Diving into His Word

First, this week is a bit hectic for me with birthdays, a few days at the beach and starting a new job, so I may miss a few days or be all over the place! It always amazes me how God provides for us and I am very thankful that I will be embarking on a new career, with normal work hours and benefits. Now on to today’s focus 🙂

I love learning about how other people study the Word and I recently stumbled onto a different method called Scripture Writing. This was posted by an individual in the Illustrated Faith FaceBook group and it grabbed my attention. I am always looking for new ways to spice up with quiet time and dive deeper into His word.

The idea is that you take verses from the Bible and copy them down. While you’re copying them, you meditate on them and study them.   This lets you really focus on what the verses say and how it applies to you. You can pick which verses to write or you can follow a plan like the one below, which is from http://www.swtblessings.com. She picks a topic and selects verses that correspond to the monthly theme.  As you can see, June’s topic is Forgiveness.

June Scripture Writing Plan English

 

I have started a new prayer journal and am blending this concept together. For example, I chose a verse from Psalms and then wrote my own prayer based upon the scripture. I’ll share yesterday’s with you in the hope that it encourages you.

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13

Dear Abba,

Please grant me the physical, emotional and spiritual strength to endure this difficult time in my life. I know that through You I can do anything. I depend on and need Your strength to life me up and to handle this situation in a manner that honors You. Please let me learn and develop whatever characteristics or lessons You deem necessary. I trust You and I thank You for these trials for they allow me to lean into You and see You at work. Jesus endured trials and so must I. Please let me endure them with the strength and wisdom and grace that Jesus did. The war is already won!”

As you can see, it’s a simple prayer, based on the knowledge that I can do anything through Him and that I need His strength to handle this (and everything).

This method helps keep me from the routine and lackluster prayers that have represented my prayer life for the past several weeks, helps me study His Word and lifts me up. I hope you found this post interesting and inspiring. I know some people also combine illustrated faith with scripture writing to help them get the most out of it.

Do you do scripture writing or have you tried it? We’d love to hear what you think about it! ❤

Unexpected Moments

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” ~ 1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV)

Last Sunday, I was on my way to church when two Korean girls suddenly approached. At first I expected to just be asked questions about English or being a foreigner in Korea. But the more we talked, I then realized that they approached me to share the Gospel. I was completely taken aback and was not expecting anything like that, especially from a middle schooler and high schooler and for the fact that English is not their first language.

One word I can describe these two young girls is brave. Even I, being one of the youngest in my church and the youngest almost everywhere I go, would not have done something like that; and I felt so ashamed. I used to when I was a little girl, but I was turned down a lot and lost hope in sharing the Word. Nowadays, I tend to let my actions reveal my faith, but even then, it is still important to demonstrate in speech.

In addition to being brave, these two girls are putting into action 1 Timothy 4:12. It humbled me to be approached by these two younger girls and really set an example for me. For years I have wanted to make a difference regardless of my age, but I also struggle with what people think and being rejected. However, Jesus Himself said He will be with us we live out the Great Commission.

”’Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” ~ Matthew 28:19-20

Don’t let anything stop you from sharing the Gospel, because you never know who needs to hear it. Have a great Memorial Day weekend. As always, we love hearing from you! ❤

 

Marriage Talks – Keeping God at the Center – Helena’s Story

Y’all I am so excited to share the first in the series “Marriage Talks – Keeping God at the Center.”  I wanted to find married couples who would share a bit of their story and advice with us.  The idea behind this series is to get a real look at real relationships and to provide lessons and information for people who want to keep God at the center of their relationships. In a world that promotes and admires teen pregnancies and not getting married, I want to share a message about why it matters to have Him in your relationship.

This first interview is a former coworker of mine, Helena, who showed me what a godly woman looked like in the workplace.  Despite the challenges and stress, Helena was always kind, gracious and poised.  She never let go of her values and helped me find my spiritual feet through the gift of Kyle Idleman’s “Not a Fan” book.  I hope you all enjoy Helena’s story. ❤

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Tell me about yourselves (name, age, location, how long you’ve been married, how many children, etc.)

My name is Helena. I am 45 and I live in Fairfax Va.  I have been married 14 years, and have 3 children, and 5 grandchildren…yes 5!

How did you two meet?

I met my husband at work through a mutual friend.

Tell me your love story.

When we first got married (2002), neither of us knew the Lord in the pardon of our sins. This allowed for 10 years of anger, pain, mistrust, and almost divorce. But I let God in and He changed my life. Through my change, prayers, and God’s will we were able to forgive, trust, and learn to love each other the God loves us…unconditionally! It’s still hard work, but it’s worth every moment!

Tell me about how you set boundaries when you were dating.

Well, I didn’t allow him to meet my kids for 6 months, and even after he met them it wasn’t in a home setting…always in public. Also, he didn’t meet my family for quite some time…I just wanted to be sure we were going to be together (at least for a while) before weaving him completely into my family. Other than that, I think what I/we thought were boundaries were merely statements and/or expressions that diminished in importance over time…that’s probably why things were a bit rough through the years.

What were some lessons learned during dating?

Understand how to set boundaries, and reasonable expectations. Listening vs. hearing when the other is expressing a concern (this really helps when the communication starts to break down).

How did you know this person was “the one”?

He made me feel safe

What tips do you have for the single person? The dating couple? The engaged couple? The newly married couple?

Communicate…communicate…communicate! And not just talk, but listen. It seems trivial and easy to do, but effective communication takes work on the part of the hearer and the speaker. Also, don’t judge each other’s actions by your standard…let God do the judging. Forgive, and forgive completely.

How does keeping God as the center of your relationship work?

It’s the only way it does work. We are humans and have emotions, and the bible tells us we will have trials and we will get angry, but as long as we are able to recall the Word and apply it to the situation, the down time (or angry time) is minimized and we recognize that the enemy wasn’t the other, but the devil himself trying to cause divide. Each instance strengthens our relationship, believe it or not.

Can each one of you share one thing you wish you’d known sooner?

I’ll share two since he’s not here to participate J 1). To put God before my husband – before I turned my life over to Christ, I thought it was the other way around (judgement free zone here). 2). What true forgiveness meant. Once I truly forgave, I was able to live.

Share your favorite scripture.

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”
– 1 Peter 5:10 (ESV)

 

We hope y’all enjoyed this first glimpse into love in action. Let us know what you think or if you’re interested in sharing your advice and perspective as a guest blogger. As always, we love hearing from you! ❤

Love is patient – Learning to live by love

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things. Endures all things.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

I have shared that I have been thrust into a role of a caregiver and this role does not come to me naturally. Being thirty (almost thirty-one :o), single, no pets, and living abroad meant that the only person I had to consistently concern myself with was me. I lived alone and pretty much came and went as I pleased. If I wanted to sleep until noon, I did and if I wanted to stay up until 2am I did. It was just my life and I didn’t think too much of it but in hindsight, I had it relatively easy. I mean I taught my students but I generally had them for forty minutes at a time and then a new class would rotate in.

Fast-forward and I have found myself in a season of adjustment and I wasn’t handling it very well. I was acting like a toddler whose parents have told her “no” to whatever she had requested (demanded). It wasn’t pretty. Now that you have the background, I’ll tell you what’s changed.

I finally took everything I felt and laid it at the cross. I vented to God about my changes and this new season. I complained about being in a new town and not being able to finish my time abroad. I complained about missing friends and the lifestyle I had. I complained about the pain my mom was in and His lack of healing. I fretted about finding a job and starting medical coding. I confessed the feelings of guilt I was carrying around for being a bit upset with the changes in my life. It let me get real with God and stop sugarcoating things. It made me stop pretending to be a “good” Christian servant. It also meant that God would be real with me and draw my attention changes I need to make in my attitude.

I learned that I have a lot of work to do in my heart. He showed me that I needed to die to myself and stop thinking that I was the center of my world. While I need to take care of myself (physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc.) I am called to serve but more than that I am called to love and so are you.

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I’m not sure why people have a tendency to only associate 1 Corinthians 13 with weddings but the Lord put this on my heart for things He wants me to work on. I have broken then down and am focused on being patient and kind for seven days (or longer, as needed) and then building on the next one. I’ve been doing this for several days already and find myself meditating on this portion of the scripture throughout the day. It’s changed my response to people, not just those in my immediate vicinity but in general. I’m happier and more settled and I’m more in tune with God than I have been for the past several weeks. It’s amazing what some honesty at the cross can bring.

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Are you going through a difficult time? If so, I encourage you to take everything to the cross and be real with God. It’s okay to be angry or upset – just read through Psalms to see how real David was. Being honest with God means clearing the air but it also means that you need to be prepared for His response. We love hearing from you, so let us know what you think! ❤

 

Sowing Seeds of Discord

I am a recovering gossip. I loved being the person with the latest and greatest news. I loved being the person who had the breaking and up-to-date information. It was a great bonding tool or so I thought. Yep, I was the person at the water cooler. I mean, how serious is gossip anyways – I didn’t generally do it to be malicious; I just liked being the person who knew everything that was going on. Turns out gossip is a much bigger deal than I ever thought.

I was listening to my pastor preach about gossip yesterday and the message was one of those that had me cheering and squirming. I was cheering because the message was true and powerful. I was squirming because the Holy Spirit was letting me know I had unconfessed sin in this area. Apparently my idea of bonding or just “sharing information” was actually sowing seeds of discord in many cases.

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How exactly does gossip sow seeds of discord?

  1. It divides people
  2. It promotes negativity
  3. It creates an environment of secrecy

I didn’t realize how much gossip divides people. For me, it seemed to unite me with people and to some degree that’s true. Mary and I might bond over the news that Jane’s husband is leaving her but it divides us against Jane. If I am sharing the latest news that Jane’s husband left her because she was having an affair, people will judge Jane based on that information and may end up avoiding her for various reasons. That’s not good but it’s even worse if the information I shared wasn’t accurate. Maybe Jane was person cheated and really needs her friends but we’re too busy judging her to be there for her. Maybe you’re not making the information up and are only repeating what you hear but you’re contributing to the problem and Satan is dancing for joy.

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Gossiping promotes negativity and sows seeds of discord and animosity. Gossip isn’t generally good news being spread but bad news. Our sinful self likes hearing that people have messed up or that “karma” has finally struck. It’s almost like bad news about someone else makes us go up a step. It doesn’t. This is a tool Satan uses to split us and pit us against each other. It makes those who spread gossip untrustworthy, because if we’re sharing Jane, Bob, Mary, and Bill’s news, then who says we aren’t sharing tidbits about your life too?

Gossiping creates an environment of secrecy and darkness. Instead of talking to people, we talk about them. Instead of bringing issues to light, we whisper them in darkness. We learn to hide from the truth and instead spread half-truths. We discuss things that don’t pertain to us and further more, don’t impact us, so why are we so eager to share gossip? Why do we gleefully grab the headlines screaming about Kim Kardashian’s latest scandal? Our sinful nature likes the gossip; it fuels something within us and Satan tries to keep that flame burning.

Proverbs 20:19 warns us about gossipers (labeled here as a babbler): “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.” Whoa. The Bible says gossip is so bad that we should not associate with these people. Please take this seriously and stop sowing the seeds of discord. United we stand; divided we fall.

Here are some tips that can help you change:

Pay attention to your words and if you notice that you’re gossiping, stop and ask God to guide you.

Pray this prayer: “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the doors of my lips.” – Psalm 141:3

Join me and become a recovering gossip. As always, we love hearing from you so if you have any other insight or tips please leave a comment. Have a wonderful day! ❤

Being Examples of Servants

Last week, I shared a blog on working for the Lord and how working for man is meaningless. This week I want to tackle a more in-depth look at servitude. As children of God, I wanted to point out that we are not called to be slaves to man if it means contradicting our faith in God. That doesn’t mean we should not obey man. We are still called to submit to authority as Paul states in Romans 13:1-7. In the first couple of verses, it says, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves” (NIV).  In addition, even though we live in the world, we should not pursue the things that the world pursues (2 Corinthians 10:3).

Submission to authority is respect and obedience, not complaining or disobeying. Why is it that man easily complains about work and money? I have noticed here in Korea among my Western friends just how much we habitually rant about our workplace. I am guilty of this as well. Even before I came to Korea, my father advised me to watch what I say. He mentioned that we as humans have no right to complain. And when I compare my life to that of my father and mother’s…he is right. I have everything I need. Just because I get frustrated with my workplace over things like last-minute details or communication, that doesn’t give me the right to act like a little child about it. God still wants me to submit, but not only submit…serve. That means, I must do my job because it was God who provided me with that job in the first place.

In addition, teenagers struggle with authority as much as adults do. I remember when my brothers, my sister, and I were entering our teens, our household was often filled with loud arguments. My sister was never that bad, but my brothers and I would easily argue with our parents. If I didn’t want to do the dishes even though my parents asked, I refused to do them. Me refusing was me disobeying God’s command of honoring my parents as stated in Exodus 20:12. Or in some of my classes, there are some of my middle school students who get so easily irritated when I ask them to put their phones away during class. There is one class in particular who does not obey me in that aspect and so I have struggled with controlling them since. Why they don’t listen to me, I don’t understand. Even on TV, teenagers tend to question laws and commands almost immediately with responses like that’s not fair or you can’t make me do that.

Yet, some outstanding examples of servitude have come from young adults. Picture Daniel in the Bible, as a young man taken to serve King Nebuchadnezzar. Now Daniel, a young man filled with knowledge and most importantly, faith to God, served the King respectfully and diligently. In the palace, Daniel did not indulge himself with the wine and food that was given but instead opted for a healthier diet. Daniel did not disobey by not taking the food given to him. He glorified God in wisely choosing healthier food to take care of his body. And you know what? There was a difference in the men who ate the food given to them and the men who ate vegetables and drank water. “At the end of the ten days [the men who ate vegetables and drank water] looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food” Daniel 1:15 (NIV).

Now, I cannot go into detail of what servitude looks like. I can only give examples. God calls us to serve in different ways. But there is one more example I want to share, and it is my most favorite example. When I was in college, my family and I witnessed a man with a speech impediment wash the feet of our pastor. The man with the speech impediment had given an amazing sermon beforehand, and we were suddenly blown away to see him humble himself before the whole congregation to wash another man’s feet. I have never seen anything like that in my life, and the Holy Spirit touched me deeply. Just this week, my eighteen-year-old brother preached a sermon at his youth group on wisdom and servitude. He talked about the man mentioned above and how that experience also touched him. And what my brother did next was something I would never have expected to see from him: in front of a congregation of young people and even some adults, he got down to his knees with a bowl of water and a towel and washed the feet of one of the youth group leaders in the church.

“…so [Jesus] got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with a towel that was wrapped around him” ~ John 13:4-5 (NIV)

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I hope y’all are having a good weekend! We love hearing from you!

 

Grace in Action – Teresa

I love hearing people’s testimonies and understanding how God works in their lives. The Bible contains testimonies just like ours. They’re included because they are powerful. Your story matters. Please share it with as many people as possible, because you never know who needs to hear it and how God plans to use it. Consider sharing it here.

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Today’s Grace in Action story is a historical one reflecting on a well known icon – Mother Teresa. She was born in Albania in 1910 as Agnes. At the young age of 18, she knew that she wanted to join the Sisters of Our Lady of Loreto as a missionary in India. That fact alone amazes me, as I’m thirty and still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up. I love knowing that at such an age, He called her to serve Him in such a specific way. This wasn’t an easy decision – once she left and joined the Sisterhood, it would be unlikely if not impossible for her to see her family again. “On December 1, 1928, Agnes set sail for India under her new name: Sister Mary Teresa. She never saw her mother again.”

Think about your family and seriously ask yourself if you’d be willing to never see them again if God called you to serve somewhere else. I confess that I am torn – part of me wants to tell you “yes, of course I would leave and not look back” but another part of me wants to hedge the issue because never is a long time. I’d concede a few years but forever?

Mother Teresa arrived in Calcutta, India and served as a teacher and then later as a headmistress. When she was thirty-six years old, she received a conviction from the Lord to start a ministry that focused on the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta. During my research, I discovered that this didn’t happen immediately or even easily; she had a waiting period of two years that involved her continual petition to Rome to start this ministry.

This saint, this amazing woman, had to endure a waiting period. She also dealt with periods of silence, where she didn’t hear from the Lord and felt cutoff from Him. I can relate but until I’d read her works, I hadn’t realized that other people experienced His silence too. I was so encouraged to know that she also struggled.   It made me take her off the pedestal I’d placed her on and see her as a woman who God used in incredible ways because of her consistent obedience and desire to serve Him. God can use each and every one of us, if we’re willing to follow Him and obey Him, no matter what He calls us to do. His plans are always greater than our dreams.

In closing, I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite quotes from Mother Teresa:

“I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.”

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”

“Faith in action is love – and love in action is service.”

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I hope y’all found this inspiring and encouraging. If you feel called to share your testimony, please comment here or contact us via the “contact” tab on the top of the page. As always, we love hearing from you!

Upcoming Relationship Series

Y’all I am excited to share that I am going to be doing a weekly series for the next several weeks that features Christian married couples.  I selected several couples ranging from just married to married several years and everything in between.  The purpose of this series is to share advice and tips.  Since I’m single I reached out to the “experts” for a real look at marriage.  Below are the questions that each couple was asked. The first post will be posted next week! I hope y’all enjoy it and if anyone’s interested in sharing, please contact me!

  1. Tell me about yourselves (name, age, location, how long you’ve been married, how many children, etc.)
  2. How did you two meet?
  3. What did you do when you realized you had feelings for the other?
  4. Tell me your love story.
  5. Tell me about how you set boundaries when you were dating.
  6. What were some lessons learned during dating?
  7. How did you know this person was “the one”?
  8. What tips do you have for the single person? The dating couple? The engaged couple? The newly married couple?
  9. How does keeping God as the center of your relationship work?
  10. How do you think godly relationships differ from what the world promotes?
  11. Can each one of you share one thing you wish you’d known sooner?
  12. Share your favorite scripture.
  13. Anything else you want to share put here

As always, we love hearing from you!

You’re Good Enough

You are good enough. You are enough just the way you are. Yes, we all have areas that we’d like to improve, things we’d like to change but right now, at this very moment – you are good enough. You’re good enough for your dreams. We have a tendency to think that we’re going to be good enough or happy enough when X happens. When we get in shape, when we make enough money, when we meet someone.

Knowing your story and everything’s that happening, Jesus decided to go to the cross and die for you. Our God knew that you would be good enough when you were born and He chose the cross for you. When I focus on what He’s done and personalize it, it amazes me. I know my weaknesses and my sins; I’ve been ashamed and hidden from God because of my shame but He still loves me and comes to find me when I stray. It’s typical behavior for us to hide from God and we can see it back in Adam and Eve immediately after the fall.

            “And they (Adam and Eve) heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” – Genesis 3:8-9.

Even though Adam and Eve had directly disobeyed God, He went looking for them. He knew what they had done but He still loved them. Many people look directly to the part where God evicted them from the Garden of Eden but verse 21 shows His love for us.

            “And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.” – Genesis 3:21

He provided for them, despite the fact that they had blatantly ignored His one command and introduced sin into the world. He does the same for us. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, He loves you and provides for you. He is a personal God who desires a relationship with you. He looks at you through a Father’s filter, a filter of love. No matter where you are in your life or what is in your past, God loves you and He knows that you’re good enough.

I wanted to share this message because too often we judge and put ourselves down for past mistakes or for insecurities we have. This is not what God wants – it’s a tool the enemy uses to paralyze us or weaken us in our walk.

Where are you struggling and how can I help? As always, I love hearing from y’all.

Working for the Lord

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…” ~ Colossians 3:23 (NIV)

At my job, this semester has been especially hard because I am the only foreign teacher so I teach every student in my academy. Furthermore, I have to write comments for almost every single student I teach and test all the students during test period. And all of this has to be been done within a short time. As a result, I’ve been taking my work home, skipping dinner, staying up very late, and canceling appointments during the week trying to get all this done. I never really got any direction or explanation on how to do this; I just do it because I was told to do it. So, there I am, on the computer during all of my breaks trying to enter this information on the computer so that the students and parents can see the student’s progress.

Just the other day, I was nearly in tears thinking of how much I have to complete—I still haven’t finished—and how physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausted I was. I could do my work quickly and carelessly, but that is not part of my personality; I tend to be a perfectionist at times. So, I came to God feeling so overwhelmed and frustrated. Why do I have to do all this? Why am I putting so much effort into doing this for an academy that  does not treat me equally like they do to all the other employees? Then, something clicked. God reminded me of my purpose that He revealed to me even before I came to Korea.

I brought with me to Korea a small poster I got from a church I visited in the States. It says, I am here to worship and serve Jesus. And the verse below it is Colossians 3:23. This is the mission God gave me as I was preparing the process to become an English teacher in Korea. I found myself willing to do anything if it meant I would do it for the Lord. Every time I went to work, I spoke these words aloud. Recently, I’ve gotten into the habit of not speaking those words. However, as soon as I was reminded of these words again, the stress, agony, frustration, and anger fled. I remembered why God has me here in the first place. My mind felt reenergized and ready to do the work thoroughly even if it meant another late night. The day after the reminder, I happily woke up and went to a coffee shop to finish as much as I could. I was so tired—I’m sleep deprived even as I am writing this—but I was so content. I didn’t care anymore if my work would please my boss or my students’ parents. As long as it pleases God, nothing else is important.

Doing work for man is meaningless according to the book of Ecclesiastes. In chapter 2 verses 22-23, it says, “What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless” (NIV). We can push ourselves to the point of exhaustion. But if our main target is to please man or because man told us to complete a certain task, we are wasting our time. We didn’t come here to be slaves to man, but to serve man. Although we have jobs or careers or whatever it is that keeps us busy, our main purpose here is God. This can change whatever attitude we have about our current situation. The image of God smiling down at me means more than a large paycheck.

I hope y’all have a great weekend! As always, we love hearing from you!