Stepping Out Of The Boat…
It’s been awhile since I have written anything. I like to tell myself it’s because I have been busy and my new job made my schedule difficult. But, I know that isn’t all true. My new job has kept me busy, but I still could have written my blog if I had made time for it. The truth is, I let fear overtake my thoughts and stand in my way. I know God has put it on my heart to write a blog, and I know he will provide a way for that to happen.
The past few weeks I have had several different blog ideas in my head. I even started a few, but I was easily distracted and found other things to do instead of focusing on what God has asked me to do. As I was thinking about writing my blog this week, I had a totally different topic in mind that I have been thinking about for a while and will definitely be a blog in the future. But I woke up this morning and really questioned myself as to whether or not I would “find time” to write my blog today.
As my thoughts wandered and I tried to go back to sleep at 6 am, I started to question myself. “Find time, really? What is taking up all of my time that I can’t sit down and write a blog that I know God has asked me to write? Taking a Sunday nap, playing my games on my phone, scrolling through Facebook, watching my tv shows?”
I really began to think about what is keeping me from writing, and I decided it is being at my new job. But not because I don’t have the time, it is because of fear of what people think. I am in a new place and I want people to like me. I don’t want to offend anyone. I share my blog on my Facebook page and the more friends from my new job I have the less time I seem to have to write my blog.
As I was thinking about this and fear, I thought of Paul when he walked on the water.
Matthew 14:25-31 NIV
“Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
I’ve always loved that story and thought how amazing it would be to have faith enough to step out of the boat onto the water. One of my favorite songs is by Casting Crowns it says;
Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I’m in
Onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He’s holding out His hand
But the waves are calling out my name
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I’ve tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again. “Boy, you’ll never win!”
“You’ll never win!”
The thing is, I did have enough faith to step out on the water when I started my blog. When I was confronted by people who didn’t like what I was writing or when concerned friends said to me, “You could offend someone and lose your job.” I responded with complete and total faith in my God. So, what happened? I, like Peter, “saw the wind” and took my eyes of Jesus. I lost my faith and began to sink.
I didn’t lose my faith in God, I just got caught up in the world around me and took my eyes off my compass, my grounding point. The longer I was away from my blog the easier it was to not be able to, “find time”. But I called out to Jesus and he pulled me out of the water.
The chorus of the Casting Crowns song “Voice of Truth” says
But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, “Do not be afraid!”
The voice of truth says, “This is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth
I think every time we do what God asks us and it takes us out of our comfort zone we are taking that step of faith and walking on water. The key is to keep our focus on Jesus and not get caught up in the world around us.
I’m just a Small Town Girl…Stepping out of the boat I’m in.
I was having a conversation with a friend this week and she said one of the things she struggles with is, she wants big neon signs from God telling her the answers she is looking for. I often feel the same way. I want a clear and concise answer from God. But God doesn’t work that way.
It’s not that God doesn’t give us answers. God always gives us answers. I think that most often the problem is that we don’t get the answers we were looking for, so we look for a different one or try to create the results we want. God’s answers are yes, no, or wait. And if you’re anything like me, only one of those answers is the one I am looking for. When I pray and ask God for something I want Him to provide it for me. I don’t want to wait, I don’t want God to say this isn’t for you. Sometimes I feel like I get angry and think, “God you don’t know me! You don’t know what I need!” But if God doesn’t know me or know what I need, then who does?
I have realized as I have grown in my Christian walk the closer I am to God, the more I get to know Him, the clearer I see His answers. I have also found, that when I don’t get the answers I am looking for, I am able to accept the answers even when I don’t like them. My faith has grown, and I have learned to trust God completely. He has always been faithful and followed through and provided me with more than I need. And even when I have struggled through situations, he has always been faithful in meeting my needs with something better than I could have imagined.
I think the devil uses what we think is God not answering to create doubt in our minds. When we have doubt in our minds, it makes us not trust God and lets the devil into our minds. Doubt can create so much chaos in our lives. We stop trusting God and try to do our own thing. I don’t know about anyone else, but that never works out well for me.
I found this story about doubt recently (adapted from Inspirational Short Stories About Success and Happiness Verusha Singh/Virend Sigh):
One day the devil decided that God had received too much good publicity and he too deserved some publicity for the work he does to make this word an interesting place. He called a major TV news network and, after identifying himself, he arranged an interview.
For the interview, he transported a report and camera crew to Hell and gave them a tour of his “Art Gallery.” His gallery didn’t consist of elements of great art. Instead, his gallery was made up of many rooms varying in size, each one dedicated to a specific item of interest. In one room were piles of gold on a marble table, stacked to the ceiling. “This is my greed room” the devil said, “Greed is one of my most favorite tools.”
Moving to the second room, the devils showed the reporter and his crew a group of men and women enjoying themselves in a cocktail lounge. “This is my infidelity room,” the devil claimed, “This is a place of temptation for many, especially when they are away from home.”
The devil continued the tour of his gallery, proudly presenting rooms with many different vices, drugs alcohol, and many other destructive and harmful items and lifestyles.
Finally, the news crew care to the last room. The devil paused and said, “Herein lies my greatest tool. With this tool, I can accomplish more evil than with all the other tools at my disposal. In fact,” the devil gloated, “without this tool the other tools would not be as effective.”
Excited to see what could be behind this door, the reporter and his crew moved closer to the door and prepared for some amazing footage. The devil opened the door triumphantly. It was a small, plain, room with a small pedestal positioned in the middle and spotlight highlighting a small item on top of the pedestal.
The news crew was greatly disappointed, for it appeared what was on the pedestal was a common door stop. They moved closer to inspect the item, sure they had missed something. As they moved closer they saw a small wedge-shaped object that was very similar to a doorstop.
Bewildered how this common everyday object could be the devils greatest tool, the news crew turned to the devil searching for an explanation. The devil cunningly smiled, “This is the wedge of self-doubt. With it, I can shatter a person’s self-image. I drive this wedge in the back of a person’s mind between their abilities and what is truly possible for them, then I can completely destroy that person. In fact, I use this tool every day to destroy millions of lives.”
I think the devil revels most when he can drive that wedge into our minds and sperate us from God. The best time for that to happen, is when we don’t see our neon signs.
I’m just a Small Town Girl… Living in a world without neon signs.
This has been an emotional week for me and another week of learning just how far I have grown as a Christian and in my faith and trust in God. The beginning of the week my mom called and told me my almost 90-year-old grandma, who is a strong Christian woman was in the ICU with the flu and pneumonia. I was so saddened by this news.
My grandma lived less than a mile from me growing up, but I didn’t get much of an opportunity to spend time with her or my grandpa because of religious differences between my family and my grandparents. It wasn’t until a couple years after Brain and I walked away from Mormonism that I really began to realize the role my grandparents had in me coming to Christ and that they were Christians. My grandparents found out about us leaving the LDS church by running into us at the grocery store on a Sunday afternoon. The church we attended at the time was 30 minutes from home and was in a bigger town with more options for grocery stores and other shopping. I remember when we saw my grandma at the store, she was so surprised to see us! Brian was working that day, but she was so surprised when I told her we had been attending a Christian Church in town and we had realized the problems with Mormonism. She told me her and my grandpa had been praying for all of us kids our whole lives. She told me they always attended our baptisms and church things they were invited to, to be supportive, but they always prayed that God would open our eyes to the truth. It was awesome to know I was an answered prayer for my grandparents.
Just a few years after seeing my grandma at the grocery store, my grandparents decided to sell their home in our small town and travel around the United States, taking time to visit their kids that lived all over. It was sad to see them go just when I started to have a close relationship with them. I felt so blessed that my kids were able to know my grandparents. After Brian and I became Christian, we had some of the most amazing and in-depth conversations with my grandparents, and especially my grandpa. I learned a lot about my grandparents in a short time and they gained an extra special place in my heart.
Growing up, all I knew about them is they weren’t Mormon, and they drank coffee. As a child in my head that made them not very good people. As an adult, and a Christian, I was humbled by the love they had for God and for their family. I remember a conversation I had with my grandpa on one of their visits home, he said he had my back, even with my family and if I was having a hard time because they didn’t support my choice to be a Christian he would stick up for me and even talk to my dad for me. It felt good to know I had an ally.
My grandpa passed away almost 6 years ago, and I miss him so much. I haven’t had to face death very much in my life. I remember feeling so sad and bitter when my grandpa passed away. When I heard about my grandma, I was sad, but I had a conversation with my husband, and then the next morning on my way to work, I had a conversation with God, I knew that she was in pain and suffering. My grandma was able to come and visit us this past summer and it was so nice to see her. I didn’t spend the time with her I wish I would have. But I know she said it has been hard without grandpa around. She has lived a great life. My prayer to God was, “Your will be done.”
When grandma passed away, I was sad that I didn’t get to know her more, sad I didn’t send the pictures, I always meant to send, sad I didn’t call or write more. I was sad for me, but the first thought that came to my head was the song “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercy Me. I knew that Grandma was in Heaven with Jesus and grandpa. The Bible says to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. The next song I thought of was “Home” by Chris Tomlin. Grandma was Home and happy. And although, I was sad for me. I couldn’t help but be excited and happy for her.
It made me think, I am so grateful to be a Christian and to know I am saved. I have a lot of atheist and agnostic friends, and I can’t imagine living life without a belief in an afterlife or feeling uncertain of what that is. I am also so grateful I don’t have to worry or hope that I have done enough to make it to Heaven. All that needed to be done was done on the Cross. I just have to accept Christ as my Savior. I know my grandma is home and I will see her again.
I’m just a Small Town Girl… Living in a world where Heaven is certain.
Church is My Favorite…
It has been a crazy few weeks! Between holidays, sickness, work, and family stressors, I am so glad to be getting life back on track. It’s been a while since I have typed a blog. I have really struggled with my focus and with where God is taking me. I have had a lot of change in my life over the past year and the last few weeks my life has felt overwhelming.
Last night as all the thoughts and events were going through my head and I was trying to stress myself out, God whispered to me, “It’s OK I’ve got this.” It amazes me, how in the past, the events of my life that I am currently dealing with would have sent me into a tail spin and today, I can stop and know that God is in control and he has a lot bigger and better plans for my life than I do.
I wasn’t overwhelmed about anything specific but just life in general. The last few weeks there have just been a lot of things going on in my already crazy world and I have just been able to feel the weight of all of them. I think the thing that stands out to me most right now is that as a Mormon life often felt overwhelming. It often felt like I had a lot on my plate and not enough time to even think about it all. My life as a Christian I think is more busy, just because of life circumstances, but most of the time it is not as overwhelming.
My last blog I wrote about religion and the frustrations and irritations I have with organized religion. What’s funny about that is I have realized over the last few weeks how much I love church, or I guess my church and my church family.
Brian and I have the amazing opportunity to be a part of the tech team at our church. Brian runs the sound and I take care of the slides and videos for the church. We are at church early on Sunday mornings, and I am usually finishing up the power point presentation when I get home from work on Saturday. As much as I love what I do at church sometimes I really don’t want to get up on Sunday mornings. But… it doesn’t matter how I feel on Sunday morning, it doesn’t matter, if I take the time to get up and fix my hair and do my makeup, or if I just wear a sweatshirt and throw my hair up into a ponytail, I am always grateful that I showed up at church.
I enjoy the people I interact with, they always ask about my adult kids and how they are doing in their lives. And I very much enjoy Pastor Roger’s messages every week. The worship does one of 2 things, sometimes both at the same time. It will bring me to tears or brighten my mood. In many ways church has become my happy place. It is one of my favorite places to be.
I haven’t always loved church. Growing up, I despised church, I hated going. What teenager wants to go spend 3 hours listening to how you need to be a good person, live morally, listen to the prophets, “look at all the hard choices your leaders were faced with and they still made good choices, you can do it too.” For me they were shame and guilt filled messages that reminded me I would never be good enough. I rarely came home from church feeling like I was loved and with my mood brightened. I was inspired and encouraged by some of the stories, but most often, I was reminded of how big of a failure and disappointment I was to those “amazing examples of the gospel” around me.
I think there is a huge difference between church and religion. When Brian and I first became Christians, we attended a church that had 3 services. There were a lot of people from many different walks of life who chose to worship there. We met some amazing people there are we are still friends with some of those people today. God led us to our current church and from the minute I walked in I loved the atmosphere. I loved the people. And I loved that I could be me. I walked into our church and saw just that people in different phases of life, with different struggles, different perspectives, but all of them love God. Even in the big church we attended people weren’t there out of obligation, to fulfill a calling, or to check mark the box on their weekly to do list. It was about giving back to God by loving other people.
So, even with the struggles I have with religion, I think church is essential. My last blog I asked 3 questions, Do you know God? Do you have a relationship with Him? And are you being accountable in that relationship? I think church helps me answer these questions. My relationship with God is personal and can only be between Him and me, but it is though worship and surrounding myself with others that know Him and live according to His word that help me to grow closer to Him. I am held accountable by being around the people who know me and challenge me to grow in my relationship with Christ. So as much as I hate religion, church is my favorite!
I’m just a Small Town Girl…loving my church!
Rock or Sand?
I hate religion! I absolutely hate it! Religion is judgmental and hurtful. Religion creates a set of rules you are required to follow to measure your righteousness in life and so you can measure your salvation. Religion is about Christianese and culture, legalism and following the rules. And I hate it.
Every day, I work with people from many different backgrounds and experiences. A few weeks ago I had a very rough week, and one thing every difficult situation I experienced had in common was religion. Religion is a place of rules, requirements, and unrealistic expectations.
I feel like religion is a breeding ground for perfectionism, and perfectionism leads to feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and shame. I think religion takes the uncertainty out of our faith. We no longer have to have a blind faith with religion. We don’t have to believe in something that isn’t tangible. Religion makes our faith tangible and measurable so we know what we need to do to win the race, to get the crown. I think people cling to religion because we don’t like the uncertainty of faith.
I also think religion is a place where personal accountability to our faith is lost. If I put on the face, go out and serve in my church, do and say the right things, then 2 thumbs up, I’m on the right track. But where is God in what I’m doing? Where is my accountability to God and my personal relationship? It’s lost…
It makes me think of the song “The Wise Man Built His House”
The foolish man built his house upon the sand
The foolish man built his house upon the sand
The foolish man built his house upon the sand
And the rain came tumbling down
Oh, the rain came down
And the floods came up
The rain came down
And the floods came up
The rain came down
And the floods came up
And the foolish man’s house went “splat!”
The wise man built his house upon the rock
The wise man built his house upon the rock
The wise man built his house upon the rock
And the rain came tumbling down
Oh, the rain came down
And the floods came up
The rain came down
And the floods came up
The rain came down
And the floods came up
And the wise man’s house stood firm.
I feel like those who blindly trust in religion are the foolish men and people who have a personal relationship with Christ are the wise men.
Growing up in Mormonism the focus was so often on being a Mormon and not on God or Jesus. It’s funny because when you ask Mormon’s if they believe in Jesus or if they teach about Jesus the typical response is, “Of course we do, it’s in our name”. The thing is, growing up the focus was rarely on Jesus or God, it was on the religion itself. The focus was Joseph Smith and Mormonism. But in all reality, it wasn’t very often there was a lesson about Christ or having a personal relationship with Him.
In my experience as a Mormon, the focus was all about the current prophet of the church and following the prophet. And don’t forget “Praise to the Man” referring to Joseph Smith. When I left Mormonism, there were so many things I found out about God, Christ, Christianity, and religion that I never knew before. I don’t think I had even heard of grace or salvation before becoming a Christian. They were definitely not terms we talked about in Mormonism.
As a Christian, I believe the most important thing is to have a personal relationship with Christ. That means you talk to Him, and spend time reading His word, you spend time with people who are also in a relationship with Him. I think it means the intention behind what you do is to please God. When you have a relationship with God and that is the focus of your faith instead of religion being the focus of your faith, the shame, guilt, and self-doubt that comes with religion, don’t have room to grow, it’s easier to embrace the uncertainty.
There are many times I struggle with my relationship with Christ, when He is not first in my life. I know when I’m struggling in life, I need to stop and refocus. When I struggle the most it’s because I am focusing too much on what I can do and how I can control things on my own. In these moments I know my relationship with Christ is struggling.
I do think worship is important, and I think having a church and people you can connect and fellowship with is important. When people ask my religion, I tell them Christian without hesitation. So, maybe it isn’t really religion that I hate. Maybe it’s the judgmental, hypocriticalness that comes from religion. Maybe it’s the focus on rules and works versus faith and grace.
What I do know is, it doesn’t matter where you go to church, what you wear, the color of your hair, if you wear jewelry or not, the size of your house, bank account, or the type of car you drive, God wants you. He wants your heart. He wants to interact and have a relationship with you. Religion doesn’t matter, what matters is do you know God? Do you have a relationship with Christ? And are you being accountable in that relationship?
I’m just a Small Town Girl…building my house upon the rock.
One of my Facebook memories from today was an excerpt from the book; Ending Your Day Right by Joyce Meyer it said, “The highest call on your life is to enjoy God. But you can’t enjoy Him if you are convinced He is upset with you. Jesus came to deliver you from the wrong kind of fear in your relationship with your heavenly Father. You should be relaxed in His presence. You need to have reverential fear, the kind that provokes respect, honor, and obedience. But you must refuse to believe any thoughts that the Lord is angry with you.
You are no surprise to God. Jeremiah 1:5 states that before He formed you in the womb, God knew you! He knew what He was getting when He drew you into a relationship with Himself. He already knows the things you will do wrong in the future. God is not nearly as hard to get along with as you think He is. It is not your sin that hinders you, it is unbelief!”
Oh, how often I still struggle with this concept. It is so hard to let go of the thought, “I will never be good enough for God”. Life is hard. Every day is a struggle. That’s one of the things that has been the hardest things for me to accept as a Christian. I want God to make life easy. I want Him to say, “Hey you’ve accepted me, here ya go… here’s an easy life”. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way.
John 10:10 says, “The thief’s purpose is to steal kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” God has a plan and a purpose for each of us. We are our own biggest barriers. The devil uses us as a wedge to get between us and God. He feeds on our fears and our doubts. We fall into that trap and we often feel worthless.
I remember growing up the struggle I had with myself and believing that God loved me. I struggled with feeling that I was good enough. I struggled to find happiness. I spent a good part of my life searching for joy, for happiness, for purpose and meaning. I really believed the mantra of; I’ll be happy when… but when those moments came, I was happy for a moment but it didn’t last very long and then I was focused on the next big thing that I wanted in my life. I had no identity and no real purpose for living other than what my religion told me.
Growing up I often struggled with the thought that God was mad at me. I struggled with believing that God could love me even after some of the things I had done. At times I felt like God wanted nothing to do with me. I believed the more I accomplished in my life, the more God would love me. The better chance I would have at going to Heaven. I believed the lie that I could do enough.
When I found Christ, I was at rock bottom in my life. I was at a point where everything I was afraid of happening was and I had lost all hope for myself and my future. I felt worthless and hopeless. It wasn’t that there wasn’t anything good in my life, it was just I was so focused on the big things, I couldn’t see the amazing details of my life.
As I have mentioned many times, I am a huge fan of Brene Brown. I love her books and insights, I love watching her Ted Talks and using them to help people improve their lives. One of my favorite Brene Brown quotes is, “Twinkle lights are the perfect metaphor for joy. Joy is not a constant. It comes to us in moments – often ordinary moments. Sometimes we miss out on the bursts of joy because we’re too busy chasing down extraordinary moments. Other times were so afraid of the dark that we don’t let ourselves enjoy the light. I believe a joyful life is made up of joyful moments gracefully strung together by trust, gratitude, inspiration, and faith.”
It’s so easy to get caught up in the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s, or become so afraid of doing things or afraid of the good moments that I don’t take time to enjoy them. But God didn’t create us with a spirit of fear. God created us to draw near to Him when we struggle. God isn’t a god of anger. He is our Creator. He loves us and wants us.
The closer I draw to God the more twinkle lights I have in my life. Knowing God, helps me appreciate the small moments in life. He helps me embrace the struggles and find meaning and purpose in every situation. I think because I have found purpose in Christ and I know He loves me regardless of anything, it is easier for me to appreciate the small things in life. Life isn’t about the big extraordinary moments. It’s about learning to appreciate the small everyday things knowing that God has your back.
I’m just a Small Town Girl…living in a world of twinkle lights.
I’ve struggled with writing my blog lately. Recently, I even thought maybe, I would just stop writing. I feel God has made it very clear to me that isn’t an option. So, as I was pondering the last few weeks, I thought about the world and all the turmoil going on right now. I thought about a friend who is going through a really rough time, I thought about the church shooting that just happened and that mass shootings seem to be an almost regular event anymore. I thought about my job and the hurt and pain that people struggle with on a daily basis to the point they want to take their own lives. I remembered, my purpose in writing this blog is because people need Jesus!!
There is so much hurt and heartache in the world today. I sit and think about all of the yuck in this world and I remember when I was there. Hurt, broken, feeling worthless and hopeless. When I opened myself up to the love of Christ, when I heard that it didn’t matter to Him all of the horrible things I felt I had done, He still loved me, it changed my entire world. In the past I would have told you I knew who Jesus was, and I believed in Him, and I tried to live a good life. But having a relationship and opening yourself up to God’s love is different, it changes you, it changes your world.
I try not to be political in my blog. I try to just focus on my religious experiences. But as I think about the state of the world today, I can’t help but take more of a political stance. I’ve seen a quote many times that says you don’t need religion to have morals, and while I don’t disagree with that, I feel as a society as we work to remove God from our culture, our morals are going by the way side. I have worked in a school and worked in a prison and it blows my mind that we discourage kids from freely pursuing and practicing their faith in school. We put many barriers in their way and yet if you are in prison, religion is encouraged. I remember sitting in parole hearings and listening to inmates talk about going to church and Bible studies and how God was changing their lives. One of my many hats at the prison was the religious coordinator, I oversaw all religious activities and made sure all religious volunteers were in compliance with facility policies. Just imagine if we put that much energy into assisting the development of spirituality and religion for our children. Maybe we wouldn’t have the struggles we have now.
I’ll be honest, there were many different religions in prison, and several weren’t Christian based, and I could tell those who were genuine in their pursuit of a relationship with Christ and those who weren’t. The difference was, their lives, even in prison, just seemed to go better. They didn’t get in trouble with the jail staff, they followed the rules, and they didn’t argue. They were accepting of their situation and if something didn’t go their way or if they felt they had been wronged, they had a conversation with the staff and tried to work it out. They were different. Their hearts were different.
There is truly something amazing that happens when you give your life over to God. When you are willing to accept that He has a plan and a purpose for you it changes your perspective and changes your heart. I know when I came to that realization, I wanted to know God more, I wanted to know everything I could, I read devotionals, Bible studies, I listened to sermons on the Radio. I began to develop a relationship with this God, who before seemed so scary and condemning, but as I learned more about Him, was loving and kind. It blew my mind as I read the Bible and learned about the people he chose to spread his message. The people he chose to be the ones that would represent Him. They were not perfect people who always did right. They were very much sinners. But…They all had one thing in common. They all loved God. They had a relationship with God and they pursued Him. They wanted to please their God. And although they made mistakes and struggled with their sin, they still pursued Him. It wasn’t just because they believed in Him, it’s because they had a relationship with Him.
In today’s world, God is a foreign concept. Society teaches trusting in God is a weakness. In today’s world, we want to be our own gods. It’s heart breaking to me. As I watch people struggle, I think, “You need Jesus!!” And I struggle to say anything for fear that they will condemn me or make fun of me. I can say, “You need Jesus!!” on my blog because it’s not face to face. That’s easy. And yet, I know that’s what I need to do.
The thing that needs to change most in this world is we need to get back to the basics. The 10 Commandments, the Beatitudes, and having a relationship with the Creator of the Universe. The problems in this world are not about race, religion, sexual orientation, politics, gun control, or any other social issue the media wants to glorify or criticize at the moment. It’s about the heart. It is what is important to us as a society and where our priorities lie. Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. In today’s world our hearts are anywhere but with Jesus.
I’m just a Small Town Girl… living in a world in need of Jesus!
Freedom to Sin…
I’ve had people ask me if Christians are allowed to sin and do whatever they want because they believe in salvation by grace alone. That always makes me laugh. Grace is not a get out of jail free card. As a Christian I know that I sin every day. And even when I sin, I am not free from the consequences of my sin even though I am forgiven. I also know, I have already been forgiven of my sins. So, I guess the question is, if I already know I am forgiven, then, why isn’t grace a get out of jail free card?
The real problem is that sin is everywhere. We as humans like to think that we are “good” people and that just living as a “good” person in the world is enough. As a Christian, I know I am not really a good person. I do things wrong every day. I even have days when I know I am living life not pleasing to God. But as I grow in my relationship with Christ, I become more accepting of myself and I focus more on Christ and try to be a better person.
As a Christian, I find the more I grow in my relationship with Christ the more I recognize when I am in sin. I am often more convicted when I feel my behavior and things I am doing are not pleasing to my God. The biggest difference from my life before Christ and my Christian life is that I know I am already forgiven.
Growing up I struggled so hard with feeling like I was enough. I felt the impossibility of living a life free from sin which led me to feeling very hopeless. I just wanted to be accepted and be enough. I often felt it was pointless to even try if I was never going to be enough anyway.
Micah Tyler has a song out right now called Different. The Chorus is
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
I think this is exactly how I feel as a Christian. I don’t feel that I am ever free to sin, but I sin every day. I want to be different. I want people to be able to see Christ in me!
I feel like when I became a Christian, and recognized I was saved by grace and it didn’t matter what I did, God would still love me. I felt hope again. Being saved by grace I have become a more willing participant in my life and the world around me (most days). I make more of an effort to live a life pleasing to God. I want to be different for Christ. I want people to see what He has done in my life and I want His light to reflect out of me. In most situations I try to do the right thing. I focus on being positive and trying to be a positive light to those around me. It took me a while to be able to say, “I am saved” and believe that I had truly accepted Christ into in my heart and would go to Heaven, but when I did I wanted to shout it from the roof tops and share the love and grace that I received from Christ with everyone.
As a human, I have a sin nature. I sin on a pretty regular basis. The nice thing about grace is, I know I am forgiven. There is nothing I can do ensure my forgiveness other than accept Christ as my Savior. But the best part of being a Christian saved by grace alone is at the end of the day I can say, “God, I tried today, I didn’t do too great. But thank you for loving me any way. I’ll try again tomorrow”. That’s the great thing about being saved by grace. So, as I Christian do I feel like I am free to sin? Absolutely not! But as a Christian am I grateful for the knowledge that no matter how bad I mess up in the day, and regardless of the consequences I face, I am forgiven? Absolutely YES!
I’m just a Small Town Girl…wanting to be different in a sinful world.
Is That All…
A couple of weeks ago, I was part of a conversation where the question was asked, “Why did God create us if we weren’t destined for something greater? We go to Heaven and that’s it? We’re done? What do we do for Eternity?” I was surprised by the question and sad for the person who asked it.
“Heaven is the dwelling place of God and the saints who are ultimately saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone” (CARM.org). In my mind, Heaven is the ultimate reward. Heaven is where we will be with our Creator and be in continuous worship and fellowship with Him and other believers. “We go to Heaven and that’s it?” What more could there be? The stress and pain of this world is gone. You’re filled with love and joy and in continuous worship. I struggle to understand why that isn’t enough.
Last weekend I had the opportunity of spending the weekend at a ladies retreat for church. We spent the weekend focused on Jesus, learning about discipleship, and in continuous worship. It was a stress-free weekend. Filled with fun, great food, and a focus on God and what He wants for our lives. I don’t think we can ever understand or comprehend what Heaven will be like. But if there is anything similar to what Heaven will be like here on Earth, I think it is things like the ladies retreat I attended. I think spending time in community with others where the focus is on Christ.
We attend an amazing church in our little community. Because we live in a rural area with several smaller towns, we have people from all over the valley who travel to our little church. When Brian and I first heard about this church we were honestly, a little leery. A church community. People who spent their time together. Not just on Sunday, but people who did life together. We were concerned because we didn’t want to spend that much time doing “churchy stuff”. It’s amazing how our perspective has changed over the years.
Brain and I had attended a few different churches in our short Christian walk, but when we started attending our current church, everything changed. As leery as we were to be so involved with all that “churchy stuff”, it was exactly what we were looking for. For the first time in our lives we began to grow in God’s word. We began to understand why we believed what we believed and we began to become who God created us to be. That “churchy stuff” that we didn’t want was just living life with fellow believers. It was fellowship, worship, honoring God in our daily lives and making Him the center.
People think that worship is bowing down or raising your hands in praise. But in reality, worship is showing love, honor, respect, and praise, to what is important to you. As a Christian one of the greatest ways to worship God is to be in fellowship with other believers.
I really think that Heaven is going to be an awesome time of worship. It will be better than anything I can fathom. It is being in constant fellowship and worship with God without the distraction of life and the stressors we experience as human beings. “Why did God create us if we weren’t destined for something greater? We go to Heaven and that’s it? We’re done? What do we do for Eternity?” Why did God create us if we weren’t destined for something greater?” I can’t imagine anything greater than being in eternal fellowship and worship with my Creator. We go to Heaven and that’s it? We’re done? We’re done with the challenges, we’re done with the stress. We get to live in peace and contentment. Isn’t that what people are searching for in this life. Chasing the dream of contentment and happiness, only to be disappointed by the next stressor that life throws at you. So, I guess yeah, in my view, that’s it… we’re done. What do we do for eternity? I think we live in worship and fellowship with our God and fellow believers for eternity. I can’t imagine a greater way to experience Heaven.
I’m just a Small Town Girl…Living in a world of worship.