Praying At The Mall

“I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody all about a somebody who saved my soul.” – Casting Crowns.

Hey guys!

Recently I had a really incredible experience and I wanted share it with you. It kind of breaks the format of my usual style of blogging, but I want this blog to be a place where I can share everything that God is doing in my life—and sometimes, the best way to do that is through writing about my own life experience. The ways that God is continuing to move and breathe and work in my own life and the lives around me.

So, if you would like to see one of the most recent God-moves in my life, read the post below!

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About four months ago, God placed it on my heart to do a prayer walk at my local mall. I had an assignment for my Youth Ministry class with Liberty University to go to a secular environment (e.g. not church or a small group) and observe the people there. And as I walked around the mall with my mom, God opened my eyes to such a need there—as I witnessed people who seemed, just in casual observation, lost, broken, and alone.

To give some backstory on this, a couple of years ago, I had the chance to do something similar on a mission trip with my old church. We walked around a town in the inner city of Jacksonville Florida and witnessed to people who were in desperate need of Jesus—prostitutes, drug dealers, and hardcore addicts. You name it, we saw it.

It was an incredible experience where I saw the Holy Spirit moving in powerful ways, and I realized that I could do that same thing right here, right in my home town. So, I talked to my youth pastor about the logistics of putting this together and began reaching out and inviting people—in hopes of putting together a prayer team. And this past Sunday, it all finally came together. And I saw God show up in a powerful way!

There were about five of us (all girls—it just sort of happened that way) and we met in the food court, praying together before we started. I was feeling a little jittery (just being totally honest here), but I strongly believed that if we went, God would work in and through each one of us.

We started off as one group, but eventually split up into two groups. We (the girl I was with and myself) walked through one store waiting for God to tell us who to talk to. Finally, she stumbled across a mom and daughter that she felt led to speak to. The mom was experiencing pain in her foot and said that she’d love for us to keep her in our prayers—but my friend offered to pray for her right then. So we prayed for complete healing over this lady’s foot. We didn’t get to see the outcome, but I’m fully believing that she was healed in Jesus’ name!

After that we walked around for a little longer—and suddenly felt led to pray for a lady who was about to leave. We managed to catch her before she did and asked if we could pray for her about anything—explaining that we were doing a prayer walk and that we were part of a local church in the area. She asked us to pray for her niece who was struggling with her identity and after we finished she looked grateful and almost about to cry—as if God brought us to her just at the right time. I take no credit for this but this is the Holy Spirit’s power at work!

After that we finally met back up with our group, and wound up going together in a trendy, well-known clothing store and talked to two more people—one who asked us what church we were from (she let us pray with her once we told her) and one who we talked to for quite a while. The second one asked us to pray for her with school and her relationship with her dad and told us that she used to be plugged in with a church, but hasn’t gone in a while. We had the chance to share our testimonies with her and invite her to our church. We also just had the chance to talk about Jesus and His love.

Lastly, we prayed with an older lady who worked upstairs. When I first started talking to her, I soon realized that she didn’t understand English very well, and admittedly froze. I took one semester of Spanish for college, but didn’t know the language well enough to speak it fluently. Thankfully, at that point one of my Spanish-speaking friends stepped in and came to the rescue, and she was able to carry on a full conversation with the aforementioned person. She seemed thankful for our visit and we had the chance to all pray over her and encourage her.

If there’s one thing that I learned from all of this, it’s this; don’t be afraid to be bold. There was a time when putting together an event like this would have really made me nervous but God has shown me time and time again that when we’re faithful and just show up, He’ll take care of the rest!

So, what does all this mean? If God has determined to stand with us, tell me, who then could ever stand against us?” – Romans 8:31-33 (TPT).

The Lord is my revelation-light to guide me along the way;[bhe’s the source of my salvation to defend me every day. I fear no one! I’ll never turn back and run from you, Lord; surround and protect me.” Psalm 27:1 (TPT). 

How about you? How do you feel God is leading you to be bold in your sphere of influence? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below!👇🏻❤️

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Hope: In A Broken World

Hey guys, sorry it’s been a little while since I’ve posted! Between summer classes, work, and church activities, my calendar has pretty much been booked to the max. However, I’m back now with a topic that I have been thinking a lot about lately, and that I feel strongly that the Lord has put on my heart to share. I hope it speaks to someone today!😃

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Hope. It’s only four letters, but it carries with it so much meaning. So much beauty. It is a word that inspires images of joy. Images of a more peaceful world. Images of more love, and less famine. Images of a nation filled with people who genuinely care for each other; regardless of ethnicity or the color of their skin. It brings to mind a better future—filled with less of the problems that we see in the world today. There is a reason the word has been used in charity organizations and political campaigns alike. Deep down, we all long for a world filled with hope. Deep down, we all know that hope is what this world truly needs.

However, for many of us, hope is something that seems allusive or out of reach in the world today. When we turn on the news, we see images of crime, famine, and hate. We see a world that frankly, looks anything but hopeful. For some of us, we need to look no further than our local high school or college to see living, breathing, people who seem all but hopeless. People who are fighting their own personal battles. Maybe financially. Maybe relationally. Maybe physically. Sometimes, a combination of all three.

I have always been affected by the stories that I hear around me. If a friend tells me about something they are struggling with, I want to do everything in my power to encourage them. If I hear about a worthy cause, or a group of people who are struggling (people living in poverty, with an illness, etc. etc. etc.) I want to do everything in my power to help them. I think it’s safe to say that this is the case for a lot of us. As humans, we are naturally affected by the stories we hear in the world around us. As humans, we are affected by those whose situations look hopeless. However, as Christians, we also posses the one thing that can truly bring them hope.

I remember when I first started college, feeling so affected by the condition of the world around me. Overwhelmed by the sheer number of people who seemed lost and broken. When I felt small and way too outnumbered to truly make a difference. Part of me was tempted to shrink back. To escape into some TV drama or another. To just survive—rather than do the very thing that God called me to do, which was to be bold. At one point, pushing past fear and trembling, God called me to give a speech about my faith in a class where a student was openly Wiccan. Needless, to say, this wasn’t easy, and I was sort of terrified but it proved to be an incredible experience in God’s faithfulness—and as the class went on, I saw him slowly develop a genuine interest in Christianity—even nodding with interest as I read Bible verses in various other speeches that I presented. This still remains one of my most memorable experiences in my college journey thus far.

And, this was just one part of the lesson that God has been continuing to teach me throughout my journey of faith, and my journey through college. That as Christians, we have the hope that this world is desperately longing for.

It is far too easy to be silent. To let fear dictate us and stop us from doing the one thing that we have been placed on this earth to do. To believe that this world is too broken, too far gone, too far beyond hope. To forget the words of John 1:5, which says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (NIV). 

I don’t know about you, but I want to bring hope to the broken and light to the darkness in this world.

I want to live in such a way that it points back to the One who has put breath in my lungs and given me life.

I want to exude joy, hope, and love even in places that seem to lack all three of these.

I want to be everything that Christ has called me to be, and never miss an opportunity to share His love with the people He has placed around me. 

If you are going back to school soon, I want to encourage you to look like hope in the place where God has led you! To never be afraid to step out in boldness, and share Christ with those around you. If you work somewhere, I want to encourage you to love your co-workers and boss and live in such a way that it points back to Jesus—and “work as if you’re working unto the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). Wherever we go and whatever we do, let us never be afraid to reflect the hope that we have.

Let us never let fear hold us back from sharing this hope.

Let us never let fear hold us back from sharing this love!

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

– Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV)

Holy Spirit

“God has a constantly flowing river whose sparkling streams bring joy and delight to his people. His river flows right through the city of God Most High, into his holy dwelling places.” Psalm 46:4 (TPT).

Growing up, I always loved the water. 

I always loved the feel of it against my skin. I always loved the refreshed feeling that I got after a good swim. I always loved swimming, floating, and simply sitting in the water and the coolness that surrounded me as the sun shone down upon my head. Heck, I still love all of these things, and find swimming to be one of my personal favorite forms of exercise.

However, when I was younger, I used to be desperately afraid to dive.* 

This used to scare me because it meant that I would be fully immersed in water. It scared me because I was going down head-first into something that is semi-foreign to humans (at least, compared to fish and other sea creatures). I was scared because in one simple move, it was a plunge into the unknown. It was scary because it required me to surrender to the water, and loosen my grip on the human tendency of grasping for the familar—of grasping for control.

For some of us, our feelings towards our faith could be the same. Much like with diving, growing in our faith requires us to loosen the reigns on being in control. It requires us to surrender, even when we don’t understand. It means fully submerging ourselves into the presence of the Holy Spirit on a day to day basis—and sometimes, letting Him lead us in ways that don’t make sense to our finite minds. It requires us to leave a ‘safe’ version of Christianity where we talk about faith, yet rarely live it, and be fully set on fire for God’s Kingdom. 

For so many of us, the Holy Spirit is the part of the Trinity that seems the most confusing. We can picture Jesus, and we can sort of picture God, but when we try to picture the Holy Spirit, many of us wind up with something that’s not much more personable or tangible than the Force in Star Wars. We know that He lives us (1 Corinthians 3:16) and we know that He is somehow part of the Godhead (The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), but we miss the significance of the Holy Spirit’s power in the life of every believer. And, in the process, we miss the incredible things that He wants to do in and through us.

However, Romans 8:5-9 shows us just how vital the Holy Spirit is in our lives. It says,

Those who are motivated by the flesh only pursue what benefits themselves. But those who live by the impulses of the Holy Spirit are motivated to pursue spiritual realities.[e]For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set controlled by the Spirit finds life and peace.

In fact, the mind-set focused on the flesh fights God’s plan and refuses to submit to his direction,[f] because it cannot! For no matter how hard they try, God finds no pleasure with those who are controlled by the flesh. But when the Spirit of Christ empowers your life,[g] you are not dominated by the flesh but by the Spirit. And if you are not joined to the Spirit of the Anointed One, you are not of him.[h]”  Romans 8:5-9 (TPT)

When we continually seek out God every day, and seek His will in every situation, the Lord will guide us and direct us through the power of His Holy Spirit. When we immerse ourselves in God’s presence through daily prayer, reading the Scriptures, and everyday faithfulness, the Holy Spirit will help us to be victorious in the battles that we face in our lives.

He will help to live out our faith. He will help us to love that person that drives us crazy. He will help us to fight against ungodly thoughts when they clamor for space in our minds. He will help us to live intentionally—with God’s Kingdom as our mission. This is not to say that we won’t face trials and temptations, but we will be better equipped to fight these battles and come out of them stronger on the other side.

The Holy Spirit is not an abstract theological doctrine. He is not some strange force that we cannot know or understand. He is not scary and He will not lead us into things that are ‘strange’ because that is not in His nature. He is God’s power inside of us. A part of the Godhead that equips us, and bestows a passion for God’s Kingdom. And when we immerse ourselves in His presence, or choose to ‘dive’, if you will, He will give us more love, joy, and peace than we could have ever dreamed of or imagined. 

All that we have to do is take the first step.

All that we have to do, is dive. 

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How about you? How have you experienced the Holy Spirit’s presence and power in your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

*In case you’re wondering, I eventually conquered my fear of diving.😉    

Guard Your Heart

Hey guys!

So, this week I felt extremely led to do a post on guarding your heart as a Christian. I’ve also been wanting to do more vlogs on this site, so below, I posted a new vlog all about this topic! I hope it inspires you today!

So above all, guard the affections of your heart,[a]
for they affect all that you are.
Pay attention to the welfare of your innermost being,
for from there flows the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23 (TPT)

Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” Song of Solomon 8:4 (NIV)

How about you guys? Is there any advice that you have on guarding your heart as a Christian? Feel free to post it below – I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Stronger

“Beloved friends, if life gets extremely difficult, with many tests,[a] don’t be bewildered as though something strange were overwhelming you.[b] Instead, continue to rejoice, for you, in a measure, have shared in the sufferings of the Anointed One so that you can share in the revelation of his glory and celebrate with even greater gladness!” – 1 Peter 4:12-13 (TPT). 

Strength. It is a virtue that is valued and prized by our culture. It is a word that you see on the front of tee shirts in stores or on people that we encounter every day. It is something that many of us strive for, and something that very few of us think we have. However, as Christians, we don’t have to fall into the trap of trying to be strong. We don’t have to approach the trials and temptations that we face from the well of our own strength.

Because, we have a God who is strong, even when we’re weak. 

Over the past couple of months, this is something that God has been teaching me, in particular. By nature, I have a tendency to want to appear strong. To want to appear ‘OK‘ even when I’m not. To want to approach life with a smile when I’m having a legit breakdown on the inside. But lately, God has been showing me (even if I already knew it on some level) that it’s OK to come to Him broken in prayer. It’s OK to still have questions—and not know the end of the story. I don’t always have to be strong and I don’t always have to be brave because I serve a God who is strong enough for both of us (yes, I know I practically quoted a Matthew West song there).

So often as Christians we are told that when we are praying, we’re going into war. That we’re warriors, raging against the powers of darkness. But that is not all that prayer is. It is also going to your Heavenly Father and your friend. It’s telling Him the things that are really on your heart. It is being totally honest and real with a God who loves us! It doesn’t always have to be super-spiritual and it doesn’t always have to sound pretty and Christian-ese.

God doesn’t only care about the spiritual matters of our life—He cares about every matter of our life! The things that matter to us also matter to Him. That girl who is tormenting you at school. That person that you can’t quite get out of your mind. That test that you’re super freaked out about. God cares about all of these things and more because He cares about you!

And the times that we face temptation? We don’t have to fight those battles alone! Ephesians 6:10-18 says below. 

“Now my beloved ones, I have saved these most important truths for last: Be supernaturally infused with strength through your life-union with the Lord Jesus. Stand victorious with the force[a] of his explosive power flowing in and through you.

11 Put on God’s complete set of armor[b] provided for us, so that you will be protected as you fight against the evil strategies of the accuser![c]12 Your hand-to-hand combat is not with human beings, but with the highest principalities and authorities operating in rebellion under the heavenly realms.[d] For they are a powerful class of demon-gods[e] and evil spirits that hold[f] this dark world in bondage. 13 Because of this, you must wear all the armor that God provides so you’re protected as you confront the slanderer,[g] for you are destined for all things[h] and will rise victorious.

14 Put on truth as a belt to strengthen you to stand in triumph. Put on holiness as the protective armor that covers your heart. 15 Stand on your feet alert, then you’ll always be ready to share the blessings of peace.

16 In every battle, take faith as your wrap-around shield, for it is able to extinguish the blazing arrows coming at you from the Evil One![i]17–18 Embrace the power of salvation’s full deliverance, like a helmet to protect your thoughts from lies. And take the mighty razor-sharp Spirit-sword[j] of the spoken Word of God.

Pray passionately[k] in the Spirit, as you constantly intercede with every form of prayer at all times. Pray the blessings of God upon all his believers.” – Ephesians 6:10-18 (TPT).

We do not have to fight our battles alone. We do not have to rely on our own strength or our own ‘godliness’ to fight the enemy’s arrows in our minds when they start coming our way, because we have the strength of God living in us, always available to us when we need it.

We don’t have to rely on ourselves when we face situations that seem too great to handle, because we have someone greater and more powerful walking with us through every season of our life.

We don’t have to listen to voices of insecurity or self-doubt because we can choose every day to speak what God says about us over ourselves and choose to listen to His truth over the enemy’s lies.

This week I want to challenge you to fully press into God’s strength. To go to Him and just pour your heart out to Him. To resist the temptation to be strong and allow yourself the grace to be completely honest before God. To come to Him as a Father—and cry out to Him in the times that you face trials and temptations. 

There’s a song by Laura Story that I believe perfectly captures what I am trying to say in this post. Hopefully, it speaks to somebody today.🙂

“God, you’re such a safe and powerful place to find refuge! You’re a proven help in time of trouble—more than enough and always available whenever I need you. So we will never fear even if every structure of support[b] were to crumble away. We will not fear even when the earth quakes and shakes, moving mountains and casting them into the sea. For the raging roar of stormy winds and crashing waves cannot erode our faith in you.” – Psalm 46:1-3.

Freedom

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” – 2 Corinthians 3:17. 

As many of you know, this past weekend was Memorial Day. A day to celebrate soldiers who have fallen. A day to celebrate the freedom that we have in America. A day to appreciate those who have given their lives for freedom—and remember that freedom does not come without a cost.

Which, in many ways, points us back to a different kind of freedom that as Christians, we have the chance to experience. A freedom that also, did not come without a cost.

Furthermore, freedom does not come to us apart from love. On Memorial Day, we are reminded that there are people out there who love this country enough to die for it. Most people, if you were to ask them on the street, know that, and would accept it without question if asked. However, if asked about Christ’s love, many people would not know how to answer. It is relatively easy for people to accept that someone might die for a country, or a cause that they believe in. It is much harder for people believe that a perfect God would die for broken, imperfect individuals. That someone would die just to save them.

However, both of these things remain true. Jesus died so that we might find freedom—and be restored to a right, and loving relationship with God the Father. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (NIV). This is exactly what Jesus did for each one of us. And He would do the same thing all over again, even if we were the only person left on this earth.

Yet in spite of all of this, so many of us, as Christians, live as if we are not truly free. We live like we are still in bondage. Like we are still slaves to trying to earn God’s approval. I am always amazed when I see believers who are so afraid of God that they fail to experience the joy that He has intended us to have. Who choose to see only darkness in this life. Who are afraid to talk to God as a friend, and who approach Him more as a judge instead. Who dismiss all music, dancing, television, and entertainment as evil and reduce Christianity into an excessively long list of dos-and-don’ts that are exhausting and anything-but the embodiment of freedom in Christ.

This is not to say that as Christians, we shouldn’t live in the obedience and purity that God calls us to in His Word. However, when we are truly living life with a spirit of grace and love for Jesus, following Him becomes something we do naturally. Every ‘no’ becomes an invitation to a greater ‘yes’. Things like purity, kindness, and generosity become a part of who we are, and a part of the condition of our heart, rather than simply another list of ‘shoulds’ and ‘shouldn’ts’. By definition the Christian life should have more freedom, joy, peace, and life—not less of it.

The Christian life is one that should be characterized by hope, because we are people who have been set free from our chains.We have the knowledge that we are personally and intimately loved by a God who breathed breath into our lungs. We know that there is something beyond just the here and now and that ultimately, we have hope for our tomorrow. Christianity isn’t rigid, harsh, or rule based. It’s a personal relationship and friendship with God. It’s a joy that surpasses our circumstances. It’s an adventure—with more beauty and more excitement than we could ever dare to imagine. 

This week, I want to challenge you to live into that freedom. To fully embrace the promises of God, and live like someone who has been set free. To demonstrate this freedom, this love, and this hope to the world around you through your actions and your words—not just on Sunday, but throughout your whole week.

To truly live like someone who is free, and remember the words of John 8:36: “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (NIV) 

 

Beloved ones, God has called us to live a life of freedom in the Holy Spirit. But don’t view this wonderful freedom as an opportunity to set up a base of operations in the natural realm. Freedom means that we become so completely free of self-indulgence that we become servants of one another, expressing love in all we do.” – Galatians 5:13 (TPT) 

How about you? Do you ever struggle to live into the freedom that God has given us? Feel free to share in the comments below! As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts!