Thursday, April 30, 2009

Why I write

Lately, I've really been thinking about why I write so much and what the point to all these ramblings is. As I was doing so - the following thoughts came to me.... enjoy!

I never know who will be impacted by the words I write, the insight I share, and the perspective I have on life. This is why I write my thoughts, my blessings, my struggles, my questions… my everything. I write so that I may bless others. I write so the Lord can work in the lives of others. I write to encourage. I write to guide. I write because it’s my passion. It’s the way I share the inner workings of my soul, so that through me other’s may learn.

Writing how the Lord is working in me, and sharing with others the great things He has for my life, gives me the encouragement and the strength to go for another day. Knowing that I may touch someone’s life in a great way and having the opportunity to bless others with my words is my calling. The Lord gave me words to speak that I may share His love and grace to all around me. Yes, this blog may never go anywhere beyond my few friends, but my prayer is that through these ramblings those that I know and love and those that are lost and questioning would come to a knowledge that Jesus is bigger, Jesus is greater, and Jesus is the only way to live our life on this earth.

I write for His Kingdom.

I write for His glory.

I write that those that need Jesus would find him.

And I write because it’s my hearts passion and desire – the call on my life.

Hope you all have an incredible weekend with many blessings and adventures. HELLO SUNSHINE!! :-)

Verse of the day: "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised." - Heb. 10:35-36

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Selfish Blessings

Recently I’ve been learning more about the Lord and the incredible blessings he has put in my life.

All of this is wonderful and such an incredible testament to the Lord – then why is it that I don’t care about how the Lord has worked in the past? I often find myself getting frustrated with the prayers he’s left unanswered. The prayers that He’s told me “not yet, it’s not the right time”. Those prayers I have come before His throne in quiet desperation for. I find myself saying, “Lord, I want to praise you and I want to be grateful for the amazing things you have done in my life – but I can’t. It’s too hard to celebrate the past when the present and the future are constant battles in my mind and heart. How do I rejoice in the answered prayers, while waiting patiently for those unanswered?”

I’m selfish. That’s what it boils down to. I am more concerned about me and my timeline and my plan, that I forget that it’s not up to me. I can’t do anything to change circumstances in my life. Only Christ can allow the circumstances to change. It’s through Him that our lives are determined, and we can only wait for Him to speak and guide us in the path in which we should go. And then it comes up again – how in the world am I supposed to be patient? I live in a “I want it and expect it now” society.

Instead of praising Him, I get angry. Instead of worshipping for what He’s done, I’m bitter for what’s left undone. How do we go about fixing this dilemma? Patience, Perseverance, Trust, Faith. If we’re a Christian, our life on earth is as close to hell as we’ll ever get. It’s no wonder that we suffer and struggle so much – it’s a fact of the sinful nature. We’re told it’s going to be difficult. We’re not guaranteed tomorrow or any blessing. Because Christ loves us, is the only reason we’re blessed on this earth. Eternity should be our focus, but how do we do that when the problems and stresses of the world are pressing down on us so greatly? We can’t do it on our own – that's just it. We will ALWAYS be disappointed with the results of living our lives by ourselves and by our standards or the worlds standards. We may not have all the dreams, desires, hopes, and wants here on the earth – but Christ promises that those who love Him will have eternal blessings, eternal hope, and eternal love. Our finite minds cannot comprehend what heaven is like. We can only understand the things we see and experience on earth.

And again I ask - how? How am I supposed to keep my eyes on Heaven and long for it as Paul describes throughout his writings? My mind does not comprehend a world better than this, even though this world is AWFUL! I don't understand how things can get better when I'm constantly reminded of the pain, the suffering, the stress, and the standards of this world. Having an eternal focus, and throwing away the sinful, selfish, worldly desires is not easy. It's NOT easy my friends. I'll be the first to admit that it's more work than we really know. Dedicating our lives, our circumstances, our hurts, and our struggles to the Lord is a constant battle against the flesh. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Why can't I surrender everything to Jesus? Why can't I just lay my burdens down at the foot of the cross and walk away? Because those burdens are important and I lack the trust that God is bigger and more able than I even understand. I'm human... that's what it boils down to. I'm a sinner - who has trouble relying relentlessly on the Lord. I'm weak - and for that I need the strength of Christ because if I had to carry the burden on my own, I would surely collapse under the pressure.

It's at this point that I'm reminded of what Paul says in Romans 12:12, "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."

I know that my God is bigger than my fears, bigger than my anxiety, bigger than my struggles, bigger than my brokenness, bigger than my burdens, bigger than anything that ever comes across my path. My God is able to save, ready to protect, and patiently waiting for me to rely solely on Him for guidance and direction in the easy and especially in the tough times of life.

Depression and sin is what makes life so hard to get through. There is a time to mourn and an appropriate way to get through the struggles. But let’s also not wallow in our sorrows and depression – and praise God for the blessings we do have, even when it's the most difficult thing in the world to do. Because God sees the big picture. He knows what's best - and is working diligently to make it come to pass.

And last, in my time with the Lord yesterday I started laughing. For me, planning is the joy of life. I love planning parties, planning events, bringing people together in community to have fun and enjoy each other's company. I thrive when I'm around others and am able to bless them in some way. It's a part of my personality, the core of who I am. I started laughing as I realized that God gets just as excited to plan the blessings in our life, as I get when I plan a party or when I get to see someone I haven't seen in a long time. God has great plans for us, to bless us - and He's working right now to make sure everything for the "party" or blessing in our life is made at the right and perfect time. He's behind the scenes preparing the "decorations", the "food", and the "house" of those incredible gifts He has for us. And it will come at a time when we least expect it. His blessings come when we need them the most and when we least expect them. How EXCITING!! :-)

God is good - even though sometimes we don't understand. He's still good, He's still faithful, and He's still working in everything. I promise!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Suffering 101

"How can I stand here with you, and not be moved by you?? Would you tell me, how could it be any better than this?.... You're all I want, you're all I need - you're everything - everything I need." - Lifehouse - Everything

Over the past couple of weeks I've been so blessed by not only Pastor Ryan at ECC's messages, but also Mark from Mars Hill. Both of them have spoken on the issues of suffering. God is GOOD and Faithful - that's all I can say.

I Peter 4:1-11 speaks specifically to how we, as Christians, are to live in our suffering - seeing the eternal goal and not the earthly misery. The world will heap insults on us, they will persecute us, and they will even question our sanity when it comes to trials. How is it that we are able to get through the sufferings in life with our chins up and reliance on something unseen? There is a peace that surpasses all understanding, and it comes directly from the throne of grace, through Christ. It's unexplanable unless you experience it for yourself- unless you ask Christ to be the leader and light of your life, you cannot possibly imagine or experience the peace, joy, patience, and overwhelming love you experience in the midst of suffering. "for our light and momentary troubles are achieveing for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes NOT on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary and what is unseen is eternal." - II Cor. 4:17-18

How are we even able to see suffering as "light and momentary"? Have you ever gone through a serious difficulty in your life -A divorce, abuse as a child, rape, a broken heart, or even the untimely death of someone you love? In the midst of the suffering, it's pure misery. Your heart is broken, you feel like you're being kicked when you're down and that there is no light at the end of the tunnel. However, isn't it amazing that when we look back at our life during those periods, they seem so distant and so small compared to the rest of our lives? I'm not suggesting that our problems are not real and they are not important. Quite the opposite- those trials in our life are creating for us character - building us into stronger people and making us wiser through them.

The difference is how we react to struggles. Many of us run to alcohol, relationships, shopping, food, drugs - anything to "get our mind off it" so we don't have to face the turmoil in our souls. These things become our functional saviors - the "gods" of our life that are supposed to take the pain away. Does it really help though? Does drinking more dull the pain? Does food really make the heartache go away? I'm going to wager that it doesn't - it just makes it worse because what we make our "god" we begin to worship - and addiction sets in far too easily. It's in the times of quiet desperation that we call out to God for protection, for guidance, for healing, and for grace.

But then there are the time that God doesn't answer us - or we start believing that He's not there or that he doesn't care. I found an amazing perspective on this during my study of John, specifically in the story of Lazarus in John 11. We've all heard verse 35 "Jesus wept", but as I read that for the 100th time over my life new light was shed on the power of this verse. Christ feels the agony that we feel. He empathizes and sympathizes with us. He know our hurt, it's just as real to Him as it is to us. He knows it so much that when we weep, he weeps with us. When we hurt, He hurts too. When we struggle, He feels the confusion and pain that we experience. He was fully human and is fully God. He understands our pain and hardships. He knows what it's like to "walk through the valley of the shadow of death" - He weeps over our pain.

Our suffering is for our own good. Crazy? A little - but truthful? Indeed! God is more concerned about our character than our comfort, and He's going to make sure that our character shines through. He's refining us into people of grace, love, dignity, and strength. That we may be used for His eternal goal - that we may fix our eyes on Jesus throughout this life realizing that our time here is quick. We are like the morning fog, here for a moment and then gone. What are we going to do while we're here? Wallow in our grief or declare God's will and faithfulness as we walk through the pain?

So often it seems that not just one thing in our life goes wrong, but many. As Pastor Mark says "it's not one thing in my life that stings at a time - it's a swarm". So what do we do while we're suffering? And how do we encourage those that are suffering? Here's a few ideas from Mars Hill:

1. Go out to Jesus. So often we look to ourselves for answers, instead of crying out to God with our raw emotion and confusion for guidance and support. When we suffer we need to rely on Jesus to get us through, not ourselves - for if we look to the world or ourselves it only causes us to stumble and struggle all the more.

2. Go out to a new way of life. React to the situations of your life as Christ would. It's at these times in life that we need to really understand where our identity lies, and if it's not in Christ, then we're going to dig ourselves deeper into the hole of depression. Just because we suffer does not give us the right to sin, and we should surround ourselves with good friends that will call us out on the choices we're making -that we would be accountable to everything.

3. Go out to Community. Don't isolate yourself from others. Those that suffer the most need good, Christian friends to come along side them encouraging them, praying for them, and helping them through their time of struggle. Those that suffer are sometimes the hardest people to love - because it takes time and it takes reiteration to get them to stay on the path towards Christ. So open your home, your life, your schedule, and even your budget to love on those that need the support and care the most.

4. Go out to Ministry. People who suffer need to still feel needed. They need to help others in some way, and in most cases it's best to help someone who is going through the same thing we are. That we may share wisdom and insight with one another. So let those that suffer use their words if that is their gift to preach, teach, comfort and encourage; or use their service to show hospitality, love, and serve those that need it the most.

A few things to this list that I might add are:

1. Be Real with God and others. Share your feelings, tell God how you really feel. It's okay to be frustrated and confused, and it's okay to tell God that what's going on is not fair. Cry until you can cry no more. Talk it out until you can talk no more. Be real with others and share what's on your heart, so they may be in prayer for you.

2. Ask for Prayer. This is the hardest thing in the world for me to do. I'm always the one who's life is "okay", but it's really not. The truth is that we all need prayer. Ask those you trust to pray for your situation, to come along side you at the throne of Grace - bridging the gap of prayer.

3. Seek Advice from a mentor. Find someone you trust and value - who is like minded in Christ, and ask them to pray for you and give you any wisdom or insight into the problem you are facing. See if they know anyone who has walked down the same path as you, and gain the advice and wisdom of someone who's "been there".

And as Pastor Ryan said tonight, "The suffering will not last forever. What we crave is heaven, and those who believe will have it - forever."

The answer to this issue of suffering is that Christ needs to be our everything. With Christ all things are possible, without Him we are nothing. Cry out to Jesus in worship, in prayer, in everything you do, and He will meet you. He will guide you. He will be your portion. He is enough to carry us through anything. Trust God. Trust His plan for your life. Trust His will. Trust - and forever be changed.

AMEN! :-)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Friends of Fools

Okay, this one will be a bit on the controversial side - beware!

Through reading/studying Proverbs and Ecclesiastes recently I've noticed a few things about the fools versus the righteous. Fools pick friends who legitimize their folly. They will never call the friend out on their sins - no, they actually encourage the folly to continue and pull the person deeper and deeper into the trap of sin. Growing the sinful nature, not the Spirit of God in the lives of their "friends", a fool derails even the strongest of people, simply by "having fun" in the folly which will inevitably destroy their lives. Fools give up too easily – they don’t fight through – they have the mindset "when the going gets tough, I give up". The second they the cards don't fall in their favor, they run for the hills or blame others for the pit they have dug for themselves.

The end of the matter is better than the beginning. Do you ever notice 6 months after a severely challenging time in your life you're able to look back and realize how minimal that "crisis" truly was? The sad part about this is that often the fools dwell on the "good 'ol days" and desire to keep living the days of their youth, even though life keeps going forward. That's the very reason that we still see 30-40 year old grown men and women acting like teenagers. They truly believe that they are still allowed to get away with the life of a child.

I find that I myself fall into the category of "childish" every now and then. I fall back on the childish ways because they used to get me the attention I craved. One such way that I've done this, even in the past month, is with Facebook. I intentionally went on and deleted many pictures of me and some friends just to see if they would notice that I did so - trying to get them to make notice of me. The thing is, the childish things of life ALWAYS backfire and just prove how immature we truly are. I'm so frustrated that even to this day I still do stupid things just to get someone riled up over something. Instead, why not just go to the source of the problem and converse like normal grown, responsible, mature humans? So much easier said than done. We so often resort to the tactics of the sinful nature/fools instead of going by why the wise would do.

The fool is all talk and no follow through. They're not people of their word, and are not people of integrity and character – because their promises are empty. Our conduct comes directly from our heart and it's evil or righteous desires. When we sin against others, we want grace. But when other’s sin against us we want revenge. Isn't that the truth! We expect others to just up and forgive us immediately, but when they come to us and ask for forgiveness we snub them. Who are we to dish out such disdain?

The life of the righteous is not an easy path to follow. It's very much less traveled. But the great thing about attaining and striving for a righteous life is that the Lord directs, blesses, and guides your path to His desires and His refinements in your soul.

People who love you, truly love you, will speak truthfully to you. Those that walk with the wise always grow wiser as it says in Proverbs. These friends will not give you lies, but truth. Not protecting your feelings, but encouraging Christlikeness in your life. When we’re being foolish, and walking down a path that does more harm than good - it's encouraging to know there is a friend there that will bring you back to the path the Lord has called you to. Don’t you want a good friend standing beside you, calling you out on your choices? The wounds of a true friend are to be trusted much - for they have your best interests at heart.

What kind of friendships do you have currently? Are they with the fools meddling in their folly, thus leading to your downfall? Or are you surrounding yourself with likeminded, trustworthy friends who have Christ as the center of their lives?

"He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm." - Proverbs 13:20

Another night of ramblings... but this topic has just been on my mind for awhile now. Choosing the right friendships is vital to growth, encouragement, and support.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Prayer for His will

"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him." - I John 5:14-15

God's Will. What does that even mean? So often in our Christian Society we are told that if we ask, we receive. Yes, this is true - we can ask of the Father and we indeed can receive. However, have you ever noticed that some prayers aren't answered in the way you want them to be? We can pull out all the tactics to impress the Lord with our "religiousness" but if God has not willed your prayer into being, then it will not be answered in the affirmative.

I belive that God has three answers to our prayers: yes, no, and not yet. The verse in I John came to me recently and I was floored. For so long in my life I've always told Jesus what I wanted, what I expected, and how I planned things to work out. How incredibly selfish is that! Me, telling the God of the universe who's able to do immeasureably more than I can ever think of or imagine, to "do this and do that" and then expect Him to answer my demands. That's exaclty what so many of my prayers are - demands. Have you ever noticed that in your own life?

It's funny, because the second God doesn't answer our prayers in the way we expect Him to - we get frustrated, hurt, and angry at Him. But the thing is, God has our best interests at heart at all times. Even if it seems right to us, it's not right for God's Kingdom and His plan for our lives. This is reaffirmed in Proverbs 21:2: "All a man's ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs his heart."

How often are the things we pray for something for our own selfish gain -that can actually be more detrimental to others than good? I believe that's why John was so encouraging us in I John that we need to pray in God's will.

Praying God's will is not easy. It's not for beginners, and it comes with much trouble and anxiety. In essence, we're giving up our power and control to someone else. And I don't know about you, but that terrifies me at times. However, we're giving the control, the captains seat, the place of honor in our lives to the One who is far more trustworthy than even our own selves. God is bigger than our problems, and He can overcome anything. It's just taking the step of faith to trust that His good and perfect plan for our life is what's BEST for our life - always and forever.

So how do we pray God's will? It's pretty easy, but it takes rededicating issues, struggles, anxiety, and fear back to the Lord on a very frequent basis. I find myself so often taking the ares of my life that I've dedicated to God for His will to be done, back into my own hands thus ruining any progress that the Lord and I started. So I start over again with "Lord, I can't do this anymore, you know my prayer, you know the desires, fears, and needs of my heart, and even though at times I think I know what's best - I know without a shadow of a doubt that you know better than I do. I pray that you're will would be done in this situation -and I'm dedicating this issue to you." And I pretty much repeat that same prayer over and over again - until I get to the point that it's no longer a burden, but a joy to entrust something so dear to me to someone so dear to me.

I would also say that we should ask God to reveal His will to us. That we would know what He would have us do in every circumstance. That He would give us guidance and protection. That His will and His plans would prosper over our own. And I can guarantee that when we're walking in God's will - when we're dedicating every portion of our lives to him - we're able to live much more productive, joyful lives. Because God's will and plan for our lives is better than anything we could ever even think of or imagine - it's that GREAT! :-)

A few verses of encouragement:

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all cirucmstances (this means the ups AND the downs). for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

"Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete." - John 16:24

"Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for - it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them." - Matthew 18:19-20

Pray together - in community - with those you trust, and God is there with you listening to your prayers and desiring to answer your requests. SO GOOD!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Let Me Trust

Let me not doubt, but Trust
Let me not mourn, but rejoice in your promises
Let me not toil in vain, but see the work of your Hand
Let me not.... falter.

"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but the it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." - Prov. 19:21

It's funny to me that in life so often when it rains - it pours. At least for me, it's not just one struggle at a time, it's a multitude - all hitting the fan at the same time. This week has been one of those weeks where I've questioned the Lord greatly on why I'm at the point in life that I am. Confused, frustrated, downtrodden, and broken I come before His throne for guidance, support, and grace.

This week I found out that my grandfather had a stroke. He's in the end stages of Alzheimer's already, and the stroke is just another part burden for his body to bear. I went to see him this weekend and the Lord reminded me that our life is like the morning fog, here for a moment and then it's gone.

Friday night and into Saturday morning was spent with my grandmother at her house in Mt. Vernon. She too is struggling physically, and all night long I was in the Word and in prayer for my family during this time. Trying to understand why so much was happening all at once in my life. And God spoke to my heart and told me, "my dear daughter, the reason you are struggling so much right now is so that you may be here with your family as they go through this time. That you may focus your time on your family that will inevitably be gone before you know it."

Talk about perspective! I immediately started reading Ecclesiastes, and how Solomon looked back on his life and saw that everything is meaningless - like chasing after the wind. What Solomon really is saying throughout this book is that we should enjoy life, enjoy friendship, and enjoy the blessings we do have - for they are here for but a moment and then they are gone again.

Which brought me back to my own life again. I realized that there is a reason for my life. There is a plan for my life. There is something God has me here for. A job He has for me to do. And whatever that calling may be, I need to be willing - sacrificially willing - to let His will and His plan take place in my life.

As it says in Isaiah 6:8 "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' And I said, 'Here am I. Send me!'". Lord- I don't know what you have for me, I feel more confused than knowledgeable at this point in my life, but use me as you will to touch lives, to change lives. That I may love the unloveable. That I may speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves. That I may see Your will and Your plan - and act it out according to your purposes.

God is faithful and loving. He cares for us so greatly - celebrating with us and mourning with us - feeling every raw emotion that we experience. He places people in our lives for reasons, and one such person has been laid on my heart for months - and I was finally able to sit down and meet with her over coffee. This is a woman of faith that I have looked up to since I've met her and her daughters. She is in love with Jesus, her husband, and her family - and I've officially found myself a mentor. Praise God for answered prayers! Even in the hours we were together chatting about life, I left energized, encouraged, and amazed that the Lord brought two women - 20 years apart in age - that have lived such similar lives and have endured many of the same hardships and pain. God is so good because when we need it the most, He places someone in our path to walk us through and give us guidance, wisdom and perspective. Even before I met this gal for coffee, the Lord confirmed to me "Trust me my child, I have a plan - listen to the advice of this woman I have placed in your life". I LOVE how the Lord works. He is remarkable and beyond description or comparison. Faithful, just, graceful, merciful, and all together loving.

A few words of encouragement for you.... and remember - with God all things are possible - and He is working for your good - with plans for your hope and your future.

"For I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand, and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you." - Is. 41:13

"The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. he will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." - Zeph. 3:17

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Faith is a Muscle

"For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and not delay." - Habakkuk 2:3

In our society we love being in charge of ourselves, and we’re happy with God when we get what we want. But so many turn their backs on the Lord and start doubting their faith the second things become difficult.

Faith is a daily refresher. It’s a choice that we need to make every morning- that we will Trust in the Lord for the trials and blessings of the day to come. Yesterday is gone, and tomorrow is far off – we’re given today and we need to choose to trust God for today and everyday.

It’s easy to trust in the Lord when things are going great in our lives. Those times when we have the right job, a new car, a great house, wonderful friends, supportive family members – and no hardship or struggle is in our way. But the second life gets tough – we lose that job, we crash that car, the house falls apart, our friends walk out on us, and our family is against us – so many of us just give up and throw in the towel saying “I can’t do this, it’s too hard” and then give up on the Lord.

We need to have the faith of Job who lost everything he loved (wealth, home, children, and friends) in one day and who said, “God, even if you kill me, I’ll still trust in you.” What we need to realize is that God is big enough to get us through anything. Did you get that? God can and will get us through ANYTHING. He’s not the one that plots evil against us – God is love, not evil. He wants good for our lives – not harm. It’s the devil that is tempting us, it’s the devil that is attacking us – to see if our faith in the Lord is as strong as we say it is when things are going well in our lives.

A great way to look at faith is like a muscle. As we go through more trials and struggles, it’s like using weights to strengthen our faith. As more struggles come along, the stronger we are in our faith to carry us through those issues and more difficult one's as they arise.

Do you ever notice that those who have been through the most difficult times, have the most incredible faith in God’s providence, protection, and care than anyone else? It’s because as they have faced their struggles and had faith in God to carry them through the trying times, their “faith muscle” has been strengthened, so that they may be carried through the next season of trials. The stronger your faith is, the more burdens your heart can carry.

God is big enough to get you through anything… He is able, and He is bigger than any issue or struggle that ever comes your way. Our God is bigger than the addiction, He’s able to carry our burdens when we can’t. He’s restores families and friendships. He loves those who feel unloveable. He fills those that feel empty. He cares for those in pain.

What is your choice today? Will you trust in your own selfish desires and will to get you through the obstacles? Or will you pass your burdens to Jesus to carry you through? He is faithful, loving, and standing next to you every step of the way – and you will get through this. For we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.

Not by ourselves, but with Christ.

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” – Prov. 16:9

May God’s will be done in our lives as we Trust in Him.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

God's Grace

I cannot get enough of God's Word these days. If I could, I would spend just about every hour of everyday reading the Bible, Commentaries, and digesting what is said throughout the Scriptures. One theme that I've been noticing a lot of in my reading is that of grace. In all honesty, I've never really taken the time to research and understand what it means to have grace. What is grace? What's the importance of it?

A great resource that I've found is - it has over 30 different translations of the Bible, and it also has an "additional resources" section which hosts Bible Commentaries and Bible Dictionaries. Incredible! It's definitely a resource that I've found highly valuable.

According to the dictionary on, grace is:

"1.) Of form or person (2.) Favour, kindness, friendship (3.) God's forgiving mercy (4.) The gospel as distinguished from the law (5.) Gifts freely bestowed by God; as miracles, prophecy, tongues (6.) Christian virtues (7.) The glory hereafter to be revealed."

Kindness, friendship, mercy, blessings - that's what makes grace. There are different times for grace, and each season of life calls for a different use of grace. 2 Timothy 1:9 describes God's favor as grace - because of his kindness we're saved through Christ. It;s God's forgiving mercy shown in Ephesians 2:8 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is a gift from God."

God's grace in the gift of prophecy/miracles is seen in Paul's writings in Ephesians 3:8 "Although I am less than least of all God's people, this grace was given to me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ." And the grace of the hereafter that is to be revealed as seen in I Peter 1:13.

Overall, God's grace is everywhere. He has mercy on those He loves through His grace. He supports us because He loves us. His grace is sufficient for us - meaning that His love, mercy, and forgiveness is enough for us to suffice here on earth.

So what does it mean for us to share/show grace? I would say it's when we show good will toward people - looking out for their best interests by building them up instead of belittling. It's us freely giving favor and love to others - without expectation of repayment. It's not holding grudges or bitterness, but genuinely caring and serving others. Grace is not the easy road - in fact it's incredibly difficult to show grace and mercy to someone or a group of people that have hurt you. But the respect and the knowledge of doing right is far worth it in the end.

Let's make the choice to show grace, love, mercy, and compassion toward people. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, until they prove to us otherwise. Not looking for the bad in them, but for the good. Yes, we're all sinners. And as Christians let's do what we're called to - and love others. :-)

Monday, April 13, 2009


Lately, I've had a slight obsessions with Proverbs - and by slight, I mean I'm pretty much amazed at all of the wisdom found in this particular book of Scripture. The writer of Proverbs (much of which was written by King Solomon - the richest man in the world at his time) is looking back at his life and recollecting the positive and negative areas of life. He describes the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked. How one man prospers and another comes to ruin. He observes the lives of men and realizes that the upright are blessed by God.

The most striking Proverbs that I've read over the past couple of days (there's a proverb a day for each month - in case you were wondering) is Proverbs 12:15 "The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice." and Proverbs 13:10 "Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice." Such a good word!

Sound advice is a part of the righteous life. The most powerful people in the world have advisors and people they look to for counsel on making decisions. This is the same case for every person. We all need to have someone we can count on. A person or group of people that we trust and know are growing in the Lord to advise us on life's challenges. We all need someone to call us out when we're making mistakes, and someone to love us when we need support and encouragement. A wise man listens to advice. We should never come to a large life decision without gaining the wisdom and advice of others - running it by to make sure that we're correct in our thinking. As it says in James 5:16 "Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." SO good!

Self-control is another subject that I'm really working on. Being aware of the areas of my life in which I struggle, and dedicating those things to the Lord for His purposes. As a woman I find that the world around us is so filled with frustration, drama, fear, and just plain back stabing that it's so hard to live righteously in our current generation. And then I think of the poor men of this world that are constantly bombarded by images of half naked women and how so many women just throw themselves at men. Why do we not have self-control? Why do we so often give into temptation? Why do we struggle with the world around us so much? It's our sinful nature - it draws us to the unrighteous. It pushes us toward the world and away from God. So how are we to stand up against the pressures of the world?

By prayer and petition presenting our requests to God - that's how do it. Whenever that thought, frustration, or temptation comes into our lives - we should immediately dedicate our thoughts to the Lord. Asking that He would take our thoughts captive, and have us think on things above and eternal - not on the world around us. Sometimes, we even need to cut those things and people that are causing us the most struggle out of our lives - for a time or for a lifetime.

And lastly, being able to dedicate every area of our lives, even the plans and the desires that we have, to the Lord. Becuase the Lord determines our steps. We can plan, plan, and plan away, but God is the one who decides what happens. And as we grow in Christ, our plans and paths become more of what God wants for us, rather than what we selfishly want for ourselves. If we commit our ways to the Lord He will give us the desires of our hearts. Committing to the Lord means giving your life to Him and asking Him to guide, protect, and love you through every season of your life. Thus, in our growth with God - our desires become God's desires. Does this even make sense?? Mother of sam.... :-) I'm rambling again...

Anyways... here are more Proverbs that I've found helpful:

"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails" - 19:21

"A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." - 18:24

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." - 16:9

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." - 13:12

"Do not be wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord and shun evil." - 3:7

"Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life." - 22:4

"There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord." - 21:30

"If you falter in times of struggle, how small is your strength!" - 24:10

"Better a poor man who walk is blameless, than a rich man whose ways are perverse." - 28:6

And we're done - that's all folks! Ramblings..... :-)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Seasons keep Changing

Seasons. Have you noticed how drastically attitudes change as the Seasons do? When Fall and Winter sink in, many people become introspective and quiet. It's a time of rest and rejuvenation from the busy, filled days of Spring and Summer. But when Spring and Summer come, it's almost a breath of fresh air - literally. It's the time that we've waited and longed for all Winter long. The time when new growth happens, and the sun is out - and people are out and about.

Seasons keep Changing. It's not only a physical fact that the earth changes four times a year, but it's also very real in our daily lives as humans. As it says in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:

" 1 For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
2 A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
3 A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
4 A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
6 A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
7 A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
8 A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace."

Throughout the seasons of life we're taught, given, and challenged. Often I hear the question "why do we have to suffer?". And my response has always been along the lines of "when in your life have you felt the strongest growth and connection to God?" More often than not, the times of struggles and sufferings draw people closer to the Lord. We call out to him in our desperate hours of need. We realize that our world is finite, breakable, and unstable without God's firm foundation under our feet.

Trials and sufferings are in no way a walk in the park. Quite the opposite - it's like walking through hell on earth for many. Our hearts are broken, we're devastated, we don't know what way is up and what way is right - we're confused, clouded.... stuck.

So how do we face the trials? How do we get through the valley to stand again on the beautiful mountains?? The answer is... one day at a time. One hour at a time. One minute at a time. It's making the choice to have Christ walk us through the valley's. As it says in Phillipians 4:6:

" 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."

When we fill our days with prayer, especially the times that we're struggling the most, the love of Christ is able to calm our spirit and carry us through. Another request for the Lord is that He would hold our thoughts captive, that we may grow in Him and move past the struggles:

"5 We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ." - II Cor. 10:5

We were never guaranteed that life would be easy. As it proves in Ecclesiastes 3 - there will be times to rejoice, and times to mourn. There will be seasons in life. You will walk through the valley's, and triumph on the mountains of life. God has great plans to bless us, use us for His kingdom, and love us through the most difficult times in life. With him we can do anything - apart from Him we are nothing.

Take heart in knowing that even though it hurts right now, even though it seems that you will never get out of your trial, even though you feel stuck and that you're not growing - God is still working in you and working FOR the good of those that love Him. He has plans to prosper you and not to harm you - to give you HOPE and a FUTURE.

One day at a time....

One prayer at a time....

Means hope and a future.

Just remember that you are allowed to cry. You're allowed to hurt. You're allowed to not be "ok" for your time of struggle. You must go through the emotions, and build your reliance on Christ. And through it all - you will be blessed, protected, grown, and loved.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son" - so that we may be saved. That we may have life eternal. That we may be healed. That we may be blessed.

Even when it doesn't feel like He's there, God is walking with you every step of everything you are fighting against:


"One night I dreamed a dream.
I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonging to me and one to my Lord.

When the last scene of my life shot before me I looked back at the footprints in the sand. There was only one set of footprints. I realized that this was at the lowest and saddest times of my life. This always bothered me and I questioned the Lord about my dilemma.

"Lord, You told me when I decided to follow You, You would walk and talk with me all the way. But I'm aware that during the most troublesome times of my life there is only one set of footprints. I just don't understand why, when I need You most, You leave me."

He whispered, "My precious child, I love you and will never leave you, never, ever, during your trials and testings. When you saw only one set of footprints, It was then that I carried you."

HAPPY EASTER! He is risen - for you and for me. Because HE loves us more than anything.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Accountability and Fellowship

Often we’re bombarded by deciding things on our own. Our selfish desires get in our way – we think it’s appropriate to tell God how things are going to go… not Him tell us and guide us on how things are going to go. I hate this about our human nature - it's as if we cannot trust the Lord in our afflictions - how do we EVER think we will get through them on our own? By sinning... strife, anger, bitterness, revenge, and everything in between is how non-Christians handles their daily struggles.

The fact of the matter is that we need to have reverence, and most importantly Fear of God. Over and over in the Bible we are called to "fear the Lord" (Ps. 112, Proverbs, etc). Fear of God is what we should be afraid of the most. He has all power, all strength, and all knowledge. I wouldn’t mess with that tiger. We must have reverence and fear for God. Who do we think we are to ever challenge Him and what He says? His commandments should be our lifestyle.

If you don’t fear God, you’ll fear something else or someone else. Prov. 2:5 "then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God". You should be afraid to sin – God knows your coming and going, every part of your life. Remember when you were a child and you were terrified that your parents would find you in the middle of your sin because you would surely be punished? Same case here… God disciplines those who love him – if we sin, we make mistakes- we have to pay the consequences for the choices and actions we make. As said in Hebrews 12:7 "endure hardships as discipline".

The question then arises, how can we be completely honest with ourselves and our sin? How can we change from our patterns and in turn make ourselves better? I would say that's where accountability steps in. Everyone should have someone they can trust to pray with and ask the tough questions. Mentorship is another route to go. Finding Godly counsel from someone who would surely know more about life and struggles than you. Prayer is another vital way to become convicted of your sin and repent of it.

I know in my own life, when I have people I respect and look up to asking me the challenging quesitons and pushing me to grow in my faith, I'm able to respond and repent in an appropriate manner. It's WAY easier said than done here...

To go a bit further... Correction comes from fellow believers. Fellowship and discussion on scripture is essential. It’s also vital that we have accountability so that we may correct one another – challenge one another – and build one another up in our character and attitudes toward God and each other. You can have all the wisdom and knowledge in the world, but God still wants to grow you, and in that case it requires people to build into our lives. Mentors, Accountability partners, etc. Romans 3:19 ends with, "...and the whole world is held accountable to God."

"26What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church." - I. Cor. 14:16

"11Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." - I. Thess 5:11

"5Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."- I Peter 5:5

"He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm." Prov. 13:20

Just a few little reminders that we are to build each other up - encouraging and not harming one another. Challenging each other to grow more in the Lord and in His plans and blessings.

One last note... I've really been enjoying the music of John Mark McMillan lately. I highly suggest you check him out on iTunes - specifically "Dress us Up", "How he Loves", "Closer", and "I am a Temple". SO GOOD!

Hope all of you are doing well... my readers are what make me keep writing. :-)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ephesians 6:10-13

My all time favorite passage in the Bible is found in the book of Ephesians. Over the past couple of weeks I've been listening to Mark Driscoll's Ephesians sermons from 2002 (deep in the archives of Mars Hill!) and have found great insight into Chapter 6 verses 10-13.

“10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

Being strong in the Lord is one of the most difficult things to do as a person in this world. We're bombarded by society and worldly mindsets that encourage us to move away from God rather than draw near to him. I find it funny, at least in my own life, how when things are going great - I often push God to the side, but the second things turn south I run back to him. This habit makes what Christ says in Matthew 26:41 more true, "... the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." Our bodies and fleshly/worldy desires are what draw us away from the Lord.

Another force that's one mission in life is to derail the faithful is that of satan. The fallen angel who's own pride led to his downfall and eventual destruction by God. Throughout Mark's sermon, he asked a series of questions. One of them in particular caught my attention:

“If I were satan, in what areas of my life would I find to attack?” This question is so good simply because satan is aware of our biggest weaknesses and SO often feeds on them within our lives. Whether it's insecurity about jobs, financial stress, sexual sin, fear of the unknown, pride, gossip, slander, envy - whatever it may be satan knows it's our weak spot and he constantly kicks us and attacks us right where it hurts the most.

Another question arises, “If satan were to show you his master plan of destruction to your life, would you change? And if yes, how so?”

To me, this is terrifying, but at the same time this question is such a blessing too simply because it brings us clarity on what we should be praying for in our own life and how to stand up against the devil.

Later in Ephesians 6, Paul describes that God has given us the power of his Word as a sword against satan's attacks. This is why hiding the Word of God in our lives is so vital - so essential to the wellbeing of us. Satan wants us to fail - he's the one that feeds our biggest doubts and weaknesses. He's the one that kicks us when we're down. And he's the one that finds pleasure in our failures.

God is so the opposite. As it says in Ps. 37:39 "The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble." God's promises are abounding and he never abandon's a work he starts in us Ps. 138:8 "The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever, you don't abandon the works of your hands." God promises that He has plans for us, and as long as we're seeking his plans and His will he will give us hope and a future (Jer. 29:11-12).

God tells us to call to him and he will answer and tell us great things we do not know, as stated in Jer. 33:3. And God encourages us to trust him always as said in Prov. 3:5-6. God gives us a way out of our troubles, He gives us wisdom, He gives us love, and He protects those He loves. He works for the good of those that love him (Romans 8:28) and if He is for us, who can ever stand against us? No one, no power, no demons, nothing can surpass the unending grace, power, protection, guidance, will, and righteousness of our God. He is faithful to those that love Him, He is generous, and He only wants good for his children.

Yes, we will face hardship, but as it says in Hebrews 12:7 "Endure hardship...".

I'll end with this (wow, this is really sounding like a sermon or something... I've just been so encouraged by this passage of Scripture and hope that I can encourage others in the trials that are ravaging our world currently)...James 1:2-4 "Consider it pure JOY, my borthers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be Mature and Complete - not lacking anything."

STAY STRONG in the Lord - He's got a plan and he has a desire to bless you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future. God is Good and he Loves you unconditionally, incredibly, unmeasurably more than you will ever know.

"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." - James 1:12

If you want to hear more on the Ephesians series check out:

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Mind Games... on Dating

Church was so timely today. The current series we're on is called "Mind Games" and this week's talk was on Dating. Pastor Ryan used the often cliche verse of Jeremiah 29:11-12 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to propser you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you."

So often as Christians we hear this verse and we think "if he has such a great plan for us, then why does it seem that everything in life seems to fall and not go right?" It's almost as if we're rubbing salt into open wounds by hearing this verse so often. That's where perspective comes in. We often lose sight of the plan of the Lord and decide to direct our own paths, rather than listen to His direction, insight, and love. He does indeed have plans to prosper us and not to harm us, but we let our own flesh prevent us from achieving these plans. This is why it's so intrigal, so VITAL that we invite the Lord into every part of our lives - and most importantly into our dating lives.

Ryan gave us 4 dating fairy tales:

1. Opposites attract.

*This is an absolute myth in that the more opposite you are - the more conflict arises in the future. It is so important for us to date people that are likeminded with us. That share the same morals, same value, and even the same desires for life as us. References: Prov. 15:19 and Prov. 25:4

2. If you're in love, don't wait.

*It's necessary to know someone for a duration of time to truly know them. Relationships are always changing and growing in new ways - and the more time you spend with someone, the better.

GET THIS: Ryan said the most important thing in any relationship is to be best friends with your significant other. Because there is an ebb and flow in every relationship. You're not always going to feel "in love" with someone and you have to choose to love as a commitment even when you don't have the "feeling". Infatuation comes and goes, but lasting relationship and friendship with your spouse or significant other is what carries you through Financial Crisis, Job Crisis, Emotional Crisis, Relational Crisis, and Spiritual Crisis. "In love" is a feeling that ebbs and flows, but loving someone is a tenacious commitment to be there through the thick and thin of life with that person.

Knowing that you have someone on your side, rooting for you no matter what and loving you through the most difficult times in your life is a TRUE blessing.

3. Spiritual difference don't matter.

*YES, they do matter. God tells us in II Cor. 6:14 that we should not be unequally yoked with unbelievers - this is especially true in a dating and marriage relationship.

4. Always test sexual compatablity.

*NO - God says that sex outside of marriage is a sin. Set boundaries, hold to them, have accountablity in your relationship from the beginning - someone that will ask you the tough questions. References: I Thes. 4:3-5 and Prov. 4:22

Last thoughts of the sermon: "friendship is what sustains your relationship" and "guard your heart for you will have to live with the choices you make within your relationships - good and bad"

I encourage you all to listen to this series and the other sermons available on dating, marriage, and sex found on the ECC website/stuff.

And finally, my prayer has always been that I would be the wife depicted in Proverbs 31. And even though I'm not there yet, I'm still striving to be and grow into that woman even today - simply because I want to bring my husband good and not harm all the days of my life. Respecting, valuing, and encouraing him to be a better man and thankful for being the man that the Lord has brought into my life. This is the desire of my heart Lord- please grow me in this way.

P.S. - recently I've been LOVING the Redeeming Ruth Series at Mars hill - more on this to come... but check it out in the mean time:

Thoughts for Today

God is faithful. There are no other words to express how He is a faithful, loving, wise Father that has His best plans and interests for his children at heart.

This week I've been so encouraged by the words and wisdom of Women of Faith that God has placed in my life. One of which is a dear friend of mine's mother. This woman is fervent in her prayers and diligent about her tasks. Truly a picture of a Proverbs 31 wife - in the flesh. This week she has prayed over me, given me words of advice, and just loved on me in a whole new way. I'm so grateful to women like her and her faithfulness to the Lord. She knows and believes with everything in her that God knows best- and that in His time - everything comes to fruition.

SO good!

I've also been so blessed to have restored (to a certain degree) my relationship with my father over the past 6 or so months. What a testament to the will and plan of the Lord. As I grew up I never in a million years would have thought that I would ever have a relationship with my father. But God is so faithful, and knew the desire of my heart to have an earthly Father, just as I have a Heavenly Father. I was so encouraged to hear that my own daddy here on earth has been praying for me this week. Words cannot express my thanks and amazement that the Lord took a bitter, abusive, angry man and completely turned his life around to glorify God. How can anyone say that God is not real, when we see the works of His hands in the lives of people all around us?

God is faithful. Take heart in knowing that He is there for you, even when you cannot feel him or see him. He's there in the quiet, wiping away your tears and taking away your anxiety.

As it says in Ps. 139:23-24: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts... and lead me in the way everlasting."

And finally, be encouraged by what is said in Matthew 18:18-20: "I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

AMEN! :-)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Love Is...

One of my favorite passages in the Bible (and one of my life sayings) is found in I Corinthians 13:4-8. Yes, you guessed it, it's the love passage. It says:

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."

This has been plastered to a part of my computer monitor at work for years now, and everytime I see I'm reminded that I'm called to love - and that love means sacrifice in a lot of ways. It also means putting your heart on the line - risking to get hurt in the process or finding the joy of having your love returned. However, my saying is that in any friendship or relationship - better to have loved, than to never love at all. So much is learned through loving someone - a parent, a friend, or a significant other. Growth and wisdom is gained through this process as there will always be ups and downs in everything - but love is what gets you through.

For the first time I decided that it was time that I looked up the definition of each of the important words in this passage of Scripture -and I was amazed and encouraged by what I found:

Patience = quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence
Synonyms of Patience: submissiveness, sufferance, endurance, persistent courage in trying circumstances.

Kind- generosity, charity, compassion, tenderness

Trust – reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety of a person; confidence, responsibility; charge.

Hope-the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best, to believe, desire, or trust

Perseverance- steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, esp. in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.
Synonyms: steadfast, tenacity, persistence

How much more do the words described in I Corinthians shine through? It just goes to show that love is not easy, but it's a blessing to those who always work on mastering it. I was highly encouraged by the synonym of Perseverance.... Tenacious.

I've had the nickname Tenacious since High School, and I've always believed it to be one of my character traits. I was so amazed when I read it in the context of Perseverance - so good!

Tenacious (my nickname) - holding fast; characterized by keeping a firm hold, holding together; cohesive; not easily pulled asunder; tough, persistent.

What a great reminder to me, that even in the trials of life, if I hold fast to God and persist on His strength, wisdom, understanding, and help - I can do anything.

Love is....

Tenacious :-)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Wise Counsel

Surround yourself with wise counsel. He who walks with the wise grows wise, and a companion of fools suffers harm. Have you ever noticed in your own life that you sometimes allow people and influences in to speak into your life that are no good for you? Have you noticed that when you hang around those that are driven by money that all of a sudden you become money hungry? Or when you spend time with the constantly negative people – your attitude changes to one that is negative? Or spending time with those that gossip or slander – all of a sudden it becomes okay for you to speak maliciously about others?

As said in II Timothy 3 - the world will become more and more godless in the last days. People become lovers of themselves, lovers of money, disobedient, abusive, unforgiving, and slanderous. False prophets and negative people will weasel their way into our lives (ever so slowly) to the point that we don't know what is right and what is wrong. If we allow them or even our own thought life to overtake us - we will truly struggle with the reality of life and God.

It’s no wonder that we are surrounded by unfaithfulness, depravity, depression, and so many other struggles. We bring it on ourselves by allowing ourselves to be influenced by the ways of the world instead of the will of God.

This is not the will of Christ for His people. We are to surround ourselves by and have close relationships with those that are growing in their faith. Those that are actively seeking the Lord in all circumstances. Grow together – be with those that are like minded. Seek counsel from the wise people the Lord places in your life. Ask God for guidance 1st, rather than the empty words of man.

So when you face the troubles of the day (and we all face trials), and are confused and needing answers. Go before the throne of Grace first. Then seek Godly, Wise Counsel from one you respect and know is walking faithfully, daily with the Lord. God speaks to His children, and sometimes brings you confirmation or encouragement from your brother or sister in Christ.