faint glimmer.

I started out this post with the mention of love because that is what should continually push us towards Christ. Not an emotion, a fleeting feeling or hype from a moment. Why? These can be good for the moment, but that's it - just the moment! They cannot sustain you for any longer than that.

When we come to know Christ, we die to ourselves. We look past the distractions, and say that we choose to love Christ, to love His commands, to love His will... All with His help of course!
In those moments when we do not FEEL like it, then we need to remind ourselves that true love is not a feeling, but it is something you do. It is sacrifice.

For all of you out there, who perhaps just don't feel like it. That's okay.. we all get there sometimes. It just comes down to what you do with the situation you're in. Read God's word even more, pray even more.

Perhaps you are the one whose raging fire has now reduced to an occasional spark or flicker, well let me tell you, an occasional spark is all it takes to reignite the fire.

Proverbs 8:17
"I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me."

9.01.2011

Do you worship God completely?

As you should know by now (if you've read my past posts), I consistently follow the Lies Young Women Believe blog. They are starting a new series about a book called "Uncompromising" by Hannah Farver, a young 20(?) year old who has written a book!

I was fortunate enough to have won two copies, to read along and share with a friend, as the discussion continues. Today was the launch of the series, and with it they posted a soul stirring video!

Even if you are a guy, PLEASE check it out! Anyone and everyone could and hopefully should benefit from this video! It'll get you thinking about things. :) Enjoy!

8.31.2011

PoP: Proverbs 17:10 - The Fool vs. The Man of Understanding



Rebuke.
 To express sharp disapproval or criticism of (someone) because of their behavior or actions.


Who likes rebuke? Certainly not me!
It can cause a wide range of emotions and reactions from people.
It can sting your pride.
It can cause a feeling of inferiority or failure.
Or a person can completely ignore and use it as the perfect ticket to rebel against authority.


In all honesty, I have felt most of the listed above, if not all of them, until I came across this verse. Check it out!

Proverbs 17:10 (NIV)
"A rebuke impresses a man of discernment more than a hundred lashes a fool."

(NASB)
"A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding than a hundred blows into a fool."

Wow. Isn't that verse incredible?

We often wish we didn't have to deal with rebukes, or we desire to disregard them, due to the way it causes us to feel. But what type of man can hear and accept a rebuke? A man of understanding.

First off, I would say a man of understanding is someone who is able to see the need and value of wisdom. In fact, one of the prominent things the book of Proverbs teaches is that wisdom and understanding are two of the most valuable things to attain.

 
Proverbs 8:11
"For wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her."

How do you become a man of understanding?

Proverbs 1:7
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline."


On our own we are fools... afterall, we ARE sheep so to speak, and we all know that sheep aren't the wisest and most clever creatures. In fact, often times they get themselves into danger and trouble!

With that said, we realize our need of wisdom. Attaining wisdom starts by submitting to the King of perfect wisdom - God. The first sign of divine wisdom is fearing (or respecting) God. Only a man who has truly encountered, experienced and knows the Lord, can have an utmost and genuine respect for who He is.

A fool is more apt to disregard and push away a rebuke, because his interests are far different than a man of understanding. A man of understandings main goal is to glorify, please and be satisfied in God. A man of understanding will see the rebuke as a blessing in disguise you could say. Although it may not be the most wonderful thing to hear, it gives the man of understanding an opportunity to make changes to his lifestyle in order to make himself more pleasing and honoring to God.

All of our lives after becoming saved are full of moments when we need corrected or rebuked, after all, we are still sinners! Next time a rebuke comes your way, who will you choose to be? We always have a choice to be the fool, or the man of understanding. I hope and pray you choose the latter!


P.S. Oh hey there :) I'm sorry my posts have been less frequent recently. It's that time again, yep you know what I mean.. SCHOOL! Considering I am a freshie in college, I am still adjusting to the classroom life, after finishing up six years as a cyber-schooler! But after the first couple classes, I've begun to enjoy it and wow, I must have forgotten how interesting people are! I'll try to keep posting when I can.. but I only prefer to post when I actually have substance, so bear with me. :)


8.22.2011

What it's like to be Lost

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 shall direct your paths."

Last week my Mom and I had the wonderful opportunity of visiting my brother, Gabe, who was graduating from basic training in the army in Georgia. We were so proud of him and couldn't wait to see him after the long 10 weeks it had been since he departed us.

We were only down there a few days, one of the days was a family day and then the next was his official graduation. Unfortunately, my Mom and I, though seemingly confident, had gotten the location all mixed up. Instead of realizing that the day was family day, we thought it was graduation, and so we spent a whole two hours going all over the place and missing the entire ceremony on family day. It was extremely frustrating and hard to maintain a calm attitude when everyone was telling us so many different places.

We had gone to one place, for another to tell us it was somewhere else, there was even a point when a kind gentlemen directed us to a place by driving us there. But even then we were still in the wrong. I can't even begin to tell you how disappointing it was and simply endless seeming. Were we ever going to get there?

It reminded me of the guidance that I have in knowing Jesus. It made me realize what millions, actually billions, of people feel like everyday. Spiritually, they are lost. Even some Christian's today are so far off from God that they too are lost in some senses. They are lost just like my Mom and I are, wandering from place to place, whatever another person told us, is where we went. And just like the world, these people are lost, they continue traveling from place to place, desiring to find what they have been searching for for so long, for all their life. Do they ever find it?

It gave me such joy and gladness to know that I have a Shepherd, that I have someone there to direct my path. And while sometimes in life we may feel so lost, or unsure of where to go, we must remember and be encouraged that by knowing God, we are far from ever being lost! We can be so thankful in knowing this, and live life in that confidence! :)

And to end the story happily, we did miss the 30 minute ceremony, but I got to see my favorite brother ever AND, we knew the area so well after being lost for two hours that we made it perfectly on time to the graduation with a good seat and view! :D

P.S. If any of you readers live in the south.. I just wanted to tell you you're all wonderful! I will never get over how friendly southerner's are! I might just have to move south someday!

Gabe and I after his graduation :)

8.14.2011

Introducing a New Series - "Perspectives on Proverbs"

I am so excited to finally announce the start of a brand new series that I have been thinking about for several weeks now! The series will be based entirely on the book of Proverbs, where I will take specific sections of verses, or even random verse combined to make a point or to show results of my studying. The really special part that I am even more excited to announce about this series, is that it will include GUEST WRITERS! Part of the reason why I am naming the series 'Perspectives on Proverbs' is because of the perspectives that will be shown through varying views and takes on different verses from different people. I will try to have these random writers, who could be good friends, family, or even fellow bloggers, post at least once a month, possibly more. You never know, the next guest writer could be YOU! To kick things off, we're starting this series off with my first guest writer, a dear and faithful friend of mine, whom I have loved utmost! Check out this Perspective on Proverbs, coming from Proverbs 16:1-3, by: Holly Lueers.


"Are you a planner (and no, I don’t mean an agenda book you might buy at Office Max)? A planner… as in a person who thinks about the future and meticulously plans out everything? I myself would be the first one to admit that I am a huge planner, especially right now. I have been planning for college, and trying to set in stone where I will go, and what I will major in, because of what I think would fit will with my personality and interests. It  is so attractive to want to make huge decisions about the future, based on what you know in the present; decisions such as where you want to go to college, where you think you will work, where you dream of living, who you want to marry… the list just keeps going. Obviously, it is wise to plan to a certain extent, but the question is not “Should I plan?” but “How can I plan biblically?”

Here is what Proverbs 16:1-3 has to say about planning: “The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.”
1.     
  1. God’s will and His plans for our lives are superior to our own. We make plans based on the information that we have, whereas God decides on plans for our lives with full knowledge of what is best for us and will bring most glory to Himself. In the end, His plans win out. Sometimes, He guides us through difficult situations that we may not have even wanted to take into consideration because they seem so difficult, but we can have assurance that in the end, it is for our good and God’s glory (Romans 8:28-“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”)

  2. We always have motives behind the plans that we make. Sometimes they are good motives,    with intentions to follow God’s will, and grow in faith; and sometimes they are poor intentions (such as, to bring honor to self). However, God know our motives and tests them.
  3. When our plans are aligned with God’s plans, they will succeed and nothing will be able to stop them. We can align our will and plans with God’s by spending time daily in His Word, seeking Him in prayer, and listening to the wise counsel of other Christians. Proverbs 20:18 says: “Plans are established by counsel; by wise guidance wage war.”
So what does this mean? Well, when planning, we should keep in mind the purpose of our lives: to glorify God. If something carefully planned for the future doesn’t work out the way we thought, we can have hope in knowing that God has a greater plan. Second, when planning, think through your motives. We should always strive toward pure and holy motives, seeking God’s will first and aligning our hearts with Him. Third, we can trust God with the future. Seeing plans fall through makes us trust God more to provide for our future, and reminds us that God is more important than all the plans that can take our eyes off of Christ.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.  You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:11-14"

About the Author:

My name is Holly, and I am a senior in high school. A few things I enjoy are reading my Bible and going to youth group (it is pretty much amazing), math, plain hot tea, reading books by John Piper, swinging on the swings, and hanging out with my pal, Rachel Chick. I work at Office Max, where we provide for all of your school and office supply needs (You should do your school shopping at Office Max) and on other days, you might find me driving my sisters around town. I love my family, which God had blessed me with…He has been good in so many ways in my life!

8.05.2011

Seeking Sin vs. Seeking Christ

Have you ever noticed that as soon as your thoughts, actions, or motives begin to drift off course from God, sin becomes more prominent and like the 'better' choice? Besides Christ, there is only one other thing that we can focus on.

Matthew 6:24 says:
"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."

You could replace money with any other thing in your life that could or maybe is an idol. It's simply not possible to be seeking Christ and seeking sin at the same time.

The other day I was reading in 2 Chronicles and I came across a verse that stood out with significance to me:

2 Chronicles 12:14
"He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the LORD."

This verse is speaking about Rehoboam, a man who became king over Jerusalem. Originally, Rehoboam had humbled himself enough, and the Lord's anger was turned away. Unfortunately, Rehoboam did evil - because he stopped seeking Christ and began seeking other things, which lead to sin.

I find this true in my own life. As soon as I stop fighting the fight to keep Christ at the center of my life, then other things slip into that center. Things that are not pure, holy, and edifying. Instead, things that are stumbling blocks to me take over. It can even occur through simple discouragement from the joy and peace found in our King Jesus.

The moment we stop seeking Christ, we are setting ourselves up for misfortune. The scary thing is, sometimes we don't even notice that we're slipping, that our focus is drifting. Before we know it, we find ourselves in a mess and that's only when the power and grace of God can rescue us!

So what are you seeking? Or should I say WHO are you seeking?
If we catch ourselves slipping, that is when we need to examine our hearts - our motives.
Then hold fast to Christ, because through His eternal strength and power, He will lead His sheep.


Psalm 140:23-24
"Search me, God, and know my heart;
   test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
   and lead me in the way everlasting."

Seek the Cross!

8.03.2011

Time: Redeemed or Wasted?



Ephesians 5:15-20 says:
"Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish,  but understand what the Lord's will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus."

We live in a fallen world.
Day by day, more and more is being corrupted. More is being taken into darkness.
Each day that goes by, is one less day we have to live.

Let's switch gears a little..


The idea of time always fascinates me.
Recently I turned 18 (hooray for being able to vote and partake in sweepstakes/contests!), and the realization of time and life hit me.
Time is going so fast. The other day at work I was thinking about how Jesus could return at any time, and how happy I (and many others) will be to finally go to place far better than this.

But until then, the days are evil.
What are we to do about it?

The actual context of this verse refers to redeeming our time.
According to Dictionary.com, the definition of redeem means to purchase or buy up.

So what are we "redeeming" or buying our time from?
Waste.

Do we realize how evil the days are? How evil the times are now?
Do we realize the spiritual battle we are in from the moment we wake, to the moment we lay our head down at night?
The very devil himself fights for the destruction of your soul, and though it may not seem very apparent at certain times - it's there.

Temptations come into our path every day, many times, and that is when we have the the choice to either redeem or waste our time.

Redeeming our time begins long before the choice appears. It begins with your walk with Christ. We must be close to Him in order to not get caught up wasteful things, or the things that lead us astray.

Everything we have is from God, everything. Even time, especially time.
Redeem it!

7.23.2011

I'm leaving again!

I am leaving tomorrow morning for a mission trip with my youth group to Tunica, Mississippi!

I just wanted to let you guys know, since I won't be posting for another week!

But when I get back.. be prepared for some awesome posts.. :D

<3

7.21.2011

My Secret Skill of...

Rapping! 
My nephew has been visiting this past week. And a couple nights ago we got creative and made this rap video, similar to the one I made with my niece a while back (which you can find HERE!). Clearly it's a growing skill I have. ;)

To say the least, I used to work at Panera Bread, which I did for about a year and a half and here is a little bit of my experience with it... and some gangster mixed in. :P

7.13.2011

Back from Ecuador!

So, I actually got back on Monday. I've just been either too busy/tired/lazy to post. ;)

ECUADOR WAS AMAZING, to say the least.
I think through the trip God really proved to me that He is there, with me, always.

It wasn't so much the ministering as it was the evenings the group spent together.
Every evening all the 8 teams (400 of us) would gather back together for worship, a time of sharing personal experiences from the day, as well as a message. Every single message related to something I have been thinking about in the past couple months.

I made some incredible friendships in the two weeks I was gone. Some I think even deeper than those that I have spent months and many hours building up at home. I miss my galfriends quite a bit!

One thing I learned was that the connection of Christ is a very powerful and overwhelming foundation for any friendship. I never knew any of these people before, and I may never know if I'll see any of them again (besides Heaven) yet they were some of the most powerful and heart stirring friendships. It was simply the fellowship of two believers that drew us so close together so quickly.
I was able to pour out my heart to others and vise versa simply because we shared the love of Christ. We skipped past the more shallow beginning parts of a friendship rapidly and instantly began sharing our hearts, even the parts we so desperately wanted to hide. Nothing compares to the love of Christ shared between two believers. It's amazing!

All in all, Ecuador was amazing. The children there are so sweet, adorable and far more kind than those in the U.S. (it's true)! I believe the count for those who declared salvation was around 500-600 Ecuadorians. That's not a for sure number, of course, but I do know many were saved... may God's name be glorified!

Some things that happened to me while I was there:
-Got "I" surgery
-Got a blood tranfusion
-Ate PBJ everyday for lunch  (that totals around 20 pbj sandwiches in a week... I think I'm set for life)!
-Got to barter at a market
-I got married!
-I got to stand on the Northern & Southern Hemispheres of the Earth! (The Equator for you simpletons).
-I got to meet Britt Nicole (woop woop!)

And many other wonderful things. :D
I really want to blog about other things though and so I will be occasionally posting about the things I listed above to give more detail rather than making an uber long post about all of it at once. This way I can do my normal blogging and mix in my Ecuador experience. :D

Until my next post, enjoy some pics!
ECUADOR
My Miami Roomies :)
Me, Emily, Carolyn, Bailey, Caroline, Crystal
In Quito I had Bailey and Crystal.
YEAH, TEAM 2 REPRESENT!
Crazy hair night :D
All of the 'Cats' :D We would do our thumbs up like cat paws.. it was so silly looking. :)
Carolyn and I on 4th of July :D
A little sweetie she was :)
Right after the 'King Cat' slaps 'Jesus'
Pretty much the coolest people ever... I love these girls! :D
Team 2 at the Equator... With the boys being silly... ;) I miss them all so much!

7.01.2011

My Last Post for Now

Hey guys!

So I arrived in Quito, Ecuador last night around 6:30pm (CST). It is so pretty here! It's kind of strange though, sometimes it feels as if I am just in another city, not an entire other country. It's definitely an interesting place, and people are different. The Ecuadorians sure are sweet though!

A lot of flights got messed up, sadly, so a lot of people aren't even here yet, and won't be arriving for another few hours at least. But God has His way and His reasons!

Since so much of our team was missing, we couldn't do the drama today. Instead we went to a park, played with the children, talked to people, and some really cool stuff happened. One woman was lead to Christ, and fortunately, one of our team mates had a bunch of NT's with her, so she gave the woman one. After that she was reading it, and even showing it to others! It was so wonderful!
The children here are so adorable and sweet. It's definitely difficult some times though, considering I know next to nothing in Spanish. But it is fun, and a learning experience all around!

I can't believe my first week is almost already gone! It's been so crazy and amazing all at the same time.
God is definitely at work though!

Sadly, I will no longer be blogging after this, since internet here is $4 for a 30 minute session. All in all, it's not that expensive and I technically could pay, but I would rather not, and save my money for more important things. I will miss sharing, perhaps near the end of the trip I will get on once more, seeing what money I still have left.

Please keep me, our team, the people of Ecuador, and the trip in general in your prayers. We need it so greatly!

Since I will no longer be blogging, I will leave it up to http://www.neverthesameec.com/ to keep you updated of what we're doing, my team, etc. So check it out, go to Team 2, and you can keep up with us there. :)

Lots of love from Ecuador <3

6.30.2011

*Yawn* Departing from the States!

Hola! (I better start practicing my Espanol, right...?)

So, originally a group of us was going to meet in the hotel lobby at 7am for our flight, but last night it was suddenly changed to meeting in the lobby at 3:45am... wooooo! I DON'T CARE THAT IT'S EARLY. I am sooo excited! I think some of my teammates think it's-too-early-for-you-to-be-this-excited-sit-down-Rachel.

I cannot wait! We should get into Quito between 2-4pm. So if you read this before then.. please pray for all of our teams travels, since there are probably four or five different planes that groups are taking. Either way, continue to pray, please!

The only thing I am kind of sad about is that we are getting different roommates. Instead of 6 people in a room, we will have four, and only one of us in my group is my original roommate. I'm kind of disappointed since we all finally were really getting close and decent friends and now we have to start all over again! But it's okay! We'll survive. :)

Okay! I gotta go!
Hasta Luego! :D

6.29.2011

Ecuador Update!

Hey guys, it's me! :D

WOW, the past two days have been INTENSE. Yesterday we had a total of eight hours of drama training. I was up from 6am until at least 12am. WOOO. BUT IT HAS BEEN SOOOO AMAZING.

On my team there is a total of nine 'Cats', which as I said in my previous post is a gang (of demons) who beat up Jesus, bring Him to the cross, and nail Him there. However, the 'King Cat' does repent and comes to know Jesus in the end, unfortunately the rest of us stay evil. :(
Anyway, the costumes, training and everything else have been really tiring. Sometimes I can see and feel the impatience. Nevertheless, we have nearly perfected (or I'd like to think so) the whole drama. The drama is approx. 20ish minutes, at first it seemed really long, but once we begin now, it goes so fast!

A funny part from yesterday:
There was a session about modesty for girls, so there was a fashion show of bad outfits/good outfits. For the bad outfits, guys came out dressed in girls clothing and it was absolutely hilarious... One guy was wearing this super super short dress and bent over.... that's when I let out a shriek and nearly went blind. Pics will come later! :D

I really am beginning to truly enjoy all my team mates and the fun we're having! We have had some really, really great worship time! I cannot wait until we get to Ecuador!

On a slightly more serious note, pride is something I struggle with. I think we all do to some extent, some worse than others of course. In the past month or so though, I've really felt God tugging at that spot in my heart, and consistently reminding me that He is above all things, the most important, and my King, not me. I think it's kind of ironic since my whole blog thing is "Beautifully selfless" and being humble and meek in spirit. I have really felt that tug even more now, being on this trip. There have been some things that have bothered me, some attitudes, motives, and actions from other people. It's really easy for me to look at them and judge them for it, and be upset that they aren't acting the "proper" way. I think technically, we're probably both at fault. Nevertheless, when I feel that way, I seem to feel that God instantly reminds me that I am nothing too, and it's only by HIS continual grace that I am where I am, physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc. And when I feel I have 'the right' to make assumptions about another, I try to think of myself inside, and what I could do to be more loving to those.
I think (and hope) that God will teach me more of this especially when we get to Ecuador. One of my goals is to truly be selfless, as much as can be in my human state, and glorify Christ through it. It's hard, really, really hard, since it goes against all that sin represents and is. Yet, I know and try to remember that I can do all things through Him who gives me strength. :)

Anyway, my dinner is waiting for me... KFC... yay? Who cares. It's food. And after today, having another 8 hours of drama training.. I AM READY TO EAT!!

Last note: Tomorrow I am leaving for Ecuador! My flight is at 11:15am and I will arrive at 6:50pm (we have a three hour layover, bleh!) central standard time, woooo!

Hopefully I'll update you guys soon on how it goes!
Until then, keep praying!

Oh P.S. I forgot to mention but on my flight from Altanta to Miami, I sat next to this really cool lady. We talked for nearly the whole flight about all sorts of stuff, and when we landed, I asked if I could pray for her and she said yes, so I did! It was so great and it was such a great way to start off my trip. :)

And lastly, remember: http://www.neverthesameec.com/
Check it out for daily updates on what we're doing per team. I am team 2, for the millionth time. :D

<3

6.28.2011

Ecuador Update - Miami

Hey guys! :)

So after traveling from my hometown in PA, I arrived in Atlanta, GA, where I was so excited to meet some people also going on the trip. (Thanks to our super bright and cool green shirts, it was easy to notice people)! Then I took a two hour flight to Miami, FL, where I was united with approx. 50 other students.
We drove 40 minutes to our hotel in Ft. Lauderdale, where we are staying.. OUR HOTEL IS ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS!

Last night we all were united together in a room, between 350-400 of us all singing praises to Jesus and worshipping together. It was absolutely beautiful and wonderful... God is so good! We had time to meet all of our team, and get our room keys! Awesome room-mates I have! I love how everyone brings something unique to the table through their own personality and love for Jesus.

Last night we had drama casting and we tried out for all the parts in the skit, which took several hours. I ended up getting the part of a Cat, which essentially consists of a gang of 5-6 people who are evil and beat up Jesus. :( How sad! BUT, I'm excited and can't wait to learn! The moves are really fun! The next two days should be filled with some pretty intense practicing before we head off to Ecuador.

That's about all I got for now.... Miami is absolutely beautiful though. I'd have to save one of my favorite parts of this whole thing is being able to travel and see so many amazing places... Which could certainly be considered a once in a lifetime opportunity!

ANYWAY. Before I ramble on any longer! I just want to thank you all for the support, encouragement and prayer! Keep praying, please! God is going to do amazing things and I can't wait to see what happens when we finally get to Ecuador.

That's all I got for now! I'm not sure when I'll post next, but I'll be around here and there. :)
Once again, if you wanna see more updates, then please check out the link below:
http://www.neverthesameec.com/

I am on Team 2!<3

6.27.2011

I'M GOING TO ECUADOR!!

So if you're newer to my blog, you may not have heard that I am going to Ecuador. If you haven't, check out the cool God story of how it all worked out by clicking HERE!

If you'd like to know a little more about my getting accepted and some other cool info, then click HERE!
That link will take you to all my posts labeled with "Ecuador" - that way you can get the whole scoop. :)

Scoop.. that reminds me of ice cream. I could really go for some mint chocolate chip right now.. anybody?!?! Represent all you lovers of the delicious flavor! :D

Anyway, where was I!

So I am leaving tomorrow for Miami to take part in the training (learning the skit, culture sensitivity, spanish phrases, etc), and then on the 30th I will be headed to Ecuador along with 300+ students and leaders. I'M SO EXCITED!!

I won't be returning back home until the 11th of July, so it'll be a little while that I'm gone. HOWEVER, I do believe I will have internet access and there is a possibility I may blog here, but I may not. The creators of this mission trip, along with Susie Shellenberger, have created a website + blog where we'll be able to post. If you're interested, you can keep up to date with what's going on with the crew by visiting the website/blog, which you can do so by clicking HERE!
Just so you know, I am on Team 2. :)

I think that's about it. Please please, PLEASE, pray for me, the trip, the others going, and the people of Ecuador. May the see the truth, light and joy of Jesus and be blessed!

Enjoy the following pictures. :D

P.S. I wanted to briefly say that my blog has exceeded 5,000 views and I'm so glad that so many people, whether intentionally or not, have been able to view my page and (hopefully) see and read the truth of God! Thanks to all my followers... May you be blessed. :)


Certainly not perfect and certainly a little messy..
but I think whoever ends up getting my costume
(we trade them) will hopefully enjoy it. :D
Team symbol... pretty good one, right? ;)
OMGOSH LOOK AT MY SWEET SHIRT..
I'm so excited!!

6.26.2011

My Desk and your heart - Something they may have in common!

A few days ago, I decided to stop being lazy and finally clean my desk. Let me just tell you, it was a disaster. Papers everywhere, my own junk everywhere. Completely disorganized clutter! And somehow I just know that there are some of you out there who know exactly what I'm talking about!

As I cleared off my desk, I made two piles. One pile was papers thrown all over the floor, papers which I no longer needed, and other papers that I wanted to save, which I put into a smaller, neater pile.

And in my boredom of cleaning, I made a comparison, perhaps it's a little far off, but perhaps it's not far off at all.

I think sometimes we treat our hearts and minds the same way as my cluttered desk. We come to know Jesus yet we continue to live our lives with hearts more clutter-y than my desk!

So what do we do about it anyway?

Well, we need to take our cluttered hearts to Jesus. We need to dive into that mess called our heart and our mind. We need to let Him help us sort through it, and see what needs to go. Our heart is the wellspring of life according to Proverbs 4:23. It is where all things, whether good or evil, flow from.

With that in mind, we need to take care of our hearts! Maybe you have some things in your heart that need to be cleaned up and organized by Jesus. I, personally, could think of a few for myself.

And just like my now clean desk is much easier to use and enjoy, so is a 'decluttered' heart! And then instead of a heart that is so consumed and lost in its own mess, rather you may have a heart that is focused on Jesus and ultimately serving Him! But please remember, you can't do it without Jesus. Take all things to Him, and He will see them through. :)

Matthew 5:8
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

P.S. To all my faithful followers, (especially you Kevin!!), I am so sorry for my lack in posts the past couple weeks. I have no idea what happened there! I'll try my best to get back on it though. :) Thanks a bunch for hanging in there with me! :D

6.16.2011

This is so cool!

 
 
As some of you know, I reallyreally like the blog Lies Young Women Believe (by Dannah Gresh + Nancy Lee Demoss). Last fall, they opened the opportunity for people to send in their own little pieces that they have written. So I sent them a note that I had written on Facebook nearly three years ago. Along with a few dozen other people, I won and my note was said to be published in the future! I was ecstatic! :) Eight months later, they have posted my note. Woooo!

Originally I posted this note to my blog back in November, so I'm sure there are many of you girls who have yet to read it. It's about beauty and what real beauty is. You can check it out here:

CLICK ME :)

What Does It Mean to be Different



Brave-hearted Christian, are you out there?

Day in and day out I see the same results over and over again.
I see people caught up in the world.
I see people caught up in false hope, false joy.
Why do we always go back to what we know is not the answer to what our heart so desperately is desiring?

Judgmental, it's what I am. Hypocritical, that's me too.
The only reason I cannot reprimand, or call out, is because it's me too. I make the same mistake that pains my heart when other people do.

Sometimes I really really want to find people who are different. I want to find people who are spiritually different than the norm. I want to see people devoted, and clinging to Christ with all the pathetic strength they have, and loving Him, and pouring out His love to others.

I find myself unhappy when this person, I cannot find.
All the while, am I even that person?

Am I making any sense? Don't blame me, it's late. (It's never too late to be philosophical though, right?)

Sometimes we focus so often on changing other people, on what we want other people to do, or what we want other people to act like... yet all the while, we forget all the work that we need ourselves.

So while I'm looking for some crazy-in-love with Jesus people, I miss out on the opportunities to be that person myself.

Perhaps if I took advantage of those opportunities... those crazy-in-love with Jesus people would arise?
What if I just worked on my own walk with Christ, rather than focusing too much on the walks of others... what would happen then?

I need to be the difference that I want to see.

6.13.2011

Commitment? What's that?

As fast as school dwindled down and I found myself weeks away from graduating, my motivation and dedication to work hard and earnestly dwindled even faster. I wasn't as committed to my school-work anymore, it seemed more and more uninteresting and less and less important. Because of my lack of commitment and focus, I didn't do as well as I could have. 
Now, I will say that I maintained all A's and B's still, but my heart was not truly in my work, and in certain assignments and projects, that was clearly evident.

We all know that by how committed we are to something, is how prosperous the results will be.

Last night I was reading in 1 Kings 8 when I came across this verse:

v. 61 - "But your hearts must be fully committed to the LORD our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time."

This verse really stuck out to me.

'I must be fully committed in order to live and obey God's commands?' was my thought. And I realized it was completely right! 

But then I began to think of how many people live their lives half-devoted to Christ, one foot in the world, and one foot in the church. We try to have the "best of both worlds" by having a little bit of Jesus over here and a little bit of the world over there. But it just doesn't work that way. We cannot truly be serving and following Jesus if we are not FULLY committed to Him.

It reminds me of a song by the (amazing) band Philmont, called 'The Difference'. Part of the lyrics say:

"And I tried so hard to mix the old life with the new,
But there's no in-between if I'm gonna follow you.

There's gotta be a difference
It's gotta be significant
If you're really inside changing my life
You would shine, you would be evident
If there's a difference."

I think these lyrics are SO true. I mean, how often do us "Christians" look just like everyone else? How often do we hold the same lifestyles, or make the same poor choices as pagans? Sure, we aren't perfect, we are bound to fail. And no, we aren't better by any means. But we are called to be different, we are called to not be conformed by the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).

We cannot expect to have extravagant spiritual maturity and growth if we are still trying to take part in the world. If we are not truly and fully committed to Christ, then we are setting ourselves up for failure.

If you want Christ to do a work in your life, if you want to know Him in the deepest and most fulfilling sense, then that requires sacrifice. That requires giving up what your sinful nature so greatly desires to have. God did not send His son Jesus to suffer, to be beaten and to die for our sins, simply for us to live half-hearted lives, lives that are not truly glorifying to God.

I think a problem I have personally is that so often I depend on myself to be fully committed, rather than realizing the weak human I am, so weak that I truly can not fulfill the commitment. By doing this we are doing the exact opposite of the Gospel. The Gospel tells us we need Jesus, that we cannot do anything without Him, that are are only really capable of sinning. If you don't depend and rely on Jesus then you will fail, and fail, and fail again.

It's a struggle I deal with daily in my life, in my heart and in my mind. It's tough. The world surrounds us everywhere, but with Christ, we can do all things. Because of His great and profound strength, we are able to be fully committed to Him.

So tell me Christian, how committed are you? Do you try to have it both ways? Or are you so in love with Jesus, that you are willing to give up everything in order to genuinely follow Him?
I dare you to take up that statement with all sincerity and give it ALL up to Jesus, and with that, who knows where He may lead you!

6.11.2011

I GRADUATED! (Image Heavy)

Today I was fortunate enough to have my graduatation ceremony at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel (a couple miles from the actual Penn State University State College). I was SO excited and overjoyed to meet some people that I have known virtually (I was cyber-schooled) since 6th grade.... They were all such hilarious and wonderful people. Why do all the cool people live far away?!?!

Enjoy the pics. :)

AND Congratulations Class of 2011! We made it! :D


Wait.. I'm graduating?!? Since when?!!?
Haha, they actually gave me someone else's diploma. But no worries, I eventually got mine. :D
My whole class :)
Livy! The hilarious Salutatorian. ;)
Emmma! The kind-hearted Valedictorian. :)
One of the greatest teachers EVER! And her name is Rachel too! :D
I decided to be mischievous and bring a beach ball to blow up (Thank you for doing that Matt!) and hit around during the ceremony... it was officially the greatest success ever! And my Dad picked up all the stickers of our names from the floor (they were to help us to remember where to stand) and he stuck them to it. AND, I got everyone to sign it as well. :D
Wow! This is crazy!! But so exciting. :)

My parents.. I love them very much. :)
My signed ball :)
HOORAY! :D