Today-Living (Or, What to Do When You Have No Idea What to Do With Your Life)

today-living-or-what-to-do-when-you-have-no-idea-what-to-do-with-your-life

Lately, I’ve been having this series of existential crises, those “What am I doing with my life?!” freak-out sessions of ranting and frantic heavy-breathing and banging my head against walls because I literally have no idea in the world what’s gonna go on with my future.

 

It’s…exhausting.

 

I’ve been talking a lot with my amazing parents and my amazing friends about the whole thing, and they’ve tirelessly said Amanda, stop. Breathe. It’s gonna be okay, God’s in control, you’ll figure it out, God’s plan will prevail, and you don’t need to worry.

 

But they’ve also said one thing that has really stood out to me, and if you’re in any similar situation, I hope it’ll help you too.

Continue reading “Today-Living (Or, What to Do When You Have No Idea What to Do With Your Life)”

Real Trust in The Lord

real trust in the lord-2

 

We’ve probably heard them all a thousand times. Written them on index cards, saved them as our lock screen wallpaper, pinned them, Tweeted them, and posted them on Facebook.

 

What is “them?”

 

Bible verses. The ones we memorized as Sunday School Kids, highlighted in our first Bibles, and became deaf to because we’d heard them so many times.

 

That Powerful Verse became absolutely cliché. Trust in the Lord, yada yada. For God so loved the world, blah blah blah. I’ve heard it all so many times. And it becomes un-life-changing, un-impressive, non-radical.

Continue reading “Real Trust in The Lord”

3 Things We Should Expect God to Do

3 Things We Should Expect God to Do

As Christians, we hear this command a lot: “Pray.” When bad things happen, what do we do? We pray. When we don’t know what to do, we pray. When we need something done fast, we pray as hard as we can and get others to do the same.

 

We treat prayer as though the more we do it, the more God will hear us and do what we want.

 

But have we perhaps considered that it’s not always about what we want?

 

All the time, I hear people say, “Expect God to work.” I absolutely agree. He is all-powerful, He is sovereign, He loves us unconditionally, and desires the best for us.

 

But that doesn’t mean that we expect Him to accomplish everything we want.

 

In my life, I’ve found this. While I could pray this:

 

 “God, I want _____ thing, and because I know you can do all things, please give _____ to me.”

 

I’ve started praying like this:

 

“God, you know that I want _____ thing. If that’s Your will for me, I pray that You would allow it, but if not, I pray that Your will would prevail.”

 

So do I expect God to work? Absolutely. But I don’t expect Him to only work in the ways that I might expect.

 

So what should we expect when we pray?

 

  1. Expect God to hear us when we pray, no matter what.

 

We don’t need to use high and mighty words; we need to tell Him what is on our minds. He desires for us to know Him as He knows us. He has created us and wants us to have a relationship with us; not because we are great, but because He is.

 

1 John 5:14

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”

 

  1. Expect God to accomplish His will.

 

When we pray for only what we want, we can miss out on finding joy in God’s bigger, greater plan. And in looking at the big picture, do we want what will benefit us temporarily, or what will benefit God’s Kingdom eternally?

 

That seems like a vague rhetorical question, and I know that we all want to say, “I want what will benefit God’s Kingdom!” but it’s not an easy thing to say. It’s hard to desire God’s will when what we want just seems so good. Really. I have a hard time letting go of what I want and grabbing hold of what He wants at times.

 

However, I have discovered that the more I read the Bible, get to know God, and love Him more and more, the more my desires seem petty. Oh yes, there is still some appeal. But when I see how God led the Israelites through the Red Sea, I am awed at how great His power is.

 

When I see how He worked out Joseph’s imprisonment for the good of Egypt, and when I see how Jesus was crucified for us, enduring the pain of Hell, I see that even in our excruciating circumstances, God still works. Maybe not always in the ways that feel comfortable to us, but in the ways that He knows are best.

 

Proverbs 19:21

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

 

  1. Expect God to act out of His love for us.

 

God is not a tyrant, nor is He unjust. When we pray for His will to be done, we’re not asking for some Great Cosmic Mystery to unfold, but a wise plan from our loving Father. He doesn’t “send” anyone to Hell; their sin does. His desire is to save all who would come to Him.

 

2 Peter 3:9

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

 

When we prioritize His will over our wants, we’re surrendering our desires to God in favor of something infinitely greater than us. We’re not happy-sapping ourselves; we’re allowing ourselves to be filled with joy because God truly is at work and He truly does have a plan.

 

So what should we expect from God? We should expect Him to answer our prayers with His infinite wisdom, whether we agree with the answer or not. We should expect Him to work in His own way in situations that seem impossible. We should expect Him to work in ways that are genuinely best for us.

 

Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

 

*aj

Why Should I Read the Bible?

Why Should I Read the Bible?

Why should I read the Bible? That’s a question I’ve been pondering ever since my parents gave me a real Bible when I was five. Oh, I’d flip through the devotionals and read a few chapters I was familiar with, but I didn’t totally have the desire to dig in and devour it like I would a pleasure book.

 

I said to myself, “I love Jesus, and I know He died on the cross to forgive my sins and rose from the dead. I accept His forgiveness, and now I can go to Heaven someday. Do I really need to read the Bible now that I basically know it all?”

 

And that’s the question that so many of us wrestle with regularly. Why should we even bother?

 

My parents are both heavily involved in Christian radio, and that means that growing up, we always had the Christian radio station on (and usually still do). I distinctly remember being nine or ten when I was listening to a sermon on the radio and the preacher said, “Christians that do not read the Bible at least four times a week will most likely not have a strong faith.”

 

While that’s not always the case, the point stuck out to me that I wasn’t reading my Bible that often, and oh, I did NOT want to have a weak faith! It woke me up, in a sense, and I decided that I had to do something.

 

But my prompting to read the Bible didn’t just make my regular Bible-reading “happen.” I felt guiltier that I was only reading my Bible when I felt like it than I was actually motivated to read it more. I might read it five days one week, then the next week maybe three times, and the next maybe twice. My fear of having a weak faith was my motivation, and it didn’t work.

 

Want to know why? Because fear is not a good motivator. But grace is. More on this in a minute.

 

Fast forward to the beginning of 2013. I decided to make a New Year’s Resolution and stick to it. Starting in Genesis 1, I resolved to read four chapters a day until I finished the Bible. And you know what? I did it.

 

Now, don’t congratulate me – that’s not why I’m telling you. I’m telling you this because reading the Bible regularly changed my life.

 

Oh, of course I was a Christian before all this. I loved God with my entire heart and even got baptized in 2012. That was not the issue here. The issue was that I wasn’t really growing. But something stirred in my heart around 2012 – when I was twelve – that made me want to really know who God is.

 

I knew alllll about Him before. I could answer every question in Sunday school correctly. And I did love Him. I wanted to serve Him. But I couldn’t really grow in my faith until I understood for myself how much God loved me.

 

My eyes were opened in the year I was thirteen or so. Things really started to click. Through the whole Old Testament, I saw how holy and pure God is, and how sinful we are. Six hundred commands in the Mosaic law, and we broke all of them.

 

But God never gave up on us.

 

In fact, He proceeded to send His ONLY and blameless Son to take away the sins of the world. Jesus did not come to abolish the law that we broke, He didn’t come to earth to say that it didn’t matter anymore, but to fulfill it 100%. He came to show that the Old Testament Law was what God required of all people, and because we obviously couldn’t keep it, he kept it for us. He then gave up His life – a punishment that we all deserved – and paid for the sins of all mankind.

 

His perfection became ours. All the time, I hear the analogy of Jesus’ sacrifice being the equivalent of ‘cleaning us up.’ But that’s the wrong look at it. We aren’t just a cleaned up version of our sinful selves anymore, for we have been transformed. We are new creations! And only by reading the Bible can we see all these truths unfold.

 

2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

 

Day after day, I saw this truth – God’s grace is greater than anything in this world. This is what makes me want to learn more about Him. I wasn’t afraid of losing my faith anymore, I was inspired to strengthen it of my own free will.

One of my favorite twenty øne piløts songs is called Addict With A Pen. You can watch the acoustic studio version here. I love this song because it talks about how far we can feel like we are from God – but that doesn’t change how much He loves us or how He is always willing to save us and wash us with His grace.

(By the way, for all of you who appreciate poetic metaphors, the ‘water’ Tyler sings about in this song is God’s grace. The ‘sand’ is the trials of life.)

 

So, I bet you’re still wondering about the question I addressed in the opening paragraph. To be honest, it’s a good question. Why should we even read the Bible?

 

Reading the Bible shows us who God is and who we are.

 

When we see this crazy dynamic between us and God, we can appreciate His grace. Sinners in need of a Savor? That’s us. And we were saved.

 

Reading the Bible helps us discern God’s will for our lives.

 

How will we know how to live a life pleasing to God if we don’t read what He has given us? The Bible is the holy, God-breathed Word of God. It’s a gift and a how-to guide for the Christian life.

 

Reading the Bible is the way that we can grow in Christ.

 

The Bible doesn’t end with the Gospel. In fact, the New Testament only starts with it. The early Church comes together, and we are taught through the rest of the New Testament how to move forward in our faith. By reading the Bible, we renew our minds. We can be guided to love a life after Christ that isn’t of the world, but rather of the Holy Spirit.

 

Romans 12:2

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

 

I know this has been a long post. I’ll be back on Tuesday with a post explaining how to implement this into our daily lives. If you take one thing away from this 1200+ word post, take this:

 

The Bible is a gift to us. If we feel guilted into reading it, and yet have no desire to examine it for ourselves, we are looking at it wrong. The Bible is life-changing! It’s transforming and eye-opening. Let’s stop thinking of reading the Bible as a chore and start seeing it for what it is – a blessing from our Creator – we will have a whole new experience.

 

*aj