A Prayer For Christmas

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This Christmas let us remember the reason for the season.

Let us, in the midst of the cooking, the wrapping, and the shopping, take some time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.

Let us reach out to others, remembering to put them before ourselves and helping those who are less fortunate.

Let us pray for the homeless, the veterans, those away from family, and all those who have situations much more difficult than our own.

Let us remember those closest to us, and spend some time with friends and loved ones as we celebrate the birth of our Savior.

Let us never take anything for granted but be thankful for what we do have, as we anticipate a new year filled with hope, resolutions, and promises.

Let us take some time to enjoy the little moments, those small nameless moments that get pushed aside for the glamor of Christmas, because someday those small moments won’t be so small anymore.

Let us remember those we miss, be thankful for those that we do have, and move forward with the hope and knowledge that someday we’ll be see our deceased loved ones once again.

Let us put aside our busyness, our stress, our fear, and our worries, remembering that in the midst of all of the stress of life, we have a Savior who understands, and a peace in the midst of chaos.

Let us deck the halls, enjoy our Christmas dinner, exchange gifts, and surround ourselves with love, because this season only comes once a year.

And, despite the fleetingness and busyness of this season, let us keep its spirit in our hearts, so that in some ways, this holiday may last all year long.

* * * * *

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, see, the angel of the Lord came on them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said to them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign to you; You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:8-14

 

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What Is Love?

Philosophers have been asking it since the beginning of time, and with Valentines day only two days away, now seems as good as ever to discuss the meaning of love on my blog.

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As a Christian, my first and foremost source is the Bible—which contains everything we need to know about some of life’s greatest topic. Mixing poetry with history and truth, the Bible covers a wide range of some of our most explored topics—including identity, faith, grace, relationships, life, and death. Furthermore, when it comes to love, there is no shortage of Bible verses to guide us in navigating this difficult and ever explored topic.

In Scripture, we learn that we’re supposed to love our enemies (Luke 6:35), our neighbors (Mark 12:31), and Jesus (Matthew 22:37-38), our friends (Proverbs 17:17), and if married—our spouse (Ephesians 5:33). We also learn in John 15:13 that Jesus showed the ultimate demonstration of love— by laying down His life for each and every one of us, making us friends of God.

We are also given a description of what love, ideally, should look like in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, which reads that love is patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, it does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs, and rejoices with the truth. It always protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres, and it never fails.

Please note that this is not some sort of impossible standard that we’re supposed to keep 100% all of the time. Some people have said that if your relationship with someone you loved didn’t perfectly match this standard, it wasn’t love. I don’t believe this is either true or Biblical. The only one who fulfills all of these things all of the time is Jesus Christ—who is the personification of love in flesh. Jesus’ standards are always something we should aspire to, but as humans, we will never be able to love perfectly all of the time. All of us are living in the in between, where our ability to love is both broken and beautiful at the same time. We’re affected by the fall, but we’re also new creations in Christ, created to do good works and make this world a brighter and better place and point others to a perfect love in the form of Jesus Christ.

Furthermore, as likely many of us are aware of, even on a subconscious level, there are different types of love. C.S. Lewis breaks these types of love into four different categories—Storage, Philia, Eros, and Agape. According to Lewis, Storage is a general kind of love—the kind that we’re supposed to have for the world, Philia is friendship love, Eros is romantic love, and Agape is an unconditional love—like the kind that God has for us.
These different kinds of love each play a part in our life in various ways—from our close friendships, to our families, to our desire to reach lives. Each of these different kinds of love were created for a specific purpose, to touch the world in a unique way when used right and according to God’s purposes. Furthermore, the Bible gives instructions on how to wisely steward each of these loves—teaching us how to love in our greatest capacity and in the most beautiful ways.

This Valentines Day, let us strive to be people who love well. In our families. In our friendships. In our communities.

Let us be known as people who love, and people who serve the God who created it all.

Thirty Day Blogging Challenge #2: Day Twenty-Six

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Day Twenty-Six: Write About Someone You Really Care About

Friends are the siblings God never gave us – Mencius

I’m blessed to be able to say that I have a lot of people in my life that I really care about. Many of them, can be described as friends.

I didn’t grow up with siblings to hang out with, but I can honestly say that my friends are like the brothers and sisters I never had. Some of them, I’ve known for years—since middle school, even. Others, are newer friends. Hopefully, all of them will stick around for years to come.

For me, my friends have been the people who have seen me during my best and worst times. Together, we’ve gone through crushes and heartbreak, successes and failures, and from zits to clear skin. I can also say that I’m blessed to have a very mixed group of friends—some guys and some girls, some introverts and some extraverts, some like me and some as different from me as possible. But, each one of them has made a mark on my life and helped shape me into the person that I am today. 

To me, true friendship is an extension of family. It’s staying up late when a friend has a problem, even if you’re really tired and want to go to sleep. It’s staying together even when you disagree, or when they drive you absolutely crazy. It’s praying for each other, laughing together, and vowing to be the insane old ladies hanging out together in a nursing home someday.

In my view, friendship is forever, and ideally, beyond if they share your faith. 

Things change in our lives, but I believe that if both parties work at it, friendship doesn’t have to end—especially when social media makes it so easy to keep in touch for years on end. Boyfriends and girlfriends come and go, college starts and eventually finishes, and most people go through various jobs, but I believe that if we truly see our friends as family, those ties don’t have to fade away. Too often, friendship is seen as something disposable nowadays, when it should be seen as something permanent, the way David and Jonathan saw friendship (1 Samuel 18:1-5), Ruth and Naomi saw friendship (Ruth 1:16-18), and Jesus seemed to view friendship, based on the closeness He had with His disciples.

Let us always strive for these kinds of friendships.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 

Thirty Day Blogging Challenge #2: Day Twenty-Three

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Day Twenty-Three: A Book I’d Recommend 

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I’m a huge bookworm. I love reading to see stories unfold and learn new things. Some of my favorite authors range from Karen Kingsbury, to Neta Jackson, to Charles Dickens, to Emily P. Freeman. I love seeing characters come to life and getting the opportunity to live a thousand lives all from my small, humble bedroom. Nonetheless, in the midst of all of the books that I love, there’s one that stands out in particular.

The Bible. 

Topping bestselling charts, the Bible is a piece of literary art. But, it’s so much more than that. It’s God’s written Word—and an account of His faithfulness in so many lives throughout decades of time. It’s His promise and a portrait of grace—promising Salvation to all who believe it and follow it. Mixing history, with poetry, with God’s words—I think even a skeptic would have to admit that it’s one of the most dynamic books of all time. 

It also contains all of the elements of a great story—even though it’s a recording of real events. It has action, with Paul’s dangerous missions across the world. It has romance, with Ruth and Boaz. It has raw emotional honesty, as King David’s laments in the Pslams. And, it challenges the status quo, as Jesus reaches out to the most marginalized of His time, bringing hope and restoration.

It also contains literary elements, such as foreshadowing within the Old Testament laws. It’s clear to see with a little bit of study that the sacrificing of lambs was a symbol, one that the people of that time would later understand as they learned of Jesus’ death and resurrection. It also contains alteration, anthropomorphism, and apostrophe—elements commonly found in many great works of literature (I’m geeking out big time here, y’all!)

Most of all, the Bible is a love letter to humanity—professing God’s sacrificial love for each one of us and pleading to adopt us as His children into one big family of believers. God used hundreds of authors throughout history to write this book under His divine inspiration, and it is up to us to accept this call. It is up to us to read the greatest story of all times, written by the Author and Creator of each of our stories. 

The Bible is the book of my life. It’s the book I live with, the book I live by, the book I want to die by—N. T. Wright

 

Quote Challenge #2: Day Two

Hey everyone, sorry I’ve been kind of inconsistent with this blogging challenge. For the last couple of days, I’ve had a cold, and have lacked motivation to churn out a new blog post. Nonetheless, I’m feeling better and I’m happy to be back! 

Today’s quote is one by one of my favorite Christian authors and thinkers—C.S. Lewis.

God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing. C. S. Lewis

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For many, the decision to surrender everything to God can be a scary one. Becoming a Christian means handing over the steering wheel to Jesus, trusting that He knows what’s best for us and will lead us to a destination better than the one we would have chosen for ourselves. For some, it means fear of ridicule from peers who formally liked and respected them. For others, it means loosening the reins on our plans and allowing God to come in and make tweaks when needed.

But, I’ve found, the pros will always outweigh the cons. 

Jesus, while demanding everything, often takes us to places beyond our wildest dreams. For every “no“, there’s a bigger “yes” around the corner. In my own life, He’s opened doors that previously felt bolted shut, answered prayers to problems that seemed beyond fixable, and surrounded me with a family of believers that I know have my back no matter what. There’s just one question that we all have to answer before He can work in our lives. 

“Will we trust Him?”

For each person who has ever been born into this earth, there is a decision to make—follow the world, or follow Jesus. We cannot do both. 1 John 2:15 says “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.” This does not mean we aren’t supposed to love people—it simply means that we must not see this present world as our home. The world promises false happiness, the kind that will soon fade away. Jesus promises eternal happiness. 2 Corinthians 4:17 says “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 

In this world, we will have troubles—but we will also have blessings and eternal life—if we hold fast to faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Revelations 3:20 

Since I forgot to nominate people in my last post, I’m going to nominate six bloggers in this one! The nominees of this challenge are…

  1. Dainty M.
  2. D’Dream 
  3. FearfullyWonderfullyMe
  4. Julian For Jesus 
  5. Passion And Pixels 
  6. Thrive (AKA Nora Elkins Blog) 

What Are You Chasing?

“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” – Mark 8:36 

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What are you chasing? The answer to this question is different for everyone. For some, it may be a better job, or any job at all. For others, it may a relationship—either romantic or platonic. Still for others, it may be a dream or goal you have yet to achieve.

What are you chasing? 

The truth is, we’re all chasing something. The thing that we’re chasing is often the thing that we tend to obsess the most over—the thing that takes up our thought space in our free moments. It is often accompanied by thoughts such as “I’ll be happy when…” or “This will be my moment…No one is immune to this chase, because deep down inside, something tells us that we were born for it—we were born to pursue. We weren’t meant to stay stagnant. 

This pursuit is not a bad thing, but it can become a bad thing when focus more on the things of this world than the things of God. It can be such an easy trap to fall into that most of us don’t even realize we’re doing it. Truth be told, I struggle with this on a nearly daily basis. I’ve written in previous posts that I struggle in a big way with OCD and perfectionism and often those tend to be the driving forces in my chase.

I’ll analyze something that I’ve completed over and over again to the point of insanity. I’ll make a long and detailed bucket list that I absolutely must complete before I die. I’ll set up grand, exciting goals for myself and worry whether they’ll ever actually happen at all.

Again, I’ll clarify, having dreams is not a bad thing. Desiring to be in a relationship or have a family is not bad. Hoping to get a good position at a job is not bad. They only become bad when they take the place that only Jesus should have and become an idol. God wants to give you the desires of your heart, but first He wants to become the desire of your heart. Matthew 6:33 says “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” We are called to seek God before we seek anything else we desire.

Here are some points to remember as we go throughout our week and strive to put God first.

  1. It’s not about you – Recently, God has convicted me that I have unintentionally made my aspirations about me. The ironic part about all of this is, many of my goals pertain to ministry—things that are supposed to further His kingdom and reach people for Christ.  Nonetheless, I’ve somehow managed to turn these callings into what ‘I’m’ going to do.’ I’m’ going to change the world. ‘I’m’ was going to leave my mark. I’ve made God’s callings about me rather than God, and I repent of that. Sometimes, we can make ministry and outreach the focus, rather than an outpouring of the One who should be our focus.
  2. Everything but Christ will someday fade – Moments don’t last forever. Someday, that goal that you’re working so hard for will only be a past memory. Someday, that wedding day celebration that you’re planning on Pinterest will only be a photo in an album. Someday, that glamorous job will loose some of that excitement it once had. The only thing we can chase that will never fade away is Christ, Who is outside of space and time. 
  3. Let Go And Let God – I know, this saying is beyond cliche—but it’s true. In the words of a recent Jason Gray song “You can’t add a single day by worrying…You can’t change a single thing by freaking out, It’s just gonna close you in, Oh don’t let the trouble win.God is going to do things in His timing, which is often different than our timing. There have been many times in my own life where I’ve wanted something to happen right. this. instant. Usually, in those situations, God tells me to wait. I’ve found that when I listen, and wait on His timing, it’s always for the best.

How about you? What are some things you’ve been chasing? I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories in the comments section! 

 

 

When You Go Through Trials (Part Two)

Our Christian walk cannot be free of trials, for we ought to grow and trials are the exams we write in order to get promoted to a different level.

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As a baby grows and starts crawling, it gets to a time that he has to begin taking steps if he wants to walk. The baby does not get to stand on his feet firmly without having to go through some pains, pains that result from trying to get up from the floor. The countless times the baby falls does not prevent him from standing up again the next moment the need arises. That persevering I can do spirit, we all must learn from babies.

No progress will be made until you begin to face your fears and as you go through the process don’t be in a hurry to get out because gradually allowing the process to have its way will get you desired results. When your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.

So in my previous message on when you go through trials, I made mention of the fact that when it is time for a student to be elevated from one level to the other, he must write and pass a test and in the exam room the teacher is always silent because it is illegal to speak to the student no matter the kind of relationship existing between them.

But as we all know to every rule there is an exception and so hear this,

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. James 1:2-5 (NIV)

In other words, the bible says that you have been given all the information (knowledge) you need to write and pass our exam (trial) but if for any reason there is too much information at your disposal and are confused as to which one to use in answering specific questions in the test…

God says that there is an exception even though I am not supposed to talk to you during exams.

So if you don’t know what your teacher requires for a particular question as an answer because you have so much information and it’s difficult to summarize it leaving you confused, He says that I am giving you the opportunity to ask me what I require of you and I will freely give you wisdom which is the application of information (knowledge) at the right time in the right season.

So verse 5 of James chapter 1, comes with a condition, it is that your head must not be empty, because if your head is empty you cannot use wisdom when given to you. Wisdom cannot be independent of knowledge and yes, wisdom is the application of knowledge.

Has it ever occurred to you after writing an exam and upon receiving the test result script, you realized that there are some questions you didn’t answer so well but because the general idea was there the teacher considered and gave you the mark?

We often are encouraged to attempt all questions in an exam. Who knows the teacher might have compassion on you and help you get the answer he wants when he sees that you are on the right path.

But the fact that we are asked to answer all questions doesn’t mean that produce chaff. That would even upset the teacher and to some extent affect your grade because you have created the impression that there is nothing sensible in your head.

So how then can we attempt all questions in an exam and make sure that our attempts are meaningful?

It is only by having a wide range of information (knowledge) and this obtained by soaking yourself in books and in areas where the right information can be found.

So remember my dear friend to soak yourself in the authentic book that can equip you for any kind of exam in your life which is the Holy bible, the Engrafted word of the living God.

2 Timothy 2:15

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

God bless you.

Prayer

Father in the name of Jesus, thank you for this day, the gift of life and this message. I pray that you will forgive me of my sins as I forgive those who wrong me. Dear God I ask for divine wisdom to deal with every situation in my life and that of others, I want to do things your way and not my way for your ways are always straight. Thank you Father for answering my prayer in Jesus name, Amen.