The Best of Company

Some nights I reflect on the day I just experienced and am so grateful to have spent my time in such good company. After meeting with old friends, mentors, and spending time with my family, I truly appreciate the people in my life. But I often find that those days in good company don’t measure to other days I’ve spent in the best of company. It is the days that I haven’t taken the time to be in the presence of the Lord that I’d like to go back in time and do differently. My days are completely different when I spend time with Him.

Hebrews is a great book in the Bible that encourages me in my faith. There are so many pieces of wisdom in each chapter that I often only read one chapter at a time. I could write down thoughts for an hour on just one chapter. This morning, as I continued in this book to Hebrews 6, the author seemed pretty blunt in what he was saying to his audience. This letter was to encourage people in their faith and help them hold on to what they believed in. One verse says this,

 

“So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding…” (Hebrews 6:1)

 

I read this and stopped to question why the author would write this in his letter. He wasn’t out to condemn people and make them feel immature in their faith. No, instead he wanted so badly for God’s people to move forward in their faith because he knew of the blessings that come from a growing trust in the Lord. He had incredible hope when he put his trust in Jesus and he wanted these people to experience the same thing.

 

We can experience this hope when we choose to seek Him more and more in our lives. We should always want to be growing in our faith as Christ followers. Let’s not settle, but continue to learn more and more about who God is. The more time we can take to learn about who God is, the more we can be like Him in our everyday lives.

 

The words of this letter highlight God’s promises that come to those with faith and endurance. Hebrews 6:19 says,

 

“This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls”.

 

I read this and see the hope we have because of the God’s promises. He wants to give us so much. If we knew just how much He has planned for us, we would want to sit with Him for hours upon hours everyday and just listen for a glimpse of the future plans He has. Why don’t we? Why don’t we want to spend time listening for those promises and plans? He has promised you life when you receive Jesus Christ into your heart. He has promised you life after death because of what Jesus has done on the cross and on Easter day. He has promised you blessings after obedience because He delights in giving to His children.

 

The words I read this morning reminded me of the strong and trustworthy anchor I have because of the hope God has given me. In a world with many problems, many arguments, and many situations that bring a loss of hope, I hold onto the fact that my God has redeemed me and the world for a bright future. Because I was able to spend time with Him this morning, I am ready to take on the day with the hope I have in Him.

 

This post was meant to be very simple because I believe spending time with God is very simple. If you don’t know where to start, open up the book of John. Read a few chapters and take notes on who Jesus is; His character and His actions. Get to know the One you follow and aim to be like. The only complication comes when we choose to come up with excuses or don’t give God the time of day. I encourage you to take some time reading His Word and pouring out your heart to God in prayer today. He is waiting to spend time with you and you will walk away being thankful that He is in your life.

Plant Your Feet Before Moving Forward

Imagine your life as stepping stones that lead to a final destination. You can see the stone you are standing on and a shadow of the one ahead. There is only a glimpse of what is to come but you know it is there, awaiting your arrival. The rest of this picture is dark. Around you, all you can see is trees because you are deep in a forest trying to find your way through. You can hear the wind gliding against the trees and the sound of wildlife. What you cannot hear is any sound of human life nearby. You are walking this path of stepping stones on your own. Your destination is close, but you are oblivious to how many stones it will take to get there because they are hidden from your sight.

This picture is the story of my life. As a person who loves to know what is going to happen next and to plan for it, I struggled with this scenario for a long time. Throughout high school I tried to find who I was in my future. My career, my location, and my relationships were the areas of my life that seemed to have the answers of who I was becoming. While these things can tell a lot about who we are, they are not who we are.

A loss of identity can get us way off track from where we need to be. When I talk about where we need to be, I mean that sweet spot where we know we are doing what we were made to do to the best of our abilities. Isn’t that what we love? Being able to do what we are naturally good at for a greater good and purpose? Finding that purpose and fulfillment in our lives is so important, especially at a young age. Finding success in our passion is something we strive for in years of schooling and training to become what we have dreamed about becoming throughout our short lifetime. The question we want an answer to is ‘How do we get to that sweet spot’?

Let’s go back to the stepping stones. I believe this picture was given to me by God to help me see how to reach my goals in life. It is a reminder, everyday, that my sweet spot is not ten stepping stones ahead of me. My sweet spot is where I am now. The stone where my feet rest is my calling and my purpose today, tomorrow, and everyday until it is time to move onto the next stone. I first need to plant my feet before I move.

I’ve learned from so many wise mentors in my life that my future is decided everyday by what I decide to do on the stone on where I stand today. Living today like it is my last but also as a launch pad for the dreams I strive to see become reality. There is a combination of both that get us to our goals.

For the first time in my young life, I feel like I am exactly where I need to be in order to fulfill my purpose in this life. The gifts and abilities given to me are being used and grown for a better purpose than just myself. I say this not to lift myself up but to lift up the One who’s plan excites me everyday. My Heavenly Father has guided me to this place in life to where I can see success in ministry and things He calls me to do because I allow Him to do immeasurably more through me than I could ever do by myself.

A wise woman once told me that the greatest success in Christian leaders has come from not just listening to God, but listening to God and doing what He asks. It is as simple as that. Hearing from God is one thing and for those of us that have heard from God, it is amazing, right? It is amazing to hear from God clearly because His plans are so good! But how we measure our success is not in how much money we make with our gifts, how many people see our success on TV, how nice of a house we own, or how good we feel about ourselves when the day is done. Our success is measured in our obedience to Christ.

When we choose to be present on the stone on which we stand, we learn to live for the moments that are fleeting. Instead of worrying about the next step, we plant our feet and look around at the view we may not have noticed before. Instead of moving ahead too quickly, we stay in the place where we can see clearly and not a place we have to walk around blindly. If we move too quickly, we may find ourselves stumbling in the dark.

Let God reveal your next step. Let Him walk alongside you in the journey of reaching your goals in life. Have dreams and have ambitions but let God get you there. His gifts are your gifts. You are made in His image. When you know your Father better, you will better know yourself and the gifts He has given you. Every good thing comes from Him. There is so much goodness He has in store for you not just in the future, but where you are right now.

Think back to the picture of the stepping stones. Where are you now and where do you want to be someday? At the end of your life, what do you want to be known for? Think of your ultimate goal, what is awaiting you at the end of your stepping stones. For me, I see a cross at the end of my path. When I think of the person I want to be and become, I think first of how I can pick up my cross daily. That is my goal every step of the way. I pray that as a Christ follower this can be your goal every step of the way as well.

Continue on the journey that you have embarked on, young traveler. Take the time to stop and smell the roses in the forest. Don’t look back at the mistakes. Only look, for a moment, at the times that made you grow stronger. Be careful not to stray from this path because the Light is showing you this path for a reason. This path teaches you patience, faith, hope, joy, and contentment. Don’t lose sight of it because it leads to good things.

Man of Sorrows

I want to begin this blog post by stating this: it is okay to not be okay. Sadness is something we all deal with. It is real and brings us to dark places. But often we hide our sadness under a smile or shade of happiness we applied to our faces that morning. We may think there is no time or space for our sadness amidst the busyness we have signed ourselves up for. Our schedules are jam packed, we get little sleep, and we have so many people to please. Has anyone ever felt this way?

I go to a Christian university, and love the community that I have the privilege to live in. But something I’ve noticed is when life is difficult and heavy, we think we have to have it all together. It feels to me like sometimes as Christians, we think there is no time in the day to deal with struggles or loneliness or grief or sadness. We know the verse in Ecclesiastes 3:

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.”

But how are we dealing with the heavy burdens life brings our way? I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it: If I’ve learned anything this semester, it’s that it is okay to not be okay.  I’m confident in this because of a verse in Isaiah 53:3:

“He was despised and rejected—
    a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief…”

Jesus was the Man of Sorrows. He came on earth to die for all humankind; billions of people who knew and didn’t know Him. He fought for our salvation by carrying our burdens and sorrows to the cross. All of the pain, sin, and darkness of the world was placed on His shoulders for a world that had turned away from Him. He knows sorrow. He knows pain. He knows sadness.

These past three weeks have shaken my world and opened my eyes to how we deal with pain. My grandma passed away, three weeks ago now, to be with the Lord in Paradise. She was ready to be in the Lord’s presence and it gave me peace knowing she passed peacefully. God gave me the incredible opportunity to see her the night before her passing; to tell her how much her testimony and love meant to me. It was a beautiful time because we know that because of Jesus, she is now healed and complete in Him. Now separated from suffering and darkness, she is living in the light of Christ.

I live with seven other girls in a suite at my school. I love them all dearly and again want to thank them for their comfort and protection during my time of grieving. A community that is full of compassion helps bring healing to hurt.

On the day of my grandma’s funeral, my phone blew up with messages about another one of my roommate’s grandpa passing away. The hurt and pain that I was feeling was no longer just mine. My dear friend got to see her grandpa before he passed, but still came back to school with the loss of a loved one.

Our dorm room was feeling the weight of loss and grief that week. We were shocked by these two losses happening so close together and dealt with it with as much grace as we could. And to our surprise, another wave came rolling in. My roommate got a sudden phone call a few days later with the unexpected news that her grandma had passed in her home. I cannot tell you the heaviness of that day as we carried on throughout our classes in disbelief. We kept asking each other, What is happening to our room?

Many tears, many hugs, and many prayers later, we all rallied around each other in community for the loss we continued to feel for each other. The love I felt for these friends grew so much in those few days.

As I write to you now with a heavy heart, I write of the news that another one of my roommate’s great-grandma has passed away suddenly. Another shock that seemed too much like routine in our room. The heaviness and weight of loss still rests on our shoulders as we grieve for our dear friend and roommate.

This time will always serve as a memory, definitely not a fond memory, of how we deal with loss in a broken world. I hold onto that verse in Isaiah to remind myself that Jesus was the Man of Sorrows. He came and suffered with us and for us. He understands loss. In the book of John, we’ve all memorized a small verse in John 11:35: “Jesus wept.” I remember this verse because Jesus mourned when he heard of his friend Lazarus’ death. He felt pain. He knew what it was like to lose someone to death. He was human, like us. I look to Him during this time of loss.

God does not like death. He mourns with us and calls us as the Church to deal with loss together. He does not want us to be alone. I hold tightly to Him in a time of deep sorrow and am thankful for the community He has given us in His Church. Thank you for support and love from those that have heard about what has been happening over the past few weeks. We appreciate your prayers in this time. Not just for comfort, but for protection in a time where much seems lost. We hold on to the promises of the Lord and trust that He will bring blessings out of sorrow and pain.

Psalm 23:4,6: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. … Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

Matthew 5:4: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

2 Corinthians 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.”

Fear For Breakfast

I am a breakfast person. Coffee, french toast, bagels, bacon… the works. If I were to pick one meal of the day to eat for the rest of my life, it would be the first meal of my day. You have probably heard people say breakfast is the “Important Start To Your Day” meal. It “sets you up for success or failure”. As a very independent person, I never wanted to believe that something other than me could determine how my day was going to look. I thought no matter what I ate, I would be able to turn my day around through my attitude and strong will. But food is a funny thing. What we consume affects every aspect of our lives. It not only affects our physicality, but our mentality and spirituality.

I’ve been very conscious of what I consume this summer. So conscious that I even gave up unnatural sugar for one month. For the month of July, one month of the year where ice cream becomes my actual friend, I stuck to a diet that consisted of vegetables, meat, nuts, little grains, and little fruit. There were snacks here and there without sugar I would find and treasure. You would be surprised at how much food has added sugar to create an addictive taste!

What I noticed during this month was how much more energized I was during the day. I wasn’t depending on coffee or naps to keep me alert. The days didn’t feel too long or drawn out. I wasn’t day dreaming about going to bed early that night. It was a wonderful thing to actually enjoy my day and the company I was with because my body was feeling energized and capable of anything! All because I was conscious of what I was consuming.

So yes, I am a strong advocate for healthy consumption. It determines a lot and gives us a launch pad with energy for the day. Breakfast is emphasized by health nuts because a good beginning promises a strong end. If I start my day by eating a donut, I might just feel like a donut at the end of the day. Donuts still look good on the outside but lack a significant substance to contribute to one’s health on their insides. If I don’t benefit my health on the inside, how can I be my best self without the energy to do so?

What we consume can change everything. It can change our thoughts, opinions, attitudes, and struggles. And in a season of political importance with many decisions to be made, we need to talk about what we are consuming on the daily.

We are in a culture where we are constantly consuming fear. We eat it for breakfast. We are exposed the moment we wake up and unlock our phones. It creeps in our dining rooms and kitchens when the TV chimes in from the living room. We discuss it in our break rooms and cafeterias. It even comes back around when we gather for family dinner after a long day of work and school. How do we escape this fear when we are constantly consuming it?!

Living in fear is like living with cancer and not doing anything about it; allowing it to creep into every part of us to affect all that we do. It is burdening and toxic to those around us. Fear can be passed down from generation to generation because of the unexplainable influence it has on us. Why are we so easily taken over by fear?

Just like consuming food, we consume many things the media tells us. The media tells us that we should be afraid for the future of our country. The media tells us there is no hope. The media tells us our leaders will ruin our lives and bring despair to future generations. Without going into a political rant, I want to give you a reminder this morning.

Our hope is not in a politician. It is not in a law or an amendment. Our hope is not in fair pay for all. Our hope is not in equality. Our hope is not in man. Humans have messed things up since the beginning of time. Why is now any different? Why do we think now is the time to find some person we can depend on to “save” our country?

Our hope is in Jesus Christ and He is who we look to for these issues we face and so desperately hope to fix. We can hope for equality, fair pay, good laws, and good politicians. We cannot hope in these things. If life hasn’t already smacked you in the face with this truth, let me tell you this: Life isn’t fair! Things don’t always go our way and yes, there are many problems our country and world faces today. We are constantly being confronted with new problems that seem to make our hearts sink again and again. But let us not forget the constant that has always been and still remains to be our hope and salvation.

Jesus Christ is a man worthy of our faith and trust. He is the Son of the one who has a plan to ultimately glorify Him and His people. When there are times of trouble, He tells us not to fear. He has the final say and the ultimate victory in the end.

I once heard someone say, “Fear did not come from the Lord. So where does it come from? The devil. We don’t want anything from the devil! Give it right back to him and receive the courage and strength from God. He has much greater gifts to give than the devil.” If we are to be like God, we cannot hold onto fear because it is not of God. As His people, we must practice trusting in Him and not letting fear cripple us. It is how we can see this world change.

Let us not fear tomorrow! Let us not fear today. Don’t constantly consume messages of fear that want us to tremble and look to temporary things for a distraction. Those things are of false hope. Instead look to the one who wants to guide us through this mess of a world to our final destination of union with Him. That is the hope we can hold on to. That is the hope that should wake us up every morning and energize us to serve others in our lives and be our best selves.

Let’s consume His hope before we are faced with fear. Wake up and open your Bible first before opening your phone. Let’s have more conversations about solutions than about the problems. Pray instead of worrying, and pray without ceasing. And learn how to trust in these times. Learn how to lean on Jesus who is in control of the end of it all.

Don’t be crippled by fear. It is something this world wants us to hang onto. But God commands us to not fear. He instead commands us to be strong and courageous. I’m sure you’ve heard a verse like that before. It is time to start living it out!

Trust in Him and point to Him; our hope and our salvation. Jesus Christ is Lord of all and has conquered sin. Let us remember that in times of trouble.

 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” Proverbs 12:25

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

A Generation That Gets It

July sixteen, two thousand and sixteen is a historic date for America. It is a historic date for our generation. A historic date for the Church. In Washington D.C. there was a gathering of hundreds of thousands of young people who desire to see change in our nation and our world. I reflect on that event today because it has not and should not stop. The spirit and purpose of this gathering continues admits darkness, it’s Light shines through.

The roots of all the problems our world is facing comes from brokenness. We’ve seen how dreams, people, and lives have been shattered because of the evil we see happening like a daily routine. There is hatred that cuts through like a knife in our society. Now we face division in our communities, in our nation, and in our world. We all have come face to face with this reality and have to decide how we deal with injustice. Imagine you knock over a beautiful vase that has been passed down in your family for generations. It was so priceless and so precious to your family because of its history. The pieces that now lay scattered on the ground were once so beautiful when they were together. Today as we face division and hatred, we face this question: How do we deal with the broken pieces scattered across the floor? How can we see beauty when there is so much brokenness?

The One that can bring these pieces together is not a politician, not a pastor, not an entrepreneur, not a motivational speaker, or even a billionaire. There is One who humbly came to this earth from paradise to see beauty rise from the ashes of our world. One who saw the broken pieces on the floor and became the Way to bring them back together. His name is Jesus, Jesus Christ. He is the living Son of God who desires a relationship with everyone and restoration for our lives!

I’m telling you, friends, that Jesus Christ is the only One that can bring these broken pieces, us, together.

Together 2016 was appropriately named for the need in our nation. This gathering of people ages 14-22 represented a generation that wants to see beauty out of brokenness. Hearts were longing for unity in our nation, not out of selfish ambition, but out of love for others. I have never experienced an event so unified and moving.

 

It was such an incredible privilege to represent my generation at this event. A high school student and I, two ordinary people, had the opportunity to pray over our peers about the issues we know we face. I cannot begin to explain to you how overwhelmed I was with the Holy Spirit’s presence that day. From preparation backstage to walking out and seeing the sea of people next to the Washington Memorial, I knew that God was there and He was speaking clearly to us about the future He desires for us.

 

IMG_7913.JPG

 

 

God used so many incredible communicators to preach the Gospel at Together. Many big names took the stage to remind everyone why Christ followers hold on to Jesus as our hope. His story of redemption was declared so that our stories would be changed. With all the stories we constantly hear in the media that make our hearts sink to our stomaches, we were reminded of a story that we need to be sharing more than anything else! The Gospel needs to be communicated in whatever way, shape, or form God has called you to share it. Especially as a young person! Your voice and your influence can inspire this nation to come together in a time that evil has designed for us to flee from unity. This message was preached boldly on the stage that day for our generation to hear.

While inspirational leaders are used by God to communicate His Word, it wasn’t the people onstage that shaped the event. People like Tim Tebow, Christine Caine, Francis Chan, Hillsong United, and Lecrae didn’t bring people together. They were simply leaders and communicators to usher us into the presence of God. And it was so humbly done. These names were talked about, not highlighted. It was Jesus’ name that was lifted higher than anyone who was apart this event. That is why Together 2016 was like no other event I’ve ever experienced.

When Jesus is the reason for a gathering, in the hearts of those who organized the event as well as those who drove miles to get there, lives are radically changed. God does so much more than we could ever do or ask for.

Our generation gets it. We understand that there is brokenness and problems that don’t point to any logical solution. But as I saw hundreds of thousands of Christ followers stand together in our nation’s capitol just few weeks ago, I was reminded of our solution. Our solution is to point to Jesus Christ. As a generation that longs for justice, longs for peace, and longs for love to conquer hatred, we need to continue to stand together under Jesus’ name to see beauty rise from brokenness.

Let’s give Jesus the broken pieces and see restoration in our land.

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

Deuteronomy 30:3-13-  3 God, your God, will restore everything you lost; he’ll have compassion on you; he’ll come back and pick up the pieces from all the places where you were scattered. 
4 No matter how far away you end up, God, your God, will get you out of there 
5 and bring you back to the land your ancestors once possessed. It will be yours again. He will give you a good life and make you more numerous than your ancestors. 
6 God, your God, will cut away the thick calluses on your heart and your children’s hearts, freeing you to love God, your God, with your whole heart and soul and live, really live. 
7 God, your God, will put all these curses on your enemies who hated you and were out to get you.
8 And you will make a new start, listening obediently to God, keeping all his commandments that I’m commanding you today. 
9 God, your God, will outdo himself in making things go well for you: you’ll have babies, get calves, grow crops, and enjoy an all-around good life. Yes, God will start enjoying you again, making things go well for you just as he enjoyed doing it for your ancestors. 
10 But only if you listen obediently to God, your God, and keep the commandments and regulations written in this Book of Revelation. Nothing halfhearted here; you must return to God, your God, totally, heart and soul, holding nothing back. 
11 This commandment that I’m commanding you today isn’t too much for you, it’s not out of your reach. 
12 It’s not on a high mountain – you don’t have to get mountaineers to climb the peak and bring it down to your level and explain it before you can live it. 
13 And it’s not across the ocean – you don’t have to send sailors out to get it, bring it back, and then explain it before you can live it.

 

 

First Things First…

“You got so much to do and only
So many hours in a day.”

-Billy Joel

These words written by my good friend Billy are so true. Time is fleeting. It is constantly slipping from our fingers. Middle school feels like it happened a week ago. High school flew by right after I blinked. Here I am at the end of my first year of college… Now THAT is weird. Time goes by so fast. We know that. We live that. But we still have problems managing the time given to us. There are games, practices, homework assignments, papers, family events, school events, church events, birthday parties, dentist appointments, coffee dates, etc. They all fill up our schedule and keep us really tired.

What is the solution? Cutting things out of our lives? Trying to say “no” more  when people ask? Losing sleep to get more things done? Drinking six cups of coffee to stay awake?

Scheduling our time is important and should be considered a discipline in our lives, but there is a far better solution. Something greater than stressing about what needs to get done. Something greater than setting five or ten alarms on your phone to remind you of what is coming up next. We can do what Jesus claims to be our first and greatest task:

The Greatest Commandment

34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

 

Let me explain myself.

 

If our first job is to love God, I look at all the worries of my day and think of how small they are to the powerful God I have a relationship with. Because God is a Provider, Friend, Listener, Healer, Redeemer, and Guide for us. Having God on our side is the best thing we can have to face our day. Not only for our benefit but for the benefit of the world around us, for His Kingdom. If He is all we got, we have got everything we need to do what we are called to do everyday. He is more than enough and will provide our every need. Having His guidance will help us keep our sanity and cool when there seems to be so few hours in the day.

He is Provider because He is Father. His love for His children transcends all boundaries and barriers we may face in this life. His love wants to carry us through our struggles, hurts, and stress. So loving Him first, growing in relationship with Him first, will affect the rest of our day to day lives. Being filled up by Him each day can be enough for us to face our day and find the strength to continue on. He can support us more than coffee, more than sleep, more than the things that we go to for refuge. Those things are not even close to the power of of the Holy Spirit and the Father’s love for us.

Think of your very best friend.  That person in your life who carries your burdens with you, listens to your problems, and wants to do everything in their power to support you through your struggles. God wants to do that for you and more! He wants to do that for us. He is doing that for us as a Heavenly Father. His love shows how He wants to be in the center of every part of our lives; good or bad. That means the chaos in our lives as well.

So each day, when you wake up to take on new challenges, first things first… Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your mind. Your relationship with Him matters much more than your paycheck or your deadlines or your social life. Make each day worth it by letting Him take control and lead you through the busyness. His love never fails and will not fail you when time is running out. God values your time and wants to help you use it wisely while you have it. He is Provider, Giver, Healer, Redeemer, and Friend. Love Him first.

A Dream of Freedom

I had a dream the other night that everything in my life was being controlled. I was in bondage and imprisoned to someone who controlled me. My money was his, my job was his, my friends were his, my relationships were his, my wardrobe was his, my time was his, and my words were his. I was constantly aware of where he was because he was always there, watching to see that I did what he wanted.

This dream became a nightmare as I kept falling deeper and deeper into the bondage of a sort of slavery to this man. It was terrifying. Every move I made had to be done just the way he wanted. I feel suffocated and shaken by the grips of this captivity. And it all felt so real.

I woke up from my  nightmare in the middle of the night and started contemplating what I would do. Because I was still half asleep, I still thought the dream was real. Even if it wasn’t, that feeling of captivity was still fresh on my mind. I felt unsafe and unsure of what to do.

As I started feeling more awake, I started thinking about what this dream meant. Why was I having a dream about an evil man controlling my life? I had never experienced anything like this before. It didn’t relate to anything in my life. But God showed me that it had everything to do with me and my story. It had everything to do with many of our stories. We all can relate to this story of slavery to an evil one.

Before I became a Christian, I was a slave to sin, fear, and the devil. I was constantly being tempted and drawn to things that were meant to kill and destroy me. The evil one doesn’t care about my well being. He only wanted to steal my happiness, joy, and ultimately, my soul. The bondage I felt in my dream was representing his grip that he had on my life. But that was all before I turned to the One who set me free.

As I lay in my bed, contemplating how I shake this horrible feeling of my dream, I asked myself, “How do I break free from this evil?” And in my tired daze, I said to myself, “Jesus! That’s how!”

I know it was only a dream. This may sound silly to you. But that simple reminder of what I’ve been saved from was a game-changer for me during this Easter season. Do we actually realize what we’ve been saved from?

The world can often shield our eyes and make sin look like the good guy. It can make the lifestyle of living in slavery to sin look like freedom! Like we can do whatever we want. But once we step back and think of the devil’s motives behind the lifestyle he wants for us, we see how true this verse is:

John 10:10

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…”

Being reminded of the captivity of sin has made me see just how significant Easter is for us! For me, I am reminded of how Jesus showed His love for us and set us free. I believe I had this dream to remind me of what I’ve been saved from and what I am now promised.

This dream was about the promise of freedom. Freedom from pride, abusive relationships, racism, sexism, sex trafficking, addictions, illnesses, fear, abandonment, physical pain, past mistakes, doubts, and loneliness. The only One with the power to give us freedom from these things is Jesus Christ. Through His death and His resurrection, we now have the choice to choose new life with Him that is apart from our bondage and our past. His act of love for us created a new path to leads to life.

John 10:10

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

We have so many problems in our world and in our society. There are things we can cry and complain about and be disgusted with and angry about. But I’m telling you, your only hope and only solution to these things is Jesus. Because of what He did on a cross, we know that Jesus conquered sin and the devil so that we no longer have to live with those things anymore. He has the power to free us from the chains of our slavery to sin today!

You don’t have to be enslaved to the devil’s standard of money, careers, friends, relationships, wardrobe, time and talk. He wants you to let all of these determine your joy when we know that ultimately, these things don’t fulfill us. The enemy keeps telling us that they will. He has no problem with lying to you. All he wants is for you to be entrapped to live his way with these things.

Jesus Christ wants you to have an abundant life. We see that through what He did on the cross. This season of celebration is important because it is a game-changer for all people. We now have a way to escape bondage and run in the gift of freedom. I am so thankful that Jesus saw us in our captivity and longed to set us free. He didn’t just talk about it, He did something about it. He did something we remember thousands of years later. It’s that important to us and this world.

He is risen! Get excited about what He did for you. Don’t worry so much about your Sunday outfit or Easter meal or Easter baskets as much as you simply celebrate Jesus and what He has done. He has set you free and longs to free the rest of the world from captivity.

He has a dream of freedom for all people. I hope you do as well. Tell the world of what Jesus had done!

1 John 5:12 

Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Romans 8:28

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Luke 24

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ”

 

Why We Do It.

Last weekend, on a Sunday night, Marion High School opened it’s doors to 300 people who came to worship the Lord at an Enlightened event. In the small city of Marion, Indiana, we saw hundreds of students being serious about their faith in their school. God spoke to us about helping those in need and being the ‘Good Samaritan’ to our peers in our schools. The people you’d least expect were called to step out and be courageous for the Lord. We were empowered and inspired by the testimonies and songs shared by high school students from this school. This event changed the atmosphere at their school and in this city. We praise God for speaking to us so clearly on March 13, 2016 at Enlightened Marion. What started at a school called Byron Center High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan is now an event happening in different schools and students who strive to bring Christ on their campus. What a joy it is to remember where we’ve come and where we are going!

God had a plan for Byron Center High School since before time began. He knew that Enlightened would be planted there as a seed only to grow into more schools, more states, and impact more young people’s lives. He knew that lives would be saved, people would be called into ministry, and lives would be restored in His name. The number of people who showed up to the testimonies shared were no surprise to our great Father. He made us to move and work for His glory. As students gathered to worship two years ago in a high school auditorium, we felt the atmosphere change in that building.

It was worshipping together with brothers and sisters of Christ that changed our perspective on how we are to worship. We weren’t worshipping in our comfortable box with the people we knew well in youth group. We were praising our Father in a high school with hundreds of other high schoolers from many different schools, homes, and faith backgrounds. It was Jesus that brought us together and it was Jesus that was glorified.

The reason I believe in Enlightened is because I long for the days when I can worship my God with my peers in uncomfortable situations. I long for the day we can go out of our comfort-zones and give God all we have because He deserves that and more. It was incredible to experience a worship time that wasn’t about us for a change. It was great to look around the room and see people truly moved by God not the songs. God’s hand is over this ministry and I know He is continuing to see His plan unfold in the years following that first event.

The definition of event is, “a thing that happens, especially one of importance”. We remember events and we look back to them. Can you remember the first time you went to school? Or the day you got your license? If you’re a Christian, do you remember the day you turned your life around and gave it all to Jesus? Do you remember those significant moments in your life? Of course you do! They are things of importance that have changed your life forever. They change the way we think and act and speak. They give us new perspectives and new insights on how to be better and become the person we always strive to be.

The most important event to me is not Enlightened. It is not when I first learned to ride a bike or drive a car. The most important event that has affected my life deeply was Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection three days later. Yes, I realize I just gave you two events but they go hand in hand! Jesus didn’t just die, He rose from the dead! And when He did, He saved us from sin and death. That is good news and that is the reason we do everything. It is the reason we have thankful hearts. It is the reason we go out of our way to help a neighbor with a chore. It is the reason we give to the homeless and abandoned. This good news is the reason we wake up and take on the day with a different mindset. It is the reason Enlightened started.

Enlightened is a ministry started by high school students that is devoted to supporting and equipping high school students to lead an event full of worship and story telling at their school for their community. These events are for high school students to encourage their peers to be the salt and light in this generation. We focus on schools and hold these events at schools because we believe, as students, that it is the biggest mission field God has given us in this season of our lives. There is a story to tell; the event where Jesus died for our sins has affected our lives. We need to share this event with our friends! Because if we know how great our lives became after we experienced Jesus in our lives, we know we ought to share it with the rest of the world. The Gospel gives us a mission to go and tell the world. We want to invite our peers to join us as we live for this mission!

Why young people? Why students?

Students are cool. Students are passionate. Students care a lot about what they choose to care about. And students have more power in this world than they know. I had the privilege of working alongside many students in planning Enlightened events. I got to see how God has gifted each one of them to contribute a special part to Kingdom Work in their schools. Some students loved talking to people so they greeted students at the doors of their event. Other students loved technology so they ran the slideshow for lyrics and videos during their event. There were even some students that took on the responsibility of raising money for materials needed for their event. God used every single person on each Enlightened Crew (the whole group of student leaders) to leave a prominent impact on their high school’s campus.

Enlightened birthed and grew because God planned for students to do big things for Him. We see Him continue to call and equip high schoolers to lead Enlightened events at their schools now. The process is not easy. It is not a road easily followed. But it is a good road, because through it all, we get to experience God’s work in us. His provision through the planning process of an event is surreal. From financial issues to filling in spots for a team, God provided. He is the Provider, and we’ve seen why He is called Provider.

God has a plan. And for now, Enlightened is continuing to grow and seek out opportunities to reach the Gospel to young people everywhere. We love what we do and we are so thankful that God allows us to be apart of the journey.

Matthew 5:13-16  

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

Long-Distance Relationship

Being away from someone you love is difficult. In fact, you might even be counting down the hours until you are together again. You might have a reminder on your phone and you might try to call them every so often to catch up. Sometimes the communication is bare and minimal but you still want to do anything possible to communicate even a short message to the one you love. When something and someone is important to you, your top priority is to show that something or someone they are a priority. The best things in life take work, like: getting a good job, accomplishing a lifetime goal, serving someone in need, and sustaining good relationships. If you are in a relationship and you love that person, you will do whatever it takes to move that relationship forward. Even when its a long-distance relationship, your actions make or break it with the one you love.

Long-distance relationships are not ideal. We always plan for them to be temporary because we long to be with the one that we love. Just talking on the phone once a week is not enough. Texting is not as personal as you’d wish to be with that special someone. They don’t show emotions or live reactions to big news. The presence of your loved one is what you look forward to during the eternity you might await for the long-distance relationship to finally be called a “relationship”.

Have you ever felt this way about someone?

When we consider how much we put aside and devote to a person we love, we also need to consider, as Christians, how much we put aside and devote to God. If you have accepted Jesus into your heart, you entered into relationship with Him. A relationship is so much more than a weekly church service or attending a camp or conference. A relationship is ongoing and takes a lot of work. It takes an effort from both parties even when one doesn’t feel like it. And yes, we sort of have a long-distance relationship with God.

We know that God is with us. As Jesus ascended into heaven after his death and resurrection, He blessed us with the presence of the Holy Spirit. God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He dwells in us today and continues to show up in our lives. But as we know, the Holy Spirit is invisible to us. We cannot see the Holy Spirit.

This might be frustrating for some people. Some might feel like they are praying meaningful words that are going out into the void. It may not feel like there is someone on the receiving end of the conversation. I want you to know that God hears you. This thing called faith is trusting in the unseen. We can’t see Jesus right now, but He is awaiting His return to earth while in heaven at this very moment. As Christians, we trust in the unseen and put our faith in Jesus Christ our Savior. The Holy Spirit is here today to help us draw closer to our God who we will soon be with in heaven. Our future is dependent on this relationship with God. Lets stop and think about where our future is going.

Like a long-distance relationship with a human we love, we must also put time and effort into our “long-distance relationship” with God. Like one conversation a week is not enough for a boyfriend and girlfriend to grow in their relationship, we can’t limit our time with God to a Sunday morning service every week. Some of us might even only go to meet God for holiday services or special occasions. How can we get to know Him best that way? Seeing your boyfriend or girlfriend a few times a year would not help you two grow closer. It might just pull you farther apart.We must always be in communication with our significant other. This is done with dates, phone conversations, texts, letters, or simply just sitting down and talking when you have the time to do so.

If you decided to call up your boyfriend or girlfriend or a friend to have coffee, would you sit down for an hour and talk the whole time? Would you not let the person sitting across from you talk? Of course not! You would listen to what they have to say about your conversation topic. Listening to them helps you understand who they are and how they function. They may also have insight for you and could teach you something important for your life. You don’t know unless you shut up and listen!

We often do a poor job of communicating with God. Maybe we decide to sit down and spend time with God every day and pray through our lits of needs and wants. But if this is all we do, we are having a one-sided conversation. It would be like sitting down with your role model and not giving them a chance to share their wisdom with you. Imagine if you had a chance to sit down with Albert Einstein and you didn’t let him talk the whole time you met with him. Or think about sitting down with the Queen of England and not giving her a chance to speak in her awesome British accent! We wouldn’t do that. We would listen and take to heart what she had to say.

It is necessary to listen to God in our conversations with Him. We cannot continue treating God like a vending machine and asking Him for our wants. Lets start asking Him what He wants for us. He wants good things for us, we just forget to ask what they are! I challenge you to start listening as I feel challenged to do the same in my prayer life.

In our relationships with God, we need to put some effort into this “long-distance relationship”. Until Jesus comes back, we can devote ourselves to learning God’s heart through the Bible, prayer, and staying connected with the Church. He has made us for community. To best be in community with our God, we as the Church of believers need to devote ourselves to better communicating with Him together. How are we speaking to Him and how are we listening to Him?

A relationship needs words to grow. God gave us His Word in physical form for us to learn more about who He is. His heart is displayed through the many stories of redemption, justice, and grace in the Bible. His grace has given us a chance to have relationship with Him now and one day be with Him in paradise. We must await the great day when we will be united with Jesus. We must long for His presence. We must do whatever it takes to keep our relationship with Him strong. We must allow our love to drive us to continually communicate with our good God who wants to spend time with us now and forever.

How are you contributing in your relationship with God? It’s Valentine’s Day. This isn’t my favorite holiday, but is a good reminder of how I’m loving those in my life. How can I better love my family, friends, and God who I only want to grow closer with? Today I reflect on His love for me and my love for Him. It is better than any relationship this earth could offer me because a relationship with God is eternal.

Have a wonderful day of reflection. Sit down without your phone or a screen in front of your face. Take a moment to be in silence and listen to God. He wants to tell you He loves you!

 

1 Corinthians 13:13- And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

 

 

 

One Year Bible

January 1, 2015 was the day I decided that I wanted to read the entire Bible in one year. It was a goal that I had been thinking about for a long time. The Bible is a big book and there is so much to uncover inside it. As someone who has heard endless sermons, devotions, and verses to recite in Sunday school, I had never read all the way through a book that was supposedly the foundation of my life. I based my faith, my philosophy behind the little portion I had read of this book. There came a point in my life where I realized that if I was to go around preaching the Word, I needed to know the Word.

My favorite books of the Bible were always in the New Testament. The Timothy’s have always been my points of reference when I don’t know what else to read. It’s clear and challenging to me of how I need to live my life in the Church. The letters of the New Testament were always more intriguing to me because I could understand what they were saying. Compared to the Old Testament, filled with names and rules, it was more relatable to me and I would walk away with a verse I could easily apply to my day-to-day life. But like I said before, I have never read all the way through the Bible. That being said, I had never read through the whole Old Testament.

The Old Testament often gets pushed aside if someone was asked which Testament is their favorite. I read through the Old Testament little by little in my One Year Bible. The One Year Bible broke up passages so that I read an Old Testament passage, a New Testament passage, a Psalm, and a Proverb everyday. I was always excited for the first story I would read in the Old Testament each day. It was so interesting to learn the full history of our faith through the trials and the people who came before us. There were Kings and Prophets and cities that have stories that contribute to the family tree of Jesus! The stories that are often pushed aside are so important to where we are today as Christians. If the Old Testament didn’t happen, the New Testament wouldn’t have a foundation to build upon. A passion grew inside me for learning the foundation and starting marks of the amazing moments we read about with Jesus and His disciples in the New Testament.

 

Growing up going to church every Sunday taught me a lot about the stories written down in the Bible. When I say every Sunday, I mean every Sunday. I’ve heard the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Samson, Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection, and more stories of His miracles in the Gospels. I thought that I had heard them all! That was a lie that I had told myself for years. I kept telling myself that I knew enough about the Bible and that I was set for just learning more about the stories I’ve been told since birth. If this year has shown me anything, it has shown me that I know so little and there is so much left to uncover in God’s Word even after this year.

 

I would find myself sitting in my dorm room with my lamp on, reading my passages for the day, and thinking, “This is in the Bible?” There were stories that I had never read or talked about with anyone. There were verses that I wish I had seen last year when I was struggling with the very situation a prophet would be talking about. When people say live by His Word, I actually saw how applicable it really is.

 

This book was written thousands of years ago, yes. But it always blows my mind how God inspired these words in people in a different time and culture that still shows me the best way to live out a purpose-filled life today. It is so good. It was worth the read.

 

I finished reading through the Bible on January 1, 2016 (I had one extra day because I had a few days to catch up on… oops!) As I sat on my bed, reading the last few passages for December 31, I tried to recap what I had read over the past year. That was impossible… I read SO much truth in one year that I know I will need to go back and read again. But there was one thing that always stood out to me during my reading times. Yes, there were a lot of rules and regulations. Yes, people messed up a lot in Bible stories. Yes, there are stories filled with pain and regret and death. But these stories always had the same outcome. There was always a God who was present and waiting for His people, His children, to look to Him in those times. Because right besides stories of hurt, there was a following story that showed how God gave hope to His people amidst the trials and pain. He was always there. From the beginning, He was there with His people. Sin crept in and stole His people away, and He still wanted to provide a way back to Him. I saw a plan unraveling throughout the whole Old Testament of how God was planning to send His Son to redeem what had been lost on earth in the book of Genesis. He was to bring back life and salvation for God’s people. Every person from Noah to Moses, from David to Ezekiel were ones that God used to set the stage for the day Jesus would come and change the world forever. What a beautiful story!

 

When I read through the Old Testament books that had all the rules and regulations for God’s people, I had a new perspective on the rules that we all can so easily decide to dislike. Going from the Old Testament passages to the New Testament passages each day showed me how God wanted to grow closer to His people in both times. Before Jesus came to earth, God wanted His people to know a better way to live in Old Testament times. He wanted more for them than the brokenness and darkness that they lived in. God wanted His people to live purpose-filled lives that were apart from sin. And like a good father would, He set boundaries and laws for His children to stay away from the trouble He could foresee down the road. When Jesus came, He wanted to save His people from the trouble He could foresee down the road: eternal death. He came to bring life. The Word (Jesus) was flesh. Jesus knew the laws and regulations but wanted to show His people the best way to live them out with a purpose-filled life. His life was an example for us as Christians and how we are to live out these laws that God made for our benefit thousands of years ago.

 

Let’s think about this as if you are a parent. Or maybe you’ve babysat kids before or have younger siblings. I am not a parents but have younger siblings and have grown up babysitting younger kids. Let’s imagine you’re responsible for a group of 4-year olds for one day. You are all by yourself in your home with 5 children that are hyper, loud, and messy. Say you are going to make macaroni and cheese for lunch. Now imagine if the stove was on and you turned your back for one second and one of the kids was fascinated by the blazing fire and reached out to touch it. You know the responsibility you have for these kids and don’t want to see them get hurt. And if we love someone as much as we love ourselves, an example set for us by Jesus, we would do everything we could to make sure that this child wouldn’t burn themselves on the stove. That is how I see God’s laws that He set for His people. He is the Creator, He knows the best way for us to live a purpose-filled life! Reading through these laws and then seeing the consequences of people going against these laws showed me how necessary God’s laws are to live a life of purpose without the darkness of the world to weigh us down.

 

I think it always comes back to one word: love. How is God’s love active today and how was it active back in Bible times? Reading through the Bible showed me story after story of how God was looking out for His children. He was often asking them to turn from their wicked ways because the things they were doing were full of destruction and pain. He was often asking them to take a path that they may have not wanted to take because He saw the blessings that awaited them at the end of the journey He had planned. God loves His people so much that He often stepped in the way to show them a better way. That is how loving our Father is.

 

I am not a reader. It was often difficult for me to sit down and take the time to focus on the long passages I had to read. But the thing is, each day in the One Year Bible is designed for the reader to take about 15 minutes for reading. That is not long at all! When I put in perspective about how much time I was really spending in the Word, it wasn’t even as long as an episode on Netflix. There is some perspective, people…

 

This year showed me the importance of knowing the Word. As Christians, we need to know what we are talking about. We need to know the truth that we claim to base our faith on. If someone were to ask you about your faith and he or she didn’t come from a faith background, would you have scripture to back up what you believe? We can’t simply speak from opinion about Christianity. We need to speak Truth. That is what Jesus did. He would speak scripture to people. His opinions never got in the way of the truth that God wanted to speak through Him.

 

I’ve realized how much more I need to be in the Word. Now that I’ve read through the whole Bible, I want to study it with a different perspective. Instead of focusing on the whole Bible, I want to focus on each book inside of the Bible. There is so much to learn from God’s Word. There is so much truth that gives me hope for the day because they come from God’s heart. He gave us this tool for us to know Him better and to know how to live better for Him. If we aren’t using this gift from God, how can we better know Him? These are HIS words. The best way to get to know someone is to know their heart and to know their story. You have a story written by God for His people in a tangible form. Don’t let your Bible be a decoration on your shelf. Pick it up and open it up everyday. Oh, the things that we could give up for a few minutes in our day to instead spend in the Word! Oh, how we waste so much of our time doing the same thing everyday: posting and liking and retweeting and staring at a screen. Think about it… That is our daily routine! We will always make time for that. And I believe what we give our time to shows where our heart lies.

 

I’ve realized how many lies the enemy throws at us when we are challenged to read the Word. When looking back at my year and remembering days that I skipped reading my Bible, those days started stacking up on top of each other. If I had an excuse one day to skip it, there would always be another excuse for another day. It wasn’t until I started making myself sit down to read through the daily passages that it became apart of my routine everyday. It wasn’t always the same time everyday, it was always during a time that I knew I could give up something else to read God’s story.

 

“I don’t want reading my Bible to just be a ‘check off my checklist’. I want it to be a desire for me to sit down and read it.”

 

This was the biggest lie I heard from the enemy and from other people. We don’t want reading the Bible to just be a routine for us. The reason I see this as a lie is because unless we’ve been reading the Bible everyday of our lives since we could read, I don’t think we automatically get a desire to sit down and read the Bible. There were days that the last thing I felt like doing was reading. I either wanted to lay down and watch Netflix or sleep. But making sure that I read the Bible before the end of my day was the most important thing I could do. Even I felt like I was checking it off my ‘checklist’, reading the Bible was way better than anything else I could’ve been doing during that time.

 

If we aren’t making sure we check off ‘reading my Bible’ on our daily checklists, when will reading our Bibles become apart of our daily routine? We need to make the effort to do so before the desire to read God’s Word comes in our life. It’s like training for a race. If you never start running, how will you ever reach your goal of 5, 10, 15 miles? Most of us don’t have a desire to run. I know some crazy people that do but that is beside the point… We have to start somewhere. At the end of the day, we know that running is good for us, but we have to build that desire to do so by simply starting. For you to have a desire to read the Word, you need to start reading the Word. And if at first it is something you have to ‘check off the list’, it is the best thing you can be doing with that time of your day! Every time I made myself sit down to read the Word when I first started the One Year Bible, I never regretted it when I was done. You won’t regret the time you set aside to read the Word. It will forever impact your life, friendships, families, attitude, and relationship with Christ.

 

It is a new year. We may all be posting about our new year’s resolutions and what our goal is for 2016. How about we don’t just commit to our resolutions for this year, but start something this year that will continue for a lifetime? What if this was the year you said, “I am going to be in the Word everyday starting today”? I believe, as Christians, that is the most important thing for us to do if we want to change this world and spread the Gospel with our lives. We need to know the Word!

 

Favorite Verses Of The Year:

 

Psalm 85:8– I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying, for He speaks peace to His faithful people. But let them not return to their foolish ways.

 

Colossians 2:7– Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

 

1 Thessalonians 1:11-12– Because we know that this extraordinary day is just ahead, we pray for you all the time—pray that our God will make you fit for what he’s called you to be, pray that he’ll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with his own energy so that it all amounts to something. If your life honors the name of Jesus, he will honor you. Grace is behind and through all of this, our God giving himself freely, the Master, Jesus Christ, giving himself freely.

 

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20-After looking at the way things are on this earth, here’s what I’ve decided is the best way to live: Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that’s about it. That’s the human lot. Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work. It’s God’s gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now. It’s useless to brood over how long we might live.