The Aggressive Approach

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” ~ Ephesians 6:12 NIV

The other day, I was skyping my father about my current work situation and my future. I have recently been struggling about what I should do next like getting my Master’s or getting another job. I told my father that I have been talking a lot with God and verbally telling Him my problems with no response or direction. My father then told me that I had to be more aggressive in my spiritual life. I’m not a little girl anymore and reading the Bible and praying is not enough. I need to do more.

Aggressively pursuing the Lord is like working overtime. We do the typical stuff like reading the Word, praying, going to church, basically what we think is required of us. But when we are aggressive, we do it fervently, more frequently, and more thoroughly. We memorize and proclaim the Word. We pray more than once in a day. Several times! We seek the Lord in a way that causes us to make sacrifices instead of fitting God in our schedule.

I get fired up after having conversations about this or after a really good sermon. But when it comes down to it, the week ends up flying by with nothing accomplished. Unfortunately, this is part of our struggle. There is more than just a physical ailment that can bring us down. The verse above in Ephesians says that our struggles is “against rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (NIV). Little prayers and godly daydreams won’t always help to grow in our relationship with the Lord. We must take advantage of the weapons the Lord has provided us with. Just think: even speaking the Lord’s name makes the demons shutter! (James 2:19) What more could we accomplish if we aggressively pursued the Lord?

When I speak of aggression, I don’t say that we must approach the Lord with anger. How we approach the Lord has to consistently change. As we are growing spiritually mature, we need to contribute more and spend more time with the Lord. Worldly things should not be a part of our lives as much as it used to. It is easy to go through a Netflix marathon but not so much spending hours in prayer. We are no longer children and so our contributions should not be as that of a child but as a mature adult. Philippians 13:11 says, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me” (NIV). So as Christians, sometimes doing things childishly will not get the results we want. If we want answers from the Lord, to have a stronger relationship, we must aggressively pursue it.

Blaming God

I love the not so admirable people in the Bible, like Eve, because I can relate to their stories and actions. Right after Adam and Eve eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge they hide from God. Have you ever tried hiding from God or hiding something from God? In my experience it doesn’t work.

“Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?” – Genesis 3:11

God knew what they had done but He asked them and instead of confessing, they deflect.They were caught red-handed, and had a chance to confess but instead we watch a typical game of pass the blame. In Genesis verses 11-13 God asks Adam what happened and Adam immediately blames Eve and God.

“The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”

I can almost hear you gasp. Who is he to blame God? It was his decision to eat it, wasn’t it? He’s supposed to be the leader. The first time this was brought to my attention I was appalled and judgmental. Then God brought it to my attention that Adam wasn’t alone in blaming God. I too have done the very same thing. When my job became unbearable and overwhelming, I blamed God for not helping me succeed with the launching of the program. He is capable of doing anything, so why didn’t He help me?

Have you ever blamed God for something? It’s easier to look externally instead of internally.

After hearing Adam’s defense, God turns to Eve to give her the opportunity to confess. I imagine her trying to come up with a good excuse since her husband had just thrown her under the bus but all she has is a serpent. It’s the classic “the dog ate my homework” excuse. She immediately blames the serpent and says that he deceived her. I imagine three children all pointing the finger to anyone but them. The sad thing is God already knew what happened. He was giving them a chance to repent but instead they tried to pass the buck.

Poor God. He had given them everything they needed. He had been their friend and companion. He had created everything they needed. He had asked of them just one thing and they failed Him in that. I can’t help but wonder what the story would have been if Adam or Eve just confessed and asked for forgiveness.

Blaming God or people doesn’t change anything except it shows a lack of accountability. We all make mistakes and sometimes we have help in making those mistakes but God wants us to turn to Him and seek His forgiveness so He can bring us healing and peace.

Please comment below and let us know how we can be praying for you ❤

Seasons

It’s nice having four seasons here in the midwest because we get a mix of everything. But I’m not going to lie, winter has always been the hardest season for me. The atmosphere is so dreary and not to mention the freezing cold. This affects not only my moods and attitude but also my relationship with Lord. In the springtime, it’s not right that I suddenly perk up and want to decide to put more effort in my relationship with God. On the other hand, I find that in the winter, there is a lot of time to stay inside and rest, contemplate, and meditate.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is the perfect seasonal passage. It starts with, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven” (v. 1, NIV). I find myself thinking a lot about it especially when I am in a time of transition. I tend to ask a lot of “why” to God. Why must I give up or let something go? Why must I wait? Why must I mourn? However, this passage is a perfect response to those times of change. And especially in the winter when my change of schedule suddenly lessens, often times at home not doing anything, I need to remind myself that I am always in different seasons.

A dear friend of my mine once asked me what season I was in. I didn’t quite understand what she was asking, so I was about to reply that we were in the season of summer. She then told me that she believed we all have different periods in our lives that have completely changed what we were in before. The season she was in before was comfort and uncertainty about where she was at. The season that she was in at the time of our conversation was struggles and suffering.

As for me, when I think of all the seasons I’ve gone through, they never last. At some point, God will have something else planned out. One verse that comes to mind about temporary changes, specifically sufferings, is Psalm 30:5 which says, “…weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (NIV). And! Chapter 3 verse 4 in Ecclesiastes says this: “there is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (NIV). We can say that all these times are a part of life. Well of course they are. But most importantly, they are a part of our spiritual growth and our relationship with the Lord.

When we are wondering what we are going through, we can ask the Lord what season we are in. Most likely the answer is obvious. Sometimes it takes work in finding out what it is like reading the Bible more…praying more…fasting…going to church…things that many of us are not always consistent in. And when we are in those seasons, we don’t always have to think of them as something negative. If we allow Him, God finds a way to helps us grow after that season is over.

Working out for Jesus?

I’m not a real fan of working out and I’m a bit of a carboholic, which can lead to some undesirable results. To ensure that I continue to be in good health, I’ve kept up the workout habit I was forced to begin in Israel. It began with bribery – if I got up every morning for a week and walked before work I could treat myself to Barnes & Noble. To make things even more fun, my friend Britney joined me. I also forced my little dog, Jackie to come, because she had put on a few pounds, according to the vet. It was either working out or less treats. She voted to walk.

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Jackie is a couch potato

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She was ready to go back home LOL

Why are we talking about exercise on a Christian blog? Well there are a few reasons.

  • Our body is a temple, which that means God expects us to maintain and take care of it.
  • We are called to run the race and that’s hard to do when you’re laying on the couch binge watching Netflix. (Note: there is no judgment – I just discovered Designated Survivor and am convinced I time-traveled. LOL)
  • Exercise can also be a time to worship

 

Our body is a temple. God has plans for all of us (Jeremiah 29:11) but His plans require us to be disciplined and take care so that we are ready when He calls us.

I hope running the race is figurative because I am NOT a runner but I want to be active. I love to travel and I want to be able to explore new places and meet new people and spread the Gospel.

I admit I was not thrilled with getting up earlier and walking. I didn’t think it would make much a difference but I was wrong. It started as two friends talking and then it became a prayer walk. We shared our lives and then prayed over things we shared. It became a way to share praises of how God was working in our lives or how beautiful the sunrise was that morning.

I found that the more I walked, the stronger my quiet times became. I dug into the Word and prayed harder. I’ve begun seeing God in a new way. Now, I’ve found myself walking alone and either praying or reflecting on who God is.

Let us know how you connect exercise and worship. Any tips for a newbie? As always, we love hearing from y’all.

Ringing in a New Season

“For everything there is a season, and time for every matter under heaven.”

– Ecclesiastes 3:1

 

I love new seasons.  2016 was a challenging season and while I am thankful for all of the blessings that came out of it, I am glad that this season is ending and a new one is beginning. Once again, I will have the opportunity to live abroad and teach English. I am so incredibly thankful that the Lord is allowing me to return, but I also find myself pondering over how to respond and prepare for this new season.

So how do you prepare for a new season? I have to admit, I’d never given it much thought but one of my goals this year is to be more intentional. It’s a chance to make resolutions and reflect on lessons learned.

  1. Pray – this is obvious but it’s important to pray for guidance and discernment when you’re entering a new season. Other common things to pray for:
    1. Moving: pray for godly friends and a church community
    2. Marriage: pray for good and godly married couples for friendship and mentors
    3. Starting a family: pray for strength and patience. Pray for support. I also hear it would be a good idea to pray for rest J
  2. Study the Word – this is another obvious one but it’s important to spend studying and reading the Bible. This is a common way the Lord chooses to speak to us.
  3. Fast – give up food? This is a tough one for me but the more I have researched and learned about it, the more I understand the importance of fasting. There are two options for fasting: a Daniel fast and a liquid fast. I suggest that you research these two and pray about which one works for you. It is critical to understand that a fast is considered an oath to Lord and should not be taken lightly.

We would love to hear what you all do at the beginning of a new season or the end of an old one.

Will you trust in the Lord?

Sometimes the Lord calls us to do things that in the world’s eyes looks stupid, crazy, or unlikely realistic. I have especially noticed that those who have committed their whole lives to the Lord, willing to do anything He asks, are the more likely to do this. There is no pattern, but rather God calls based on the heart and the intent. Who is more willing to trust in the Lord and who is not…

In my third year of college, I was able to take advantage of the opportunity to go study abroad in South Korea. Now, I had known for nearly two years that I wanted to go study there specifically. While people around me found it impossible to afford, I pushed myself to make it happen. And when the Lord provided the means for me to get there, it was confirmed that it was also a part of His plan. As for two of my friends who also went to study there, it was not the same case. One friend wanted to go to England, but her financial situation made it impossible to go. She told me that she prayed and pleaded with the Lord to go there, but no doors opened. Her desire to study abroad didn’t fade and so she applied to study at Korea for a semester.

As for my other friend, she had wanted to go to South Korea for a while—same as me—because she was majoring in the Korean language. However, her top two universities to study in Korea rejected her application. This specific university where we met was one of her last choices. Although not happy with the decision, she still decided to go and focus on improving her Korean.

When the semester ended and all three of us were preparing to go home, we had a long conversation about how we really ended up in Korea. Although for me, I learned to trust in the Lord that He would fulfill something that I wanted to do. But as for my two friends, they learned to trust in the Lord in doing something that they had not planned. And both of them were so thankful that they were able to study at that university and wouldn’t change anything about it. God had given and shown them more than they could ever have imagined. The culture they learned, the brothers and sisters in Christ that they befriended, what they learned about God…so much more!

Jeremiah 30:24 says, “In days to come you will understand” (NIV). Now there is more to this verse but just this line in particular speaks volumes. For my two friends, they had no idea why God did not pull through and grant them what they wished. But their trust in the Lord eventually led to something better than the answers to their questions. When we are in the moment asking the Lord what we should do, or why, or where He is, any kind of question, we won’t always understand or know what to do. But the Lord is asking us, “Will you trust me?”

If my friends would have gotten what they wanted or if I listened to the negative feedback of those around me, our choice would not have been our own but of the people or our own selfishness. The Lord says in Jeremiah 17:5, ”’Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord”’ (NIV). Now, we will be called to do things differently then what was planned, but we must know that we cannot ever trust Satan. He will put what ever lie to keep us from doing what the Lord wants. But the Bible clearly states to not trust in man. We must trust in the Lord! And are we willing to trust in Him when it seems unrealistic or illogical?