Faith

The Power of Faith

And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.
— Genesis 15:6

Righteousness was something that was credited to someone because of his or her actions. A righteous man was one who was characterized by living a godly life and keeping to the law, yet here we read that because of Abraham’s faith he was counted as righteous. If you dive deeper into Abraham’s story you will see that he proved himself to be righteous, but only after it was shown that he had faith in God was he counted as righteous.

At first glance you might wonder how faith can make someone righteous. We know that no one besides Jesus is wholly righteous, yet God says to Abraham, because you have faith in me and the promises I have made you will be counted righteous and so will all your descendants after you.

And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.
— Romans 4:24-25

As I was reading these two passages one thing stuck out to me—the power of faith. Faith has the power to make someone righteous. It is not our deeds or how close we keep to God’s instructions, it is simply by believing that God is who He says He is, and will do what He has promised to do. As simple of a statement as that may be, it can actually be hard to live out. It seems to actually be easier to try and work our own way to salvation by saying, “See all the things I’ve done God!” than to actually live by faith. A lot of people live that way, thinking their good deeds make them right with God, but no matter what we do we can never build a bridge long enough to cross over our sin to get to God.

So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, ‘It is through faith that a righteous person has life.’
— Galatians 3:11

The interesting thing is, that when we live by faith it draws us closer to God. I love reading Abraham’s story because you get to see the intimacy he had with God. He knew God and he had a close relationship with Him. We see later in Genesis that God tells Abraham that he is going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of the wickedness there, but Lot, Abraham’s nephew lived there, so he pleaded with God to not destroy it. In chapter 18 Abraham asks God if he finds 50 righteous people there to save the city, and God replies that he will spare them. He goes to God many more times whittling down the number to 10 people. Abraham had faith enough that he had such a close relationship with God that he was able to go back and forth with him in this way.

Our righteousness, being made right with God, comes by faith in God, and believing that He sent His son to die for us and rose Him from the dead, and it is our righteousness that enables us to have a close relationship with God.

So all who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith.
— Galatians 3:9

Share This Image on Instagram with #somethingmorelife

Share on Instagram with #somethingmorelife

Live in the Space Between

be-still-my-soul.jpg

I have a confession to make. Sometimes I find it difficult to sit in silence and be still. Sometimes I'll be sitting and working on something and the quietness is overwhelming. It's crazy! I almost always end up turning on the TV or some music just to have some background noise. We are so constantly consumed with noise everywhere we go that the quiet becomes uncomfortable. We feel like something's missing and that we need to add noise. Isn't it crazy to think that noise and constant busyness have become so normal, that to some, the thought of being in silence for any extended amount of time makes them cringe? The other morning I read a devotional inspired by the hymn Be Still My Soul and it struck such a powerful chord with me that it brought me to tears. I'll admit it doesn't take too much to bring me to tears, but the power of the words “be still” resonated so deeply within my heart and soul that I began to cry. You see, I live my life in constant go mode. I may not be constantly doing something, but my mind is constantly spinning, thinking of so many different things within a matter of minutes. So I wanted to share some words from the devotional that hit me. She wrote:

Life is noisy. A hymn like “Be Still My Soul” gives me assurance that in the noise of life, my soul is held secure in the silence—silence that goes before and behind me. In the noise of my emotions or in daily work rhythms, the silence between the happenings is a constant. The silence helps me find my place in the world, to see who I am, and it makes space for my soul to listen to God. Even in the most joyful tones of life, as in music, the space between the notes is just as important as the notes themselves. (Shereadstruth.com)

“The space between notes is just as important as the notes themselves.” The funny thing is, as I was sitting there pondering this thought in my mind, I thought, "Ooh, I should go write a blog about this." But then that would defeat the whole purpose of just being still before the Lord, so instead I let the quiet of the moment wash over me.

I sat and looked out the window and watched the tree branches in my backyard blow in the wind. I could hear the tick tock of the clock hanging on the wall and just barely the sound of the wind outside. My mind is so cluttered with thoughts and to-dos that it is almost impossible to sit and let the noise inside fade away, but then I’m reminded of the psalm that says, “Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him.” Psalm 37:7

In the midst of all the things going on inside and outside our minds, we are still called to wait upon the Lord, to allow him to move and guide us, to allow HIM to move in our moments of stillness. I know I tend to get ahead of myself a lot of the time. One thing happens and I jump ahead to miles down the road of where I’m at, and then I start to worry. How will this turn out? What am I going to do? What is God going to have me doing a year or years from now? But what if this happens? What will I do if that happens? I even start to think about the "could've beens". Like, if such and such would've happened that could've been great, and so I let my mind wander in a thought that isn't reality. It all starts with one thought, but then leads down this rabbit trail of sometimes wonderful life scenarios if things played out differently and then horrifying scenarios of what ifs. But then this morning I was reminded by God's assurance, “Be still my child. I am with you and for you. I have everything under control.” God is outside of time. He is in control and He is not at all worried or surprised by the things that happen in our lives. We have to choose to walk in peace and not dwell on thoughts that lead to anxiousness and worry.

We can’t be afraid of the silence, of the space between notes. God is composing a symphony with your life. We have to allow him to move us in and out of the moments of high energy where every instrument is playing together a beautiful melody and to the low moments where we must strain to hear a line being played by a single violin, and then into those measures of rest, while we wait for the music to begin again.

until-next-time.jpg

Share on Instagram with #somethingmorelife

What to do When Life Gets Hard

to-live-is-christ.jpg

I love the reminder fall gives us. As I feel the temperature dropping and see the leaves changing I am reminded of the ever-changing seasons of life, more so our spiritual lives. It’s a funny idea that God who never changes, created us and the world around us to constantly change. Every Christian goes through high and low seasons and it is what we do through those seasons that determines the strengthening or weakening of our faith. We all love the high seasons when doors are constantly opened for us and everything seems to go right on track. When we sense a freshness in our spirit. When we always sense God guiding us and walking with us everywhere we go.

It is the low seasons that we don’t like very much. When we feel like God is far from us, and don’t sense His presence guiding us. When nothing good seems to come our way, only bad news after bad news. It is in these times that we can begin to doubt, when we can begin to listen to the lies of the enemy trying to scare us from pushing through. But it is also in these times when we can choose to cling even tighter to Christ.

This can be seen so clearly in the life of Paul. If anyone can boast about suffering it’s this guy right here. He was shipwrecked as a prisoner on a ship, bitten by a deadly snake and survived, stoned, beaten and whipped, imprisoned without a trial, yet he was the very one who penned the words to “live is Christ, to die is gain, but if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ.” Phil. 1:21-22 Even in prison he was praising God, and because of that prisoners and even the guards heard of the Gospel message. Paul lived with an eternal mindset believing that the things he did on this earth in whatever circumstance he was in could help further the Gospel. That is what he lived. He lived a life worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Paul lived with an eternal mindset believing that the things he did on this earth in whatever circumstance he was in could help further the Gospel. That is what he lived. He lived a life worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

What an encouragement that whatever suffering we are facing in our lives it can be used for God’s glory. I know it sounds strange and a little confusing, but think of it this way. When people see you going through hard times, and you say no matter what that you will praise God that speaks something to them. It also speaks something to the devil. It tells him that it doesn’t matter what he tries to do to you because you will still praise God. It tells him that you will not stop following after God and leading others to Him.

In my devotion this morning a line stuck out to me it said, “Suffering emboldens us because when we are face to face with our worst case scenario, we see Jesus staring back at us.

“Suffering emboldens us because when we are face to face with our worst case scenario, we see Jesus staring back at us.”

I have been in a place like that in my life where it seemed like nothing I tried to do alleviated any of the pain or heaviness I was feeling, and it was then when God was who was left standing there. This caused a huge shift in my life. I determined to cling so tightly to God, to walk with him daily in prayer and reading His word. And wow, what a change that brought to my life. It was through a season of suffering that I learned to rely on God and nothing or anyone else.

So don’t let hardships of any sort that try to come against you stop you from running to what God has for you. If something is difficult, or scary that probably means that you should run even harder towards it because the enemy will try anything to keep you from what God has in store for you. And don’t be afraid of losing because we have the ultimate finisher on our side, the one who always finishes victorious!

Read these words from Paul in Philippians 1:20-30

"Paul’s Life for Christ

20 For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. 21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better.23 I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. 24 But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.

25 Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith. 26 And when I come to you again, you will have even more reason to take pride in Christ Jesus because of what he is doing through me.

Live as Citizens of Heaven

27 Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. 28 Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. 29 For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.30 We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it."

until next time
until next time

We're Good at Forgetting

2015-04-life-of-pix-free-stock-photos-face-girl-sea-jessica-polar-e1438310074217.jpg

Why Remembering the Past is Just as Important as Looking Ahead to Where God is Leading Us

It's kind of funny the emotions you can go through reading the Old Testament. In some places it's like this constant up and down, up and down, up and down, and before you know it, you're mind is going crazy and you feel like it might explode. Ok, maybe that might just be something that happens to me, but if you've ever read lengths of the stories of the kings who followed God and then didn't or of the Israelites wandering through wilderness going from praising God to hating Him you will probably understand my feelings.

One thing I know is that God is very patient, but in no way do I want to test His patience because after seeing what happened to Kings and prophets and many other people who did so, well let's just say, that's not something I ever want to happen.

Right now I'm in the middle of reading through 2 Kings, and it just blows my mind how they can go from one king completely following after God and destroying all the idols and temples to other gods, to the next king completely disregarding God and worshipping false idols. And it keeps happening over and over. The same thing happened with the Israelites. They believed God would lead them to the Promise Land, but as soon as they were free and faced adversity they wished they could go back to being slaves. Then there was that time Moses went up on the mountain and was gone for a little while, and the Israelites grew impatient, so they decided to make a golden calf and worship that, instead of God who had brought them through so much.

Did they forget how God led them through the wilderness by a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night? Did they forget how God split the sea so they could walk across without having to even touch the water, and how God brought the sea back together so that the Egyptians who went after them were drowned? Did they forget how God provided them food to eat and water to drink? Did the kings forget what the people went through to get to the Promised Land? Did they forget God's promise to provide for them and give them favor as long as they obeyed and followed him?

We can so easily look at the lives and stories of these people and go, "What were you thinking?!?" but in reality we do the same exact things. We simply forget. We forget what awesome things God has done in our lives. We forget the things He has promised to us, so long as we follow Him. We forget that God is all-powerful and because we forget we do not fear Him, as we should.

We forget, just like the Israelites did, just like the numerous kings who, instead of following God like their fathers did, chose to completely forsake Him.

I found myself after I had gone through a really tough season asking God to help me to never forget what it felt like during that time. One reason is because I never want to go back there again, but also because I want to never forget what God brought me out of and the joy and peace I now have in Him.

It’s crazy how when we stop and reflect on the past through the lens of how God moved in certain situation we remember the goodness and faithfulness of God, and if He was those things in the past, He will be now and in the future. It is so important to remember the past, not to get stuck in the past, but to use it to say, “Yeah, I know God said this or did this in that situation, so I know He is still good no matter what happens today, in a month, or a year from now.” I pray that we will never forget and turn from God like the kings in the Old Testament did. I pray that we never grow weary like the Israelites who took an 11-day journey and turned it into 40 years. Let us keep our eyes fixed on God and remember that who He was, He still is, and will always be.

until next time
until next time

Dress for the Occasion

rolling-pants.jpeg

“So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.” Colossians 3:12-14 MSG

If you were invited to a wedding you would dress for the occasion, right? If you're a girl you'd find a beautiful dress and probably wear heels and some jewelry, and if you're a guy you'd probably put on a button up shirt and grab a tie or bow-tie, and maybe even wear a suit if you're feeling extra dressy. If you were going for a run you wouldn't wear heels and dressy clothes though. You would need shorts and a t-shirt or tank top and definitely running shoes. What we wear is often based on what we are doing, and in this passage it says God has called us to live a life of love, so we need to dress for such a lifestyle. When we put on an outfit we are presenting something to others, a lot of times it's one of the first things people notice about us. So think of it that way. Are the first things people are noticing about your character things like quiet strength, discipline, forgiveness, kindness, compassion, and contentment? Or do they see someone who is easily upset, impatient, always having to be right, holds grudges, rude, and arrogant? As I examine myself I see a mix of both. There are times when I nail it and handle a situation with kindness or humility and then other times when I become impatient or I find myself being lazy and not practicing discipline. I think we can all relate to that, unless you're Jesus and perfect. So how do we clothe ourselves in these qualities daily?

1. Prayer

It is so vital to be in constant communion and communication with God. Jesus said, "Abide in me, I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you ABIDE in Me." (John 15:4) I love this illustration of our relationship with Jesus. If a branch becomes disconnected from the vine it no longer receives the nutrients it needs to produce fruit. Just like a vine, we cannot produce fruit such as love, patience, compassion, and so forth, unless we are connected to Jesus. God, who is the true vine, IS love, which is at the root of all these things, so if you want to be able to love and show kindness and humility, it's going to take continually abiding in Him because like Jesus said, we cannot bear fruit unless we abide in Him and stay in constant communication with Him.

2. Surround yourself with those who will call you into abundant life

This is so important. Just today I was reminded of that. It was just a little comment they made that made me realize the way I was thinking about something was not based in love or in the way Jesus would have. I was convicted and realized I needed to be Jesus to these people because Jesus loved those that everyone else passed by. Our close friends, the ones we talk to about life, should be those who are themselves striving to walk daily in the love of Christ. You will be able to tell who is and isn't by their fruit, just like I mentioned earlier. Do they have peace and joy in their life or do envy and bitterness follow them wherever they go? Are they willing to confront you in love and call you to walk in the same or do they listen and agree when you're wallowing in self pity over something? So what kind of life to do you want? I know I want a life filled with love. So make sure you have compassion, kindness, humility, a quiet strength, discipline, contentment with being second place, an even-temper, forgiveness, and most importantly love in your wardrobe. Realize these are essentials that God picked out for you to wear everyday. I hope as you get ready for your day tomorrow you will look to the wardrobe God assigned you and be sure to dress yourself for a life of love!

until next time
until next time

Even When It Doesn't Make Sense, Keep Walking

nqzca7prtyuduzpszq88_wanderlust.jpg

Walk. This is a word I have been hearing God speak to me over and over lately. The first time I heard it, I was kind of in the middle of a pretty serious conversation, and I kept hearing him say walk. I was having this fight between me and God in my head. I was like, “but God I can’t just get up and walk right now, and plus there’s nowhere for me to walk. It’s a pretty busy street out there.” But he persisted and so I reluctantly got up and told the person I was with that I would be back in a little bit. I got up and walked. I was like “Ok God, what do I do now?” It was then that he talked me through a decision I needed to make and helped me see things from a new perspective.

Then later in the week I heard him say again, walk. So as I’m rolling this word around in my mind trying to understand why God is telling me walk I hear a sermon from two different pastors on the story of Jericho. If you’ve been around church for a good amount of time you’ve probably heard it. It’s about how God told Joshua he had given him Jericho and all he had to do was walk around the wall of the city with his army and the priests once every day for six days and on the seventh day walk around it seven times, and on the seventh time as they are shouting and blowing horns the walls of the city would fall down. If hearing two different sermons wasn’t enough, the Bible reading plan I’m going through took me through the same passage of scripture, and I’m like, “I hear you, but it doesn’t make sense.”

Which is probably exactly what the Israelites thought when they were walking around the wall of Jericho. They were probably thinking, “What’s walking around this city going to do? We are warriors. Why don’t we go into battle against them?” And at the end of each day without anything happening they probably started wondering if this was all just a joke and God thought it would be funny to see if they would just keep walking around the wall. But they still kept walking. The scene from VeggieTales runs through my mind whenever I think of this story where the peas aka soldiers who were from Jericho are singing a song that goes, “Keep walking, but you won’t knock down our wall. Keep walking, but she isn’t gonna fall. It’s plain to see, your brains are very small to think walking will be knocking down our wall.” I can picture the men from inside Jericho laughing at the soldiers in Joshua’s army just walking around the wall and not fighting anyone. Think about it. They must’ve looked pretty silly. (By the way here's a clip from the the scene if you want to watch :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXM2o_Hb9Ls&list=RDQXM2o_Hb9Ls#t=30)

There are a lot of times in life when the ways God tells us to go about things look pretty silly to those around us. They may try to tell us that what we’re doing isn’t making any difference. They may laugh in our face and tell us we’re wasting our time just walking around our metaphorical wall of Jericho waiting for something to happen, but the point is, God’s ways oftentimes don’t make sense to the world.

In my case, God was telling me to walk away from something because it was keeping me from something greater. Then he continued to tell me to walk, into the dream and vision he has given me.

The things I am doing right now seem insignificant to me. They don't make sense for what I feel like he is calling me to. I mean I’m just working a few part-time jobs trying to make enough money to pay off student loans and in my free time trying to serve in different ways at my church. I don’t know what things will lead to what, but I trust that God has something in mind and he most definitely isn’t finished.

Just like in the story of Jericho, the men had to walk around the city walls for six days, and each day they saw nothing happen. Imagine if they would have given up after the sixth day. Imagine if they would have said, “You know what Joshua. I think you may have gotten your wires crossed when you were talking to God because nothing’s happening and what is one more day going to do?”

If they would have lost faith that the promise of God was true, they would have never seen Jericho delivered right into their hands when they walked around the city the last time on the seventh day.

God is telling us to keep walking. This thing that you’re facing, this dream that you can’t seem to grasp, this healing that you need, is yours. Don’t lose faith because IT’S YOURS! The LORD tells Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king and all its strong warriors.” (v. 2) Later on the seventh day when the army had marched around the city six times Joshua commanded them on the seventh time, “Shout! For the LORD has given you the town!” (v. 16) We think that we have to somehow prove ourselves worthy of God and his promise of eternal life, but he has already given it to us. All we have to do is accept, and when we receive him, we receive his spirit in us which enables us to tear down walls!

Whatever it is for you that you’re walking around, whatever your Jericho is, God has already given it to you. You just have to keep walking. Because who knows if the next time you walk around it, it will be the final time it takes to make the walls fall right before you and enable you to walk into the promise God has for you.

until next time
until next time

If I'm Honest, Modest Is Not Hottest

modestisnthottest.jpg
THIS WEEK I AM PLEASED TO SHARE A GUEST POST FROM MY FRIEND CODY NAILOR. YOU CAN READ HIS BLOG AT codynailor.wordpress.com. HOPE YOU ENJOY, AS HE SHARES HIS PERSPECTIVE ON THE TOPIC OF (DARE I SAY IT?) . . . MODESTY.

Modesty. Yep, I bet even the word makes you cringe. And, let me begin with an apology on behalf of all Christian men for making that such a swear word for you. I hope that the following paragraphs can be an encouragement to you, and an insight into a modern and moderate perspective from a peer and brother in Christ.

Everywhere you turn you are essentially being sent one of two messages about your body. In one case -- you are likely standing in the checkout lane at the grocery store, or maybe you’re scanning the magazines in a bookstore, or even flipping channels on the television -- you know the message, your body is an object, to be made available to men, otherwise you might be considered a prude and be undesirable or unable to please them. The second message almost always comes from the Church; you are familiar with it too, I’m sure. Your body is a problem and needs to be covered. If you dare wear clothes that even remotely show its form your brothers may stumble.

I’m here to offer you a third message. Your body is beautiful, designed by God, in His image. It is neither an idol, nor is your body inferior, as the second message often implies. God created you and your body with specific purposes in mind; believing anything else would be believing a lie.

So what’s a girl to do? I think the first thing you can do is forget everything you’ve been told thus far, by the Church or otherwise. At least begin to rethink it all. Modesty does not need to be about your body at all. In most of the passages in the Bible regarding modesty, specifically Isaiah 3:16-23, 1 Timothy 2:9-12, and 1 Peter 3:3, the authors are not writing concerning sexuality and the appearance of women. In fact, they are discouraging women from wasting their money on jewels and expensive clothes while their neighbors suffer in poverty. In fact, in 1 Timothy, the word Paul uses for modesty is derived from a notion that is concerned primarily with orderliness and self-control. The focus is never on the woman’s body or form.

Unfortunately, I must admit, our society is still predominantly patriarchal. And this remains true in the arena of modesty. Generally speaking, men on both sides of the equation are expecting women to bow to their wishes. On one hand, they desire women to subject themselves to objectification, or on the other hand, they expect women to adhere to strict rules; slapping rulers against their leg to measure their skirt or shorts length, requiring an oversized t-shirt be worn over a two-piece bathing suit, etc.

Let me clear the air. Both parties need to be responsible for themselves. So, as a Christian young woman, what can you do to be responsible? My answer? Engage. Press forward. Challenge your brothers intellectually, encourage your peers (and even those who are not your peers) in their relationships with Christ, care about the people around you, comfort those who are hurting, care for those who are sick, worship with His Creation. Bottom line; engage with the world and the people around you. Demand respect from the men, young and old, in your life. It's time men start giving women credit for their intellect, their strength, and by doing so, giving them their rightful dignity.

So, be a woman of intellect, cultivate your strengths, and cherish your dignity. Let your clothing choices reflect those actions. Start with honoring God, add some dignity for yourself, and end with consideration for all those around you.

Men are created to be stimulated visually; probably more than you will ever understand or comprehend. And let me be the first to say that that’s okay; I can guarantee we will never understand what it is like to be a woman. But, I can attest that we are designed to be attracted to the physical beauty of a woman, and we will also be held responsible for what we do with that attraction. One day, it will prayerfully lead us to a lasting relationship with a beautiful young woman with qualities well beyond her dashing good looks.

So, work on growing to become that woman. Learn how to love all sorts of people, learn what it means to look like Christ a little more each day, learn practical life skills, like how to fix minor problems on common household objects, how to balance a checkbook, how to successfully wash and dry a load of clothes, how to troubleshoot (and even repair) an issue on a computer or phone, or how to make a mean omelet (a skill I’m still acquiring); most importantly, learn how to love yourself, by learning how to see yourself as Christ sees you.

Don’t choose a wardrobe out of fear for causing your brother to stumble. In fact, don’t dress for anyone but yourself. Choose clothes you can be proud of, that you can own, that reflect your personality, gifts, strengths, and desires. But beyond whether you clothe yourself in cotton, nylon, polyester, or some wild combination of the three, make sure you are first clothed in strength, and your God-given dignity.

In regards to the title, it’s true. The Church’s current definition of modest is not “hot.” In fact, my girlfriend and I walked into a Christian clothing store the other day, and I cringed. Most of the clothes were so clearly designed to hide any outline of the female form it was painful. Hardly any of them were remotely attractive, let alone could be considered “cute.” After reading this article, it should be clear that I am not encouraging young women to try to be “hot.” Nor, am I requesting that you replace your entire wardrobe with everything in that store that fits. “Hot” is a standard that is judged by my flesh, “beautiful and dignified” are characteristics judged by my heart. Aim for beauty and dignity.