1.25.2017

An Undivided Heart II

Hello again!

A few months back I wrote a post called An Undivided Heart. It was based off of a very good teaching by Leslie Ludy that had really changed how I viewed life in general. Not too long ago Part II was posted on Youtube and it was also an excellent teaching! So this post is based off of that teaching. :)


IDOLS

This has been such a big topic that I've thought of this past year. Mrs. Ludy brought it up in her teaching as well. She was talking about things that cause us to break that close relationship with Jesus and this was one of them. She said that idolatry is  "seeking satisfaction outside of Him". This is super challenging! What am I running to for my satisfaction? My friends, my family, blogging, reading, emailing, having a perfect schedule(that's often one for me;), events, groups...or Jesus and Him only? Or to think of it another way...if my family, my friends, everybody and everything that I have turned against me or fell apart...would I still be satisfied?

"Idols are anything that takes a higher place in your devotion and affection."

Wow. What am I putting more of my time, devotion, and affection into...my friends? My family? Sports? Groups? Blogging? Reading? Or is Jesus the one that has the most of my devotion, affection, and time. This is super challenging for me.

Mrs. Ludy was also telling a story of how she and (back then) her husband-to-be, Eric, were apart for many months. Their only communication was a weekly phone call and some letters which I'm sure took a long time to get through. She told a story of how once Eric didn't call at their arranged time each week. Leslie was very upset inside and her imagination got away with thoughts of...maybe he found a different girl? I'm probably just not good enough for him. She said that she was wrestling with this one day when God really convicted her "You're clinging too tightly to this relationship." She had to lay that down and surrender that relationship to the Lord. This challenged me as well. Am I clinging tightly to people or things or am a holding them with open hands? Mrs. Ludy said that even if they're good things or God given desires they still must be held with open hands.

"What God gives us is not necessarily ours, but only ours to offer back to Him...there must be many letting go's."
-Elizabeth Elliot 

Another thing Mrs. Ludy brought up is that she said that something is probably an idol in your life when you get mad at someone when they ask you to give it up. This challenged me as well. Is there anything in my life that I'm absolutely not willing to give up? That I get upset when somebody talks to me about giving it up? If there is it is an idol in my life. This is such a challenging thought!

.....

Jesus asks us "Am I enough?". Let us all be able to say "Yes, Lord. You are enough"

I challenge you to consider as I will too "What do I need to lay down?" "Where are there idols in my own life?"


SELF-JUSTIFICATION

Another topic Mrs. Ludy brought up in her teaching was self-justification. "Being comfortable in our mediocrity". She shared an example in the area of purity. How many times is the question "How far is too far?" asked. I've asked it myself. How far it too far in the area of purity? But Mrs. Ludy said it is really a wrong attitude. It is basically saying "How close can I get to sin without actually sinning?". She said instead we need to ask...

"How far can I go to please You?"


This is very challenging to me. She brought up how many people say "I shouldn't be too extreme in my devotion to Christ...that's legalism!" But she said that legalism is really just relying on our own strength instead of Christs. It's incredibly easy to get legalism and devotion mixed up. I would encourage you to be prayerful in this area.

And then she brought up the topic of justifying actions and thing we do. She said that we can make up a lot of excuses for things we do.

"I know a lot of other Christians who do this"

"Everyone should see and notice my gifts. That's just being a good steward of what God's given me"

And I think she shared some more. For myself it was challenging. Am I making an excuse for something I do/read/watch? Am I really sure everything is honoring God in my life? I think I'll be praying and thinking about this in the coming weeks and I hope you'll join me!

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And lastly, Mrs. Ludy challenged us to think about if Jesus is truly first in our lives. We say it all the time, we even sing it...but is it true? She said the way to find out is thinking about where you spend your time and energy. That is where your first love is. Mrs. Ludy said we love to say "Jesus is number 1!", but how many hours do we spend doing things that draw us closer to Him? That will tell us truly if our actions line up with our words. And as this final "normal" post closes for this blog may I encourage you to truly make Jesus 1st in your life? In where you put your time, your energy, your thoughts, your actions, your words. May it all speak of a burning desire to make Jesus 1st in more and more areas of your life. Let this be the one desire, passion, and purpose that we live for.

 ♥♥♥

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One quick  note: I'm going to be posting my final special post next Thursday instead of Wednesday for a special reason...see if you can guess ;)

1.23.2017

Left to Die Blog Tour!

 Welcome and happy Monday to all my readers!!!

I have a super special, exciting post today! Today is the official release of Ivy Rose's new book "Left to Die"!!! I loved her first book, The Old River Road, and so I was very excited to read her next book. It was wonderful as well and I would definitely recommend it! Let's get going on this exciting blog tour -

 
ABOUT THE BOOK

Lindy Greene’s life is perfect. Too perfect. But living as a missionary nurse, serving in a small hospital in China, soon brings the disaster she fearfully anticipates. All of her well-thought-out plans for the future disintegrate after pulling a fatally ill, disfigured, abandoned child from a pile of trash. She doesn’t even like babies.
Nathan Thomas can’t find balance. College suited him just fine until his cash ran out, forcing him to the Chinese mission field with his parents. The chaotic atmosphere in China does little to relax his agitated mind, and the pretty blonde nurse at the hospital does nothing to help him focus.
The Chinese mission field isn’t for the faint of heart. Nathan wonders how he can survive his remaining time there, while Lindy struggles to help everyone she can. With different ideals pulling them in separate directions, there is one thing drawing them together: a tiny, sickly, crippled orphan who relies on them to stay alive.

Find on Goodreads ~ Find on Amazon



MY REVIEW 
Left To Die is truly an impacting book! The story follows the lives of Lindy, Nathan, and sweet baby Jia living in the dangerous and busy country of China. Lindy is a normal young woman who is trying to follow the Lord. Her life is going wonderfully until God rocks her world with the finding of a sweet baby girl in a trash can. Nathan is a young man also trying to follow the Lord, but struggling with the desire to fix all the injustice and evil he sees around Him, which of course is impossible. Both of them are challenged to let God direct their lives and let Him lead them wherever that may be. This is a wonderful book with an impacting message! I loved Ivy's writing style and the whole book was amazing. Anything negative about it? Not much. The only things I didn't like as much were the book was not very descriptive and thinking back I was never able to get a sense of what the surroundings looked like. The other thing I didn't like as much was I felt like the book was "narrow",if you will, on what it talked about. The plot was focused only on Lindy, Nathan, and Jia and at either the hospital or her house for the most part. It is still such a good book and I was completely captivated throughout reading it! Ivy Rose is an incredible author and I'm very much looking forward to reading more of her books!!! ♥♥♥
                                  


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ivy Rose is an 18 year old history lover and literary enthusiast. Aside from writing, she enjoys being outdoors, eating chocolate, traveling, reading, and doing TaeKwonDo. She resides with her family of 9 on the banks of the Long Lake in eastern Washington.

She can be found at various places on the internet:

 


FOLLOW THE TOUR

~Monday~

Becoming Lost – Review
Anika’s Avenue – Review
Once Upon an Ordinary – Interview

~Tuesday~
Whispers on the Wind – Interview
Read Another Page – Review

~Wednesday~
Counting Your Blessings – Review/Interview
Stories by Firefly – Review
Writing in the Light – Interview

~Thursday~
Reveries Reviews – Review
Marrok Macintyre – Interview

~Friday~
Having a Heart Like His – Review/Interview
Whimsical Writings – Review

~Saturday~
Rebekah’s Remarks - Interview

GIVEAWAY!


  
 



1.18.2017

What Should Church Look Like? A Discussion Post


Church. What comes to mind? Tall spires? Stained class windows? Pews?

What should Church really look like? Should it be all about the building? The programs? The groups?

Biblically, what should church look like? What did it look like back in the New Testament?

I want your thoughts. I want the comment section to be full of your thoughts and opinions, maybe examples of your church, and scripture. Definitely. :)

And if you'd like to listen to this great 15 min teaching by Francis Chan on what church should look like you can do that here:

Basic Fellowship by Francis Chan

I hope we are all encouraged and inspired in this discussion!


1.11.2017

The Better Part III


"Of one hundred men, one will read the Bible; the ninety nine will read the Christian"
Dwight L. Moody

Ninety Nine will read the Christian. Wow. How thought provoking is that? Non-Christians are watching us whether we know it or not. They see our actions, how we serve others, and it does influences how they view Christianity and for some maybe even Jesus himself. I heard a story a while back of a group of people who went to the mall and asked people what they thought of Jesus. Almost everybody said positive things. Then they went again and asked a different question..."What do you think of Christians?". Almost all of the responses were negative. How can that be? How can everybody think positively of Jesus and yet negatively of Christians? Yes, we are all sinners, but Jesus should be showing through our life. In our actions. In how and if we are serving others. 

"Kitchen service", as Mrs. Weaver calls it, is not optional. It is commanded by Jesus himself. 

John 13:1-17 tells the story of Jesus washing his disciples feet. It was such a humble act. Such a humble way Jesus served. And after he had finished he spoke these words "For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you." This is the only time Jesus specifically told his disciples to follow his example. Jesus set us an example of serving while he was here on earth that we might follow in his steps. 

And yet we so easily can serve with the wrong motives. Mrs. Weaver shared a few things to ask yourself when you are serving others to make sure your motives and heart are right before God.

Am I serving to...
-Impress
-Receive external rewards
-Feel good about myself
-Muffle God's voice demanding I change
And is my service affected by moods and whims. (mine or others)

That last one ...ouch. I think I'm the most guilty of this. Serving when I have lots of energy. When I feel like it. When it's something pretty fun actually. When I know I'll be thanked kindly. When I'm sure someone will notice. I also often serve when others are in a good mood. I'll serve my friends and family when they are happy and in a thankful mood, but not when they are down and in a bad mood. It's wrong though. Our service should not be affected by our own emotions or others, but we should serve however God is leading us at that time even if we are tired, lonely, and really just want to curl up and go to sleep. Get away from the world and relax. I don't want you to think though that we should serve at every single opportunity. Like I said in my last post we should pray and see what God is leading us to do. I'm just saying that we should not serve only when we feel like it or for the wrong motives. We do need times of rest though and we cannot serve every person, but for the things that we know God would want us to do we should do them even when our emotions strongly disagree. :)

Another thing that Mrs. Weaver mentioned was the three ways that we serve:

On our way 
Out of our way 
And in all kinds of ways 

Sounds pretty simple and I won't try to go much deeper except on the last one. She was talking about gifts. How we often can use them as excuses not to serve. Gifts are absolutely given to us by God, but I think we often can make excuses. I was laughing at a few of her excuses that she shared. "I'm an exhorter! I don't clean bathrooms." ;) Mrs. Weaver was talking about how gifts are so important, but they aren't an excuse just to pick and choose how we are going to serve. We should take them into account and use them if we are able, but they should not get in the way of being completely available to serve in any way God is leading us to. We should see where God is working and join Him in His work instead of grumbling that it's not our gifting. 

"If you really love one another you will not be able to avoid making sacrifices."
Mother Teresa 

On Producing Fruit 

"Producing fruit" is so important! It is by our fruit that people know we are Christians. Mrs. Weaver brought up a neat point though. How when we have that "Living Room intimacy" (time with Jesus) and get connected to the Vine fruit happens. Fruit is not something we can manufacture...it's only something that happens when we are connected to the Vine. So I think instead of trying to "manufacture" fruit we should focus on getting connected to the Vine and then fruit will happen. Not that it doesn't take work, but it all comes down to us getting connected to the Vine. 
  
Worshiping Him in Whatever We Do 

"The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in a great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament."
Brother Lawrence

Wow. This is so powerful. We don't need to be feeding the homeless to be worshiping and glorying God. We can glorify God and worship Him through doing school and washing dishes...things that must be done can be done for Him...to glorify His name. Every mundane task can be an opportunity to glorify the King of Kings!

I know I packed a lot of different things in here, but I'd love to hear your thoughts! What ways is God calling you to serve right now? Do you struggle with anything mentioned above? What are your thoughts on serving?

1.04.2017

16 Things God Has Taught Me In 2016

2016 is over. 
Wow. I can't believe it! How can it be 2017?? And yet I'm so excited too! For me this coming year is going to probably be a year of a lot of change and so I'm looking forward to that (and scared of that:) and how God will use it to make me more like Him. But let me first take a look back. Emily had this awesome idea to share 16 things she learned in 2016 and so I'm going to copy her idea. :) Let me share what God's taught me this year...



1. God's plans don't usually make sense, but they are always better. How many times have I had to learn this? Things don't go the way I plan and I question God's wisdom...but he knows my future and sees things I don't. I just need to trust Him!

2. Comparison is one of the most awful traps to be caught in. Emily mentioned this too and this has been probably one of my biggest struggles this year. Comparing. I've learned though that two things happen when we compare. We either get prideful or jealous. Comparing yourself to others is never a good thing and it always leads to one of these two.

3. God is the only one who can truly satisfy you and never lets you down. Again and again I've tried to find satisfaction in people, things, and places and it just doesn't work. Jesus is the only one who can truly satisfy our every longing.

4. Jesus can give us peace in whatever we are going through. I have experienced this again and again. It's amazing how things can seem upside down and yet you can have this perfect peace in His plans.

5. We need to live for eternity and not for ourselves. I think I've learned this the most with blogging. It's so easy to post on yourself or just meaningless things that won't count for eternity. But I want my every post, my every word, my every action to count for eternity...not just for right now. Not just for what people like or people want. But what would please Jesus the most? That is such a big lesson that I have learned and continue to learn.

6. Time with Jesus is the most important thing. It's so easy to get caught up in serving Him and doing other things that we forget that time with Jesus is the most important thing in life. We first spend time with him and then we are filled up to go serve and love people. I've learned that if my serving or "other things" are taking away from my time with Jesus I need to change things.

7. Serve where God is actually calling you to. This has been a huge one for me as I've been praying where I should serve after I finish blogging. I want to serve not where there's just an opportunity, but where God is actually calling me to and I have a peace about doing.

8. Balancing life is one of the most wonderful things(and hardest!) We can't do everything and we must say no to things. I have continually been evaluating my life and cutting down on things so that I'm not stressed or too busy. It's amazing the difference that cutting way down on your blog reading list, unsubscribing from every email that you don't really want to read, simplifying life, telling no to things, and doing things that truly matter and count for eternity can make such a big difference in your life. You can have freedom from not being stressed and too busy and your life can have balance.

9. Friends can make a huge difference in your life. They can discourage you or encourage you. Build you up or break you down. I have had both happen, but mostly encouraging me. I have had many times where I'm feeling down and just a friendly hello from one of my friends will brighten my day.

10. Being a friend is not easy. It takes a lot of giving of yourself. Your time, your energy, your love. But there are so many rewards too!!

11. Replace trivial things with eternal things. This gives life so much more purpose and joy(although it is very hard!) when we know that everything we're doing and spending our time on is going to last for eternity. It is something I continually have to do. Reevaluate if the things I'm spending my time on our eternal or trivial.

12. Family time is super important. I've realized this more and more as some of my brothers will be going off to grad-school soon and my other siblings are growing up so fast. I know I'll regret it a lot looking back if I don't spend good quality time with them.

13. Checking motives is very important too. I often have wrong motives and so I need to continually check...why am I doing this?

14. The Bible is so full of wisdom and so refreshing. It is amazing the wonders that just getting into the Word can do to refresh and renew your spirit even when you don't feel like it.

15. Feeling far from God is a very hard thing to go through, but it can make you seek God more. I've felt distant from God for a while and it's made me look at my life and pursue God in a more whole-hearted way.

16. Prayer is such a wonderful thing.
It gives me so much peace when I hand over whatever I'm going through to the One who is so able to take care of it.

 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

I have learned so many more things this year, but those are some of the big ones. And I certainly have not perfected any of these...I learn them in a fresh (sometimes hard!) way frequently. But God is so good isn't he? He is so patient to teach us lessons again and again and he never fails us. He is so loving and I'm so thankful that I'm not alone going into 2017. I know that whatever I face I have a safe refuge I can run to. 

What things has God taught you in 2016? Can you relate to anything that God has taught me? Let's praise God for all the things he's done this past year!