my story isn’t over yet.

 

My Story Isn't Over Yet.

My story isn’t over yet.

 

I gently ink these words onto my left forearm, pen gliding along my skin, the letters coming out with lines and loops.

 

The words echo in my head, bringing me peace and hope that wasn’t there before.

 

It isn’t over for me –

 

I mark a semicolon on the edge of my wrist.

 

I know the One who holds the pen to my story.

 

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Celebrating Life (with LIVE RECORDED SONG + annual survey)

Celebrating Life (with LIVE RECORDED SONG + annual survey).png

I absolutely, positively, love life.

 

Not that it’s easy, or pain-free, or pleasant all the time. It’s not.

 

But after a long string of posts about God feeling so far away, and finding hope in pain, and saying no, and inadequacy, and doubting God’s promises, and searching for meaning – I think we need a post on celebrating life.

 

Sometimes we wake up in the mornings, with a to-do list a mile long, a mess to clean up, and stress to deal with – and it’s honestly rather difficult at times.

 

But what if we decided to wake up with joy?

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Christmas is Here (& a little break too)

Hi there, friends.

 

It’s crazy how fast time flies – here we are again, and it’s Christmastime once more.

 

Just wanted to post a quick note to say that you probably won’t see any posts until January. We all need a break every now and then, and one especially to keep our focus on Christ as things become busy and stressful.

 

I hope you all get a chance to truly feel the love of Christ this Christmas. We’re so often fixated on the packages, the food, the company, the hustle and bustle – and yet, there is One who is far more significant than these trivial things we fill the season with. There is a peace, a love, a goodness, and a joy that far outweighs the cheap thrills we get from our society’s hightly commericalized Christmas.

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Hope For When God’s Promises Seem to Be Hidden by Pain

hope-for-when-gods-promises-seem-to-be-hidden-by-pain

Often, I’ll look around me and see those people that just seem to have everything so together.

 

Whether online or face to face, there are always those people that simply seem to have life down. They’re walking around, living life, and gently saying things like, “Oh yes, I trust God,” and “Of course I can feel how much God loves me,” and “I am so content, no matter what.”

 

And seeing those people like that…it’s so inspiring, yet oftentimes so intimidating.

 

Because it’s easy for us to say, or at least for me to say, “I trust You, God,” when life is simple.

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Why We Need to Quit Trying to Save the World

why-we-need-to-quit-trying-to-save-the-world

Can we stop trying to change the world?

 

Listen close, for just a second.

 

I say: The world doesn’t need fixing, because it’s already been done.

 

I don’t mean the world’s perfect. I don’t mean the world’s not broken – just look around, steady your eyes on a little slice of the pain and you’ll be convinced in an instant that something’s sorely wrong, sucked nearly dry of hope.

 

But there is something greater than the brokenness that we see – something higher, bigger, more powerful than the messes we create for ourselves.

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How to Satisfy the Human Desire for Love, Joy, and Fulfillment

how-to-satisfy-the-human-desire-for-love-joy-and-fulfillment

Humanness.

 

There’s something so interesting about being a human being, living in this seemingly endless series of experiences and emotions, events and times of extreme joy and extreme pain.

 

Life is so beautiful, and so fragile, and we can be so sensitive to all of it.

 

I know I am.

 

I’ve noticed this pattern in myself and those around me, of being caught in this awkward middle place of knowing that the Christian answer is that only Jesus can satisfy me – and yet still chasing after these things that I’m sure will bring me happiness.

 

Because deep down, we all have these intrinsic desires in our hearts. And they’re not wrong at all. Unlike Buddhism, which says “All life is suffering, and suffering comes from desire; therefore, rid yourself of desire,” I say, no, we should keep on desiring.

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The Bible Is Not A Burden: 3 Truths About God’s Word

The Bible is Not a Burden- 3 Truths About God’s Word

One thing I’ve found quite odd in the Christian community is the mindset that reading the Bible is a chore.

 

Think about it. When was the last time most of us thought about reading the Bible – maybe the first thing that pops into our heads is Old Testament law – and thought, “Wow, this is such a great thing to read!”?

 

As hard as it is to admit it, I often have thought that way.

 

It took me until I was twelve or thirteen to really grasp the significance of the Bible, and practically only this year have I found such comfort, peace, and joy in studying it.

 

But we Christians so often treat God’s Holy Word like it’s a burden to read.

 

Because I’m an avid reader, I often have a book on hand that I’m into and want to read. Many times, I’ll read the Bible on my Kindle, where I have a lot of other books. While knowing full-well that I am here to read the Bible, to spend time with God and study His word, I get distracted and start thinking about what happened in the last chapter of that new novel, or how it’s going to end, or how the characters are going to make it out alive. It’s sad for me to admit it, but so many times, I’m so engaged in a fictional world that I forget how life-changing the Bible truly is.

 

I think our attitudes towards the Bible come from the misconceptions we harbor toward the Word of God. The misconception that the Bible is just life’s rulebook, one we must obey or else face the wrath of our iron-fisted God. The misconception that the Bible is just another classic book – dusty, hard to read, and irrelevant.

 

They’re not true.

 

And here, I would like to share with you three truths about the Bible to help us avoid the “duty” mindset.

 

  1. The Bible is Powerful.

The Bible is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It’s not just a book written by people who lived thousands of years ago and thought they were important. It was written by God, through humans just like us, whom God decided to use. Not because they were special, but because they were willing.

 

This means that the principles in the Bible are timeless. The Gospel does not change. Jesus, the Savior of Paul, is the same Savior that we place our faith in today. We pray to the same God that Martin Luther prayed to, and Moses prayed to, and George Washington prayed to, and Mother Theresa prayed to. We see all these people as amazing; and yet they were just vessels that were used by God through their relationship with Him.

 

  1. The Bible Encourages Us.

When I’m depressed and discouraged, I can find no distraction big enough to fix me. I can find no motivational quote inspiring enough to get me through. But the Scripture can. Scriptures that remind me that I can have peace, no matter what. Scriptures that remind me that I am never forgotten or forsaken. Scriptures that remind me that I am lavished in love, and it has nothing to do with me.

 

Now listen, I’m not trying to say that simply reading the Bible is the end-all-be-all of depression, anxiety, or any other struggles. Simply reading does nothing, for truly knowing God is the key.

 

By reading the Bible, we get to know God. We get to understand the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We get to know that the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives inside us (Romans 8:11). We get to be acquainted with the fact that no matter how we perform, no matter what happens to us in this life, no matter the depths of despair, we can have hope.

 

The rest of the world cannot have this hope because it is supernatural. Only in the Bible can we truly know the hope of Christ – His love, His grace, and His joy regardless of our circumstances (Romans 5:2-5).

 

  1. The Bible Leads Us To Maturity.

Let me be straight-up here – there is no greater book pertaining to our faith than the Bible. No other book that is the standard of absolute truth. There is no other book with concepts that stand out in different ways to us every time we read them. To forsake the Bible as absolute truth is to reject maturity.

 

What do I mean by that?

 

I simply mean that if we want to grow in our faith, we must move past the elementary doctrine of Christ (Hebrews 6:1) and get over the emotions. Faith is more than a feeling; it is a choice and it is assurance of our hope (Hebrews 11:1).

 

When we read the Bible, our faith is strengthened. The Holy Spirit works in our hearts and reveals things to us that we haven’t seen before.

 

As for growing, we grow in grace (2 Peter 3:18). By studying the Bible, we can begin to comprehend what grace looks like and why it is incredible. We see that in our darkness when we did not deserve forgiveness whatsoever, our sins were paid for.

 

The more we read, the more we understand. The more we understand, the more we want to get to know God better. And the more we will.

 

Let’s stop looking at the Bible like it’s a burden, a chore, or a hassle.

 

Instead, let us see it for the blessing that it is – the offering of hope in the midst of our crazy lives.

 

*aj

 

 

See Also:

 

Why Should I Read The Bible?

 

How to Read the Bible {effectively spending time with our Heavenly Father}

Independence: The Good and the Bad

Independence- The Good and the Bad

 

I caught myself the other day thinking something I tend to say a lot.

 

“I’ve got it.” I say it when I’m trying to do something on my own. I say it when I’m trying to take the burden off someone else to do something. I say it when I’m trying to handle something on my own. I say it to be independent.

 

And in this world, independence is such a thing that’s admired. That somehow by doing whatever we want because we’re strong and free, we are superior people. It’s a message that gets pushed and shoved in our faces – You can do it; don’t let anything stop you. You don’t need help.

 

And for some, this is an empowering message. An inspiring one that keeps us going on, knowing that we don’t have to give up. But it soon turns into a dangerous message, and here’s why.

 

The “just do it” message only works if you can do it. That is, if you’re capable.

 

And being human as I am, I’m not capable of everything. I collapse under stress. I don’t have perfect faith. I’m tempted at times. I stay home alone for one afternoon and find that OH MY GOODNESS WHAT WOULD I DO WITHOUT MY FAMILY. (I love you, family.)

 

Frankly, I live needing help. But we were meant to be this way. In needing help, we allow ourselves to be dependent on God, and we do not need to suffer alone.

 

Hebrews 4:15-16

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

 

Jesus sympathizes with us because He experienced everything we do. He was tempted. He experienced pain – He was crucified, for crying out loud! To think that we must always be independent is to deny the strength and peace that He offers.

 

Check this passage out as well.

 

Philippians 4:4-7

 

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

I like being independent, I really do. But I know I can’t always. I’m not perfect, nor should I try to be. It’s a good thing to lean on God, to rely on His strength. It’s a good thing because He has no capacity to fail. He will never leave, never stop loving us, never give up on us.

 

No matter what we do, we are loved and cared for. Our bad choices are not counted against us. And even when we doubt, God proves Himself to us.

 

Instead of chasing independence, let’s chase the One who gives us true freedom to rest in Himself. Because that’s the most freeing thing of all.

 

*aj