Disappointed: for when life hurts, and you’re wondering how God fits in.

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Sometimes life just doesn’t turn out the way we always thought it would.

 

Sometimes we feel like we’re left with more questions than answers – more waiting than action – more hours of crying than smiling. Sometimes, something that seemed like it would be so perfect just wasn’t.

 

That dream school – that relationship – that job – that friendship – that trip – that opportunity. When everything felt so right, so God-led, so hopeful, and nothing comes, it’s easy to become discouraged. The question is not, “God, if You’re good, why did this happen to me?” as much as, “God, when I felt like You were leading me to this place, did I hear Your voice wrong? Was I wrong to trust You for this? Are You still as faithful as I though You promised me that You were?”

 

And as I’ve been walking through this, I’ve realized a few things.

 

I’ve realized that if I make the object of my joy, my satisfaction, and my hope anything other than pursuing Jesus Christ, I’ll never find the peace in my heart that I crave, even if my circumstances seem to be exactly what I thought I wanted.

 

I want to be faithful right where I am, trusting the God that’s directing me to right where He has for me to be. Not because those circumstances are the ones I’m dreaming of – but because I will only find true joy when I’m pursuing the Person of Jesus, not because I think He’s a shortcut to achieving my own desires.

 

For where else can we find hope in our brokenness? Where else can we find grace for our weakness? Joy in heartache? Peace in the midst of missed opportunities, rejection, and despair?

Continue reading “Disappointed: for when life hurts, and you’re wondering how God fits in.”

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Grasping Onto Hope

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i.

 

Ah, hope.

 

Lately, I’ve been mulling over the puzzling question of what real hope looks like, in a world as messed up as ours is.

 

I’ve been thinking, praying, talking, and tweeting about it, and I’ve been doing my best to grasp the essence of what it truly is…and what it can look like individually in our lives.

 

Hope is beautiful, because it is the promise of faith. Not blind faith, but real, grounded, and radical faith in a world of chaos; confusion; hopelessness.

 

Hope is a form of anticipation, of something guaranteed, not just wished for, and I’ve been grappling with this too, recently.

 

Where is hope when we can’t see straight? Where is hope in depression, in heartache, in desperation?

 

Where is hope when the money is tight, when pain is ever-present, when the future seems miserably bleak?

 

Where is hope in hospitals, in nursing homes, at gravesides?

 

Where is hope in any of it? Where is hope at all?

 

What are we even hoping for?

 

I wish I could lie and say that it all gets better. It may, or it may not. But God is not any less good when He chooses not to give us everything we think we need on this earth. Our ultimate need is a spiritual one, one He took care of on the cross.

  Continue reading “Grasping Onto Hope”

Finding Security in a Messy World

Finding Security in a Messy World

You don’t need to be a genius to realize that the world is a mess.

 

I’m not a genius. I know that the world is a mess.

 

Last week, we witnessed the ISIS terrorist attack on Paris. Innocent lives slain. Families torn to pieces. Countless injuries.

 

And things like this leave us all saying, what if that was me? What if I went on vacation in Paris and never came back? What then?

 

It’s kind of scary. To think that anyone of us could be having the best day of our lives but then wind up in a hospital room, devoid of functioning limbs. Or in a funeral home, lying in a casket ready to be buried in the ground.

 

What then?

 

Tragedy is known so well to this world. There is no escape from the inevitable: death. Hurt. Pain. Loss.

 

For so many of us, we soak up reality and embrace insecurity. Kids, don’t forget to wear your SPF 1567 sunblock, hockey helmet, and bulletproof bathing suit. You wouldn’t want the chance of death on a beautiful summer day, now would you.

 

Hey, the apocalypse might come in a few months. EVERYONE, QUICK, BUY CANNED FOOD AND LOTS OF BUBBLE-WRAP WITH EXTRA INSULATED SWEATERS.

 

As much as this is ridiculously satirical, it’s how so much of us think – just on a smaller scale.

 

What if I go out to school one day and never come home?

 

What if I walk to work next week and wind up in a wheelchair?

 

What if I go to the gym tomorrow and end up dead?

 

And how can I prevent that?

 

I get it. Life isn’t safe. Every time we take a breath, we run the risk of it being our last. It’s the curse of life, and there is no reverse. Take a look at the news (or, don’t) and see all the destruction.

 

This world is messed up. Security is just about impossible.

 

But you want to know what?

 

My lack of security in my own life leads me to one of two things. Either I can roll around in freakoutishness (don’t argue, that’s totally a word) and fear, or I can put my hope in security that is greater than any threat to my human life.

 

Listen to what Jesus says here.

 

Luke 12:4

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.”

 

Our lives are but a blip on the face of eternity. If death is inevitable, eternity is even more inevitable. When this blip of life ends – and trust me, it will – we need assurance of real security.

 

This security comes from the Gospel. I wrote about it recently here, read it if you haven’t already.

 

With the forgiveness of our sins by Jesus’ sacrifice, we are given ETERNAL LIFE.

 

Also, read this one where I talk about our choice of eternity.

 

Life is super scary, I know! But we don’t need to be afraid.

 

Knowing that I’m not “safe” in this life doesn’t increase my paranoia. It challenges me to remember that worrying doesn’t fix things. It reminds me that my life is in God’s hands, and His plan is always best, even if I can’t see it. It hammers into me that eternity is honestly all that ultimately matters.

 

Significance and security go hand in hand. (Read this post here about that.)

 

The world is a mess, but this is only our temporary home.

 

We shouldn’t dwell on the insecurity of our lives, but the security of heaven when we trust in Jesus to forgive our sins.

 

So don’t be consumed with fear. It’s not worth it when our lives prove to be so short. But focus on what’s really important – eternity.

 

Where will you be in 100 years?

 

*aj

Searching For Significance? I Found It.

Searching For Significance? I Found It.

Significance.

The meaning of life. What is it?

The question we’ve all been asking since we came to the realization of what life is.

We are born, we live, we die. And in those moments in between, during the moments that we live and move and breathe, we get glimpses of joy and peace, and sorrow and tragedy. And we think to ourselves, Is this really what life’s all about?

The feelings? The pleasure? The darkness, the light?

The dreams, or reality?

These are the questions we ask ourselves.

What is morality? Truth? Is it even real?

My friends, I want to share some things with you. Things that I know we all have questioned, and things that have real answers.

We all search for significance.

No matter who we are, we all want to make our imprint in the world. A lot of us want to be famous, or loved, or rich, or successful. In essence, we want to be happy.

That’s why so many people cling to the line, “follow your dreams,” even if their dreams lead them down the wrong path.

“Follow your heart” becomes the replacement for true significance, because that’s what people think will lead them to be fulfilled.

If life ends once we die…and we only live once…then it stands to reason that we should enjoy life while it lasts, right?

Well, yes and no.

The thing is, when we pursue significance by chasing fleeting happiness, we discard the idea that what happens after we die matters. We adopt the lie that says that the here and now is what’s of utmost importance.

As a Christian, I cannot accept that.

Humans are eternal beings created by an eternal God. (More on this in a minute.)

We were all born with a craving. A craving for love, for meaning, and for hope.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that we live in a broken world.

But it does take Someone as powerful as God to fix it.

Don’t ask me why God created this world when He knew that we’d rebel against Him and mar it. Because I don’t know.

But what I do know is that His love is more powerful than our sin.

And the search for significance? We search because without God, things do not make any sense.

 

Why would things spring into existence? Let’s just say that if things could spring into existence, they’d be like cloned blobs of matter.

Why would God create a place that would doom itself to destruction?

Because He had a plan all along.

His plan was to save us, and in doing so, He showed us love.

Love is where we find our significance.

 

But not in some human relationship.

 

The only significance and meaning we will ever find is in a relationship with God, which we can now have.

 

We can know love by the grace of God and blood of Jesus.

 

I said earlier that we are eternal beings. Death is not the end; it is the gate. The gate to all eternity is opened at death, and it’s decided by what happens in our lives.

The gate to heaven is only opened by believing on Jesus to forgive our sins on this earth in order to be right with God. And the crazy cool thing is this:

What satisfies us on this earth — a relationship with God — is what grants us salvation and entrance into heaven.

 

There needn’t be any more search for significance. It’s finished.

And there is a beautiful solution.

Love has come to us. Love has won us over. And love will lead us to our eternal home.

*aj

Religion vs. Christianity

Religion vs. Christianity

A lot of people dismiss Christianity as just another religion. But it’s not. And I’m here to show you why.

(Yes, I just gave all you awesome readers an abrupt start. Forgive me, lovely lords and ladies. But please read on.)

When people think of Christianity, a lot of times they think of religion. It’s right up there with Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Mormonism, Judaism…and all those.

But Christianity? It’s not the same. Really. I hesitate to consider it a religion, even though that may be upsetting to some.

Because there is something that stands out about Christianity that other religions do not have.

Freedom and Sincerity.

 

“But Amanda,” you say, “I’m a Mormon, and I’m very sincere.”

I am sure you are. After all, belief in something is much more than just words. Saying the words “I believe” do not ensure that you actually do, for all that it proves is that you have a voice and a mind.

But freedom? I will explain that in a minute.

I’d like to point out a few things about the Christian life.

First of all, God knows we are not perfect. He knows that we are sinners and, by nature, turn away from Him.

Romans 3:23

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

But yet, He extends grace to us, at our darkest. And by receiving that, sin has no power over us anymore.

Romans 6:14

“For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”

And, in turn, we are changed from the inside out.

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.”

Did anyone hear anything about good works earning anything in there? Obligations? Our performance?

Uh, I sure didn’t.

So as I was saying, we have freedom.

Freedom from the power of sin and death over us.

Freedom from eternal life and righteous standing before God being based on works.

Freedom to live for God because of gratitude to Him for your salvation.

Not because you’re locked into tradition.

Not because Mom and Dad make you go to church so that hopefully, religion will rub off on you.

Not because you have obligations to live up to so that you’ll go to Heaven when you die.

Because of the freedom you’ve been given, sincerity springs from that.

 

And that’s why Christianity is different.

Why we look different. Why act different. Why we are motivated to live a pure and holy life.

Perhaps in the future, I’ll write some blog posts reflecting on other religions.

What I can say is this, however.

I’m not religious.

I’m a Jesus-lover, for He loved me first and pursued my soul.

I’m not living to please God because I have to.

I live to please God because it brings me joy, and the only joy that’ll ever last.

I’m not bound by obligations.

I’m set free by the love of my Creator for me.

1 Peter 2:16

“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.”

And that’s what I want to do.

*aj

What is The World’s Biggest Problem?

  

Good morning, everyone, and Happy Saturday! I hope you’ve had a good week and are enjoying the beautiful day.

This week, I had to write an essay and I thought it turned out pretty well. I had to write it in response to the question, “What is the world’s biggest problem and how would you work to solve it?” Enjoy!

What is the world’s biggest problem and how would you work to solve it?

There are many problems in the world. It is no surprise to Christians, however; we live in a fallen world. The world is full of sin, death, and seeming hopelessness. But the biggest problem in the world is not only sin. Because of sin we have this problem: the problem of incorrect biblical teaching.

What is incorrect biblical teaching? There are many ways to expand upon this question because it is such a huge issue in this world, and not always recognized. If the Bible is not taught correctly, it will not encourage thriving, growing, and real change in the life of a believer. First of all, many people believe that a Christian’s life will be easy, pain-free, or full of health, wealth, and prosperity. This is the furthest from the truth! It is not easy to live a life that will be full of persecution. It is not enjoyable to be tortured for one’s faith. However, just because a life is difficult, does not mean that it is not worth it. Because God wanted to have a personal relationship with us, His children, He promised never to leave us nor forsake us. And the eternal glory that is waiting for us — heaven for believers — is completely worth everything that we will have to endure in this world.

Another form of incorrect biblical teaching is the concept that we (as Christians) have the obligation to work hard to add to our salvation, or we will lose it. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “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.” Salvation is a gift! Because of our faith alone, we are saved. Our “good works” that we do in this life are simply an outpouring of the joy that we have, coming from the amazing free gift of salvation from God. God does not force us to work for Him, but we should desire to give Him glory because of the thankfulness that comes from our freedom from sin and death!

To solve this problem of incorrect biblical teaching in this world, I would make sure that every spiritual teacher was taught correctly. Theology cannot come solely from a book written by a respected person in authority. It must come directly from the Bible, from someone who understands the Word of God and can reflect the Inspired Truth in how they teach. Without Christians living in light of Truth, how can those who are unsaved ever come to know the Truth?

*aj