Monday, December 21, 2015

10 Facts That Prove Jesus is the Best Best-Friend Ever

1. You can be completely vulnerable with Him. 

Not only does God allow you to fully open up to Him, He encourages it. Your average best friend will accept your vulnerability, but we still only share what we are comfortable sharing. We usually won't reveal all our deepest secrets to one person. With Jesus, you have that liberty.

2. He already knows everything we could possibly tell Him.

Unlike other friends, Christ already knows everything about us, He even knows our thoughts. When we truly grasp this, it becomes surprisingly easy to tell Him everything we are going through. There is no pressure to hide anything.

3. He won’t stop fighting for us until we are free.

He wants to carry our burdens. The areas we struggle the most, are exactly where God will get the most glory. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Until we overcome those issues, God will not allow us to live comfortably with the negative consequences of our sin.

4. His burden is light.

It would be too heavy for a friend.

5. He is the perfect hiding place.

 When the world feels like it’s crumbling down...or even when it’s going great but you still end up overwhelmed, He is a secret place. A place to release everything. 

6. He will never embarrass you.

Your friends may walk away and leave you stranded. Or even convince you to do something very...interesting. But when Jesus calls you deeper, His intentions are always pure.

7. You never have to be afraid.

 Fear comes in many different forms, inability to trust people, insecurity about our lives or simply worrying something bad will happen. God literally refutes every thought that contradicts His feels. So fear doesn't stand a chance.

8. He already knows the outcome of every possible action.

What friend can honestly say this? He already warned us which actions will lead to shameful or awkward results (i.e. Sin) and He is in the business of guiding your steps elsewhere.

9. He is your father.

The father your father wasn’t. The perfect example for a child who is traveling through the journey of life.

10. He is always there.

No one else can say this. No one.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

5 practical ways to rekindle your relationship with God

1. Tell yourself your testimony.

You are literally not the same person anymore. You were born again when you gave your life to Christ.

Still, even as new creations, we make mistakes. (Hence, Christian. Direct translation = I need Jesus.) But, everything we've ever experienced is going to glorify God as we pour into the lives of others.

So if we just messed up two weeks ago (or two hours) we can thank God for protecting us and for never withholding His perfect love. Reflecting on what the Lord saved us from is a sure way to fall in love with Him over and over again. 

I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart;
I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and
Your truth from the great assembly. [Psalm 40:10 NKJV]

2. Just start talking.

God is standing at the door waiting for us to let Him in.

Starting a conversation with God is as simple as saying, "I need you right now." Then tell God exactly what is on your mind, and ask that His word and His Spirit direct your life.

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. [Romans 8:26 NKJV]

3. Go to church.

Some of us don't go to church every week. News flash: that's not right.

Don't believe the "doctrine" that says we don't need church.
Because, well...

As tempting and seductive (reach?) as the message sounds, God clearly instructed us to attend church regularly. Besides, it is a blessing that we even have the privilege to freely praise Jesus. Some people die...just to say "Amen."

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. [Hebrews 10:24-25]

4. Scratch the old ways.

They weren't working anyway.

 If you’ve only met your goal, to pray daily at 6:00am, once in the last month, maybe it's not realistic for you. Maybe you should...pray at 8?

Sometimes our routines with God become a little religious and our time with Him is just another thing we can check off the list. Christ's love is so powerfully transformational and inconceivably unconditional that it should always dominate as the driving force of our entire life. Anything less is settling and completely selling ourselves short.

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!” [Lamentations 3:22-24]

5. Challenge yourself.

Whether it's getting a certain grade in a class, giving your job your undivided attention for a full day's work, or taking your kids to the park - there is something that challenges you.

Set out to do something that will demand you to rely on God's grace. Step out on faith and expect God to catch you.

He always will.

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”[Deuteronomy 31:6]

How do you rekindle your relationship with Jesus?

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

The biblical impact of music + $100 giveaway: An interview with J.Monty

When I stumbled upon this viral video with over 2.4 MILLION views (about 1 million at the time,) I immediately became a J.Monty fan. I bought his album shortly after and let's just say...R.I.P to the assignment I was working on that night. I was able to talk to J. Monty and ask him about his new album, Second Born. Below is part two of the conversation. If you missed part one, check it out here. *Naturally, it wouldn't be HollyLooYa if I don't include some of my reactions as well. (see: between paragraphs)
Holly: I read somewhere that the video for 100 bars pt. 3 took over a year to make and you had to drive to Massachusetts from Atlanta, you must've been extremely tired.
Holly: How did you know the specific vision for the video was worth holding onto?

J. Monty: [Laughs] I didn’t know. There were plenty of times that I wanted to just give up. I actually grew completely sick of the concept. When it first came to me it was fresh I was like, “Oh my goodness, people need to hear this!” But a few months in, a few checks gone all the way to Massachusetts...I’ll never see em again. All of the thousands of dollars spent, all of the pain that me and my wife went through, I was like, "this isn’t even worth it." I wanted to give up. It was God who would not let me throw in the towel. He kept reminding me, He kept waking me up with that conviction in my Spirit, but I wanted to give up a long time ago. So, I didn’t know. That’s my answer.

Holly: I read that “Second Born” is about being born again, not about being the second born child in the family line necessarily. Are you the second born?

J.Monty: Yeah, I’m the second  born. So it works both ways.

H: Name something notable in your everyday life that has changed since you were born again?

J: Something that I noticed, that’s notable everyday, is actually...conviction. I feel convicted about things that before I was born again, I could care less about. I would do certain things, I would have certain thoughts and I would just be happy doing whatever I wanted to do. As everyone knows, there is temptation everywhere, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been saved, nobody’s perfect.
But since I’ve been saved, I actually have convictions now and I actually feel bad if my heart wants to go a certain way, if my heart wants to stray. And there was time when that stuff just did not matter to me. So probably conviction of my sin. Or an awareness of my sin for that matter.

H: As a musician, do you have any insight or revelation on why music has such a strong impact on us?

J: I wish I had a bit more insight on it. But I will say this much, music, even psychologically, is just proven to have a deep impact on people. There are people who are like vegetables, they are almost brain dead and they’re in rehab, for example, trying to build themselves up. And they can’t talk, they can’t move, they can’t do anything. But if you play a certain song from their childhood, they know all the words. They can’t remember their own name, they can’t remember their own children, they can’t remember anything. Like people with Alzheimer's can’t remember their own children or their own name, but if you just play a song that meant a lot to them, play their favorite song, they can sing along right with you. Music is a lot more powerful than I think people want to recognize. And it’s easy for people to just kind of gloss over it and be like “music ain’t powerful, it’s all about the beats.” Because honestly music has transitioned to a plastic place where cats get in the studio and don’t even write stuff they just get behind the mic and young thug it out. And it’s just super simple so people are like “nah man music doesn’t do all of that” but really it does, it’s extremely powerful. When you think about the fact that David was able to chase Saul's demons away by playing the harp. He would literally be able to shake those demons out of Saul, who would be in a trance and wanted to harm David, just by playing a song. Music is extremely powerful, it has really, really deep spiritual connections.
Babies start showing signs in the womb if you play a song and put headphones up to their mom’s stomach, they start getting excited. Music connects with infants who are oblivious to what is going on in the world, music is just something that connects with all human beings. I think at the end of the day, it is as at the core of our very being. I think it is a part of our DNA, like it’s just embedded in all of us and that’s why it’s one of the most powerful industries in the world, because that’s something that everybody needs. Nobody can say that they don’t listen or need some kind of music.

J. Monty is an up and coming Christian Hip-Hop artist out of Atlanta, Ga.
known for his versatility, lyrical ability, and insane flow.
Second Born can be found on:

Google Play

I love the album so much that I am giving away a copy. And in honor of 100 Bars I'm giving away $100 to Dunkin Donuts. Enter the giveaway below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 16, 2015

How does God reveal His word to you? (An interview with J.Monty)

When I stumbled upon this viral video with over 2.3 MILLION views (about 1 million at the time,) I immediately became a J.Monty fan. I bought his album shortly after and let's just say...R.I.P to the assignment I was working on that night.

I was able to talk to J. Monty and ask him about his new album, Second Born. Below is part one of the conversation. Stay tuned for more topics later this week.

*Naturally, it wouldn't be HollyLooYa if I don't include some of my reactions as well. (see: between paragraphs)

Holly: How does God reveal His word to you? And how do you know what to share through music?

J.Monty: I would say it varies. There have been times where I have gone to sleep and woken up with an entire song in my Spirit. And it’s literally laid out for me, the only thing I gotta do is make it rhyme.

But there’s also been times where I have to sit down and I have to plan out what I want to say. And I just start writing and then it just starts kinda coming to me. But every song is not like deposited into my spirit. I think God gives me the creative space and the liberty to sometimes just write what I’m feeling or write what I’m going through at the time to relate to other people and just to kinda be human.

Obviously Jesus left a place of glory. He came to earth so that He could identify with human beings and then rise again, eventually, to intercede on our behalf. He couldn’t intercede without being able to relate. So I think sometimes God does want us to just have a human experience and write what we’re going through. He doesn’t really interfere with that.

Sometimes He gives me the liberty to just do what I been doing and I been writing for 12 years. I think he can kinda...kinda trust me a little bit with the pen. [laughs]

But again there are times like with 100 Bars pt. 3. Obviously, the latter half of the song, the two last verses, came from a deep place of prayer and tears, seeing the state of a lot of hip hop artists blaspheming the Lord and coming against and oppressing the church. It just really really burdened me because I saw very, very clearly how the influence of the body of Christ was being, in a sense, kind of stripped away from us. Legally politically, artistically, every way you could think of, the influence of the body of Christ was being stripped away.

And I’m an artist, so my first intention is to make sure that I can do whatever I can in my position to see to it that my God is revered and is feared. So I prayed and I asked God and he started to reveal to me in His scripture what was happening. And that's how I came up with the concept of the connection between Satan being a musician and going from heaven to Earth after likening himself to God- and artists doing the same exact thing on Earth, likening themselves to God, but leading humans from one place to a lower place of separation.

So it just really hit me and connected. A lot of it is just deep prayer, it comes from a place of deep burden, a deep concern for the state of our world, our country and the surrounding countries. Sometimes I go to sleep, wake up and it’s like, “Oh, I know what I need to do today.” [laughs]

J. Monty is an up and coming Christian Hip-Hop artist out of Atlanta, Ga.
known for his versatility, lyrical ability, and insane flow.
Second Born can be found on:

Google Play

I love the album so much that I am giving away a copy. And in honor of 100 Bars I'm giving away $100 to Dunkin Donuts. Enter the giveaway below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

5 ways we normalize sin

Because it doesn't have to be so normal.

1. We choose to expose ourselves to sin.

Ok sure. There is sin everywhere. We are all exposed to sin every single day.

You're exposed to sin! You're exposed to sin!

And even more than just being exposed to it, we fall into it too. (But we thank God for Jesus because He defeated sin and we are being transformed into His image daily.)

But anyway.

When I say that we expose ourselves to sin, I'm talking about when we have a choice. Not when we are forced to be around someone cursing at work, but when we go home and watch shows with the same language.

We tell ourselves that even though we choose to watch it, we would never actually do it.

Who me?
Sin becomes normal when we stop carefully guarding our hearts.

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
[Proverbs 4:23-27 NLT]

2. We simply leave the house.

Seriously, we don't have to look very hard to find what society says is normal. Our culture reinforces the sinful ideas we exposed ourselves to in #1, so the seeds we planted inevitably get watered.
We literally have to fight our flesh to rid our minds of these ideas, anything less is practically accepting defeat.


3. We put ourselves in tempting environments.

Any faith we have in our flesh is a recipe for disaster.

Not the tough situations God allows to experience to help us grow, the other ones. The times we go as far as we can go just to see how far we can go without ever actually...going. When we rely so heavily on the grace of God that even gravity couldn't hold us.

When we hang out alone with the person we like, knowing we shouldn't. When we choose to have a glass of wine instead of just going to sleep. Or when we go to a party, just to umm...see who's there?

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

[Matthew 26:41 ESV]

4. We don't take our thoughts captive.

I mean it's just a thought. How much damage can it really do?

Thoughts have power. Especially for people who think a lot more than they talk. We have to rebuke and repent for our thoughts, because we have the mind of Christ and the enemy can't have that space.

You have the commandment that says, 'You must not commit adultery.' But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
[Matthew 5:27-28 NLT]

5. We don't speak up for what we believe. 

One of the best ways to convince our hearts to hate sin, is to defend righteousness at any cost. It's as simple as saying "yes" when someone at work asks if something that feels so good can really be so bad for you.

Or politely turning down an invite because though it sounds fun, nothing good can come out of going.

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.
[Ephesians 6:14-15 ESV]

The sin in our lives doesn't become normal overnight. When we ignore the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit leading us to righteousness, we slip into unsafe territory. Only by remaining in God's word and staying grounded in truth, can we conquer the very thing we were all once slaves to: Sin.

Keep up with all new posts!

Friday, October 2, 2015

8 things that inevitably happen when we worship

Because things happen.

1. God softens our hearts.

There is no longer any room for anger or bitterness. Our hearts become impressionable and receptive to the Spirit of God.

You can kiss those walls you built good-bye. They don't stand a chance.

 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
(Ezekiel 36:26)

2. We feel some type of conviction.

Sometimes I can cruise through my day, conveniently ignoring God's voice, without ever admitting I feel any real conviction.

In worship however, our convictions immediately make themselves known. The Holy Spirit guides us to repentance.

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
(Proverbs 28:13)

3. We have peace.

It means no worries.

Life really sucks sometimes. It's biblical.

We say things we regret. Wish we said things we never did. Give in to temptation. Make mistakes we thought we outgrew. Feel pressure to be further ahead. Have anxiety about the future. Get lonely.

Try to run on our own strength. We burn out. We burn bridges. We cross oceans. We aren't as good of swimmers as we thought.

But in the presence of the Lord, we feel light enough to float.

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
(John 16:33)

4. Specific people come to mind.

Sometimes we think of ALL the things we could be praying for, and the list seems completely unconquerable.

When we worship, the Holy Spirit places individuals on our hearts. Sometimes, those people and those situations are exactly what God wants us to pray about.

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplication, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.
(1 Timothy 2:1-2)

5. We get a sense of urgency.

When we cry out to God, we are essentially saying, "Change me now, God. I literally can't go on another day like this."

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
(Hebrews 4:16)

6. We actually trust God.

Just think, we could still be out trying to fix our problems right now.

When we choose to worship, we choose to surrender everything we're going through, to God.

Cast your burden on the Lord,
And He shall sustain you;
He shall never submit the righteous to be moved.
(Psalm 52:22)

7. We make God a priority.

Even when we know spending time with God is the most important part of our day, it can be easy to make excuses. With a jam-packed schedule, it's convenient to find something else to do instead.

When we worship, we are putting God first. He becomes our right now.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
(Matthew 6:33)

8. Our faith is made stronger.

You may not have reflected Christ in everything you did this week, or even today.

But when you decided to kneel before the Lord, you trusted that He would make something beautiful out of your scattered ashes.

And that takes faith.

(I blogged about faith here.)
  • • •

*Check out my current favorite worship albums! I'm listening to Simple Gospel by United Pursuit & Here is My Worship by Jaye Thomas.
** If you're interested in enjoying some new music, my friend Tobi is releasing her debut EP this month. She is an extremely gifted artist who refuses to limit what God can do through His children's worship and obedience. She dreams of seeing people healed through her songs.

You can learn all about Tobi and be on the lookout for new music, by visiting her site.

• • •

What's your favorite thing about worship?