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.

Continue reading “Hope For When God’s Promises Seem to Be Hidden by Pain”

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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.

Continue reading “Why We Need to Quit Trying to Save the World”

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.

Continue reading “How to Satisfy the Human Desire for Love, Joy, and Fulfillment”

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

Peace on Earth.

Peace on Earth

 

There are seventeen days until Christmas. Insanity, people. Where did the year go? It feels like just a little while ago, I was brainstorming for names (this site was almost named Splattered Journal Pages, but hey, I changed my mind a few hundred times over it) and looking up WordPress how-to articles (thank you SO MUCH, Amy Lynn Andrews).

 

At risk of sounding cliché, I’d like to discuss a few terms in this post and the next that we throw around during Christmastime, and dig deep into their true meanings.

 

Peace on earth. (This post.)

Love.

Joy and happiness.

Good will toward men.

 

These are all great things. But instead of the deep meanings, we sometimes exchange them for cheap reflections. Instead of thinking of the peace we have with God when hearing ‘peace on earth,’ the word evokes a different feeling, something resembling hippie vans and that whole counter-culture thing in the sixties. Same goes for love and happiness.

 

Maybe you don’t associate biblical Christmas-y terms with worldly meanings. If not, awesome. But I believe that this world has been so tainted with incorrect things claiming to be right, and they really aren’t. This, my friends, is our problem.

 

I’ll start with peace.

 

According to the King James Version, Luke 2:14 says,

 

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

 

What do you think of when you envision peace?  The upside-down y-and-line inside a circle? No wars on earth ever again? The tranquility of a summer day on a lake?

 

As much as all of these things are a part of peace – none of them are the full definition.

 

We even see BABY JESUS in the little nativity scene, and say,

 

“Oh joy, what a beautiful child. It must have been a wonderful night – Mary giving birth while happily sighing, Jesus sleeping not crying, a nice warm blanket for the King of Kings, and snow dusting everything. It was a Silent Night, after all…how peaceful.”

 

But seriously, do we really think it went that way? The Bible says no such things. Labor is painful, whether you’re Mary or Mary Sue. Babies cry, because they are trying out their lungs for the first time, and can’t say “hey Mom, I’m hungry.” Jesus was wrapped in strips of cloth and placed in a feeding trough, not silk, and not in a crib. Jerusalem rarely gets snow, and with all the clamor of a new baby and shepherds visiting, it was probably far from silent.

 

If our definition of peace is based on supposed circumstances of the first Christmas, we aren’t seeing the whole picture.

 

This is real peace.

 

Romans 5:1

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

Peace with God.

 

This peace refers to the fact that we were once stained by sin and enemies of God. Through Jesus, our sins are forgiven, done away with, and replaced by Jesus’ righteousness.

 

Because our sins are forgiven, we can now have a relationship with God. The enmity between us and Him is gone. He no longer sees us as filthy sinners, but as righteous saints, bearing the image of His Son.

 

This is peace.

 

Sure, tranquility and other things can come out of having peace with God. But when we think baby-in-the-manger, we must have the right perspective on peace.

 

Jesus is the Prince of Peace. The peace we celebrate at Christmas isn’t an image of simple tranquility in the stable, but of changed lives. Jesus provided that peace for us. Peace with God was given to us by Him alone – and this is the peace that we are to celebrate.

 

Merry Christmas!

 

*aj

Bits of Advice to Turn Over Your Worry Into Trust

Girl on Lake

Lately, I’ve been thinking.

Not about anything in particular, really, but just about the future.

Everything from the coming school year to my life career, from my future marriage to my future kids, and all that. (If I told you that I also think about retirement on occasion, you’d think me mad. But to quote Alice – from Wonderland of course – all the best people are. We’re all mad here.)

What if I “fail” school this year?

What exactly am I going to do when I graduate?

What if I’m still single at 30?

What if I can’t have kids?

What if I lose my friends?

What if…what if…what if…And on and on.

Though I don’t completely consider myself an anxious person, I do sometimes get caught up too much in my thoughts. You must know, that as an introvert, I spend way too much time thinking about things and less time talking them through. This, in turn, leads to stressing over things that are completely implausible and ridiculous, but you couldn’t tell me that then if you tried.

So, as a reference for myself in the days to come and everyone else who has ever struggled with stress or anxiety (let’s face it – we all have), I’ve compiled some hopefully-helpful advice for the life ahead.

  1. No matter how many self-help books we read, or conferences we attend, or sermons we stream online, or any other resource we gather information from, there’s no better truth than the Bible.

No matter how stressed, depressed, anxious, or afraid I feel, I can always – I repeat, ALWAYS – find strength and encouragement in the Bible. Here are some of my top verses that encourage me when I’m going crazy.

Philippians 4:6-7

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.

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Psalm 55:22

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

Psalm 118:5-6

Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?

  1. God is always near to us. He has never left, and never will, and will deliver us.

Psalm 34:17-18

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Psalm 143:7-8

Answer me quickly, O Lord! My spirit fails! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit. Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.

Isaiah 41:13

For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”

It’s crazy to think of how many times we don’t pray and trust God through each aspect of our lives. Even in hardships, a lot of times, I forget that my all-powerful and all-loving Creator is on my side.

For example, I read a random fact that the average person will spend two weeks of their life sitting at a stoplight. Think about that. Can you imagine if we spent that same amount of time in prayer, turning our worries over to God? Can you imagine if we spent that same amount of time every day getting to know God better?

For me, that really puts things in perspective, because I know that I spend more time of my life all stressed out than I spend sitting at a red light. Whoa. I’m going to change that.

  1. We don’t need to trust in ourselves.

Most of my stress comes from my forgetting that I’m not the one in control. So often I think about how “I’m not going to be able to ______” or “I don’t know how ______ is going to come together” or whatever. It’s really crazy to think like this, because this burden is not for me to carry.

Read this and believe it along with me.

I’m not the one in control of my life, but I know the One who is. He loves me, and has a perfect plan all laid out for me.

It’s not all up to me.

I just need to trust, for His ways are best.

1 John 3:20

For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.

  1. Worry Time doesn’t do any good. Trust Time does.

Matthew 6:27

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

Proverbs 12:25

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.

All the time we spend in stress could be turned over into time trusting in God. Trust is soooooo much more beneficial than stress…because all of this isn’t in our hands anyway.

For me, I know that having the security of God’s promises is enough.

When we don’t trust, we are essentially saying, “God, I don’t believe that you are strong enough to handle my problems.” Ouch, right? Of course He has everything under control, even as out-of-control as it may seem.

But He’s never going to let us down or disappoint us. I find it to be such a beautiful and awe-inspiring thing that God cares so much about us to hold our lives so carefully. He can do anything, and nothing is too hard for Him!

Jeremiah 32:17

‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.

So let’s all do something together. Let’s trust in the One who has it all under control. As hard as that is, I’m surrendering my stress, worries, and anxiety to my Maker, who holds me so tightly in the palm of His hand. ❤

*aj

Guest Post – What Can I Do? – By Rachel Joy

What Can I Do

Happy Tuesday, my friends. Today we have a SURPRISE! My wonderful friend, Rachel Joy, is here to be my guest blogger for the day. She writes every Monday and Friday over at her blog, Noteworthy. It’s an honor to have her here with us today, and I hope you take the time to check out her blog! Enjoy. 🙂

I’m done!” I internally screamed, my heart beating with vehemence.

As some teenagers do, I then proceeded to turn my music up probably a little bit too loudly. What can I do?

Nothing.

So why not just sit here and listen to music probably a little bit too loudly?

Did you know that there are people who are literally dying on the streets of hunger, illness, and are being abused within an inch of their lives and then expected to put a full day of work in? Did you know there are children younger then my kid brothers who are being sold into slavery?

Which is frustrating, because really what can I do?

I would love to just fix the whole thing. But it’s not that easy.

There are kids my age who are making choices every day– both for good and for evil.

I would love to talk to all the kids who are making stupid choices and just tell them about about Jesus and the amazing life that he gives, but let’s be honest, would they listen to me? Probably not.

Which creates more frustrating problems. Because really, what can I do?

How can I fix this?

It’s a messy world. The chaos that is going on everywhere isn’t getting any less messy.

I wish I could just press this magic button. A sort of “Clear all” or “Escape” key and then everything could just be perfect.

I mean here I am, just sitting here being, like, a normal teenager in the midst of all this insanity.

What?

Here I am just watching the world fall apart and doing nothing but listening to really loud music and banging away on the poor abused keys of my laptop.

It’s so hard to realize that there is nothing I can do. There is no magic button, magic speech, no blog post I could write that could change the world.

The truth of the matter is I can only be in instrument of that God uses to fix it. I can only point and lead people to Jesus.

Which… is actually really hard. It means that you have to trust in him unconditionally. It means you have to surrender to whatever he asks you to do and that you have to fix your eyes on Him even though the road is narrow and the world is exploding everywhere.

It’s not easy. Not easy at all.

It’s not easy to keep being hopeful even when everything is crashing in. It’s not easy to believe that God is forever sovereign. It’s not easy to trust in His unfailing love and that He has a plan that is for our good.

I know that bad things happen. I also know that the world is messed up because of this ugly thing called sin. But we have hope. Jesus told us we would have trouble – in fact that’s why He died for us. He died to overcome the insanity of this world. He died to break the power of sin and death.

He died to give us peace and grace and His Holy Rest.

So that we can stand strong and lead people to Him and His rest.

Sure, it’s gonna be hard. It’s hard to think about the people who are younger then my brothers who are trapped in the chains of slavery.

It’s hard to think about my peers who are in the process of ruining the rest of their lives.

It’s hard to think about the people all across America – and the rest of the world – who don’t know about the redeeming love of Christ.

How can I fix this?

Point them to Jesus.

And know that He is sovereign- even when I can’t see it.

“It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great. You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn.”  ~Psalm 18:32-36

~Rachel Joy