Returning Again to The Everlasting Promises

Returning Again to The Everlasting Promises.png 

I’m back to the beginning again.

 

It’s funny – sometimes I think I’ve got it all figured out.

 

I write these posts, I journal, I speak, I talk with friends – and sometimes, I feel like I’ve solved everything. Like I have all the answers, and that maybe, this time, I’ll really have control of my life.

 

Ironically, however, I think I’ve got it all covered and then I struggle again.

 

I write about true identity being found in Christ and yet I find myself playing the comparison game, over and over.

 

I write about hope in pain, and soon after I find myself, once again, stumbling in the darkness, losing faith in any light.

 

I write about living in grace and the very next day I battle overwhelming guilt and shame.

 

And here’s the kicker – all this leads to is more guilt.

 

There’s a whisper in my head, reminiscent of the Serpent in Genesis 3, saying, “Did God really say His grace covered everything?”

Continue reading “Returning Again to The Everlasting Promises”

Our Only True Hope (Hebrews Bible Study: Week 6)

Our Only True Hope (Hebrews Bible Study- Week 6) 

Welcome, friends, to week 6 of the Hebrews Bible Study. Feel free to hop in any time; we’re so glad to have you!

 

Last week, we covered two main points – two to focus on, instead of the usual three-to-four.

 

*Jesus is our representative before God – and He gets us, because He Himself was human.

 

*Jesus is the source of eternal salvation. No one else.

 

And our weekly takeaway: “We are redeemed by Jesus – our mediator, our brother, our Savior.

Continue reading “Our Only True Hope (Hebrews Bible Study: Week 6)”

There Is Always Grace

There Is Always Grace

 

I’ve been really stressed out this week.

 

You’d think that for a girl who wrote about stress as the very first topic in her book, that I’d be all set.

 

But I’m not.

 

People that try to say that stress is nonexistent are wrong, because it totally does exist. And I’m wary to admit it, but stress does consume me sometimes, especially on weeks like this.

 

(I promise I won’t talk about my problems too much; I just want to give you guys some background.)

 

Most of you know that I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo this month. I was doing great, but then I had a week of driver’s ed.

 

That was all last week. Six hours a day, five days in a row, on what was supposed to be my vacation. It wasn’t terrible, it really wasn’t, but it completely sapped my energy and I wrote a total of 300 words in that entire week, when I can usually write 300 in ten minutes. A writing rut, folks.

 

*cue dramatic sighing*

 

Plus, I have some things going on Friday through next week and I’m a little frazzled.

 

Well, maybe “a little” is an understatement. But I digress.

 

The point I want to make here is that as Christians, we try to come up with all these “cures” and “reliefs” for stress, when in reality, we’re only masking the problems. Things like “believing harder” or “confessing our sinfulness” or something.

 

We’re not really dealing with the issue of being stressed, we’re just telling ourselves that we shouldn’t be. But that isn’t fixing anything.

 

Before you write me off as super-religious, vague, and unhelpful, let me attempt to explain what I mean.

 

Stress, in and of itself, is not bad. In fact, it can be helpful when trying to achieve a goal. Deadlines are beneficial, and a little extra adrenaline never hurt anyone. Stress can motivate us to just do it.

 

But the scary part comes in when we’re so overwhelmed by stress that we let it overtake us. We let our feelings consume us and blind us to the hope we have.

 

Instead of letting stress dictate how we live our lives, we can live in grace. We can know that failing does not make us failures, as I wrote about on Saturday. We can know that we are loved no matter what we do, instead of thinking that our worth is based on our performance. We can know that nothing can separate us from Christ’s love.

 

I believe that much of our stresses revolve around having to get things done.

 

For me, this week, it’s studying enough for my test on Monday, completing 6,000 more words before Saturday, and juggling life on top of that.

 

Part of me is screaming “I CAN’T DO ALL THIS!” because it probably is too much, in the first place. But the other part of me is listening to the lies that are telling me it’s the end of the world if:

1) I fail my test,

2) I don’t get 6k written by the end of the week,

3) I miss another commitment,

4) I keep forgetting to respond to my emails,

5) I don’t write one blog post,

6) I let my friends down,

7) I don’t get to read quickly through the books people are depending on me to review.

 

I have this weight that’s pulling me down, because I feel like I have to do everything, and everything flawlessly. Is that possible? No. Do I make myself try anyway, and crush myself in the process? Why yes, yes I do. Is it smart or wise? Absolutely not. Do I know this? Yes, I do.

 

So what is wrong with me???

 

I have let stress overtake me and affect my thoughts.

 

I have decided to forget the truths in the Bible that remind me that I need not be perfect. I’ve forgotten the fact that my sins, NEVERMIND MY TEENY LITTLE MISTAKES, were all covered at The Cross. I’ve forgotten that the problems of the world are not my own, that I’m not responsible for other people, that it won’t kill off the world’s population if I take a little break from blogging.

 

God’s truths of grace and love do not depend on how well I live my life. If they did, I’d be in trouble. His grace stands in the places where I need it most, and His love endures when I feel the most unlovable.

 

Maybe I’m writing this post just for me today. Maybe I’m the only one that needs to remember that stress doesn’t have to control every hour of my life.

 

Maybe I’m the only one that needs a reminder of renewed grace for each day. Maybe I’m the only one that needs to be encouraged, especially when I do fail (because I’m very far from perfect).

 

Maybe I’m the only one that needs to be reminded to do MY best, and not necessarily expect myself to do THE best. I’ll do the best I can, but not beat myself up over what I wasn’t capable of.

 

But if that’s you too, please know that you’re not alone.

 

If you’re stressed out of your mind, I won’t try to “fix it,” I’ll only say this. You are not alone. You do not have to handle everything yourself; take some pressure off. And I promise, there is always grace for you.

 

*aj

So, You Thought It Would Be Easy?

Woman on Lake

Being a Christian is hard.

Yep, you heard that right.

Maybe when you became a Christian, you expected life to get easy. And that is a really popular misconception.

See, when I was a wee little girl (I’ve always wanted to say that), being a Christian meant one thing to me: having Jesus in my heart.

Which, by the way, is the best thing that could ever happen to a person. So that little girl with the teeny little finite mind signed up for a whole new life.

A changed life. A forgiven life. A redeemed life.

And so I did. I asked Jesus to come into my heart, and it is by far the best thing I ever did.

But normally, three-year-old girls don’t get persecuted for their faith. School doesn’t come into the picture until later. Blue’s Clues is the most un-Christian show that they will watch. So in essence, the only thing that really matters when you’re a baby Christian (who is still practically a baby) is how many pictures are in the Bible storybook.

And for years, I had no idea what difficulty really was. Sure, health issues have been predominant in my family at times, but being so young, I had no idea how serious issues really were until they were over, or even years later.

But then I got older.

And I realized that life was, after all, really hard. And being a Christian on top of that made it even harder.

See, when you’re surrounded by people multiple times a week that think that the Christian music that you grew up listening to and singing is “silly religious music”, or someone comments how “innocent” you are, or condescendingly notes that you are different…it can get discouraging.

Like when you’re pressured to do things that you never would’ve dreamed of doing, and you’re ridiculed for saying no. Or when you decide not to be a rebellious teenager, and the world looks at you like you have seventeen heads. Or when you’re labeled weird or awkward because you actually enjoy Church and believe in the Bible. Or when you value modesty and purity.

And you are laughed at, because “nobody actually lives like that.” It hurts, and it cuts deep, because this is your new life…changed life…different life…life that you’ve dedicated to the Author of Your Soul…and it is really hard to hold on to what you believe.

This shouldn’t be this hard! Am I doing something wrong? Am I just not spiritual enough to block out the world?

Being a Christian should be easy…right?

Um. No.

Jesus Himself said this:

John 16:33

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

So, in this world, we will have tribulation. But in Him, we can have peace.

2 Timothy 2:3-4

“Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.”

I like this a lot, because we are soldiers of Christ Jesus. Imagine you’re halfway across the world, fighting for your country. And then imagine that some random people that live in the country that you’re fighting against ridicule you. At that point, you’d probably say, “I don’t care what you think. I am fighting to serve my country, and please the one that enlisted me, not to make you happy, a mere mortal in opposition to my mission.” Right? Does it really matter what others think of us when we are ultimately serving God?

(The answer is no.)

Romans 8:18

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

We for sure will suffer. That is a non-negotiable fact. But it wont last forever, for we have the amazing hope of heaven.

1 Peter 4:16

“Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.”

Let us glorify God when we do suffer. We are suffering in the name of Jesus – not in the name of some wacko hillbilly hippie, or some smooth-talking world peace activist, or even a good moral teacher. No, we suffer in the name of JESUS, the Savior of the world, and the Son of God. Now that I think about it…it’s more of an honor than a burden.

And do you want to know something really cool?

Promises are extremely abundant in the Bible. And they’re 100% true. Like this one.

Isaiah 43:2

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”

And this one.

Jeremiah 29:11-13

“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. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”

And this one too.

Psalm 22:24

“For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.”

What’s the main point of these amazing promises?

We are going to suffer. It’s going to hurt. And we will be afflicted, and at times it will feel like we are alone.

But we are not alone.

God is with us through it all. He has a plan for our lives, and He always hears us when me cry and call out to Him.

So, does that mean that being a Christian will be easy?

Nah. It’ll be really hard, because the world doesn’t like Truth and Light that radiates from us Christians.

But we do not run alone. For the One who created everything cares about us, and we will never be left on our own.

*aj