Oct 9, 2018

You Have a Purposeful Calling

God has a purpose for you.

When I was little, that purpose was on the forefront of my mind, but I often searched for it in the wrong places.  I dreamed of what I would do when I grew up, who I would be, how I would change the world.  When friends came over, we'd ask the same question.  "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

And I had a lot of answers.  At first, I wanted to be a mom with ninety-nine daughters and one son (poor guy, I know).  Then my ideals matured to the idea of becoming a clown.  Sadly, I was never funny, nor did I like being the center of attention.  New dreams came and fell.  I'd be a jockey riding in horse races.  Or a missionary sharing the Gospel with cannibals in unknown lands.

But now I am a little older, and God has different plans for me.  I know a portion of my calling - to share His overwhelming beauty through writing.  In the future, I desire to raise a household of children for Him.  It's a good purpose but not entirely complete.

There's a calling so much more important.

If you know your future purpose or not, it's really not a big deal.  Because right now, right here, God has something bigger in store.

Before the creation of the world, He knew you (Jeremiah 1:5).  He knew your fears, your weaknesses, the way you'd fail.  And He has a perfect plan for you.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
- Jeremiah 29:11-13

We all want to know our future, and the Lord has it all planned out for us perfectly.  But there's something more important.

Our calling is to call upon Him, go and pray to Him, and seek Him with all our heart.

No matter what job we have, what house we live in, what our dreams are, that's our calling: to passionately want Jesus more than anything and seek Him with all.

When Jesus left earth, He gave us our purpose in life.

And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.  He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.  And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;  they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."
- Mark 16:15-18

It's not that our specific calling or occupation isn't important.  As Christians, what we do isn't less important; it's actually way more vital because the way we live can make a difference for eternity.

You could have any job or dream, but your calling is the same: to be ambassadors of Jesus to a lost world (2 Corinthians 5:20).  In a word, our calling is Jesus.

You are not a label.  When I was young and searching for my purpose, I wanted a label.  I wanted something to present as who I was.  But it would be selling ourselves short to find a profession, give our lives to it, and think that's all there is to it.

The real label that should define us isn't "college degree" or "profession."  Our definition should be Christ.

So we live every moment for Him.  I write in order to honor Him.  Maybe you babysit or dance or write essays or grow gardens or perform in movies.  Do it for Jesus.  We might not know the next step or what the future holds, but we know Who holds our future.  So live it for Him.

I had to make that decision this week.  After pressing on through school for 12+ years, I finally saw the end goal in sight, the day when I could be done, graduate college, and pursue what I feel is God's real calling for me.  And then things happened.  Classes weren't accepted, and I have another semester of work.

It's not my plan, and I don't like it.  But He has a purpose for me in these months, and I am choosing to rejoice in that.

Dear friend, live today rejoicing in Christ.  Don't worry about tomorrow, because He has a purpose for it.

And it's perfect for you.  Maybe not what you expect, but His plans are greater.

Don't wait to do hard things and live radically until you're an adult or until you reach a certain place in life.  Start being the person He has called you to be right now, and let Him take care of the rest.  He can write your life story better than you ever could.

My job right now might be taking college classes, but that can't hold me back from seeking Him with all my heart.  That can't stop me from pursuing the goals He has put on my heart.

You have a purpose.

My friend Jessica worded it perfectly, and I'll end with her thoughts, "You are chosen to be a child of God, first and foremost, and there’s always a place by His side for you. That is your purpose."  (read her post, What Does Purpose Look Like?)

So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.  And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.  Amen.
- Mark 16:19-20

Oct 2, 2018

Live - and Love - Simply

I grew up living simply.  If I was inside, it was to get lost in a book or to finish school as fast as possible so I could go outside.  Out of the house, I spent every afternoon in imagination games with my siblings and friends.

In the creeks, we were Indians washing away our tracks to escape from the settlers seeking to capture us.  In the woods, we fled from orphanage keepers.  Playing tag, exploring unknown lands, we embraced the beauty of life God gave us.

And then we grew up.  Addition turned into algebra.  Stories turned into essays.

Life became complicated.

But I wonder if it has to be that way.

Maybe you noticed that I skipped posting last week.  I haven't done that in months.  But life has become overwhelmingly busy at times (college does that), and, yes, I fall short.

It's crept to other areas of life.  I can't write my sequel... because I'm busy.  I can't savor relationships, go outside to just leisurely enjoy life, take a break to simply love God.  Sometimes life is like that.

Ultimately, the problem comes down to our priorities, but there's another issue.  Life is complicated.  Taking college classes, having online ministries, starting Bible studies at Church, trying to keep up with everything - it's complicated.

So easily, I become burned out, tired, exhausted.  And I need to go back.

O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
You maintain my lot.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Yes, I have a good inheritance.
Psalm 16:5-6

Last week, I did that.  I grabbed my 4 year old sister's hand.  We imagined that we had an umbrella that could fly, and we flew to the creeks, through brushes, and up a hill.  We discovered treasures and put them in our museum.

Another day, we climbed trees.  How long was it since I last scrambled up branches, let my skin rub raw, and tottered above the earth, looking down on the ground from a new perspective?  When I tried to swing on vines (failing but enjoying the moments) and climb up just one branch higher?

I made dinner for my family.  Baking for twelve is time consuming, but I savored the evening and doing something I had missed while working on essays and academic papers.

And so many other moments.  Walking through a cave and treasuring the beauty of it.  Laughing and talking in silly accents, forgetting that I'm an "adult" and supposed to be mature and serious *cough*.  Grabbing a childhood favorite book and losing myself in its pages.

And remembering the simple truths about God too.

Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments.
- Deuteronomy 7:9

The Bible may seem complicated, but I remembered what is stands for.  We were created in the beginning because He loved us (Psalm 139:13-18).  Despite our failures, He is our strength (2 Corinthians 12:9), and He proved that by becoming the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.  In the end, that love story will be complete when we are in His presence together, united (Revelation 22).

We can get consumed by so much, when it's all supposed to be very simple.  Jesus loved us with everything.  Why don't we do the same?  Why don't we love Him and others radically like that?

Let all that you do be done with love.
- 1 Corinthians 16:14

It's not about trying so hard to overcome our weaknesses.  It's about realizing that we have everything we need for life and Godliness, and that's in Jesus (2 Peter 1:3).  We seek Him, strive to become like Him, strive to Love like Him.

It's a relationship.  He loves me, and I want every part of my life to love Him in return.

I don't think life was meant to be complicated.  We can be consumed by so much - being healthy, doing all the right things, keeping up with life, writing that next bestseller - when life was meant to be much simpler.


Living every moment as a worship to Him.  Embracing the life He chose to give us.

O my soul, you have said to the Lord,
"You are my Lord,
My goodness is nothing apart from You."
Psalm 16:2

And somehow, when I remember that, it's enough for me.

I'll forget and go back to those long college papers, draining afternoons, and busy schedules, but I want to remember that I do all that for Him.  To love Him.  I complete my assignments to honor Him.  I worship Him through ministries, through holding that crying baby, through taking a break to love my sibling.

I might not be able to spend my life in the woods like I did when I was young, but I can go back to that simple joy I had when I loved Him, loved life, and embraced it all with thankfulness.  

My friend, live simply.  And love simply.

For Jesus.

But Jesus called them to Him and said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it."
- Luke 18:16-17

Sep 21, 2018

Replacing Lies with Truth

Dear Friend,

I've wanted to write this post for several months, but God is finally giving me the opportunity.  And the idea has grown bigger than I originally thought.

It's something I need to hear again.  And hopefully something that will bless you.

This is my prayer - that we both become more like Jesus.  That we have a heart like His, full of Love.

We hear so many lies.

The enemy is constantly throwing them at us.  He lies about us, those around us, God.  And most of the time, we listen to him.

One week, a friend challenged me to start guarding my thoughts.  We took every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5).  By doing that, I discovered so many lies that were going through my brain.

Lies like, "I don't belong.  These people don't care about me." Or "I'm not as beautiful, as talented, as good."

There were lies that were meant to tear me down and ones meant to tear down others.  "I'm better than them.  They don't deserve...  They're not..."

It's scary.  The lies we hear can completely transform us into this bitter, selfish person who is not who God made us to be.  They turn our day sour, throw a bucket of ice water on that faith we thought we had.  The problem comes when we listen to the enemy.

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

That abundant life comes through Jesus.

When I started to guard my thoughts, I was horrified by the lies I heard.  But I also felt transformed, because I replaced those lies with Truth.  I took every thought captive and weighed them before Him.

Every time a thought came in my head, I stopped and asked myself, "is this Christ's Truth?"

When the enemy said I wasn't good enough, I remembered - my goodness comes only from Him, for He is my inheritance (Psalm 16:6).  He loves with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).

When I had pride, I remembered that I'm only a servant, like Christ was (John 13:3-5).

When I was afraid, I remembered that when I am weak, He is strong.  His strength is made perfect in weakness.  (2 Corinthians 12:9).

When I didn't feel like it, I remembered to praise Him (Psalm 16:9).

If we listen to the enemy's lies, we will be torn down.  Bitter.  Offended.  But Christ offers love, hope, and Truth.

It's not because our lives are perfect that we can have this hope.  It's because we choose to abide in Him in the midst of our struggles, knowing that in Him we have everything we need for life and Godliness.

That week was beautiful for so many reasons as I discovered the beauty of being transformed by the renewing of my mind.  When we take every thought captive and believe His Truth, we find joy.

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Joy is found in His presence.

So friend, whatever is keeping you from that presence - whether busyness, idols, or those lies the enemy throws at you - replace them with Truth.  His word is Truth (John 17:17).

And that's the key of it all.  Truth is in God, in His word.  Renewing our mind means loving His word so much that it becomes a part of who we are.

That's my challenge for you:  abide in Him.  For me, that meant taking every thought captive and replacing them with His word.

Although I've fallen away from that practice, I want to go back.  I want to remember His Truth and dwell in it instead of in those lies.  But I can't find Truth if I don't abide in reading His Word, memorizing it, and praying faithfully.  I can't find Truth if I don't have Him.

What's your first step?  Let's talk below.  Share how I can be praying for you and encouraging you on this journey for Truth!  ♥

If we seek Jesus, He will be found.

Dear friend - seek.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
- Isaiah 55:8-9