Wednesday, June 29, 2016

5 Ways Sin Crept Into My Christian Relationship

"Seems legit." - Me
1. God became “boring.”

At least one person in the relationship was no longer satisfied in Christ. It wasn’t anything drastic, it was all very subtle, really.

If you are not driven to live a life of righteousness, this may not be your time to think about marriage.

If the idea of waking up to commune with the Lord, does not excite you- you should not be in a relationship.
Because when God bores you, your flesh will search for something that excites you. Eventually that source of entertainment influences you, and at that moment, sin enters your heart.

Many people get bored after they have been saved for a while. It happens. God is faithful to always draw us back to Him.

However, from my experience: boredom with Christ + relationship = absolute fail. Trying to jump into a relationship, when the most important relationship in your life isn't thriving-

As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness;
I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness. (Psalm 17:15) 2. We lacked direct mentorship. We didn’t have established mentors. Did we have men and women of God in our lives who we looked up to and learned from? Yes. Did we have pastors and church leadership? Yes.
But, was a there a specific, individual couple who mentored us? No. I knew this was a thing people should have, but I didn’t take it serious enough. Looking back, I know that a mentor couple could have seen things in us that we were unable see.
They could have been there to humble us, rebuke us and guide us with the wisdom of Christ. No one ever really had the opportunity to pour into us because they weren’t invited to- and for that, we paid. We made mistakes that could have been avoided and we chose to deal with the consequences alone. Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid. (Proverbs 12:1)
3. We didn't have accountability. Unfortunately, I don't have many close friends. I love people a lot. I really do! But I haven’t exactly proven that I am willing to sacrifice and give what it takes to build real, genuine friendships...yet. (This will change!) With true friendship comes true accountability. People who care enough to know what you are doing and where you are doing it.

The lack of accountability gave us the “freedom” to do what we wanted...where we wanted to do it. Even though you have a personal relationship with Christ, when you hold yourself accountable, you tend to compromise your standards a lot more than when other people hold you accountable- which is the definition of accountability. Probably. As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. (Proverbs 27:17)
4. We kissed. Is kissing inherently sin? Do I ever want to do it again outside of marriage? NO. (Sounds a lot like sin, which I also never want to do again...just saying. Whatever. I’ll just leave this here. K bye.)
Refraining from sex can become so religious and legalistic that you forget why you are even doing it- it can literally become an idol. So when you’re wearing abstinence like a badge of honor, it’s no wonder the rest of your standards fail miserably. The goal was to be made into His image now it's simply to not have sex. I know that was a bit deep, so here's a simple verse- Claiming to be wise, they became fools. (Romans 1:22)

5. We were led by temptation and not by God’s timing. As Christians in this world, we are out of place. It’s uncomfortable- it’s one big contradiction. But here we are.

We each have our own story line to salvation, but (spoiler alert) they all have the same ending. We were bad, God made us good. We are called according to God’s plan, which He perfected before we were even born. Yet, we still make our own plans, because we are tempted. And the whole catch with temptation is- it’s the idea that something out there could ever be better than God’s plan. And it can't! It never will!


The desire to be loved is real. Loneliness is real. But just because two single Christians are on fire for the Lord and are compatible- it does not mean it is God’s plan for them to be together. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

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Friday, June 10, 2016

3 Things I Always Do When I Am Experiencing Contentment

I'm not always content, but when I am-

1. I plan and pray for today.

Sometimes I dream about the future. Not intentionally...I just do.

I think about the things God has revealed to me concerning my purpose and I begin to imagine different scenarios. I pray about those hypothetical moments and dwell on them until they consume a huge portion of my thought life.

There isn’t anything inherently wrong with praying about the future or even dreaming, by any means. In fact, the problem isn’t what I’m doing- it’s what I’m not doing.

Far too often, I am so consumed with what might be, that I ignore what already is.

I’m praying about a vision I have, but I totally neglect to surrender my will to Christ and submit my day to Him. I haven’t thanked Him, lately, for the job I already have or for my good health.

A true sign of contentment is when I have the self-control to focus on what the Lord is doing in my life, right now!

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:33-34)

2. I can rest.

Children are starving. There isn’t any clean water to drink. Christians are being killed. Abortion is normal. And apparently everything under the sun causes cancer. Also the sun. The sun causes cancer.

And with all these problems- Who has time for rest, am I right?

Well...God did.

God was busy creating the world when He decided to chill out for a minute. The entire world! How much more do we need rest as we exhaust our limited strength maintaining our own little worlds?

The ability to rest is a sure sign of contentment and trust in the Lord. It reveals that we are satisfied with what God already did, yet we will still continue to press on and be used as vessels for what He continues to do.

And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. (Genesis 2:2-3)

3. I can commit to something.

I've learned that I am not as content as I'd like to think I am. Instead, I've used being "content in the Lord" as an excuse to not commit to much of anything.

While it's true that as everything around me changes, Christ is the one thing that remains the same- it doesn't mean everything should always be changing.

Real contentment is the ability to be responsible and maintain, non-religious, healthy routines that benefit my relationship with the Lord and fulfill His will for my life.

Contentment fuels the ability to do all things- and the only thing more rewarding than being able to do anything is being able to do exactly what God tells me to do.

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13)

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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

3 Extremely Practical Things I Do To Host The Holy Spirit

I've learned that if I don't actively and intentionally pursue the Holy Spirit, there's only a matter of time before my flesh reclaims its former role, as ruler of my heart.These are a few of the ways I reinforce the power of the Holy Spirit in my life. 1. Get enough sleep. This isn’t always easy. Sometimes I get really busy with work, school or other obligations and I can’t exactly get a full night's sleep, but that’s not what I’m talking about here.

I’m referring to the nights I’m up, tirelessly scrolling through social media apps on my phone. The nights I have aimless conversations that drag on for hours after they were supposed to end. The days I spend more time procrastinating than actually doing. The nights, for one illegitimate reason or another, I simply do not get enough sleep. 

When I am excessively tired, I have minimal energy and I become very un-alert. Naturally, the enemy jumps on the opportunity to take advantage of my unawareness and finds ways to influence my thoughts and even my decisions. Sometimes I can't even explain why I did what I just did.

On the flipside, when I get enough sleep I am cultivating a home (body) for the Holy Spirit that is ready and energized for the tasks at hand. By God’s grace I am watchful and have discernment to cast down thoughts and make choices that ultimately glorify Christ and benefit our relationship.

And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” - Exodus 33:14

 2. Only listen to worship music.

Music is powerful. Before I gave my life to Christ, I loved listening to Kendrick Lamar. I thought I could relate to the lyrics and themes of certain secular songs so much. I could. I didn’t have an active relationship with the Holy Spirit and the lyrics to secular songs described my lifestyle and my feels. I walked around creating problems in my head...that I didn't even have.

Letting go of KL’s music was actually the very last thing the Lord told me to do, before I experienced freedom for the very first time in my entire life! If I knew what I was about to witness once I let go of secular music, I would have dropped it a loooonnnnnggg time ago.

I haven’t went back since. I don’t listen to any music that wasn’t specifically created to intentionally glorify Jesus Christ, alone. Not because I think it makes me holy (trust me, I’m the least of em) but because it’s the only sound that resonates with my Spirit. The Holy Spirit inside of me is in perfect unison with the Father and the Son, therefore I long to sing praises to the Lord. It literally revitalizes me.

Besides, the Lord has made it very clear to me, personally, that when I play certain songs, I am inviting spirits in my home. It would be foolish to anoint my home, cover it with the blood of Jesus- then open the windows to welcome all sorts of spirits. That’s called insanity. And I honestly don’t have time for that right now. I need sleep, remember?
Let my mouth be filled with Your praise And with Your glory all the day. - Psalm 71:8

3. Pray bible verses. 

Have you ever moved away from your hometown- or maybe went away to college- and been in a completely new environment? Then you randomly run into someone who is from the same place as you (or maybe went to the same school) and you immediately hit it off?

Even if, on any other day, you’d most likely never talk to the person, in that moment the two of you are totally in sync. You start name-dropping old places & people and suddenly there’s all this nostalgia. All the feels!

That’s how I imagine the Holy Spirit feels when I pray bible verses. Even if thoughts have entered my mind throughout the day that are contrary to His word, when I pray God's word and promises, the Holy Spirit is basically like, "#Squaaaadddddddddddd."

On a practical level, praying bible verses is incredibly convenient when I simply don’t have the words to say. Because, frankly, I don't have the answers. Praying God's word positions my heart in a place of gratitude and confidence in the Lord.

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
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Saturday, April 30, 2016

5 Practical Tips That Will Transform The Way You Serve

1. Choose to be loving.

Sometimes we have bad days.  And sometimes we have to serve on those bad days.

But we don’t have to react to every single emotion that we feel. When you’re having a bad day, but you’re committed to serve, pray that God will change your heart to view any hindering situations from His perspective. Ask Him to become your source of joy and strength.

Don’t be the greeter at church who never smiles.

 When you could just not be a greeter at church.

Likewise, it's important to be energized and ready for the task. Making healthy eating choices and remaining active throughout the week, can pay off a ton when it's time to serve.

Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; - Romans 12:10-11

2. Do it with a pure heart.

We can certainly trick people, but we will never get one over on God.

God sees the depths of our hearts and even understands the intention behind each of our thoughts.

Mind = blown, I know.

It’s important to ask God to cleanse your heart of impurities and selfish motives. He wants our hearts to be pure when we serve Him. And He wants us to serve out of our own free will.

As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever. - 1 Chronicles 28:9

3. Do what you’re good at.

I’ve done a lot of things that I shouldn’t have, but I will never ever ever, join the worship team. Let’s just say I’m not exactly "musically inclined." Don’t get me wrong, I love to worship and sing praises to

We should ask God to reveal our gifts to us, so that we can serve appropriately and effectively. It is significantly more rewarding to serve in the areas where God has already blessed our hands.

Aside from prayer, we can think about our gifts in a practical way, by considering our strong suits, hobbies, interests, classes we excel in and the things we simply spend our spare time doing.

As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. - 1 Peter 4:10

4. Serve as a choice.

There is absolutely positively nothing we can do to earn our salvation. So why try?

We are called to serve the Lord, not because we have to earn His love, but because He freely gave it to us.

The Lord gave us freedom, but with this freedom, we shouldn’t seek out opportunities to fulfill our fleshly desires. No, we should use that freedom to go out of our way to serve one another.

You don’t have to serve to be saved, but since you are saved, serve.

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. - Galatians 5:13

5. Lay down your life.

Even, the most holy Jesus Christ did not come down to earth to be served. Rather, He came to serve and to offer His life as a living sacrifice.

Jesus is calling us to lay down our lives for one another. Despite our differences, our flaws, our religious pet peeves, Christ is beckoning us to become humble, as He was (and is) and to present ourselves as a sacrifice.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. - Mark 10:45

And the number one key to serving: always, always do it as to the Lord- and not to men.

With goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men - Ephesians 6:7

Hopefully these points will help you dive into prayer and make some requests to God concerning your heart as it relates to serving. I know I personally need all the prayers!

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

3 Fears We All Face (And What God Says About Them)

It is God's will for us to walk in love and not in fear. However, the enemy uses fear to cripple us and limit our potential to grow in the Lord. Here are three common fears many of us face - and what God has to say about them!

1. The fear of rejection.

It feels good to be accepted.

Before I gave my life to Christ, I was in a relationship. He was a nice guy. Then I found out he was married- separated, but married. We broke up. He said he missed me. We got back together.

(I know what you're thinking.)

The devil took me a lot further than I wanted to go, and kept me a lot longer than I intended to stay. I was in his territory and he made it known. For months, years even, after the relationship ended, I was tormented. In my mind I believed the kingdom of darkness was far more powerful than the Kingdom of Heaven.

In 2012, I gave my life to Christ and I joined the best campus ministry under the sun, Bethel Campus Fellowship. One night - though trembling, crying and completely in bondage - I gave my testimony for the first time. My new brothers and sisters in Christ held onto every word and, to my surprise, looked almost as relieved as I felt, to admit my shameful past. Greeted with hugs, smiles and praises of the Most High- I felt chains fall. Weight floated away. I was free.

I knew right then I belonged to a family. I was accepted.

Fast forward a couple years. I meet another group of Christians. Eager to share my testimony, I tell the same story. But this time it was different.

It wasn’t received very well at all. I was encouraged to...not share it anymore. I went from being “pure” to being filthy. I mean- who likes an adulteress, right?

My heart was broken. I couldn’t believe it. What about the cross? Am I not a new creation? Are you even a Christian, bro?!

I was rejected.

Rejection hurts. Acceptance feels good. And God gave His only Son, so that we would be accepted. Far too often, however, we become enslaved to fear- the fear that we won’t be accepted. Or that we won’t ever truly belong to a community of people who understand us, people who legitimately love the person God called us to be. It is not uncommon to experience the fear of not being accepted.

As Christians we do not have to be afraid of rejection, because we have a Father in the Lord. A Father who took us in and adopted us when the world left us as mere orphans.

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” - Romans 8:15

2. The fear of being alone.

Admit it- the best thing about an inside joke is the “inside” part. The situation may not even be all that funny, but the fact that you and someone else thought of the same exact thing, at the same exact time, is absolutely hilarious.

Sometimes doing things alone, just isn't quite the same. The fear of loneliness comes in all shapes and sizes. Fear that you’ll never get married or that your current spouse will never understand and appreciate you. The fear that you are too weak and tired to carry on by yourself.

Or the fear that you are alone in your suffering, totally isolated from everyone else.

The more you realize just how huge of a role God desires to play in your life, the less power, the fear of being alone, has over your life. God literally designed our lives in a way that forces our existence to depend on His. Not only does He long to be Lord over every area of our lives, but he sent His Holy Spirit to guide us each step along the way.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. - Joshua 1:9

3. The fear of persecution.

Have you ever made someone mad just by being a Christian?

I remember the Lord told me to work a part-time job while I was in school. He specifically wanted me to be a light at my workplace and to reveal His love to a few co-workers. Ya know, an inside job.

It didn’t take long for me to realize who He had his eyes on. I began testifying of the Lord’s goodness and every day was a challenge. One particularly painful day, God allowed me to overhear two co-workers admitting what they wanted to do to me. It was so violent I couldn’t believe it. Why did God have me here? I was so uncomfortable!

I dreaded work, but the Lord met me in my secret place and I knew He could meet me in a restaurant too. The Holy Spirit led me to fast and pray for a co-worker who was in over her head with alcoholism and promiscuity. I was hungry and I didn’t want to miss meals for her, but by God’s grace, I did.

One day after the fast, I was at work serving tables as usual. I was entering an order when I heard my name, so I looked up from the screen- and that same co-worker was holding an open bible between her hands, and with tears in her eyes, she asked- “Where do I find salvation?”

God didn’t promise we wouldn’t be persecuted for doing exactly what He called us to do. It seems strange, really, when you think about it. The God of peace leads us to do things that hurt. But He knows better than me - and as sweet as they may be - nothing ever grows in comfort zones.

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” - 1 peter 3:14

Fear looks different to everyone. But it always creeps into our hearts in a way that intentionally plays on our individual insecurities and experiences. I encourage you to seek the Lord and rebuke the scary thoughts that enter into your mind daily.

I sought the Lord, and He heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears.

- Psalm 34:4

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Monday, March 28, 2016

5 Reasons It's OK To Talk About The Sin In Your Life

1. Sin won’t be able to deceive you.

Sin is a really good liar.

God says, “peace I leave with you.” Sin says, “peace I leave with you.”

God says, “You will find comfort in me.” Sin says, “You will find comfort in me.”

Sin wants so desperately, to be God. Don’t think so? Think about the temptation you're falling into these days?

Is it pride? Jealousy? Discontentment? Laziness? Overeating? Lying? Watching pornography? Having sex outside of marriage? Getting high? Getting drunk? Disrespecting your spouse? Listening to music that doesn’t glorify God? Watching TV shows that aren’t pleasing to Christ? Homosexuality? Harboring unforgiveness? Dishonoring your parents?

If you're any bit flawed like me, you can probably identify with something on that list. Think about that thing. (If you don’t think you fit any of those categories, just pick whichever one you can justify. That’s it. That’s the one.)

Think about that thing. Whenever you choose to do it, you are believing a lie. You are believing the lie that anything, something, somehow, can satisfy you- apart from Christ.

In Psalm 107:9, God says that He satisfies our longing, hungry souls. And when you’re up against a statement like that, you have to tell a pretty convincing lie to get someone to believe it.

None of theses things truly satisfy us, rather, they make us feel far from Christ. When you address sin, you expose its true intentions. If you recognize sin for what it is, a fraud, you don’t have to keep falling into the same cycle time and time again.        

You almost had me, sin. Joke’s on you.

2. You will be aware of the Holy Spirit.

The difference between us and Jesus is sin. He never sinned, we always have.

But He wants us to be more like Him. So we study the character of Jesus Christ and we cry out in desperation for Him to mold us into His image.

God loves us because of how good He is and, likewise, we are supposed to love Him because of how good He is.

But we fall short and we focus on other things besides His goodness, like what He can do for us. Then we get distracted and we think about our lives and how they should be so great and comfortable. So we adopt sinful ways to satisfy ourselves temporarily. But in Christ’s goodness, He recognizes our wandering and draws us back to Him again.

He wants us to turn from our wicked ways and choose Him so that we can be healed. So He showers us with His love and rebukes us by shining a light on the areas of our lives that don’t exactly reflect His.

If we don’t realize what He wants us to let go of, then we can totally miss out on the growth He wants us to experience.

As bitter as it seems, chastisement is really quite sweet.

My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
For whom the Lord loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.
(Hebrews 12:6 NKJV)

3. If you don’t remind yourself, who will?

You probably don’t scroll through Facebook and see 100 videos on how you should turn from your sin and choose to live a life fully surrendered to Christ. In fact, for every 100 super encouraging posts you see, you’re fortunate to see one that’s actually convicting. Quite frankly, the message of repentance isn’t particularly popular these days.

It’s good to know when sin has crept into your life because if you don’t remain aware, you can’t exactly expect society to keep you in check.

Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.
(Psalm 119:11)

4. You can help people who are going through the same thing.

How many times will we believe the lie that our sin is so bad that we are the only ones dealing with it?

The enemy has been trying to make you feel isolated since you were a child. The truth is, other people are going through exactly what you are going through.

When you open up about your struggles, you create an environment of vulnerability and a community of hope in Christ.

You don’t have to go through it alone. This doesn’t mean you should keep doing it together, rather, that you can stop doing it...together!

There are most likely a ton of resources and may even be an entire ministry devoted to people facing essentially what you face each day. It is imperative that we stay connected to the body, and unity starts with honesty.

5. You will ultimately glorify Christ.

There’s nothing like a testimony to point yourself and others back to the Father’s heart. Christ isn’t glorified when we pretend we don’t go through anything or we’re somehow the victim in every hardship we face.

Christ is glorified when we reveal the raw, unfiltered truth about just how much we can’t live without Him.

He has put a new song in my mouth—

Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the Lord.

(Psalm 40:3 NKJV)

Here's to accepting Jesus' victory over death without underestimating my total dependence on grace!

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