Verbal Valentines: The Power Love Holds

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. – Ephesians 4:2 NIV

Dear friends,

I hope that you are well. Thank you for following my blog despite my extreme blogging hiatus. My first year of teaching has changed my lifestyle in ways I could not have predicted and unfortunately, I have not made much time to write. As we work through spring semester, I am working on learning to balance my life and this is one example of my efforts.

Continue reading “Verbal Valentines: The Power Love Holds”

Pray Church part 1 – Pastor Myron Edmonds

sermonPray Church part 1 – Pastor Myron Edmonds

This is one of the best sermons on prayer that I’ve heard in a while. It’s a practical message on why we need to be intentional about prayer. Pastor Myron Edmonds of Glenville SDA Church in Cleveland, Ohio plows through the book of Acts to explore the idea that miracles happen when prayer is present. Excellent message!

When God Takes Away…

 Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said:

‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.’ – Job 1:20-21 NKJV

If you live long enough, there will be a point where God takes away something that you really love and enjoy. This could be a job, a position, a relationship, a dream or even a long time friendship. Just the thought of this can be scary, but there is no way around it. Regardless of how much you love God, things you don’t like will happen. And when loss occurs, it is very easy to become confused and sad.

I can talk about this because I was in this place just over a year ago. I was 22, one year away from college graduation, in what I thought would be my last relationship ever and loving life. But shortly after the one year point, God revealed to us that He wanted our relationship to end. When it happened, I was quietly devastated. I had never experienced being so attached to something and then having it removed from under me. But now that I look back at the situation, I realize that God was working in every single detail.

I want to share some of what I learned from my experience with loss and how to make it through that season.

1. God is sovereign. If He allowed it, there is a great reason for it.

Trusting God is not always easy. It can be downright painful. Seeing something that you loved leave is hard, but there is a point that we have to get to as believers where we decide to trust Him regardless of how we feel. Your faith in God’s plan for you cannot be controlled by your emotions. If it is, you’ll be fickle and you’ll never stand firm. We have to understand that if God allows something to happen, He knew that you could handle it. Nothing that happens to us catches Him off guard, so you have to know that you know that you know that you know that He will help you through it, that He is good and that He is for you.

2. It may not have aligned with His purpose for your life.

There are some ventures and undertakings that we jump into that may benefit us for a time, but that may not align with God’s long-term purpose and vision for our lives. We get comfortable in places when God is trying to move us to where He needs us to be. Maybe God removed it because it wouldn’t have allowed you to reach your fullest potential for Him.

3. He may be saving your from future issues or hurt.

Anytime I think about loss, I remember a testimony a church member shared once. He was serving in the military in Kuwait, and he had been praying that he would be able to return to his family soon. When the day for his scheduled return came, his officers pushed it back and told him that he wouldn’t be leaving yet. He was sad and really disappointed that he wouldn’t be back home when he thought he would be. But shortly thereafter, he was awakened with news that the plane that he wanted to be on had gone down and that people had lost their lives. Sometimes, God is literally blocking issues, pain, hurt or further loss from us by saying “no” right now.

4. He may be removing an idol from you to get closer to you.

I have learned a lot about idols through this experience, so much so that I blogged about it. I’ve realized that God hates them. He will smash them into a billion pieces if you place them where He should be. When I look back, I realize that I had placed the relationship on the altar of my praise, where God should have been. I spent most of my free time with the guy and made no personal time for loving God. The time that I had prior to the relationship quickly vanished. Although I would have said that I was living for God and many people regarded me as an outspoken Christian, God was not the object of my affections. I would have never said that I worshiped my relationship, but my actions said it for me. God is a jealous God. He will not allow us to hold onto those things that keep us from Him, because He loves us that much.

And through all of this, there is hope…

If this speaks to something that you have gone through or if you are currently going through it now, there is hope for you. My best friend Jeida shared something so great with me once. She said, “when we experience loss, we have a choice to make. We can either fill the hole that it left with more things (friends, people, stuff, etc), or we can choose to fill it with Jesus.” When I had to make this choice, I was blessed to have a God-loving friend by my side to help me make the right decision. It was during this time that Jeida would spend hours on the phone with me talking about Jesus, picking me up to go to church and small group Bible studies with her, and she would pray for me when I became sad. Her presence in my life was instrumental to my healing process. That brings me to my first piece of advice for those who are dealing with loss…

1. Surround yourself with a community of God-loving, praying, compassionate and transparent people…

God never meant for us to struggle through issues alone. Galatians 6:2 NKJV says, Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” God created us to be relational people who thrive when in community. We need each other. When you suffer loss, reach out to 2 or 3 people that you can trust who will pour into you, keep your eyes stayed on Christ and just love you sacrificially. The healing process starts when you share what you’re going through. Holding things in doesn’t help. Don’t let pride or shame keep you from getting the support you need. If no one comes to mind, pray and ask God to show you who can support you. If you still have no one, please message me and I will personally pray with you. I mean this.

2. Don’t be ashamed of yourself for crying or feeling down.

Healing from loss usually doesn’t happen overnight. You will experience a wide range of emotions and feelings, but if you give those feelings to God, in time you will be okay. Know that crying or having bad feelings doesn’t mean you don’t trust God, it just means that He is still making you new.

3. Pray, read the word and journal like a madwoman (or madman) and declare God’s promises daily.

Like Jeida said, when you have a void in your life, you have to fill it with something. If you fill it with the knowledge of the love of Christ, His promises, grace, mercy and everything else that is Him, you will receive joy and peace. I poured out my heart to God through prayer and writing in my journal everyday. Some days, I wrote through tears, but I felt relieved as I shared these feelings with my journal and even now when I look back on them, I can see where God has brought me from. What a beautiful sight. Also, declare the promises of God every time you get a chance. When I was going through my toughest days, I repeated certain scriptures and reminders daily. Some of my favorites were:

God is working everything out for my good and for His glory. (this became my motto)

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory;
no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. – Psalm 84:11 NKJV

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18 NIV

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. – Psalm 46:1 NIV

 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7 NIV

 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. – Galatians 6:9 KJV

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. – Isaiah 26:3 NKJV

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

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39 ESV

Write these on your mirrors, put them on flash cards, hang them up around your room or do whatever you have to do to be reminded constantly of God’s truth concerning you.

4. Don’t jump into anything else to keep yourself distracted or try to open a door that God has closed.

A huge mistake that many people make, especially after a relationship ends, is jumping into another one to fill that void. They find another person to consume their time, share their broken heart with and try to find solace there. This is so dangerous, both for them and the person whose heart they are involving. After loss, healing must take place. If we pursue another relationship before God’s appointed time, we risk further damaging ourselves and hurting another person. Love protects and it preserves. Do not bring someone else into your life until you are emotionally available and God leads you to do so. Lastly, don’t try to open a door that God closed even if you don’t understand why He did it. Obedience doesn’t require explanations or understanding. In His time, He will reveal things to you and you will be thankful that you obeyed Him. Obedience wins.

5. Renew your mind daily. (Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:23)

There will be days that you wake up with the memory of what is now gone. It can consume your thoughts, but if you can daily submit your thoughts and your mind to God, you can keep those thoughts at bay and keep your mind stayed on Him. Renew your mind daily with the knowledge of Christ.

More than anything else, keep in mind that God’s love for you is unending. His goal is not to hurt you; it is to save you. Your happiness matters to Him but your salvation and growth matter more. And just like Job, God may take something away, but He will always make it worth your while. This doesn’t always mean that you get a better home or job, but it may just mean that He connects with you deeper. God didn’t give me a new relationship, but I have been brought into a deeper place with Him. He gave me more of what I needed to grow and if loss is what it took to get here, I’d go through it all again.

I pray that this blesses you!

Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning… – Job 42:12 NKJV

jclu

Religion is the…

Religion is the opposite of the Gospel. Religion is ‘I give God a good life then God rewards me,’ right? The Gospel is ‘God through Jesus Christ gives me a perfect record.’ Jesus comes to live a life I should have lived and die a death I should have died. And then we are accepted right now and we live for Him.

Religion is outside in — ‘If I live a good life, God will come in and bless me.’ The Gospel is inside out. In the Gospel, I receive the acceptance I have because of what Jesus Christ has done and that brings an inner sweetness into my life and that flows out of my life into a life of mercy and justice.

Religion creates people who look down at others. The Gospel, nothing but love and respect with for those with whom we deeply differ.

Religion creates people who only say their prayers and there’s no love and intimacy in their prayer life. The Gospel creates an intimacy in your prayer life. There’s as much adoration and love as there is petition.

Religion creates people who don’t believe that they could do these bad things so you have trouble forgiving. The Gospel creates people who are very forgiving.

Convicting, powerful quote by Tim Keller’s sermon, The Sin Against The Holy Spirit. I highly suggest listening to the sermon. He starts talking about this topic of “religion vs. the gospel” around 1:03:20.

keller

Christ Alone, Cornerstone

Good morning, friends!

I hope that you’re all doing really well. This post wasn’t originally a blog post. It was supposed to be a Facebook status, but of course I kept finding awesome information that made the post even longer. All morning, I’ve been listening to “Cornerstone” by Hillsong and I was led to research cornerstones.

The first bit of information I found said,

The cornerstone  concept is derived from the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure. Over time a cornerstone became a ceremonial masonry stone, or replica, set in a prominent location on the outside of a building, with an inscription on the stone indicating the construction dates of the building and the names of architect, builder and other significant individuals. The rite of laying a cornerstone is an important cultural component of eastern architecture and metaphorically in sacred architecture generally.

In Ephesians 2 KJV, it says

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.

1 Corinthians 3:11 says,

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

My favorite 1 Peter 2:6 says,

Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.

Jesus is the piece that brings all the other pieces of Christianity (the law) together and gives them meaning.

Without Jesus Christ coming to die for our sins, the Bible is a good story book with great principles instead of a life-changing, story about love and redemption. Without the sacrifice of His blood, it has NO power. Jesus gives every piece of the Bible relevance. When Jesus came, He said that He didn’t come to abolish the law; He came to fulfill. His blood completed it.

The cornerstone sets the standard for every other stone. Everything else aligns to it. He is the foundation.

Christ is the one that we all align ourselves to. It’s almost like a line leader in a kindergarten class. That one person is placed and we all fall in line behind it. He models everything that we should do and then we should obediently follow. Christ is the standard.

The cornerstone is celebrated, placed on displayed and seen by all. It is not hidden by any means.

While researching, I found that in some places people have celebrations, much like ribbon-cutting ceremonies, when a cornerstone is placed. People are excited about seeing it set because they know that the building to come will have a stable foundation. As Christians, people should look at us at all times and see the Chief Cornerstone! He should never be hidden or out of sight. He should be visible in all we say, do and in our every action.

Jesus truly is a gift to us and I’m so thankful to be set behind Him as He keeps me aligned.

Have an amazing day, friends!

Brittany