When God Works Through Our Nos (& believing better yeses will come)

When God Works Through Our Nos (& believing better yeses will come).png

Sometimes, it’s hard to accept that the right answer is often no.

 

That ‘no’ is better than ‘yes’ – even when it seems as though ‘yes’ is much more glamourous.

 

I’m still young, still learning, still growing – and something I’m constantly reminding myself is that yes is a good answer occasionally, but no isn’t wrong.

 

Vague, maybe, this rant of mine on two English words we utter often. So hold on for a moment and I’ll give you some background.

 

I like yes. I like saying yes to new opportunities, to traveling, to meeting friends, to taking on jobs, to doing just one more course, to volunteering my time to just one more place…

 

and yet I often forget that yes isn’t the only right answer.

 

Busy doesn’t always mean best.

 

Continue reading “When God Works Through Our Nos (& believing better yeses will come)”

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The Hidden Problem With The “Love Your Body” Message

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I remember when all the culture said was “You aren’t good enough.”

 

I remember when the only valued people were the drop-dead gorgeous ones. The actors; the models.

 

We were all told as a society that beauty meant skinny, value meant tall, worth something meant attractive.

 

And then a few years ago, the tables flipped.

Continue reading “The Hidden Problem With The “Love Your Body” Message”

Think Before “Being Yourself.”

Think Before “Being Yourself.”

 

The empowering cultural message of today is “Be Yourself.”

 

And to be honest, that’s a pretty positive idea. Don’t try to fit yourself into the mold that everyone else is already in; be authentic and not fake; be uniquely you, in only the way you can be.

 

And in a world of unrealistically photoshopped models on magazines, pressure to be at the top, and an obsession with all the glitz and glamour of fame and riches, there’s a stark comparison of ideas we’re hearing: “Be the best,” and “Be yourself.”

 

“Be yourself” is generally much healthier of a message.

 

But it’s not where we can stop.

 

See, there are two sides to this issue.

 

The first? Don’t let anyone tell you who to be, or put pressure on you to be a pseudo-version of yourself.

But the second is toxic – don’t change who you are because only you know who you want to be.

 

Perhaps the word “toxic” is too harsh, but the point remains. If we think we’re all set with no room for the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, we mislead ourselves.

 

I know this verse is somewhat out of the context of the passage, but the truth remains:

 

1 John 1:8

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

 

By nature, we’re flawed, sinful humans. By simply embracing our selfish selves, we let sinful thoughts and actions reign over our existence. I’m not saying that we’re not saved, we’re just not going to mature and become more Christlike.

 

If being yourself means being snarky and self-centered, rude and “liberated” (aka do-whatever-you-want-without-limits), then no, you shouldn’t be yourself.

 

By gratifying the natural desires of the flesh, we decide that we know better. We make the decision to reject the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives and instead, indulge in attitudes and engagements that will end up hurting us later.

 

So where does that leave us? Is it good, or is it bad to embrace who we are?

 

It’s both.

 

It’s great to be yourself. In fact, if doing so helps you to maximize your life to grow in your faith and serve God, then by all means, go for it. We all have different personalities, appearances, passions, and dreams for a reason.

 

But if being yourself gives you the excuse to express yourself in ways that stunt your growth, give power to sin, or disregard the leading of the Holy Spirit, then stop.

 

Think.

 

Before listening to the so-called “empowering” message of embracing ourselves as we are, let us look above the noise and onto truth.

 

Will our actions lead us to God, or away from Him?

 

Will we be using them to serve Him, or just ourselves?

 

Will the glory go to us after all, or to God?

 

Does this help us to become the person God has for us to be?

 

In the end, these questions can only be answered by you. What are your intentions in embracing your inner self?

 

We can either use our lives to serve God, or serve ourselves – to scream about freedom in Christ or freedom in worldly living – to listen to the Holy Spirit or to listen to the Devil.

 

What will you choose today?

 

Today, I choose to think before instinctively being “myself.”

 

*aj

A Fresh Look At Positivity

A Fresh Look at Positivity

 

In this world, we hear a lot about positivity. We hear people tell us to not let the negativity of others affect our attitudes.

 

That’s a powerful message.

 

People say that we should keep our heads up because ultimately, whatever we want in life, we’re going to have to work for. So if we want to accomplish our goals, we must not let anyone deter us.

 

We must be positive. See the glass half-full.  See the sky as always sunny. And move on from gloom as quick as we possibly can.

 

The positivity message tells us to just keep swimming, because it’s gonna be alright. Don’t worry; be happy. And I do believe happiness is good, but we should have a reason for it.

 

What I want to know is this. In a godless world, how can we be happy? How can we be positive? How can we know that life really will go on? How can we accomplish what we want to when it seems absolutely impossible?

 

Forgive me for being blunt here, but this is where I see that the positivity message cannot hold up.

 

Positivity does not offer lasting hope. But Jesus does.

 

Positivity is a form of self-empowerment: If you think it, you can do it. And that’s not all bad, truly. Sometimes the only thing we need to keep going is faith in ourselves and perseverance because we already have everything we need to do it.

 

Sometimes, when everyone around us is cutting us down with discouragement, we need to be the ones to step up and say, “Hey, look. The end is in sight. We can make it.” Pressing on toward something is valuable.

 

So the question is not, “Should we be positive?” but “How can we be positive?”

 

For me, having a good attitude by just “trying to” is like trying to sing or speak without taking a breath. Pulling the positivity card out of nowhere has no depth to it, no standing, because it becomes just words.

 

But it doesn’t have to be.

 

The missing message of positivity is this: we can have joy in every situation.

 

Philippians 4:12-13

“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

 

The secret to facing anything is doing them through the strength of Christ. That’s what gives us joy. That’s what lets us go on when things seem impossible. That’s what propels us through the times when we feel like giving up.

 

Not putting on a mask of happiness, but living it.

 

Positivity is something we can only truly grasp when we experience the joy of the Lord.

 

Nehemiah 8:10b

“And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

 

The joy of the Lord. Not the joy of nice things, a good relationship, a happy circumstance, no. This joy is knowing that we are loved. Knowing that His grace is lavished on us. The guaranteed assurance that we are new creations in Christ. Our pasts are not counted against us.

 

And we know this all because we have seen the cross. We have seen who Jesus is in the Bible. We have felt his presence in our lives. We have known His power.

 

And so the simple message of positivity just seems so shallow. “Be happy.” Okay, yes, but why should I be happy?

 

Because we are loved with an everlasting love by our Creator. We are treasured. We are provided for. We are never left on our own. And we are definitely never forsaken or forgotten about.

 

To be truly positive is about so much more than just feeling something – it’s what we can live in as Christians.

 

And that kind of positivity is the best of all.

 

*aj