Loving When We Don’t Want To

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one anther. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” ~ Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV)

One of the hardest things I struggle with when it comes to people is loving them. How Jesus could be in any crowd and show love is beyond me. I have a hard time showing love to my own pets! It’s easy to love a person who loves us, and it’s a challenge for many of us to love someone who hates us. I especially lack patience making it difficult to treat people the way the verses above mention.

One example is my family. Since I’ve come back from Korea, it has been a long transition including transitioning back into my family. I lose patience easily with my brothers and get angry with my sister over little things. Even with my parents, I admit I have not honored them like I should. I hold grudges and sometimes refuse to ask for forgiveness. The last two nights, I’ve cried to the Lord and asked Him to give me some clarity on what I should do. The next morning, I read these verses over and over again without thinking until they started to sink in. I realized that I lacked all these virtues when I was with my family.

I have learned to love people outside of family even when they did not like me in return. When I was teaching English in Korea, the Lord tore down my pride and brought me to a humble state. He showed me kindness so that I in turn can show it to others. And the Lord is so patient…to everyone. I believe the Lord has set before me the challenge of forgiving my family and to show love rather than falling into anger and frustration. Without love, my family—or any family for that matter—is not united. It makes sense because God is love and if there is no love in the household, there is no God within the household. 1 John 4:8 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (NIV). Sometimes we think we know what love is, but when a situation arises that changes our perspective on love, it is hard to see what love is. At the end of chapter 4, John says, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” These are harsh words, but they are filled with truth.

Why should we do these things for people that drive us crazy? Simple: because God loves us. When we show love in ways we never thought we would, we learn more of God and who He is. In other words, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” Can we show greater love than that? No. Only God can.

Who are you struggling to love? People have a tendency to be harder on those closest to them.  It’s easier to love a stranger than someone you see all the time.  Give it to God and remind yourself daily to love them.  We can choose to love or to hate and I think you know which way God is pointing us to. Comment below and let us know what you think. ❤

 

 

Decisions, Decisions

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This famous poem is one of my favorite poems because life is about the journey and the forks in the road. We don’t get to walk two paths and it seems like somewhere, someone decided that there was only one right choice for the path your life should take. If you don’t go to the right college or marry your soul mate or choose the right path then life as you know it will be terrible. It’s like they decided God was waiting to see if you would know whether or not you should work at Company A or Company B and was checking to see if you picked wisely.

Hear me out – I think we should be praying over what decisions we’re making and I do believe that some choices are clearly right while others are clearly wrong, but I also think that there can be multiple right choices. I don’t think God is going to be upset if I attend Church A over Church B as long as it teaches Biblical truth and helps me to grow in faith. I think He’s perfectly happy whether I am teaching English or working as a paralegal as long as He remains my center and foundation.

It’s not that He doesn’t care because He cares so much. It’s that He’s your father and He’s not trying to dictate your life. He’s not a micromanager. He’s not waiting to see if you mess up. He loves you and wants you to make your own decisions..

I’ve learned to ask Him to shut doors that I’m not meant to go through and as long as I’m paying attention, He has clearly done so. He’s okay with me making my own decisions as long as they don’t conflict with the Bible or what He has called me to do. If I am trying to follow Him and am studying His Word and praying, He will guide me.

“Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.” – Psalm 119:34-35

The thing is God desires a relationship and a relationship isn’t about Him controlling your every move. If that’s what He desired, we wouldn’t have free will and it wouldn’t be a relationship. Life is all about choices and some are big and some are small but I think the majority fall into the grey. Does it really matter if you attend College A over College B? Does it matter if you take the job with Company Y over Company Z? No, I don’t think it does unless God has convicted you over a particular choice.

Our path is more about our heart and where the focus is. If we continuously choose television over prayer time or work over family, we might have a heart problem not a decision problem. The problem isn’t really the choices it’s why we make the decisions we make. If I choose to follow Path A because I think I will make mega money, then I might want to check and make sure I haven’t put money on a pedestal and called it idol. If I choose Path B because my “soul mate” lives there, I might want to check my heart and make sure I haven’t made a relationship into an idol.

So the point of all of this is to tell you to let go of the stress of making the “right” choice and ask yourself these questions:

  1. What does the Bible say for or against this?
  2. Has God called me to specifically do or not something?
  3. Has He intentionally shut a door I’m trying to open?
  4. If you’re comfortable that your decision doesn’t conflict with an answer in 1-3, then choose what you prefer.

 

I pray that this helps offer some insight into the decisions you’re being called to make. Let us know what you think about making godly decisions by commenting below. ❤

Chain Breakers

The world is your mission field. You have a reason for being here and it isn’t to have a good, happy and successful life, although you might have one. You have the opportunity to change the world. You have the chance to save someone’s soul. You can plant hope where there was none. Yet many of us remain silent instead of sharing the Gospel.

We’re afraid but why? For many of us the worst that will happen is rejection and ridicule. In other parts of the world our brothers and sisters are being persecuted and yet they continue to share the Gospel. What’s the difference? I want to be that on fire. Why have so many of us never claimed our boldness? The Bible is full of boldness and people on fire – how do we get that? Acts demonstrates outreach and boldness perfectly. Look at what God said to Paul:

“And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” – Acts 18:9-10

So what’s the difference? Prayer. It doesn’t mean you will be spared from rejection, ridicule or persecution but what’s more important to your life – temporary life or eternal salvation? We’re all called to go out and make disciples. We’re instructed in Acts 1:8 to go to the end of the earth as His witness. He’s equipped us with everything we need to be faithful sharers of the Gospel.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

God wants you to start right now – in whatever capacity. It might start with family or friends or coworkers but it starts now. It might be as simple as a cup of coffee with an acquaintance.

This is a call to action! Put aside the excuses and the fear and share the Gospel. Free people from their bondage by introducing them to the chain breaker – Jesus. As one of my friends said: “Christ breaks chains – it’s what He does for a living.” Not sharing the Gospel is like having a cure for a disease and not sharing it.

What’s holding you back? Let me put this another way: If you’re not sharing Jesus, you’re helping Satan. You’re allowing the enemy to keep a captive who could be one for Christ. Which side do you want to be on? Personally, I want to be on Team Chain Breakers!

I pray that this post lifts you up and inspires you. I pray that the right people read this message and are convicted to apply it to your life. I pray that you step out in faith and share Jesus – He’ll do all the heavy lifting.

Please comment below and let us know what you think! ❤

Not Forever Young

”But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”’ ~ 1 Samuel 16: 7 (NIV).

This verse has been one of the most relatable verses in my life for many years. I was born with a blessing and a curse: looking younger than my age. Unlike most people—most women—who wish they looked younger, I hate it and complain a lot to my family and friends about it. My reason for this is simple: I am not taken seriously as an adult and am often times treated as a teenage girl rather than a woman. Thankfully, God has gifted me with maturity which has helped me act like an adult. But according to the world, it’s my appearance that is noticed first and sometimes the only thing people will notice for some time.

We are driven by sight. We are attracted to beautiful things and disgusted by ugliness. We are quick to judge and quick to make decisions based on one glimpse. God, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. 1 Corinthians 1:27-28 says, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are” (NIV).

Going back to David’s story, God called Samuel to find and anoint the next King of Israel. In my humanness, when I picture a King of Israel, I picture a tall, handsome, strong, valiant, mature man. A fearless man, courageous and willing to put himself in deadly situations if it means protecting what needs to be protected. We can imagine this kind of king, but I can pretty much guarantee you that if I find a king like this, it’s his appearance that will influence my decision more and maybe even dismiss a lot of these attributes.

Before David made himself known in 1 Samuel, Samuel looked at all of David’s older brothers and thought, ”’Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord”’ 16:6 (NIV). But the Lord’s answer was clear. (He has a tendency to surprise the world.) David had all the qualities of being a king. The only thing that held him back was how people viewed him based on his appearance! How could people see David who he really was when their eyes were focused solely on what he looked like? Only God knows! And He revealed it to Samuel in verse 12, ”’Rise and anoint him; he is the one”’ (NIV).

This week, I have been bombarded with insecurities about my appearance. I come into an interview not really having the confidence of being a chosen daughter of God. Instead, my head is filled with thoughts of doubt and fear. I am afraid that people will not see me as a twenty-something year old but rather a high school student. I am afraid that people will not see my professionalism and maturity because they are thinking of how short and small I am. If only we could see people’s heart at first glance. But we don’t always. Thankfully, God does and His sight is more important than man’s.

Lastly, I want to point out David’s future. He sinned, he fell, he did a lot of bad things. But! He proved people wrong. He killed a giant, he became the king of Israel, and he was a man after God’s own heart. David did not dwell in how people saw him because his heart sought after God more than anything else. And God only saw his heart.

What do you struggle with? Hope y’all have a wonderful weekend! ❤

‘Tis the Season

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

a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace” – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Obviously, I’m not speaking about Christmas but the ebbs and flows of life. We all experience different seasons at different times in our lives. These seasons are what make us who we are. Some seasons are challenging and really stretch you. Other seasons are restful and a recovery time. It can be hard to appreciate the challenging seasons but they exist for a reason.

How can you appreciate the good times in your life without experiencing challenging times? How can you recognize and appreciate your dependence on God if you’re never stretched beyond your own limitations? How can you appreciate laughter and joy, if you’ve never cried and felt sorrow? Life is full of cycles.

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Who can resist the circle of life? I bet you’re hearing the song playing in your mind, aren’t you?

While I appreciate both seasons, I must admit I prefer the restful seasons. They tend to be more fun and enjoyable; they’re easy. But if I’m being honest in my reflections, I grow the most and learn the most in the seasons where God challenges me and pushes me out of my comfort zone. It’s not always easy or fun but it’s worthwhile. It’s the tough times that have grown me into the person I am and have helped me grow my faith. It’s the challenges that have shown me what’s permanent and what’s temporary – what matters and what doesn’t. It’s the challenges that have allowed me to see just how deep my roots are.

Both the challenging seasons and the restful seasons are gifts from God. They’re both necessary parts given to us to grow and serve.

What type of season are you in and How can we help you? We love hearing from you! ❤

Navigating Tough Lessons

I don’t always appreciate the lessons God is trying to teach me. I know that they’re for good and they serve a purpose but sometimes I just don’t like it. One of the lessons He is currently teaching me is related to discipline. I hate it. It’s the discipline of getting up early, eating right and working out. I want to eat the extra carbs, sleep in longer and sit on the couch. God has other plans.

He wants me to treat my body like a temple. Yes, I can have a slice of chocolate cake without guilt but I need to be moderate. It’s important that I take care of myself so that I am able to do the work He wants me to do. I have to be in shape if He calls me to do something that requires me to be physically healthy. If He calls me to serve as a missionary or be a mother or whatever it may be, I have to be disciplined enough to wake up early or do whatever He is asking me to do.

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” – Hebrews 12:11

Discipline is painful and it’s not fun but it’s worthwhile. I know that it’s a necessary part of my life. I know that I have to buckle down and be disciplined for the next chapter of my life. I know that He uses disciplined people to get things done. I have been learning what it’s like to truly serve people and put others first. That wasn’t/ isn’t a fun thing to learn either.

“Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and kept it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” – 1 Corinthians 9:25-27

Looking back though, the best things I’ve learned are the ones I didn’t like learning. I realize that the things I have dreaded the most have been turning points in my life and have helped me excel in my faith.  The hardest lesson I learned was obedience but that took me across the world to South Korea and the restful and joyous season I had there. Obedience taught me that God’s plans are always better than my wildest dreams.

I don’t know where the lesson of discipline will take me but I am excited by the opportunities that lie in front of me. I know that right now I am in training and am learning how to be more disciplined and that while it’s not fun it will be worthwhile.

If you’re going through one of these tough lessons, press into the Word, pray harder and seek godly counsel because you will need the encouragement and accountability.

What lesson is God teaching you in this season of your life? What has He shown you? We love hearing from y’all! ❤

Looking in a Mirror

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.” ~ James 1:22-25 (NIV)

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American Christianity tends to be a lot like this: going to church, oooing and aahhing in agreement at what the pastor says, raising their hands during worship, saying hi to the people sitting around them, and then, starting the week like Sunday never happened. We live a life of hypocrisy.  I admit, I’m included in this list of hypocrites. For example, I love talking about God but my prayer life and Scripture reading is quite nonexistent.

Jesus openly called out the Pharisees for their hypocrisy as mentioned in Luke 11:37-54. ”’You foolish people,”’ Jesus said in verse 40. I can picture the Pharisees really looking at themselves in a mirror and having thoughts like, “I am the better person,” or “I am more religious than anyone here.” No human is better then anyone other human except for the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, the Pharisees did not have open ears. In other words, whatever Jesus said to them only made them angrier at Him.

Another example I noticed of American Christianity is that we change ourselves depending on the situation. At church, we call ourselves Christian. In a bar, we can become alcoholics. At home, we become victims of “innocent” material on TV or on a computer. It’s like we all struggle with dual personality or something. That is not being a Christian, it is being a hypocrite.

If our heart is not in the right place, we will not see God’s word the way Jesus does. We do not act on what we learn and read from the Lord because we do not believe it and/or we reject it. If we approach the Bible with the intent of just reading it, there is nothing that we will get out of it. However, when our mentality and heart are of God, meaning when we come to God with a thirst that is not of this world, God will bless us as the book of James states.

What area do you struggle? Marianna shared that she struggles with being in the word. I (Amanda) struggle with comparison but in the past struggled with addiction. Those things don’t define us, unless we let them. It’s time to let go and leave it at the cross! As always, we love hearing from you. ❤

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Stop Competing

The best in the world gather together to compete. It’s all about the gold. Which country can get the most gold medals? It comes down to seconds, in some cases. It’s all about perfection. The athletes have been training their entire lives for this moment. They are the best of the best.

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I used to think of life as a competition, as if I had to be the best at whatever I was doing. I thought I had to be the best employee, the best boss, the best Christian, the best _______________. Luckily, God never asked me to be perfect. He asked me to come as I am and He asks you to come as you.

He doesn’t demand or expect perfection. He asks you to compete with no one. He asks you to trust Him and depend on Him because He will take care of you. He requires no training, no strenuous hours studying and preparing. He simply asks you to believe and accept Jesus Christ as your savior.

How am I so confident of this? I just look to His disciples. He didn’t pick the religious superstars aka the Pharisees. He chose fishermen and tax collectors. He chose the people that others would overlook. Peter, the fisherman, with no formal training expect for being with Jesus, became the rock of the church and he certainly was not the best person. He stumbled and failed and tried to compete with the other disciples. He was just like us, but he submitted to God’s plan and He became the rock of the church. The fact that Peter was uneducated actually turned out to be an advantage. It allowed people to see where the wisdom really came from: God.

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. “ – Acts 4:13

He stopped focusing on the competition and in doing so he became one of the best of the church.  Be bold and stop competing with others.  Boldly compete with yourself to share the Gospel and serve. As long as you’re willing and obedient, God will use you. He can use you at home, at work, at church, in the community, etc. Are you willing to be used? Put the excuses down. If you’re willing, God’s able so go ahead and step out in faith!

Tell us where are you being used or where do you want to be used. Speak boldly! We love hearing from you!

Reflecting on Our Choices

Today, you have the opportunity to live for Christ or live for yourself. Today, you have the opportunity to choose love or hate. Today you can choose prayer or gossip. Our days consist of small choices that we might not even be aware we are making, so today I don’t want this to just be another blog you read, but I want this to be a launching pad.

I want you to take some time and really think about what the most important areas in your life are. What would you say are the top values you hold? Would you say family? Career? God? Money? Write down the top five most important areas and values in your life. Here are mine:

Important Areas:                                                Important Values

  1. God                                                                     Loyalty
  2. Family                                                               Honesty
  3. Friends                                                              Dependability
  4. Community                                                     Generosity
  5. Career                                                                Faithfulness

Okay, once your lists are done, it’s time for some self-reflection.   Look at your life and evaluate what you’ve done for the past seven days. Do your actions reflect the most important areas and values in your life? The first time I did this, I had to come to terms with the fact that my life did not reflect anything I said was important. I was working 80 hours a week and if I were 100% honest, I would say my list looked more like this:

  1. Career                                                             Ambition
  2. Money                                                            Success
  3. Friends                                                          Drive
  4. Family                                                           Perseverance
  5. God                                                                Decisive

It’s not pretty – I know but once I was able to reflect and honestly look at my life, I was able to change. I began to choose prayer over gossip. I learned to choose God over anything. When I was able to be honest with myself, I was able to drastically change my life. I swore an oath to obey God no matter what the cost and in return I found myself quitting my job to move to South Korea to teach English. I learned humility, and what it means to really depend on God. I learned and am still learning so much about what it means to live for Christ. Sometimes my reflection ripples as circumstances and people collide with my world, but throughout it all, I know what is important and with regular reflection, I can make sure that I’m not just saying I’m living for Christ but I actually am.

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Chris Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” – Philippians 3:7-8

Please don’t just read this – do it and let us know what you thought of it! As always, we love hearing from you! ❤

Giving Praise to the One and Only

Just yesterday, my family and I were watching a film of this missionary family living in Indonesia, bringing the gospel to the natives and being servants of God. They were living in nature, surrounded by a jungle filled with creatures and plants of all kinds. I’m a city person but I also love nature. However, I’ve never been one to look at such details of a plant or an insect. I tend to just see beauty in a sunset, a rainbow, or my cat. God’s beauty lies deep within that only the ones with sight can see.

After living in South Korea for a year, I realized how much I needed to be surrounded by nature. My first house was located downtown amid bars, clubs and restaurants. The parks in my area were a dull green and the air was so polluted the trees seemed depressed. I’d wake up in the morning wanting nothing more than to look at the blue sky. Instead, all I’d see was the building across from mine. Although my apartment was big and spacious, it was like a cage. Now that I’m back home, I see the bright green, and the clear blue, and the deep brown colors of the world. God’s creation is beautiful. Sometimes, words cannot describe.

It’s in these moments that I am disappointed how little I praise the Lord. If there is a glorious sunset, we take a picture. We give attention to our pets. We visit zoos. But do we ever think, this creature, or this insect, or this plant is a creation from God? From the family mentioned above, they “study” the work of the Lord and are so fascinated from a butterfly’s wings to tracks on a trail. They give praise to God and thank Him for all the details and variety He has put on this Earth. In addition, it seems as though some of us almost give praise to nature and not to the One who made it.

God put Adam to “work the ground” (Genesis 2:5 NIV) meaning God created us to take care of the earth, to be stewards of His creation. Let me tell you, nature does a better job of praising the Creator than we do. What God has made is good. There is no one and nothing else to praise, only God.

“Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights above. Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts. Praise him, sun and moon, praise, all you shining stars. Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. Let them praise the name of Lord, for he commanded and they were created. He set them in place for ever and ever; he gave a decree that will never pass away.

Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding, you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds, kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rules on earth, young men and maidens, old men and children.

Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens. He has raised up for his people a horn, the praise of all his saints, of Israel, the people close to his heart.

Praise the Lord.”

~ Psalm 148 (NIV)

Hope y’all have a great weekend! We love hearing from you, so let us know what you think! ❤