Only Human

A couple of years ago, a song came out by the popular singer Christina Perri called Human. I found this song through a group of friends, when we were sitting around talking one day. Someone pulled out their iPhone and pulled it up and that was my first introduction to it. The lyrics were fairly simple, but in many ways relatable.

The chorus goes, “But I’m only human and I bleed when I fall down. I’m only human, and I crash and I break down. Your words in my head, knives in my heart, you build me up and then I fall apart, ‘Cause I’m only human…If we’re honest, this song is relatable for a lot of us. We try our best, but still watch ourselves fall time and time again in one area or another.

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We try to defeat anxiety, but find ourselves battling it time and time again. 

We try to control our temper, but find it coming out in the worst way at the worst time. 

We try to get rid of lust, but still find ourselves battling ungodly thoughts on an all-too-regular basis. 

We try to overcome an addiction, habitual sin, or unhealthy habit and find ourselves coming back to it time and time again, each time getting more frustrated than before. 

Believe it or not, the apostle Paul, who wrote half the New Testament, struggled with the exact same thing. He writes, in Romans 7:15-20 (NIV);

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

There are a couple of things that we can pull from this passage as Christians. The first, is that struggling is not an indication that a person is weak in their faith. After Paul came to Christ, he was one of the most on-fire Christians you could ever hope to know. He traveled around the world sharing the Gospel—in the face of danger and persecution. He started church plants and continued to shepherd the churches that he started through letters throughout his travels. If anyone was committed to their faith, it was the Apostle Paul. However, in spite of this Paul still battled with sin and the effects of sin just the same as each one of us. 

Second, we are not alone in our struggles today. I believe that one of the biggest lies that the Enemy tells us is that we are the only one battling with sin and struggles. Too many times, the Enemy will have us look across the aisles at church and tell us “You see so-and-so over there? They never struggle with this. They’re one of the good Christians. You’re not.” When the truth is, everyone is battling with something. As long as we are alive and breathing, we will face temptation and attacks from the Enemy. But the good news? We don’t have to fight it alone. 

And if you read Ephesians 6:11-20 (TPT), it becomes clear that God did not leave us without armor to fight this all-too-common battle. It says,

11 Put on God’s complete set of armor[a] provided for us, so that you will be protected as you fight against the evil strategies of the accuser![b]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.[c] For they are a powerful class of demon-gods[d] and evil spirits that hold[e] 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,[f] for you are destined for all things[g] and will rise victorious.

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![h]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[i] of the spoken Word of God.

Pray passionately[j] in the Spirit, as you constantly intercede with every form of prayer at all times. Pray the blessings of God upon all his believers. 19 And pray also that God’s revelation would be released through me every time I preach the wonderful mystery of the hope-filled gospel. 20 Yes, pray that I may preach the wonderful news of God’s kingdom with bold freedom at every opportunity. Even though I am chained as a prisoner, I am his ambassador.

If you read this passage, you can see a number of strategies to fight against sin and temptation. The two things that it lists here are the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness because these two things go together and are ultimately, the foundation of our armor. The belt of truth is the truth revealed in Scripture about God and the breastplate of righteousness is the righteousness found in what Christ has done on the cross. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin[a] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (NIV). We see this part of the armor cumulated in verse fifteen, which some translations describe as “feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace”.

In the second section of this passage, we are instructed to take faith as our ‘wrap around shield’, embrace the power of salvation’s full deliverance like a helmet, and take with us the ‘sword of the Spirit’, which is the word of God. The first one of these, is like it sounds—having full faith in God and His presence in each one of our lives. The second, is about living intentionally Gospel-Centered lives. When we keep the cross, and Christ’s love for us at the center of our hearts and lives, it makes it so much easier to resist the Enemy’s attacks.

Lastly, in this section, we see ‘the sword of the Spirit’, which is knowing and applying the Scriptures to our lives and situations. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (NIV). 

In the last section, we are instructed to pray—not just for ourselves, but for each other. As Christians we weren’t meant to do this life alone. We were meant to lean on each other and confide and help each other through our trials. And when we pray for another person, and help them through what they’re going through, it helps us take the spotlight off our own trials and in the process, gives them so much less power over us.  

To conclude, we may be only human, but we serve a God greater than anything we could ever face. And He is always with us, wherever we go!

“So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that his love will triumph over death, life’s troubles,[ai] fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken his love. 39 There is no power above us or beneath us—no power that could ever be found in the universe that can distance us from God’s passionate love, which is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One!” – Romans 8:38-39 (TPT). 

How about you? How do you stand strong in the face of temptations and struggles? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

On Being and Doing//Some Thoughts For 2020

“He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”” – Psalm 46:10 (NIV).

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As I write this post, we are officially coming to the end of a decade. A decade that has seen me go from a somewhat awkward middle schooler to a somewhat less awkward college student. One that has seen me get my license, vote for the first time, and accomplish some of the goals on my very long bucket list. Most importantly, it has been a decade that has helped me grow deeper in my faith—and sink deeper into God. And that’s what I want to talk about in this end-of-the-year post.

We live in a culture that is consumed with doing. That is all about doing more, achieving more, and making more. That is consumed by doing all the things. And if I’m bluntly honest, I’m just as guilty as the next person—I enjoy setting goals and achieving them. There’s something satisfying about working hard to achieve your dreams. And there’s nothing wrong with this when it is done in a healthy way. However, as Christians, we are called to something far greater. Something countercultural that our soul truly longs for. 

You see, in this world, the emphasis is on doing. But in the Bible, God tells us that our focus should be on being.

Just take a look at John 15:1-8 (MSG) to see what I’m talking about.

“I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.

“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.

5-8 “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.

As Christians before we do anything for God, we must first remain in God. We cannot be effective ministers of the Gospel and chase after the dreams God has placed in our heart without first chasing after God. The more I reflect on the meaning of ministry and how to be an effective witness for Christ, the more I come back to this simple truth. We must be deeply, and passionately rooted in God before we can reach the nations for God.

We must remain in His love, growing deeper in it with each passing year. (John 15:9).

We must remember who He says we are—that He has called us sons and daughters of the King. (2 Corinthians 6:18).

We must know God’s heart and understand on a personal level His love for humanity (John 3:16). 

This is not to say that doing will never happen, but being must always come first. Because as Christians, the good works that we do should flow organically from a heart that is fully connected to Jesus. When we recognize God’s heart for His people, we cannot help but respond. I saw a video recently by Lindy Cofer through a Brave Love study online where she was talking about how as Christians, our hands are to be connected to the heart of Jesus.* There is something powerful about this very vivid visual. Because as Christians, we can do nothing without Christ. And unless we are fully connected to His love for us, and for this world, our words will simply be empty noise—void of any true influence. 

Just take a look at 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NIV) for further proof of this.

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Even spiritual gifts, generosity, and giving our very life for the sake of the Gospel are nothing if we are not motivated by a love that comes directly from remaining in Christ’s love. Because in the end, when it’s all said and done, all God really wants from us—all He truly desires from us, is our whole heart. To know us intimately. To have a relationship with us. To love us with an everlasting, otherworldly kind of love.

This New Year, let our top resolution be not one of ‘doing’ but of ‘being’. Let us continue to sink deeper into Jesus. Let us have hearts fully open and surrounded to God. And let us let that love change us, so that we can change the world.

And if you don’t know this love, there’s no better time to get to know it than the present. 

Dear Lord, we thank you for this year. We thank you for the challenges, which have grown us, and we thank you for the blessings, which you have given us. We pray that you would work in and through our hearts and use us as vessels for your love, your grace, and your mercy. We pray that we would remember that ‘it is finished’ and that there is nothing we can do to make you love us more or less. Help us to rest in that grace, that love, and that freedom. And let us be voices declaring that freedom to all those who still have yet to hear it and accept it. We pray all of those things in your mighty, powerful, incredible name, amen!

*In case you’re interested, I’m posting the link to this course here. It’s 100% free and it’s really good! 

 

 

Jesus Changes Everything

“Choir of angels sing glory to the newborn King a baby changes everything..my whole life has turned around I was lost but now I’m found a baby changes everything.” – A Baby Changes Everything, Faith Hill.

Time after time, almost every Christmas, I try to imagine what the first Christmas was like for the cast of characters living during the time of Jesus’ birth. How they felt. What they went through. What they were thinking. A couple of years ago, I even did a short blogging series on Mary’s Point of View and Joseph’s Point of View speculating what it would be like to walk in their shoes. And it seems that with each passing year—though it’s an account that I’ve read thousands of times before, I’m able to pull something different from the story of how it all began. The story of our Savior.

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A Savior who enters into the normal paradigms of our life—and changes everything about it. 

Mary was just an ordinary girl—probably not much older than fifteen.Joseph was an carpenter from a humble background. Shepherds, who were among society’s poorest and plainest were some of the first to see our Savior. But Jesus invaded each one of their lives—and when Jesus stepped into the picture, their lives were forever changed. 

The crazy thing? The same could be said of the world today. When Jesus steps into the picture, nothing is ever the same. Former drug addicts become powerful preachers. The greedy transform to the generous. Career criminals change their ways. Families are healed. Marriages are restored. Lives are lived with purpose. Because when you encounter Jesus, it is impossible to remain the same. 

I saw this happen in my own family growing up. When my family came to Christ during my preteen years, it forever changed the way that we interacted with each other. How we lived. What was important. And though I came to Christ when I was still too young to have done anything too crazy, following Jesus has shaped and continues to shape my perspective on this world—allowing me to have joy in the midst of hardships and a peace that can only be found in Him. 

Galatians 4:1-7 says this;

*”What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces[a] of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.[b] Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,[c] Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” 

Because of Jesus, we can know a love that is unlike anything this world could ever give us. We can know a hope greater than anything we have ever known before. And we can have full access to God the Father because through Jesus we have been made sons and daughters of the King. All because Jesus left the perfection of Heaven to come down to this earth as a baby to die on a cross and save us from our sins. The story of our Savior is the greatest story ever told. And living our lives completely sold out to our Savior is the greatest decision we could ever make!

This Christmas, I want to challenge you to remember the One found in the first five letters of the word. To remember that Jesus still invades the lives of every person who has said yes to Jesus today. And that no one—no matter how hardened they may seem, is beyond hope. This Christmas, I want to challenge you to remember that Jesus changes everything.For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV).

*Verse taken from The Passion Translation (TPT).

Godly Confidence: Embracing Your Identity In Christ

“Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39 (NLT). 

We live in a culture that consistently feeds us the lie that we’re not enough.

Whether it be from Hollywood, magazines, or toothpaste ads, we are told time and time again that we should be prettier, thinner, smarter, cooler, or otherwise different from the person that we are. Time and time again, we are fed an ideal of ‘perfection’ from our culture—and too often, we have accepted this lie as truth.

Recently, I posted to my Instagram account asking for suggestions for future blogs and video blogs, and one of the suggestions that I got was to write a post on loving yourself. And this got me thinking—what does this look like for us as believers? How do we, while following the Biblical principal of taking up our cross to follow Christ (Matthew 16:24), love ourselves the way that we’re called to as Christians?

I believe this starts with looking to who God says we are in Scripture, and planting our identity firmly in Christ.

From the very beginning, we are shown that we have innate worth simply by existing and being. In Genesis 1:27, we read, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (NIV). Each one of us is created in the image of God—which means that each one of us bears the mark of our Creator.

Furthermore, in Psalm 139:13-14, King David writes, “You formed my innermost being, shaping my delicate inside and my intricate outside, and wove them all together in my mother’s womb.[aI thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex! Everything you do is marvelously breathtaking. It simply amazes me to think about it! How thoroughly you know me, Lord!” (TPT). Each one of us is created wonderfully complex, from our unique personalities and passions to our outward appearance!

I remember times during my teenage years when this truth didn’t always line up with how I felt. There were plenty of times when I felt awkward (who doesn’t as a teenager?), gawky, and like I totally broke the mold of how a teenager ‘should’ be.

I was pretty tomboyish. I was obsessed with all things books and words (still am, as you’ve probably figured out). And a lot of my interests fell more into the old lady category than the teenager category (hot tea…Hallmark movies…cats…the whole nine yards). But the older I got, the more comfortable in my skin I became. Slowly I learned that everyone has things that make them unique—and I learned to own the person that God has created me to be. To embrace my quirks, rather than run from them.

If you can relate to any of this at all, I want to challenge you to fully embrace what God has said about you. Not just on a head level, but on a heart level. To see that God has bestowed you with so many incredible gifts and talents and ways that you paint your own unique colors onto the canvas of this world. To show up fully in your sphere of influence knowing that God looked down when He created you and said ‘It is good’. To drown out the voices of the world that tell you that you have to be different to be accepted, because in Christ you are already enough!

In the words of a quote by George MacDonald, “I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God’s thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest and most precious thing in all thinking.” 

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How about you? What are your thoughts on living out your identity in Christ? I’d love to hear your input in the comments section below!❤️

Peace

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  – John 14:27 (NIV).

Peace. It is a word that we all long for, yet few know how to find. A word that in just five letters, sends calming images to mind and a feeling of comfort to our hearts. A word that conjures up images of beaches and long summer nights. Christmas lights and fireplaces. All things nice, and cozy, and well—peaceful!

It is also a word that is severely lacking from most of the word’s  vocabulary today. 

As humans in present-day-society, we are often encouraged to view life through the lens of lack and scarcity. We are encouraged to chase more prestigious jobs with a higher pay. We are encouraged to get into the most impressive college and make the dean’s list. We are encouraged to change our appearance based on perceived flaws and social norms. We are encouraged to be better, faster, and more. All while killing a part of ourselves in the process.

Little by little, we begin to place our hope in these things—forgetting that as Christians, our joy was meant to be something a lot more eternal.

Though it is something that on some level, I’ve known for years, I have been learning what it means to find peace in Christ, even in seasons that try and test this peace. I am learning what it means to breathe. What it means to let go and let God. What it means to find rest in God’s grace and love—and remember that in itself is enough.

As I write this, I am reminded of some of the things that give me sort of a ‘peace’ in the physical realm. Warm tea. Ice cream and a good movie or TV series on Hulu. A new book. The feeling of a warm blanket. Lights strung during Christmas time. I am also reminded of the things that tend to steal my peace. Too much homework. Early shifts at work. Unexpected bad news. Running late for anything. Driving in torrential rain. These kinds of things, despite my desire to stay calm, often have a tendency to rob me of my peace in an instant.

Writing both about the things that give me peace and the things that send me into panic mode, I feel led to ask you this question—which is your faith for you? Is your faith in Jesus a place where you can find rest, a place that gives you the peace of eating ice cream and watching your old favorite movie? Or does it feel more like akin to the anxiety of too much homework—a task that feels overwhelming, and that you feel you must ‘perfect’ in order to win God’s approval?

According to Jesus, in Matthew 11:28-30, the Christian life should feel more like the first example. This passage says, “Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me.[a] I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis.[b] 29 Simply join your life with mine.[c] Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle,[d] humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in me.[e] 30 For all that I require of you will be pleasant[f] and easy to bear.” (TPT). 

God wants us to find an unexplainable peace in Him. A peace that can carry us even when our lives are anything but. A peace that does not come from religious works or legalism, but from a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. The Christian life does not mean we will not have trials, or feel stress from time to time, but it does mean that we have a hope and a love that can carry us through it. We have something that can sustain us even through the seasons that threaten our peace. 

This week, I want to challenge you to sink into that peace. To rest in God’s presence. To sink into His oasis. To remember that Jesus is gentle, humble, and easy to please.  To find peace in His love, mercy and grace. And, to “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV).

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How about you? How do you sink into God’s peace when the storms start to come your way? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments section below! Also – check out this really great song all about this by Lauren Daigle here! I heard it at a Christian conference a couple of weeks ago and it is really good! 

Faith Moves Mountains

Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.” – Mark 11:23 (NIV).

Faith. It’s a topic that we hear about often, but often struggle to live out in the real. It is the thing that calls us to trust when there seems to be no way. However, in spite of all of this, faith is the very essence of the Christian walk.

I once heard a quote that said, “If you’re prayers aren’t impossible to you, they are insulting to God.“* Now, obviously God hears all prayers, ranging from the prayer of a seven year old girl in her bedroom to the prayer of an elderly man on his deathbed. However, there is something that I believe we, as believers, can take away from this quote. Too often, it is easy to keep our faith limited—boxed almost. Trusting God for some things, but hesitant to prayer about others. Somewhere deep down, we fear that we might just pray the prayer that is ‘too much’ for God to handle. 

However, as believers chasing after the very heart of God, I believe God is calling us to something more radical. 

Over the past year or so, God has been challenging me in my faith. As someone naturally prone to mini-panic-attacks about the future, God has been continuously leading me to live out the words of Philippians 4:6-7. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (NIV). He has also been challenging me to lean more on Him (rather than myself. Proverbs 3:5-6 y’all!) and have more faith for seemingly impossible things. Faith that God could literally heal someone on the spot. Faith that some of the most far off places (e.g. college campuses) could have mass revivals and dedications to Jesus. Faith that the most lost people we know will come to a saving faith in Christ by our example and the example others.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (NIV). Furthermore, in Matthew 19:26 (NIV), it says, “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  (NIV). 

We serve a God who we cannot see, but whom we can trust. A God who has a track record of performing miracles—such as breathing the world into existence and rising from the dead on the third day. Who is in authority over all of the forces of nature, and has a power beyond what we can imagine, but who loves us infinitely—more than we can even imagine. As Christians, we serve a God who we believe in through faith—who calls us to an even greater faith as we grow and mature in our walk. 

This week, I want to challenge you to a greater faith. To a faith that truly believes God can move mountains—even the mountains in your life! I want to challenge you to have faith the size of a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20) and believe fully in God’s presence and power in your life. I want to challenge you to a faith for the impossible.

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*Just looked this quote up. It’s by Mark Batterson. 

Christmas Classics: A Christmas Carol

Hey guys, so I know this post is a little late, but a couple of days ago I got sick and haven’t been up for writing. Sore throat, nausea, fatigue…you name it. I had it. 

But thankfully, I’m feeling better now. So, without further ado, here is the next installment of my Christmas Classics series…A Christmas Carol!

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“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13 (NIV) 

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I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!

From the time I was a young girl, I have always loved the classic Dickens tale, A Christmas Carol. I read the book when I was in middle school and have seen just about every movie adaption under the sun, from Mickey’s Christmas Carol to A Carol Christmas (a Hallmark adaption, with the old 90210 star Tori Spelling). It is a timeless classic that many have adapted for their own TV shows and movies. However, the original story as told by Charles Dickens still remains in a category all its own.

The story starts off with a cranky old miser named Scrooge (a title that has become somewhat of a pop culture phrase in its own right) who refuses to let one of his employees take the day off for Christmas. He sees no need for the holidays, and places money above everything else in his life—an attitude that has gotten him into trouble time and time again, even to the point of driving his ex-fiance and one true love away. Because of his sour attitude, and dysfunctional priorities, he is visited by three spirits who teach him lessons about life, faith, and kindness; the very things that Scrooge has spent most of his life neglecting.

There are too many lessons in this story to cover them all, but for the purpose of keeping this post short, I will only be focusing on two; living a life fueled with purpose and remembering the things that are truly important in life.

Scrooge is a man who has it all in the eyes of the world. He is successful in his career and he is so wealthy that money-problems are essentially a foreign concept to him. However, in the midst of all of this, he misses some of the things that are most important in life: Family. Friends. Caring for others. And most of all, God. 

Though most of us would never consider ourselves to be like Scrooge, and though he is a rather extreme example, there are many times in our own lives that we can fall into similar patterns as this character in the classic Christmas story. How often do we focus so much on material possessions and worldly wealth at the expense of the things that are more important in life? How often to we pass people by, so caught up in our own problems that we forget to look out for those who are hurting? How often do we forget to remember our blessings, and One who blesses us with it all?

Mark 8:36 says, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (NIV). And, Matthew 6:19-21 says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (NIV).

It is not wrong to desire success or to have wealth, but it is problematic when it becomes your sole focus, causing you to neglect people, and make an idol that you place before your relationship with God. Scrooge was not wrong for having wealth, but he was wrong for being making it his top priority—and for putting his own needs above the needs of others. As Christians, we are called to put others first, and think of others’ needs more than our own. When we do this, God will bless us—maybe not materially, but with a joy that cannot be replaced by anything that this world has to offer.

This Christmas, I want to challenge you to spend some time reflecting on the true reason for the season—and going through this Christmas with an open heart, for those who are hurting and broken.

I want to challenge you to remember that the greatest things in this life are the things that we cannot see or touch, and that those are the things that truly give us purpose.

I want to challenge you to make time for family and friends, and never let a day go by without showing them that we care.

In this way, we can hold the Christmas spirit in our hearts.

In the words of Tiny Tim, “God bless us, each and every one.”