The Recipe for Contentment: 1 Jesus-filled Life

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. -Hebrews 13:5 KJV

I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. -Philippians 4:11-13 Message

Hello friends!

I hope that you’re all doing well. I wanted to write because yesterday while talking to my best friend Jeida (many of my blog ideas come from conversations with her), I realized that I am truly happy with my life. I realized that I don’t feel any voids, holes or discontentment although there are many things in my life that can be better.

Let’s face it. At some point, all of us realize that our life is not what we thought it would be 5 years ago. I am 22 years old but when I was 17, I had life all figured out. I knew that by 22, I would be a college graduate, working as a nurse, married to my high school sweetheart and living the high life. I mean I had school planned out, wedding dates and children’s names. That’s before I realized that I didn’t get to plan my life myself. Also, before I realized that God’s plans are greater than mine and definitely before I read Proverbs 16:9 which says, “We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live.” As of now, I’m not yet a college graduate. I haven’t started my career, but when I do I will be making less money than I ever wanted to. I have no awesome guy friends I’d like to marry, no boyfriend, no prospects and no wedding dates in mind. I have no awesome fancy apartment or car. All of these things sound like the makings of a sad situation but to be completely honest with you, I am completely filled with joy.

What I have come to understand is that my life is not where I thought it would be even 6 months ago, but there is no better place than where I am and that is simply because of Jesus. I don’t have all the things I thought I’d have, but God is working in my life. Doors are opening for me and I see Him leading me along the way. This place can only be described as total dependence, devotion and surrender to Jesus. Not just this, but I am also completely in love with the man and I am pursuing Him like He’s the last man I’ll ever know. I am chasing Him, burning for Him and giving myself to Him. Right now, there is nothing I want more in this life than to please my Jesus. Nothing. No status, job, title, relationship, money, anything. I am completely in love with where we are and with how He is molding me into a woman that He wants me to be.

I am so thankful because I haven’t always been this way. If you read some of my previous blog posts, you know that this is a new thing for me. But it is so amazing that I never want to go back to just being a “church attendee who tries to do things right.” The level of intimacy, love, peace and joy that I have in this relationship is the best thing I’ve ever experienced. Things are so amazing that I am literally rolling out of bed at 6am to have prayer and worship. I NEVER did that before without a struggle. It was hard because I wasn’t excited to do it. Right now, I am elated to get to spend time with this amazing man that I love before my day gets started. It’s a joy!

But enough of my happy talk. Here are some things that I have done/tips to help you get to the point where Jesus is your all and you are completely content in Him. Ready? Let’s go!

1. Spend time with Him and read about His promises

I spend ample amounts of time in prayer every single day. I am also in the process of reading the entire Old Testament and reading several books. There’s no way around this. Many times, we want the benefits of a relationship with God without putting in the work. Pursue Him simply to get to know Him and see how He works in your life and gives you peace. Also, memorize scriptures and promises that He has made. When I have feelings of discontentment despite knowing I’m right where I should be, I have several verses and sayings that remind me that’s God’s got everything under control. I’ll share a few:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” -Proverbs 3:5, 6 NIV

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” -Romans 8:28 NIV

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 NIV

2. Count your blessings and answered prayers

When I start to feel that my life isn’t working out right, I begin to count my blessings and my answered prayers. When I realize that I can’t count them all, it usually helps me to understand that I am blessed beyond measure. It is in those moments that my strength, faith and joy are renewed.

3. Remember that God is working everything out for your good and for His glory

When we live for Christ and we know that we are doing what He would have us to do, we can always remind ourselves that Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.” I love this promise, and the short way that I say this is “God is working everything out for my good and for His glory.” How amazing is that? What an amazing promise! Basically, all we have to do is stay obedient, faithful and focused on God and what He has for us to do and everything will work out for us. This doesn’t mean that we sit around and not take care of our business, do our homework or go to work. It means that God is always on our side making things work for us as long as we love Him and are committed to our purpose.

4. Don’t allow negativity, complaining or bad emotions to fester

Often times, it’s hard for us to be content with our lives and our portion because we are negative and we complain a lot. We point out what God is doing for others, compare our lives to theirs and want what they have. This creates bad feelings which make us depressed and sad. Then we get “stuck in our feelings” as many people would say. We have to fight off negativity all the time. When I feel myself getting ready to complain, I pray. I thank God for my life and where I am right now. I thank Him for this season of transition, growth and change that is making me more like Him. I thank Him for every blessing and trial alike. Shelley Giglio, an amazing woman of God tweeted something so simple yet profound one day when I was online. It simply said “sometimes you have to contend for faith.” On the daily basis, I contend for peace, joy, faith and other things. But the point is, I don’t just let the devil or life’s circumstances take these things from me. I FIGHT for them. I WILL keep my peace, joy and faith. The best way to make this fight easier is to rid as much negativity from your life as possible.

5. Keep your mind stayed on Jesus

I know many people think that this is just a saying, but it is a state of mind. Throughout the day, I try to keep my mind on my Savior. On the amazing man who gave up everything for me. The one who knew I’d sin against Him but still willingly went to the cross and stayed there. The one who has blessed me when I didn’t deserve it. I think about HIs love, grace, compassion and care for me and it makes it a lot easier for me to be thankful, joyful and happy about life everyday. My life isn’t perfect and many situations I deal with are not optimal situations, but I have found that keeping Jesus on the brain helps me to see the beauty in life and not just focus on the bad.

Learning to be content no matter what is amazing. It is something that can only come from God changing us and taking away our anxiety and replacing it with His peace. Try these things and see how your begin to view life differently.

Sincerely,

Brittany

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Keep The Fire Burning

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1 ESV

The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. Lamentations 3:25 KJV

In any relationship, it’s always important to continuously keep the passion, love and fire burning. When dating, people do this with good morning texts, random sweet emails, gifts for no reason at all and of course lots of affirmations of love. But I’m sure that I’m not the only one that finds it sometimes difficult to maintain a continuous, passionate relationship with God. I think that it’s difficult for many reasons.

We can’t see Him

I think it’s tough to keep our relationship strong with God sometimes, simply because we can’t see Him. In a dating or marriage relationship, we can call, eat and just spend quality time with the person we love. We can spend time with God, but sometimes it feels like we’re wasting our time because we can’t see Him.

Distractions

Distractions are everywhere. TV, computers, our phones, our friends and family. Distractions aren’t always bad, but sometimes they are good at keeping us too busy to spend time with God.

We haven’t made up our mind

Everything we do begins with a choice. Prayer, reading the Bible, and everything related to keeping our relationship with God thriving. At some point, we all have to purpose in our minds that we will have a strong relationship with Him because we choose to do what need to be done to obtain it. If that means cutting off the tv, telling friends we’ll call them later or even taking a fast from social media, we must decide to do whatever we must do to put God first and keep Him in His rightful place. 

So what can we actually do to be sure that our relationship with God is growing and thriving?

Purpose in our mind to put Him first

This sounds easy, but it’s something that we must do daily. Today, we can wake up and decide that we’re going to spend plenty of time with God in prayer, studying and worship. But if we don’t decide to do the same thing tomorrow, we will be on our way to losing some of the intimacy we had. Just imagine not talking to your significant other or your spouse for a whole day. I’ve experienced not being able to talk to someone that I loved for two days and it was a really rough weekend for me. Thankfully it didn’t damage our relationship, but if we were to do it over and over, it would. Think of God the same way. We must decide each and everyday that we will make Him first and treat Him as such.

Push through emotions

There are days that we all wake up and don’t feel like loving on anyone. We all have moods, bad feelings and emotions that try to discourage us from doing what we should do, but if we want to really reach the next level in our relationship with Him, we must learn to push through the feelings and pray, praise, worship and read our Bibles anyhow. We can’t be ruled by our feelings. The Bible tells us in Jeremiah 17:9 that we can’t trust our hearts. Don’t allow your heart to make the decision not to spend time with God for you. Push through those feelings and spend time with Him because you love Him.

Change things up

It’s wonderful to be able to change things up. When things become mundane or old, we can always spend time with God in different ways. I doubt that any couple would go on dates to the same place over and over and expect to have an amazing time. Of course not! We try new things, eat new foods, go to new places, etc because it adds an element of freshness to our relationships. When I’m not feeling like my regular routine of prayer then Bible study, I add in journaling and worship. Also, new translations of the Bible really enhance Bible study time. Whenever English Standard Version becomes a little dry to me, I read in the Message translation as well and it seems as if the words literally jump off the page!  I also supplement my Bible study with sermons & messages from awesome pastors. I utilize several applications from different ministries that really enhance my study time. Spending time with God can be as fun as we make it and it is only boring if we allow it to be.

If our relationship with God is the most important thing in our life, we must be willing to do whatever we must do to be sure that the relationship is growing and developing in a healthy way. This doesn’t mean that we can’t have a life, spend time with friends or anything else, but it does mean that we have our priorities lined up and God is in His rightful place. It’s been said that if we want to see what someone cares about, look at how they spend their time and how they spend their money. When we love someone dearly, we make sure that they know it because we give them our energy, our time and our attention. We don’t want to make God wonder How important He is to us. He is the lover of our souls so He deserves to always know just how much we love and adore Him.

-Brittany

Cultivating Faithfulness, Singleness and Psalms 37

For those who don’t know me, I am single. To protect the lives of the innocent, I’ll just say that a month and a half ago, God decided that He wanted my boyfriend and I all to Himself and decided to make that known to us after 1 year of dating. Although we prayed for God’s guidance the entire time, I am thankful that He made it very clear to us that He was directing us to end our relationship. It’s amazing to know that He cares about His children so much. I know it may sound crazy to some, but being obedient to God doesn’t require understanding.

Although I was very much in love and happy in my relationship, I am not a sad single girl because I know that I am purposefully single. God didn’t end our relationship to be mean; He just saw that I (or we) needed more time to cultivate faithfulness and grow in Him. Because of this, I can appreciate so much that God didn’t let me continue to be in a relationship with someone else if He was not in full support of it.

Cultivating Faithfulness

Louie Giglio of Passion City Church in Atlanta is a phenomenal pastor. The entire church is a great place that has dedicated their ministry to impacting the lives of 18-25 year olds and they have definitely impacted me. While I was dealing with the disappointment of no longer being in a relationship, Louie was in the middle of a sermon series called Boy Meets Girl. The two messages that I particularly enjoyed were called Waiting Here for You Parts 1 & 2. At the time, I wasn’t interested in hearing about love, marriage or any of the clichĂ©’ things we hear in church about love, but my best friend Jeida assured me that the message was more about God than love. She was right.

Psalms 37:3, 4 says “Trust in the LORD and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.”

While we wait on God, we should be active in our waiting and also pitching our tents in the land of truth. We should do good things that build us into the people that we should be, and also do great things for God’s kingdom. Also, we must dwell in the land of truth and cultivate faithfulness.

Cultivating faithfulness means to dig up the things in our lives that prevent us from being the person that we want to be in Christ. This may mean disciplining ourselves, removing people or habits, gaining new skills, all with God’s help. It almost always means that we are strengthening our relationship with God so that we are able to be guided and used by Him. When it comes to relationships, it’s about becoming a person with the character, life, dedication to God and spiritual strength that we want to see when we walk down the aisle.

Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” These are the things we should be planting in our lives. As we remove things that are not Godly and these beautiful things, God will water them and they will grow in our lives. And I have no doubt that these are all the things that we all want to see in our future spouse as we meet them at the alter.

Louie also talked about what it means to “wait with God while waiting on God.” God is with us even while we are waiting for Him to reveal what He already has planned for us. We aren’t waiting alone.

Quotes from the messages:

We have to prepare the soil of our life, of our heart and of our relationship for the harvest we’ve been dreaming about.

There’s no such thing as instantaneous maturity.

A part of cultivating faithfulness is being able to step back and say, ‘God, what do you see?’

If you don’t feel like the person you want to marry, then the person you end up choosing to marry can’t compensate for you. We have to trust God in the waiting time to cultivate the soil.

While we’re waiting on the not yet, there’s always something for us to cultivate in terms of building faithfulness in our lives.

God is saying, ‘If I can’t trust you with this, in the land wherever you are and cultivate faithfulness where you are, then I can’t possibly give you anything else.’

How I Cultivate Faithfulness

Deciding to fully prepare myself to be the person that God wants me to be has meant that I’ve had to change my mindset. It means I’m not content or settled where I am, and that I’m always striving to go higher, be better and be more faithful in something. It means that I’m forever improving. These are just a few of the areas that I have decided to cultivate faithfulness in.

Personal Relationship with Christ

Although it sounds quite simple, I have started dedicating my time to fortifying myself with prayer and the Word. It also includes reading books, journaling and listening to messages.

It has meant that I spend more time with God than I spend with other things and people. My relationship with Christ has truly become the most important thing in my life and it’s something I treasure.

Ministry/Service

I have increased my involvement in a prayer ministry that I serve as the secretary for. I put in more time not only organizing, but interceding for the prayer ministry and the people that we actually pray for.

I have made myself available to many friends to reach out to whenever needed. My friends all know that if they need to call me to pray with them, pray for them, etc, it is never a problem and that I’m always there.

I have dedicated myself to running a youth small group at my church on Friday nights. It is something that the Lord laid on my heart before school ended and I thank God that it will be starting this Friday. I have a huge heart for youth ministry and meeting the needs of young people however possible. I know that God is going to use me to bring the youth closer to Him.

Character

I have worked to be more respectful and helpful with my family. This has been quite tough, but I know that God has used my family to refine my character. This means serving them, keeping my mouth shut and not always needing to have things my way.

Education/Work/Finances

I have started preparing myself for my last year of school and all the changes that will come with it. This has meant finding affordable housing, picking classes and looking into programs that will help me find a teaching job. I’m in the process of applying to a program now, and if it’s in God’s will, I’ll be accepted and I’ll have a job before I even graduate. PRAISES!

This has also meant assessing my financial situation as the college student that I am and deciding how I should be spending my money. This has been one of the toughest parts of cultivating faithfulness, but I know that I will thank myself later for being so frugal with my spending and vigilant with my saving.

Health

I have started drinking a lot of more water and eating a lot less junk. This also means that I spend more time walking and less time sitting. It’s not always fun because it’s pretty hot in Central Georgia, but it’s worth it. My body is a temple and it needs to be treated that way.

Appearances

I’ve started to cultivate faithfulness in my appearance, by simply being sure that I’m always presentable and respectable in the way that I carry myself.

Hobbies

About a month ago, I created a list of things I wanted to complete before summer. This included sewing a dress, reading several books and voluteering. I’ve decided to cultivate faithfulness by setting goals and completing them and by becoming a more well-rounded Brittany. These are things we often times don’t think of as something that prepares us for the next level in life, but I’m pretty sure that I would appreciate it if my future husband was well-read, well-rounded and had lots of useful skills. Just saying. 🙂

Psalms 37: 4 talks about delighting ourselves in the Lord. Louie talked about what this really means. It means to seek God above all else. Forget about what you want and realize that God is the best. As you go after and pursue the best, all your desires will be fulfilled. Because when we delighted in Him, our desires became His desires. Also, many people don’t know that they word “delight” in Hebrew means to “make pliable.” As we make ourselves pliable and moldable, our desires really become His desires. I may start out desiring a man who looks and talks this way, but as I make myself pliable to God, His desires for me become my desires for me and I simply want His best for me. How beautiful is that?

Cultivating faithfulness is not at all about attracting a man or woman. It’s more so about being faithful in your own life right where you are so that God can see that because He can trust us with the small things, He can also trust us with any large blessings He wants to bestow upon us.

I hope that this blog post is one that makes you think a lot about the concept of cultivating faithfulness, and if you would like to hear Louie’s messages from the Boy Meets Girl series, you can find the messages on iTunes under Passion City Church or on the church website that I added a link to. Until next time, be blessed!

Brittany

Jesus: The Friend I Call When Twitter Gets Boring

He went on teaching from town to village, village to town, but keeping on a steady course toward Jerusalem. A bystander said, “Master, will only a few be saved?”

He said, “Whether few or many is none of your business. Put your mind on your life with God. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires your total attention. A lot of you are going to assume that you’ll sit down to God’s salvation banquet just because you’ve been hanging around the neighborhood all your lives. Well, one day you’re going to be banging on the door, wanting to get in, but you’ll find the door locked and the Master saying, ‘Sorry, you’re not on my guest list.’ “You’ll protest, ‘But we’ve known you all our lives!’ only to be interrupted with his abrupt, ‘Your kind of knowing can hardly be called knowing. You don’t know the first thing about me.’ – Luke 13:22-27 Message

In our society, we have different levels of knowing people. There are acquaintances, classmates, co-workers, church friends, Twitter and Facebook friends, best friends, boyfriends and girlfriends, husbands and wives and family. All of these people are grouped based on how well we know and love them. The closer these people are to you, the more important they are and the more they know about you.

I’m starting to realize that for a long time, I have been a Christian who treats Jesus like that person I want to think I’m really best friends with but really I’m not. We’ve all had that friend. The friend who calls but you ignore their calls and who texts you and you take 3 days to text back. The one you tell your best friend you really don’t feel like talking to but when you get around them, you guys are the best of friends.

The one who takes a backseat in your life based on what you have to do that week. The one who you randomly call when your boyfriend, best friend and sister are all too busy to talk and there is nothing really happening on Twitter. They aren’t really as important to you as you want them to think they are either. If they needed you to do something, you would likely try to see if someone else could do it.

What amazes me about this is that I know I’m not the only one. And sadly, I may have continued to be this person had God not caused some major changes in my life a little over a month or so ago. The issue with this is that Jesus tells us that acquaintances who ignore His calls won’t be in Heaven with Him.

Heaven is literally the most exclusive, never ending, all-white party and Jesus is the man of the hour. The guest list is one that everyone wants to be on whether they know Him or not. But in reality, the people that will be invited are the ones who didn’t wait for Him to call. The people that truly loved God with everything they had. The people that were beating down His door telling Him how much they loved Him and showed Him with their lives. Those who told Him that they were willing to do whatever He needed whenever He needed. Jesus even told us that the greatest commandment was to love Him with all of our heart, soul and mind. He really meant it to!

We have to get out of this mindset that we are cool with Jesus just because we stop by His house once a week so that we can check in on Foursquare and see what everybody has on. Or if we follow His commandments but don’t pray. Jesus isn’t going to tally our visits or count how many commandments we kept; He wants us to be intimate with Him. He wants to know us and for us to know Him. He wants to have a real relationship with us. I am realizing that God will do whatever He has to do to have this relationship too. If that means taking you away from things and people you love, He’ll do it. If it means that you experience failure, He’ll allow it. His love for us is so strong and He wants to be close to us.

If this is convicting you, don’t feel bad. I am going through these things and I have been a Christian forever! Pray and ask God to help you make Him first in your life. Also, take the first steps to spend time with Him. If you need a friend to hold you accountable, ask a friend. If you need to set an alarm on your phone to remind you, do it. Growing closer to God begins as a choice. If you want to read an awesome book about growing your relationship with the Lord, I highly recommend the book “Simple Devotion: Answering the Radical Call.”

Dear Lord,

We love you. It is so easy though to be caught up by the things around us. This world is full of distractions that keep us from focusing on You, and we all need to give You more of us. Lord, help us to be intimate with You. Help us to cut off the tv, put our phones down and get on our knees and into Your Word. Surround us with people whose hearts are after Yours and guide us in everything that we do.

In Jesus Name,

Amen.

-Brittany

I Want To Marry A Man…

The greatest want of the world is the want of men—men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.

The above quote was written by Ellen G. White many years ago, but those words have never rang more true. The greatest want of the world is the want of God-fearing, strong men who live consecrated lives and walk with Him daily. However, men like this seem to be really few and far between, even though many are professed Christians.

As a single Christian young woman, I have come to realize that I have many standards for the man that I marry. These standards are not so much focused on his job, height or complexion, but more so focused on how he loves God. Any man can claim to be a Christian because he tweets Bible verses from his YouShare app, attends church service every week and listens to worship music, but that doesn’t mean that a man is walking with God daily.

What worries me about this, is that these men will one day grow to be husbands. They will be in charge of the spiritual growth and well-being of a wife and children and should be able to minister to that family. They should also understand that upon becoming a husband, they are taking on the responsibility of one day answering to God for how well they helped develop their family’s spiritual walk. God holds men accountable in a very special way.

One of my favorite pastors, Dr. John Piper of Desiring God discusses the role of husbands as laid out in Ephesians 5 in many of his writings & sermons. In his sermon “Lionhearted and Lamblike: The Christian Husband as Head,” he says this:

Headship is the divine calling of a husband to take primary responsibility for Christ-like, servant leadership, protection, and provision in the home.

After exploring this topic, I realized that I want to marry an extraordinary man of God who accepts headship for everything that it means. Marriage is beautiful, but if the husband is not ready to practice headship, the entire family can be in jeopardy. A spouse is a very influential person. If they are not fully devoted to Christ and fulfilling the roles he has created for them, the marriage will not glorify God in the way that is should.

Many men say that they love God, but their character, choices and demeanor say otherwise. Men who are not Christ-like are incapable of leading a wife and family closer to Him. And for a woman who loves God with her whole heart, marrying a man who does not love God the same way is a huge risk to take.

I want Christian women everywhere to think twice about the man that they want to marry. Don’t just pray for a Christian man, but pray for what you need specifically. This is what I realized about what kind of man of God I hope to marry.

  • I want to marry a courageous man. A man who will not be bought or sold. A man who loves God with a deep, burning love.
  • I want to marry a man who will not do wrong not just because he loves me, but because he cannot sin against God.
  • I want to marry a man who is in his inmost soul true and honest. A man who seeks God and whose primary goal is to be like Jesus.
  • I want to marry a man who can seek God for me, for our children and for direction. I want a man who can minister to me.
  • I want to marry a man who is so in love with the Lord, that God will literally have to tell him that it’s time to make me his wife.
  • I want to marry a man who trusts God with his life and my life. A man that is willing to do anything for God.
  • I want to marry a man who will have a deep, pure love for me because he has a deep well of love for God.
  • I want to marry a man who is less worried about the carnal and more concerned with the spiritual.
  • I want to marry a man who walks with God every single day of his life, like Enoch, and whose primary goal is to ensure me and our children are walking with the Lord every single day.

I hope that by sharing this, everyone will be encouraged to talk to God about exactly what they need in a Christian husband or wife.

My prayer for men

Lord, I pray that you heal a generation of men from brokenness, confusion, sin and every tool that the enemy uses to break and bind them. I pray that they will turn their eyes to you so that they can effectively lead their families. I pray that you give them insight into what it means to be a man of God. I pray that you give them the desire to seek so you so that they can be the head of their households and raise their children. Lord, heal and deliver and show them what it means to be husbands and fathers. In your name, Amen.

Sincerely,

Brittany