Jesus may still love you, but do you love Jesus?

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“I can do whatever, I sin daily and Jesus still loves me.” Hannah Brown, the current season’s Bachelorette and self-proclaimed Christian, stated this in a preview for an upcoming episode. Luke Parker, one of the guys competing for her this season, has stated that while he is not a virgin, he is now committed to waiting until marriage for sex. And that was part of her response during what is being perceived as judgmental comments from Luke regarding her sexual decisions.

I knew early on there would be attempts to desensitize people to sex outside of marriage. To not only normalize it but also paint a picture of what the type of people that decides to wait until marriage for sex look like. There was Colton Underwood- the inexperienced virgin. Not that he was honoring God and his commandments regarding the marriage bed but that he waiting for love. I could go on a tangent about how those should be one in the same, but I’ll digress for now. Now we have Hannah- one who proclaims her faith often; one who has admitted she is not a virgin, which is fine. It’s what follows that I struggle with most.

There is a difference between not being perfect and blatantly sinning.

When we talk about the grace of God and His love for us, do we actually know what that means? God’s grace doesn’t demand perfection but His salvation does default to obedience. It was never designed to be a free pass to sin. It’s this nonchalant attitude- it’s this taking advantage mentality that makes me so sad. How would we feel if our spouse treated us the way we treat Jesus?

“Because I know she’ll still love me, I’ll cheat on her…”
“Because I know he’ll forgive me, I’ll flirt a little…”

Our hearts would break as we realize our spouse couldn’t really love us and feel that way, act that way. So what are we doing in our relationships with Christ?

“True love for God means obeying his commands…” 1 John 5:3

“Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him…” 1 John 2:4

“No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.” 1 John 3:9

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?  By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” Romans 6:1-2

How are we showing God we love Him?

I think we are quick to justify because something in us knows we are wrong. We know we messed up. But we know condemnation comes from the devil and that is what Jesus freed us from. So we fight back because we don’t want to feel condemned.

We know we aren’t perfect but the difference between Christians and non-Christians lies in our love.

As Christians, we’ve experienced the love of Christ and that love compels us to do nothing but attempt to love Christ back. Have you all noticed how easy it is to love others who consistently love us? When we don’t attempt to love Christ back, it makes me question whether or not we’ve truly experienced Christ’s love and realize what we’ve be rescued from. I’m not talking about hell right now. I’m talking about being rescued from our own selfishness and sin- our flesh. We are no match for the devil in our own strength but Christ, through the Holy Spirit, not only convicts us but helps us to overcome. That is why it is crucial we don’t throw out our convictions for the sake of ridding ourselves of condemnation.

Hannah argues that “your faith is something personal and a relationships and it’s not to judge others.” And she is right… to an extent. If you are to read the Bible in its entirety, you will see that that God judges but He also forgives, that Christians aren’t to judge but we are to hold each other accountable. On the surface, it may seem contradictory but as a whole it tells a beautiful love story.

“It’s all washed and if the Lord doesn’t judge me and it’s all forgiven, then no other man, woman… anything can judge me,” Hannah continues. Jesus does wash away our sins, but these common words surrounding being washed by Jesus’ blood comes at the critical crossover of accepting Christ’s love AND full repentance*. Unfortunately, the repentance part is often left out, thus resulting in the majority of American culture claiming to be Christian with no evidence thereof.

*The Hebrew the term (chazar b’t’shuvah) refers to turning back to God (and away from sin). You move. You change directions. You don’t continue your same patterns, same decisions. There is distinct action that follows a true repentant heart. It involves both a change of mind and a turning from sin.

The beauty of Christianity is the extent of the unfathomable love the Creator of the universe has for His children. But that love was never meant to be abused or taken advantage of. It’s impossible to say we believe and not change; it’s impossible to accept His love and not act. When we truly experience the love He has for us, we can’t help but love Him back. Jesus’ love would result in a one-sided relationship otherwise; without our love for Him, the love story never comes to fruition, resulting in eternal separation from the love that was once so easily accessible.

“For this is how much God loved the world- He gave His one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in Him will never perish but experience everlasting life.” –John 3:16 TPT

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*** 1 John is an excellent book of the Bible to study this concept more in depth. Here are a few of the passages I referenced with more context:

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah is God’s spiritual child and has been fathered by God himself. And everyone who loves Father God loves his children as well. This is how we can be sure that we love the children of God: by having a passionate love for God and by obedience to his commands. True love for God means obeying his commands, and his commands don’t weigh us down as heavy burdens…” -1 John 5:1-3 TPT

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” 1 John 2: 2-6 ESV

“You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” 1 John 3:5-10 ESV

 

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Is singleness really a gift?

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I used to view singleness as a season, rather than a gift. When you view it as a season, you see it as a period of time to get through, perhaps enjoy, but a season that will definitely end nonetheless. We focus on the duration of the season, leading us to never realize what the gift of singleness actually means, what it really offers.

We get caught up on the superficial benefits of singleness that we unintentionally miss the spiritual growth awaiting us. We interchange singleness and independence quite often. For me, it’s been a time to focus on education, career, and being free and flexible to go wherever God calls, with little concern for another human being. But when married, you have to now consider your spouse, and once you have kids, them as well. Is this perhaps what Paul was referring to when he stated it is better to remain single in 1 Corinthians 7?

Can I say yes and no- what about maybe partially? It’s been hard for me to reconcile that would be all he meant- that you can’t do what you want fully because you have others to think about now. Because I’d argue with the right spouse, it would perhaps be easier to pursue your calling than it would if you were single. I have to believe it has more to do with our spiritual state and our relationship with God and less to do with our calling and what we are to accomplish here on Earth. I think he was referencing a level higher than we are accustomed to viewing.

As we focus on God, not just because we are supposed to but because we want to, things begin to change. This process has evolved for me. It’s like when you build a relationship with anyone; you enjoy getting to know that person and spending time with them- the more you learn, the more you know, the more in love you fall. I think I’ve just recently begun a process of experiencing God in a new light.

Not that my relationship with God in the past was bad, it just wasn’t as deep.

And when it’s not as deep, I think it’s easier for world to compete- for us to slide in and out of the world, for our priorities to become tangled, for our vision to become blurred. These were the times I struggled most with my singleness- the more my early 20’s grew into my late 20’s. The times I just knew marriage was in my cards because why would God keep anything good from me if He loved me? Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart, right?

My relationship with God very real at this time but perhaps more immature than I’d like to admit.

It’s hard to know what you don’t know at this time, but I’ve always pressed forward knowing God has a plan and that He loves me. I’ve never doubted that. And I think that’s what’s helped me to remain faithful.

Choosing to live more by what I know to be true and less by what I understand at the time.

But I’m just now realizing what a gift singleness has been for me personally. I’m at a different point in my life right now- a new point- where things are just different. My desires have shifted drastically- marriage and family desires perhaps still there in the background but an overwhelming desire to experience God deeper- trumping everything else in my life.

I crave it.
Crave Him.
Talking to Him.
Seeing what He does throughout the day.
Watching what He does through me.
What He allows me to do.
How He allows me to experience Him.

My love for Him has been what’s fueled my desire to “do” for Him, that I’ve only recently began grasp how much more He desires simply to “be” with ME!

He yearns for me. Longs for me. Where I’ve known He loves me, this is so much more. It fills me in ways I can’t begin to describe. There are no words. I honestly don’t know if I would have been able to experience the spiritual growth I have been lately without this time. How would I know I love Him more than everything I thought I always wanted if He had already given it all to me? He’s changed my desires and longings away from the things the world offers and more for eternal things- more for Him.

It’s not that singleness is a gift for us to be selfish and do what we want; it’s that singleness is uninterrupted time in our lives to spend with our Savior. To spend time with Him. Grow in Him. And fall more in love with Him. And for me, I don’t really know what could be a better gift than that.

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Release: My 2019 Word for the Year

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Consistency: Faith & Family- My 2019 Commitments. That was the original title of this blog post when I started writing it in the middle of December. I was so excited I had discovered my word early and happy with how crisp and clear my goal list was becoming.

And then something happened.

The last few days in December were spent going to church. Actually multiple churches. More than usual. I was on vacation and I found myself visiting churches I’ve never been to and spent some time just enjoying God and His presence. Sometimes I get so busy. Sometimes my checklist rules me rather than me ruling the list.

Rather than me enjoying my list.
Rather than me enjoying God.

I am such a control freak. I feel like I can fix anything. And I try. I’m a huge fan of “You do your best and God will do the rest.” The problem is, more often than not, my actions show “You do your best and God will allow you to do the rest.” As if I am in charge of it. Fixing it. Solving it. I do my best and it’s done. It’s hard for me to do my best and wait. Extremely hard. But I think that is where God is teaching me, leading me lately. To understand, more fully, that I don’t have to do it all. In fact, God doesn’t want me to feel I have to either. He wants to do it. He wants me to watch and see.

Release.

I never use this word in my vocabulary. I had to make sure I even remembered how to spell it correctly. But it became so crystal clear. Stop focusing on doing. Focus on stopping.

Release.
Give it to God.
Relax.
Stop.
Let go.
Be open.
Simply enjoy His presence.
Release.

It was like a ton of bricks had already been lifted. It’s not that my passions are wrong. It’s that my methods on how to get there just needed some tweaking. I needed to remember my place. My position. My role.

I’m not someone fighting on my own. I am the daughter of the King. I have Someone that goes before me, Someone that clears the path and fights on my behalf.

I wanted to be more consistent in my quiet time. My commitments. Spend more time with God. Less time in the world. But I’ve realized many of my goals, my previous words for the year, are all by-products of letting go and letting God lead. My job is rather simple. As I spend time with Him, He directs my path, my actions, my words, my time. And that’s all I really want in life.

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Pray & Finish: My 2018 Goals  

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I’ve spent several days, actually weeks pondering my thoughts for 2018. It’s going to be a big year for me for numerous reasons. Sometimes I look back at my life and am just in awe of what God has done in and through me. It’s just so exciting to see what He has planned next. I pray you find that same excitement, that same purpose and drive- the direction. God is such a light- as long as I’m looking toward that light. That’s the key.

So let’s talk goals. My two words for the year represent this season of life for me.

Pray.

I desire so badly to grow in this area of my life. Just to spend time with God more. Just in His presence. Enjoying Him. I also want to be intentional with writing out my prayers. I pray a lot but it seems very sporadic, which is fine, but I guess I don’t take full advantage of what God really offers. I suppose if I’m being really honest, I went through a period of time of thinking some of the things I wanted to ask God for or talk about seemed so trivial compared to other things. But I’ve learned that God cares about it all- He cares about me and every little thing that matters to me. And mostly, He is a big God so I know He can handle it all. Truthfully, I think God loves it when we talk about everything with Him and He loves to make us smile.

“When I’m not in prayer mode, I have good ideas. But when I’m in prayer mode, I have God ideas.” –Mark Batterson

Finish.

This word is important to me because there are a lot of things I plan to finish this year. The big one being able to finally GRADUATE with my PhD! This has been a long time coming. Additionally, I have several studies and books I’ve started but never finished so this will be a year of finishing for me. My goal is to really dive into certain books of the Bible and understand them more deeply, rather than saying I simply read the entire Bible again this year. The following is my plan for the year so let me know if you want to join me with any of it or have questions!

Sermon on the Mount- She Reads Truth
Book of Matthew
Sermon on the Mount sermon message
66 Love Letters book- Matthew

Lent Study- She Reads Truth
The Risen Christ- She Reads Truth

Book of Hosea
Redeeming Love book
Hosea- She Reads Truth
66 Love Letters book- Hosea

Women in the Word- She Reads Truth
Woman of the Word book- Jen Wilken

Book of Ruth
Book of Esther
Ruth & Esther study book
66 Love Letters book- Ruth
66 Love Letters book- Esther
Esther- She Reads Truth

Circle Maker book study with my brother

Book of Philippians
Book of Colossians
Book of Galatians
Book of Ephesians
Philippians- She Reads Truth
Colossians- She Reads Truth
Galatians- She Reads Truth
Ephesians- She Reads Truth
66 Love Letters book- Philippians
66 Love Letters book- Colossians
66 Love Letters book- Galatians
66 Love Letters book- Ephesians

Book of James
66 Love Letters book- James
Faith Workout book

Reformation study- Desiring God

In Everything Give Thanks- She Reads Truth

Advent study- A.W. Tozer or make my own:)

Additional Books:

Wholeheartedly Singles devotional
Love & Respect book
Authentic Love book
Essentialism book
Wild & Free book

Additional resources:

Soul sessions
Porch podcasts

Miscellaneous goals:

Thankful calendar
Fitness
Guitar
No clothing related purchases *insert shocked face*
Rememberlutions- write down cool things that happen throughout the year
Write down every TV show or movie I watch to make me feel bad about how much time I waste:p I’m hoping this list won’t be too long at the end of the year!

Lastly, I’m saying “see ya” to all the unhealthy relationships. As mentioned in my previous post, this is the No Guys in 2018 year. I won’t be pursuing guys anymore. No more entertaining guys “just in case” they really have a good heart, no more making excuses for them. I know what I’m looking for and I’m not willing to settle or compromise in even the dating realm anymore. I don’t care how old I am or the fact that everyone and their mother likes to tell me my eggs aren’t getting any younger. Life is short and I’m on a mission. I’ll be providing updates on my challenges, fears, and where my time and energy goes instead (see above haha). Should make for an interesting year;)

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While you’re trying to decide, she’s already made up her mind

 

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This culture of passivity has really bothered me lately. It makes me sad and angry all at the same time. One of my friends told me his professor told the guys in the class to focus on school and that the girls will find them. Women have become stronger in a lot of ways, but that shouldn’t be an excuse for men to become weaker.

No matter how strong a woman is there is an innate desire in us to be led… taken care of… loved. And if a girl tells you otherwise she’s lying. Women have learned to put up these fronts to protect themselves from getting hurt. They are afraid to give up control to the wrong guy. And chances are, they’ve been burned. A lot. And because they are strong, they crave someone even stronger. Men, now is not the time to be passive.

Now is the time to step up. To be pursuers. Be bold. Be brave. Be intentional. Communicate. It’s okay to be unsure but it’s not okay to be silent. Never leave a girl wondering where she stands with you. Be honest. Tell her you’d like to get to know her. Tell her you’re interested. Tell her when you are busy. Tell her if something happened. Because I guarantee you her assumptions are worse than your reality. If you don’t take the lead now, how do you plan to lead the home? To be the spiritual leader for your wife and kids? These are the things she thinks about. These are the things that trump good looks and a fun personality. Passivity is not a trait we look for. And it will cause us to move on. Smart women know their worth and they won’t settle for someone who doesn’t.

Women love a man who knows what he wants and goes after it. This mentality requires so many admirable traits. So if you aren’t there yet or you don’t know what type of girl you are looking for, spend time in the Word- spend time with God and ask him to show you. Because I’m telling you right now, if you don’t, you’re going to find yourself with the wrong girl rather quickly in this passive culture of nonchalant men and forward women.

And if you pursue and she’s not interested- you move on. Because there is a girl out there who will be. You don’t cower. You don’t change your behavior. You don’t become weak. The wrong girls can’t appreciate what the right guys have to offer. So you stay focused, stay committed to becoming the man God created you to be. I’m telling you, you are rare. And you will stand out. It’s what women are attracted to. There just aren’t many of you left.

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My happiest moments in life

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I’ve done some reflecting the past couple weeks. As I’m about to turn 32, I began to reminisce, if you will, on my life. Have I lived the life I’ve wanted so far? Are there things I’m proud of? Other things I’m not so proud of? All leading to what I really want to know most- am I walking down the path I believe God has laid out for me?

As I began to write my list of things in my life that have made me happiest, I had to face the reality that some of the decisions I’m making now are not leading to moments like these at all:

  1. I remember when I was younger and in 4-H. I was at a summer camp and I was wearing a Christian t-shirt. One of the other kids asked me about it and I remember being surprised by their lack of knowledge of Jesus. I think at that age I had assumed everyone knew about Him. I begin, somewhat nervously, sharing about my faith. It ended with me asking that other kid if they wanted to pray the sinner’s prayer with me. They did. That was the first time I’d ever done that. To this day, it is one of my greatest memories.
  2. I remember someone suicidal coming and talking to me. I just sat there and listened. Praying to myself for God to show me what to do. I just listened and then I prayed with him. It wasn’t until a couple years later that he returned. He thanked me for saving his life. I’ll never forget that moment.
  3. When I know I gave someone hope. To watch their face light up like they’ve been given a second chance. I have a positivity board in my office at work where people can take a post it note with some positive word they may need at the moment; they can also make one to put back on the board. I remember someone taking one that specifically spoke to her. She came back a week later solely to write another word to put back on the board because it encouraged her so much.
  4. I put a lot of time and effort into my Instagram posts. Praying and hoping I can inspire and help others. Anytime someone comments that it was exactly what they needed, it makes me feel like I am in some way making the world a better place. That God is using my life to make a difference. Nothing could make me happier.
  5. I love to watch and see people smile. Especially when they are doing something for someone else. A good deed. A nice gift. Watching them light up because they are blessing someone else gives me hope and inspires me.
  6. Answered prayers. Every single time. When I know God heard me. When I feel His presence. When I’m reminded of his grace, mercy, love, and goodness.
  7. Peaceful moments. Nothing in particular. Just moments when I know I’m fulfilling God’s purpose for my life.

Not one these moments had to do with money. Not one of them had to do with fame. Status. Not one about a guy I thought I liked or liked me. Nothing to do with what the world may define as success. It was never about me getting something I thought I wanted. My happiest moments in life have nothing to do with chasing happiness. Rather, my happiest moments in life have had everything to do with becoming the person God created me to be and showing that love to others. It has nothing to do with me and everything to do with Him.

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My Christian books and devotionals kept me from growing closer to Jesus

 

 

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Sometimes I wonder what I would do without my planner and to-do lists. They keep me on track and remind me of the many responsibilities I am tasked with. For those that know me, know how important my relationship with Christ is. I’m always looking for new ways I can grow closer to Him and strengthen my relationship with Him. But I think I hit the point where I let my good intentions weaken rather than strengthen our relationship. I looked at my to-do list and felt so overwhelmed. Overwhelmed to the point where in fear of not being able to complete something fully, perfectly, I just chose not to do anything. Here is what my list looked like:

  • Finish reading the book of Isaiah
  • Finish reading The Lipstick Gospel
  • Do my Soul Script sessions
  • Finish my Lent Study from She Reads Truth
  • Finish Risen Christ Study from She Reads Truth
  • Journal
  • Listen to sermons

On top of that this was my list to start:

  • IF Gathering- Knowing Jesus
  • Write the Word
  • Wholeheartedly
  • Girl Defined
  • Redeeming Love and Hosea study

Studies on the way:

  •  IF Gathering- Redeemed

And my list to buy:

  • The Devo Company devotional
  • Rose and Thorns
  • Cultivate What Matters
  • She Reads Truth Bible
  • Seamless
  • An Unexplainable Life

Whoa. Are you exhausted yet? Because I am! When did my relationship with Christ become just a thing to check off of my to do list? I know it’s important to be intentional and make sure Christ stays number one in my life but do I really need to be reminded?

Finish, finish, finish. Do, do, do. When did those words replace my vocabulary of love, enjoy, renew? How would you feel if your significant other, an important relationship in your life, had to pencil you in? I’d feel like a burden and the last thing I would want God to feel like is some burden in my life. God is my life. It’s important to not let our quiet times with the Lord slip through the cracks with the worries and stresses of the day. But let’s not be so hard on ourselves that we forget to enjoy our one true love.

This past weekend I just wanted to enjoy Jesus. Spend time with Him. Love Him. Not something to check off my list because I’m some good Christian. But something to renew my faith, ignite my hope, and remind me of who I really am- daughter of the King, loved beyond comprehension, and blessed beyond measure.

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