What Are You Doing RIGHT NOW?

Friends, this life is such a short and sweet gift from God.

What are you doing right now to embrace it and spread the love of God to those around you? 

Not after your day off, not once you get your degree, not after you finish the series you’re watching, not after you get married and really settle down, and not once you make the perfect amount of money- RIGHT NOW. 

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Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.

Colossians 3:23

It’s so so easy to fall into routine, and worry about what you are doing today, tomorrow, and the day after that, and how it will best serve you. Whether we admit it or not, this creates the mindset that we will serve God on our own time, whenever is convenient for us.

Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

James 4:14

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 90:12

How beautiful is it that the Lord gives us opportunities to reach the people He created every single day. We don’t have to have special qualifications or a certain job title, all we need is the Holy Spirit and obedience.

How many people could you impact with the love of Christ if you lived for Him every single day with all you had? This life is not your own- you have been created, saved, and restored through the selfless death of Jesus Christ. What are you doing today to share that saving grace with others?

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. Do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

Galatians 5:13

I am writing this to myself as much as I am to you. We are all in the walk together as brothers and sisters. I often choose another YouTube video over reading my Bible and tend to keep my head down on my walk to class instead of actively smiling and starting conversations with others. I for sure do not have it all together- I fail time and time again. It’s easy to talk a big faith in God, and then live by your own will when you are tested.

I don’t say all this to be discouraging- quite the opposite. We have been given endless and unconditional grace and eternal life from our Creator. While this life on earth is short and unpredictable, we can have hope in a certain future with the God of the universe. He will never leave us or forsake us. If He has changed us on the inside, we must live this out with all we have. He holds our tomorrow and we can rest in that.

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So who are you talking to, cooking for, praying over, taking out to coffee, texting encouragement and truth to, and impacting for the Kingdom TODAY? What are you reading, watching, listening to, learning, believing TODAY to lead to closer to Christ?

Your life is now, and it is a gift. Use your time well to glorify God. Go share the unconditional love you have been given with everyone you encounter. Make good use of the roles God has placed you in and the platforms He has given you.

Tomorrow isn’t promised- go make an impact TODAY. 

Uniqueness: Spiritual Gifts and the Body of Christ

Happy Truthful Tuesday, friends!

This week, I want to talk about uniqueness. In our current society- especially with social media -it can be so so easy to want to live the lives other people are living. Whether it’s the job they have, their faith and walk with the Lord, or the clothes they’re wearing, comparison to our own lives is seemingly inevitable. I know I personally fall into this mindset way too often.

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But this is not the mindset that the Bible teaches. Together we are the body of Christ. In order for the body (the church) to function, we must each live out our own unique role to the best of our ability. Each one of us has been given our own spiritual gift from God himself to further the Kingdom.

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.

If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. 

Romans 12:4-8

God created us all with a unique role of the body in mind. Imagine how much we could further the Kingdom if we all dove into our roles with all we had instead of striving for someone else’s. You aren’t like anyone else on purpose. Embrace it.

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

1 Peter 4:10-11

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Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Ephesians 4:16

I encourage you guys to take a few minutes and take this Spiritual Gifts Assessment so you can best learn where God is calling you to serve. When you take the assessment, you’ll get your top three gifts, your score in other areas, as well as an in-depth explanation of how you can best use your gifts. I’ll share my results below!

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If you knew who God created you to be, you’d never want to be anyone else.

-Bill Johnson

These posts are verse-heavy because I believe that that’s where all our truth comes from. If we truly live out these verses, the results would be life-changing. I encourage you guys to write them on an index card and place it where you’ll see it every day, or set it as your phone wallpaper as a constant reminder. We’re in this together as the body of Christ- go out and play your unique role.

Comments or questions? Head on over to the contact page and let me know!

My Top Five Favorite Worship Songs and Why

Hello friends, happy Truthful Tuesday!

This week, I wanted to do a bit of a different format and share with you guys some of my favorite worship songs and why they mean so much to me. Listening to worship music can be a great way to feel and be in God’s presence, so I wanted to encourage you with my top five favorites!

  1. Running in Circles by United Pursuit 

This song is such a wonderful way to start out your worship. It’s such a simple song, but truly believing these lyrics and singing them back to God is life-changing. I encourage you to listen to this song, close your eyes and really listen to the lyrics.

“So I come, Lord, I come, I come, Lord, I come
To tell you I love you
To tell you I need you
To tell you there’s no better place for me than in your arms
To tell you I’m sorry
For running in circles
For placing my focus on the waves, not on your face
You’re the only one who brings me peace”

 

2. Great Reward by Tim Timmons 

Tim Timmons has been battling an incurable cancer for the past ten years, and as he and his wife were thinking through how they would tell their children, he began asking the question, “What if God is enough for me and my family?”. From this struggle, he wrote this song. It’s all about how God is in control over everything, no matter what we’re going through. He is God, we are not.

“Help me to know You are God, I am not
Remind my soul You’re in control.
Praise to the Father
With every breath I take
In joy and sorrow
All for Your kingdom’s sake
Be Thou my vision
Be Thou my hope restored
Now and forever
You are my great reward.”

 

3. O Praise The Name by This Hope 

Specifically, this version is my absolute favorite. This song is all about the death of Jesus and how He rose again. Because of this, we get the chance to give Him all the praise He deserves. This arrangement is by a group of men, and it is just so powerful to me to hear all of their voices together.

“He shall return in robes of white,
The blazing Son shall pierce the night.
And I will rise among the saints,
My gaze transfixed on Jesus’ face.”

 

4. Speak Life by TobyMac

Okay, so if you grew up in church, this one is a total throwback. However, I think it carries a vital message. We have the power to influence people with our words for better or for worse. Our words have the power to impact people for the Kingdom, and it is crucial that we take every opportunity to speak life.

Whether you’re going to work or hanging out with friends, it’s a good idea to play this song to get yourself in the right mindset.

“Lift your head a little higher,
Spread the love like fire,
Hope will fall like rain
When you speak life with the words you say
Raise your thoughts a little higher
Use your words to inspire
Joy will fall like rain when you speak life with the things you say.”

“In every encounter, we either give life, or we drain it. There is no neutral exchange.”

Brennan Manning

5. Different by Micah Tyler 

“I’m finding out that sometimes the best question is not, “Jesus, can you change these things around me? but instead, “God, can you change me so that I handle things you’re walking me through?”

Micah Tyler

I believe this song says it all for itself. Please please please give it a listen.

“I don’t wanna hear anymore, teach me to listen
I don’t wanna see anymore, give me a vision
That you could move this heart, to be set apart
I don’t need to recognize, the man in the mirror
And I don’t wanna trade Your plan, for something familiar
I can’t waste a day, I can’t stay the same
I wanna be different
I wanna be changed
‘Til all of me is gone
And all that remains
Is a fire so bright
The whole world can see
That there’s something different
So come and be different
In me”

 

Thank you all for reading this week’s post! My prayer this week is that God would use these songs to truly transform you. As always, head on over to the ‘Contact’ page with any questions or comments!

Have a wonderful week 🙂

JOY: Jesus, Others, You

Happy Truthful Tuesday friends! I hope that you are all having a wonderful and meaningful week so far.

(Read to the end to take a quick 4 question feedback survey!!!)

In a world that seems to have a new breaking news story each day, it’s safe to say that we are all searching for a source of joy. Whether it’s other people, puppies, travel, or a good coffee, everybody wants something that will keep a smile on their face. It can seem like a never-ending cycle of searching, and these things of the earth will never truly satisfy us.Image result for joy

So how do we find true joy that will never fade away?

A few years ago, my church did a sermon on this topic, and it’s something that’s stuck with me ever since. When we put our life in this order, only then can we truly find never-ending joy.

J– Jesus

O– Others

Y– You

Jesus:

Jesus is our source of unconditional joy, and when we put Him first, nothing can stand in the way of that. Because of Him, we have been given eternal life- a joy that will never fade away. Material goods and other people are fleeting. Focusing on the eternal life makes drama and the hardships of this life become smaller and smaller.

Jesus is also our role model, so keeping Him and the Father at the center of our lives is the only way we can truly be like Him. He makes us whole. He will provide.

Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1:8-9

Others:

When Jesus came to earth, He came to serve others. His entire life as a man was lived to lead others towards eternal life, and to die for the sins of all. As followers of Him, we get to share this same light with every single person that we interact with. Like Jesus, our purpose on earth is to love others well for the sake of the Kingdom.

Man was created in the image of God Himself. Serving others is serving God’s people. This might mean stepping outside of your comfort zone so that others can see the light of Christ through you.

You were saved to serve.

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

Galatians 5:13

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Hebrews 13:16

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2

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Loving God and others is not only a “good idea”, but it is Biblical truth. As we see in the verse below, they are the two greatest commandments.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.

Mark 12:30-31

You:

While thinking about yourself comes last, it is still a very crucial step to take. To love God and others above all else, we must make sure that we are feeding ourselves with truth from the Word. The Bible is where we get to see what Jesus commanded and how He lived. We can then take this wisdom and use it to serve God and His people.

When we are truly standing firm in our faith, we can pour out into others.

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

Joshua 1:8

The Bible is full of God’s promises, and this should bring us joy! We can know that no matter what the world throws at us, the Word of God stands true through the ages. What He has promised us cannot be taken away. We can set our eyes upon these promises and find peace and true joy.

We are not alone.

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.

Exodus 14:14

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14

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Now, this doesn’t mean that life will be easy. We will still face pain and hardship every day. The difference lies in where we set our eyes. Through our faith in Jesus, we are given eternal life with Him, and nothing and no one in this world can take that away from us!

We are set free that we may have gladness not based on circumstance. He has broken our chains and set us free from the pain of this world. We can find joy in His promises, knowing His love will never fail.


As always, head on over to the ‘Contact’ page with any questions or comments you may have.

I have created a quick 4 question survey to get some feedback from you guys about my blog, so please click here to fill it out!

 

What Influences You?

Hello friends, it’s been a hot minute!

I want to apologize for not posting on here for a while, however,  I want these posts to be authentic and what I feel God has truly placed on my heart.

This Summer, I’ve been taking an online class about social control. Social control is all about the forces that influence you to be who you are. For my final project, I have to write an 8-10 page paper on the social forces that have control over me, and it’s been such a wonderful opportunity for me to share my faith with my professor, as my relationship with God is a top influencer for me.

As I’ve been writing my paper, it’s really gotten me thinking about two major questions: Is what I say I am influenced by truly influencing me, and what influence am I having on others?

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I think that it can be easy to say that you are influenced by what you wanted to be influenced by. Like sure, I can write that God is the number one influencer in my life, but am I living out that truth daily? Am I holding myself to His standards rather than my own or the world’s? Am I going where He calls me no matter what I feel inside?

With everybody’s thoughts and emotions easily in front of you with the click of a button, it would be more than impossible to say that the world has no influence over us. The question is, what voice is the loudest to you? Are you feeding yourself daily with the Word so that you are able to distinguish what is the truth? 

My son, keep my words And treasure my commandments within you. Keep my commandments and live, And my teaching as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; Write them on the tablet of your heart.

Proverbs 7:1-5

Our number one job as Christians is to live as Christ lived and to be a light to every single person that we interact with. So what influence do you have on others? Do they know you as the friend that’s always complaining? Or the one who strives after money and material items? Or are you the person in their life who’s always going above and beyond to serve others?

For me, growing up until not that long ago, I was the friend that was always scared and anxious about a lot of things, and I missed out on a lot of opportunities. That was not painting a true picture of the one who saved my soul and commanded me not to be afraid because He is holding me.

 You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:13-16

There is going to be a direct correlation with what influences you, and how you influence others. What you take in is what will come back out.

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As you guys go through the rest of your week, I encourage you to prayerfully consider what influences you, and what influence that you have over others alongside me. We have the ability to influence people for the Kingdom. Make sure you are taking every opportunity. Be in the Word daily. That is the only way to obtain the truth.

As always, if you have comments or questions, head on over to the ‘Contact’ page! I’d love to talk with you guys and hear your thoughts and how God is working in your lives.

Have a wonderful week!

 

 

Let’s Not be a “What can Church do for Me?” Kind of Generation

Picture this:

You settle into your church seat with your church cafe coffee in hand and sway along to the music because you’re too busy drinking it. (You don’t like the setlist that week, so there’s no way you were going to sing along anyway.) During the sermon, you wait for the verses to be up on the screen because you didn’t bring your Bible to take notes. The game’s on at 1:00, so you and your family dip out during the closing worship set. Check the box- you did church that week.

Is it that far off from the truth?

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We live in a generation where we want to know what church can do for us. There has to be free coffee, good music, and a hip, young pastor, and if the message hits home too much, we don’t want to hear it.

If you call yourself a Christian, you ARE the church. You are a part of the hands and feet of Christ. You are needed to grow His kingdom. The church is not a separate group that puts on a show every Sunday.

This concept of consumer-driven church is one that has been bothering me for a long time, and I don’t think anyone is immune to the mindset- we have to make a conscious change not to fall into it.

Here’s How:

1. Fully accept what Christ has done for you. When we accept Christ, He makes us new and radiates from us. This transforms our desires and how we see the world. We were born to serve others and to love God with all that we are.

He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds, we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5

2. Be in the Word. God has given us His directions for living and interacting with each other. We have the ability to see how the early church worked, and bring our culture back to it.

3. Go out and serve. Get connected with service opportunities at your church! Church is not just confined to a building. As the hands and feet of Christ, we have the ability to go out and serve others and testify of His love. Take advantage of this beautiful opportunity.

Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

Matthew 20:28

4. Be in community. Surrounding yourself with other believers helps align your heart with the will of God. We were made to need community. This can be getting involved with a Bible study or starting a text group to share prayer requests and encouraging stories.

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

1 Corinthians 1:10

We were made for much more than just simply living. We were made in God’s image, and our only goal, while we are on earth, is to make Him known. Go out and change the world for His glory!

Have questions or comments? Head on over to the ‘Contact’ page and let’s talk!

 

 

Change is Gradual, Not a Race: Guest Post by Jessica Sawaya

Change- it’s scary, difficult and brings out all kinds of emotions in someone: fear, excitement, joy, sadness, etc. Everyone goes through it, in all sorts of sizes, from microscopic change to more extensive change- it’s simply complex. In the last couple of months, I’ve personally gone through various changes, the biggest one has been moving halfway across the world for college and let me tell you, it’s been one of the hardest changes I’ve had to adjust to yet.

I grew up in a city called Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE is located in the Middle East, and Abu Dhabi is the capital city right next to the more well-known city of Dubai. I lived there for the majority of my life, 17 and a half years, to be exact. It’s a place that is so dear to my heart and I am grateful to be able to call it home.

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I may be quite biased with what I say next, but Abu Dhabi is one of the most unique places to be and being a part of such a diverse city is what made my experiences and more specifically, my walk with Christ, such an influential journey. The friendships I have made, the different cultures I’ve gotten to learn about and even partake in have taught me so much about people’s viewpoints on the world, how to love others as Christ would, and just simply having that opportunity to be a light to people who don’t know Him personally. While those had been some of the highlights, knowing that my time in such a place was running down the clock every second of every day, knowing this chapter was coming to an end and a new one about to begin, made me fear the unknown even more.

My final day came, and there are no words to even begin to describe how I felt, but one thing I could say was that I was NOT mentally prepared, in the sense that it didn’t feel like it was going to be my new reality. I just saw it as another summer away from home. Even though I had been talking about it with my family, friends, and God for months and months before, it just never sunk in and it was also me denying the change in a way. But who wouldn’t? Leaving the comfort of your home and the only place that you have known your entire life is terrifying and a huge transition that your mind needs to take in.  

Fast forward to the first couple of months living in the US, I tried to deal with the change right away. I kept looking at the positive things and would not even let the slightest of homesick feelings creep in. Of course, it happened a couple of times but just for a few minutes and never more than that. I submerged my feelings so far down and I rarely talked about it with God either. I was still in denial and refused to let the change and emotional roller coaster take its turn. Personally, I was in the honeymoon period, where all this change was so new, fresh and exciting. Don’t get me wrong, it was how I was feeling; however, that is all I let myself feel.

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Eventually, those pushed down feelings started making its way up to the surface and one night, I decided to look through my memories from back home and that is when I just completely broke down. I felt defeated, heartbroken, weak and above all, disappointed. I cried and cried and cried and couldn’t stop. I asked God why I felt so much pain and why I was hurting like this. I had just made amazing friends here in college, I found a church that I truly felt a part of and I was growing rapidly in my relationship with Him. I just didn’t understand it.

I remember one Sunday at church; the sermon was about carrying all this external baggage and how that can hold us back from the life God wants to fulfill for us. More specifically, when we have baggage, we should not carry it alone, we need Him and also the church community to share it with. The verse that was given with this message was:

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 6:33

When we seek God and acknowledge His goodness, graciousness, and glory (what I call the three g’s), He will provide all that we need to get through our trials, it could be at times where we least expect it. And that is when my mindset started to change and I allowed myself to open up my heart to every emotion I was feeling. I started talking more about it with my parents, siblings, friends and I definitely opened up to Jesus about it. In those times of talking to Him, He taught me something significant through the chorus of a song called “Seasons Change” by United Pursuit and has been on my mind ever since:

“Though the seasons change, your love remains.”

Even though every season of life has its changes, Jesus remains faithful and His love for us NEVER CHANGES. His character stays the same regardless of what goes on in our lives, prosperous or dry seasons, and that to me has been one of the prominent reasons to why I do not fear change nearly as much as I used to, because His steadfast love for me is sufficient enough to prepare my heart, mind, and soul for the next changes in my life. There has also been a couple of verses that have stuck with me through the times where I’ve experienced various changes, here are a few of them:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 

Hebrews 13:8

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.

Lamentations 3:25

Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Matthew 6:34

Cast your burdens on the Lord, and he will sustain you.

Psalm 55:22

These verses emphasize the promise that God has our path all mapped out for us and that we need to persevere and remain patient through times of uncertainty and the unknown. Also, we should not carry the hardships that come with change on our shoulders and on our own strength because no matter how hard we try, it will never be enough.

So even though I have transformed my mindset about one of the biggest changes in my life and I have been able to work through it, I still struggle, stumble and fall down because I am still human, a human being that continuously sins and is broken. Although this time, I have accepted God to pick up some of the heavy burdens of change and do not lean on my own strength. Also, I remind myself that I am not alone in this and I want to remind everyone reading this that you are not alone either. There will be times when experiencing changes in life, that you may feel exhausted, depressed or burnt out, and that is okay! BUT do not bottle it up and seclude yourself. Talk to someone about it: a friend, your pastor, youth leader, and above all, open up to God about it! He hears you, loves you so much more than anyone else on this earth will ever be able to and He will provide in His perfect timing. The last important reminder that I want to speak about is do not treat change as a race. Change is not something you can accomplish overnight, it is not a “how fast can I settle in” type of deal, and it is not a task checked off on your to-do list. It is a process, more specifically, it is a gradual process. It takes time and as agonizing as that could be to be patient, it is a fact that needs to be accepted.

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I want to reassure you all that change is still hard and all these things that I tell you will not completely prevent the circumstances of change but if you can set your mind on God himself and abide in Him, I can guarantee that the way you portray the concept of change will be quite different, as it has for me. I want to end with this verse that always keeps me encouraged and hopefully will do the same for all of you too:

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

John 15:7


Thank you all for reading, and thank you to Jess for sharing her story with you guys! As always, if you have questions or comments, head on over to the ‘Contact’ page. If you have any questions for Jess, send them to that page and I’ll be sure to pass them on!