Healing & Heavenly Mindsets

Healing & Heavenly Mindsets

As I'm writing this post, I'm checking Instagram nonstop to hear updates. A man I've been praying for is dying. He got admitted to the hospital a month and a half ago. My prayers have increased in passion while his condition has gotten worse and worse. Three days ago, when the doctors all agreed there was nearly no hope of his condition improving, one said "I can't say he has 0%, because I'm not God." Now, the doctors say he has less than 24 hours left.

What do you do when you don't see the healing you prayed for so sincerely?

I thought I saw a vision that confirmed God heard my prayer. I even had a dream where I woke up to a post that said "he is healed." But still, I haven't seen the healing I've been going after. I know there's no sickness in heaven, so... where is the healing?

See, I think when Jesus prayed (and taught us to pray) for God's will to be done "On earth as it is in heaven," I really think He meant it. I don't think we follow a God who takes sickness lightly. We don't worship a God who says "Suck it up. Life's not fair. Deal with it." No. We follow the same Jesus who met with Martha and Mary and wept over their dead brother, Lazarus. The same Jesus who, on so many occasions, had compassion on a person and healed them. Then, Jesus sends the Holy Spirit: our Comforter, our Counselor, our Helper, and our Advocate. Our God, in mercy unimaginable, comes to us in all of our hurt, in all of our desperate need and desire for healing, and weeps with us, comforts us, and helps us. Our God is for us.

If we try to decide if God is good based on our life experiences (what we see in the natural), we'll probably be unsure for most of our lives. This type of faith is, what Bob Beckwith once taught, "following Christianity as a theory rather than as the person of Jesus." It's enough to save you, but it's unlikely to bring you peace through the most difficult storms of life.

If you don't know in the deepest part of your heart that God is good, that's okay! It is okay to be exactly where you are in your process with God! Just be honest with yourself and be honest with God. :) In Psalm 34:8, the psalmist invites you to "Taste and see that the Lord is good." I make that same invitation because God will reveal His goodness to you if you seek Him wholeheartedly. He promises it. (Jeremiah 29:13) Seek Him in prayer and worship, and He will reveal Himself to you. It may take time, and it'll almost certainly take effort, but He keeps His promises. Keep seeking.

~ The Knowns About Healing ~

We know that God is a healer from His introduction in Exodus 15:26 ("I am the Lord, your healer"). God's identity as healer is a known.

We know that Jesus healed lots of times, and that Jesus said "I have come down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of Him who sent me" (John 6:38). So, it is God's will to heal.

More than either of the other truths, we need to hold fast to two truths about God's nature: God is good, and God is love. Holding onto these truths is essential when exploring the unknowns of how healing works.

~ The Unknowns About Healing ~

We don't know why healing happens sometimes but not other times.

We don't know why it happens in different timing than we were expecting.

We don't know if the next person we pray for will get healed.

We don't know if the healing will last.

I think that healing can be really hard to pursue because it's such a mystery. A favorite scheme of the enemy is to use those unknowns to get us to doubt God. If we doubt God enough, we stop talking to God. We stop asking Him to move. We choose hopelessness. I know it's easier said than done, but choose hope.

We follow a God who responds to prayer, so if you take a risk and pray for healing, the worst that can happen is nothing. The best that can happen is a healing and conversion from death to life. Really, instead of asking about the consequence of praying, we should ask: what is the consequence of not praying? God is on mission to save the world around you. If you want to see less sickness, partner with Jesus' vision for earth to look like it does in heaven.

If healing doesn't come, it isn't because of the person receiving prayer's lack of faith--I've heard of testimonies where the people who received prayer said "I don't believe in that stuff." Spoiler alert: they believed when the prayer was over. It also isn't tied to the prayer's faith in a way that can be reduced to a principle because there is one truth that surpasses any roadblocks to your healing: the Holy Spirit lives in you. Your lack of faith doesn't prevent God from moving.

We serve a good God who cares about us and responds to our needs. We don't, however, serve a God that we can control. Sometimes, what starts as a really genuine devotion to the Living God can turn into trying to make God do what we want.

In Skye Jethani's book, With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God, he calls this posture the Life Under God posture. On the surface, this approach sounds good and accurate. But when you pull the curtains back a little bit, sometimes this can turn into "I do the right thing, so God owes me blessing." From this point of view, we aren't actually under God at all. Instead, we're trying to control God with our rituals. (See image below.)

"from  With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God  by Skye Jethani"

"from With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God by Skye Jethani"

When healing does happen, give thanks to God! Yay! That's awesome! When healing doesn't happen, don't harden your heart. If you're angry at God, tell him, talk to Him about it. If you need to mourn with Him, let Him be your Comforter. Let Him in. He's not afraid of your emotions. Whatever you do, go to God.

God's answer to healing is always yes. Jesus paid for our full restoration on the cross, and that includes purchasing our glorified, fully healthy bodies. Healing was God's idea in the first place. God can't decide not to heal His children--He already purchased our healing on the cross. Healing may not happen immediately when we pray, and it may not even manifest in this lifetime, but God's healing will come. And the key to any kind of healing is God's presence. The best part of heaven will be God's presence. The best part of being on earth is that we can have access to God's manifest presence, but we must choose to seek it. In God's finished work, all things will be made new. If it's not good, God's not done.

Remember who God is, and love people. If you pray for healing, let it be because God loves them and because you love them, not just because you want a cool story. People are not just a mission for you to cross off your list. They are people who need to know that God loves them and cares enough to stop for them. And, if you pray for healing, regardless of what happens, make sure you communicate to them that God loves them. Because that is the most important thing.

Author | Andrew Elder

Breath of Life

Breath of Life

About a month ago, I was sitting in the main chapel at Wesley and a burst of beautiful colors came streaming through the stained-glass window right where I was sitting.

I remember tears streaming down my face as I poured my heart out to God, telling Him how broken I felt. I was battling an unknown sickness. I was so, so tired. I was dealing with difficult family circumstances. And I was realizing for the first time how much anxiety I was carrying. As I was contemplating the overwhelming circumstances of my life, God brought my attention back up to the stained-glass window. He revealed to me that it is the broken pieces of glass all put together that make the stained-glass window so beautiful. The sun doesn’t need the window to shine, but it creates a beautiful image when it does. God, like the sun, can shine regardless of whether there is a window or not. But he chooses to turn our brokenness into something beautiful and shine through it.

In that moment, I was reminded that God is so much greater than our brokenness. He wants to heal us. Restore us. Breathe life back in us. But he is also using us right where we are in such beautiful ways.

I am reminded of the story of the Valley of Dry Bones in Ezekiel 37. The prophet Ezekiel is brought out by the Spirit of the Lord and set in the middle of a valley full of dry bones, where God asks him if the bones could live. Ezekiel said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”

God told Ezekiel to prophesy over the bones and tell them to come to life. The bones did as Ezekiel commanded, first forming flesh, then breath. God told Ezekiel, “These bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’”

God goes on to say, “I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it.”

God, through this prophecy, restores both life and hope back into his people. He is not afraid of death because He has already conquered it, risen again, and given us his Holy Spirit! Where the Spirit of the Lord is, people are enabled to live.

Titus 3:5-6 says, “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.”

You have the Holy Spirit poured generously out on you. Like the bones in the valley, God wants to breathe life back into you. He wants to restore your hope and heal the brokenness in you. Nothing is too big for him. Not your anxiety. Not depression. Not your sin. Nothing.

Though the season you are in may feel lifeless, keep choosing to believe that God is a God who shows up. He is also a God who uses every one of your seasons – the seasons that radiate life and the seasons when you feel like the dry bones.

Author | Makinizi Hoover

A People of Hope

A People of Hope

Before I knew God, I thought I was the only broken person. I was under the impression that everyone around me was doing well, and was exempt from the misfortune of brokenness and pain that I seemed to have been unlucky enough to receive. When I finally came to know the Lord, and step into genuine community I realized that we’re all broken in our own ways. Just because no one else’s brokenness looked like mine, didn’t mean they were exempt. However, I still thought that my brokenness was beyond repair. Even with God, I was too far gone to ever be made whole. I believed fully in redemption for the people in my life, that their brokenness didn’t get to have the last say, but in my own life I was giving it the last say instead of trusting God and hoping for and believing for His fullness.

It wasn’t until much later that I came to know the character of God, and understand that no situation is too broken and no situation is hopeless. Through learning this, something I noticed in my life and the lives of those around me is that often times we become hyper-focused on our brokenness, and lose sight of the hope that we get to have in God. I think we should be a people who are hyper-focused on God and His promises, and lose sight of our brokenness. I think we should be a people of hope, not hopelessness.

It’s important for us to look at our circumstances through the lens of our God. Not look at our God through the lens of our circumstances. The moment we place our hope in an outcome is the moment we experience disappointment. But the moment we place our hope in God is the moment we take the first steps towards healing, redemption, and freedom. “This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:5)

Looking at the story of the Valley of Dry Bones, Ezekiel exemplifies what is means to be a person of hope in the midst of brokenness. First when God speaks to him and asks “Son of man, can these bones live?” (Ezekiel 37:3) Ezekiel replies and says “Lord, only you know.” Instead of becoming hopeless and immediately saying no, Ezekiel does not assume or claim to know more than God. Often we unintentionally think we know better than God. Regardless of what He may have spoken to us or what the bible tells about our brokenness never being too far gone, we decide that we are the exception and we are too far gone. This is what happens when we lose sight of God and become people of hopelessness. The story then continues and God tells Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones to live, and Ezekiel obeys. Not for a second does he doubt God or tell Him that it’s impossible. Not for a second does Ezekiel lose hope. Without hesitation and filled with hope, he follows God’s command, and speaks to the bones to live and they do. Hope does not disappoint.

The story ends with one of the best examples of redemption through hope. Ezekiel 37:11-12 says, “Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Look how they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished; we are cut off. Therefore, prophesy and say to them: This is what the Lord God says: I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them, My people, and lead you into the land of Israel.” This is why we get to be a people of hope. This is God’s promise. Our brokenness doesn’t get the final say. Our bones aren’t too dried up for Him to open our graves, bring us out of them, and lead us into the more He has for us.

The language used in this verse also sets the stage for the greatest example of redemption of brokenness that has ever occurred. The death of Jesus was one of extreme brokenness resulting in death and an actual grave, but even a brokenness to that extent wasn’t too much for God to redeem. Proof of God’s promise in Ezekiel 37 to open graves and bring us up from them is seen here in the most literal way. He restored Jesus and brought Him from the grave as promised. This is proof that no brokenness is too far gone and no brokenness in final. This is proof that God keeps His promises.

“I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6) We get to be people of hope, not people of brokenness. God promises us freedom, and He is a promise keeper. He has started a good work in us, and will see it to completion. If it’s not good, God’s not done. If brokenness is having the final say, it’s not actually final. Hope in God always gets the final say. Hope in God does not disappoint.

Author | Stephanie Stewart

The Power of Peace

The Power of Peace

Combating or overcoming fear of the future can get exhausting. Hopelessness, confusion, changed plans, and lack of vision can all get in the way of “not worrying about tomorrow” like Jesus asked us to do. Whether you like to dream big or create realistic plans, you can’t ever be fully sure of what’s inside the unknown future for your life. The power of peace stems from letting go and trusting God.

My dad and I were on the phone the other day and he said, “Anxiety is imagining the future without God.” An anxious perspective produces a lack of hope, lack of peace, and lack of receiving our inheritance in God. But when we let go of our nightmares and choose to dream with God about our futures, we can find rest and a deeper knowledge of God in the unknown.

The pressure to know your future is not from God. It may be important to your parents or felt because of relationships but it’s not something you have to carry. You can be transformed from being plagued by fear of the future to being guarded in peace. A truth that renewed my perspective and helped me step into more peace about my future is that the Holy Spirit was given to us. In John 14, Jesus is telling His disciples that He’s leaving but He’s giving us the Spirit who will teach us and comfort us. Verse 27 says, “Peace I leave you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” I think Jesus had confidence in the Holy Spirit to uproot our fears through comfort and wisdom. In Christ, we can hear God. The Holy Spirit won’t leave you. You can walk day by day trusting that He will guide you on right paths. He is faithful to you and has plans to make your life good. When you feel yourself freaking out about the future, put the Holy Spirit in the picture. Imagine what could be possible with Him. He produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. He gives gifts of encouragement, mercy, leadership, compassion, healing, etc. He reveals the deep things of God’s heart and intercedes on your behalf. He’s not going to fail you no matter what the unknown holds.

Letting go is harder than it seems when panic attacks plague our days and sleepless nights overtake our weeks. It’s easy to say we are surrendering to God but living a life of surrender is much harder. We are empowered by the Spirit to receive peace and let go of worry. We have storehouses of peace within us that we access by the Spirit. We don’t have to be troubled or afraid. In Psalm 23, David was so convinced of God’s character that he feared no evil even in the valley of the shadow of death. Your future may not always look like quiet waters and green pastures, but even in the darkest times, fear is not for you. God is with you. He is for you. Try shifting your perspective from seeing God as a Father who is putting pressure on you to do what He wants into seeing God as a Father who is there for you if you fail, gives you opportunities in the ways He can, and has raised you to be royalty. Then keep in perspective that this life is fleeting. We’ve been given it to experience, enjoy, and influence how we want to but ultimately we are given life to be loved by God. Fear doesn’t get a place in that. You can let go, you can surrender, and live a life of freedom through trust. Let God love on you in the face of the unknown future.

Author | Savannah Ugan

Chasing After Peace

Chasing After Peace

All of us carry baggage in some way, even if it’s seemingly insignificant. We can’t get over the way we’ve been hurt or the way we’ve been left by the people we thought would always be there. We’ve been rejected by potential friendships, jobs, or romantic interests. Words of people we trust closely have stung deeper than ever intended, and left wounds that tell us “this is who you are.” Our experienced past becomes our lived present and our expected future. We become hopeless anxious shells of the people God created us to be— people without a hope, people without a future.

Maybe we’re stuck on who we used to be. Maybe we look back and all we can see is our sin staring us straight in the face, telling us we’re not worthy to be called a child of God. Maybe we don’t think God could really use someone like us. That His grace is somehow for everyone else. If you’re drowning in condemnation and shame for past sin, rest in the truth that God isn’t stuck on that.

“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12).

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2).

The Father is present-future with us, not present-past. He isn’t holding your sin over your head. We are hidden in Christ. God looks at His Son, Jesus, and says you’re clean. You’re clothed in righteousness. You’re my son. You’re my daughter. The world can make our hearts so hard. The world tells us not to trust and not to hope. It whispers lies and doubts God’s kindness and goodness. But God requires soft hearts of His people. He asks us to remain prisoners of hope. He asks for our complete surrender and trust. He asks us to take every thought captive.

When all we can look at is our past disappointments, we miss out on the green pastures God is kindly leading us into now. His Word tells us that He is working all things together for our good and His glory (Rom. 8:28). Do we cling to that truth or do we let anxiety and lies feed away at our minds? In Mark chapter 12 Jesus tell his disciples,

“Have faith in God. Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘go throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart, but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Jesus calls us to radical faith and trust in God. He calls us to be illogical and childlike in the way we hope. When we put our hope in the person of Jesus Christ, we will not be put to shame (Romans 5:5).

How often do we choose to live out of doubt and mistrust? Are we resting on His promises? In what ways do we let our past experiences dictate our truth? In what ways do we need to let God reshape our reality with the truth of who He is and who He says we are?

“You will keep in perfect peace

those whose minds are steadfast,

because they trust in you.

Trust in the Lord forever,

for the Lord, the Lord himself,

is the Rock eternal” (Isaiah 26:3-4).

Let’s chase after His perfect peace. Let’s put our trust in the Rock eternal.

Author | Olivia Beals

Look Up

Look Up

Have you ever been in a situation that seemed to go from bad to worse? You get to a point where you think, well at least nothing else can happen now… and then it does?! 

I had one of those moments this year - it got to a point where I was laughing out loud at how ridiculous it seemed, and then there was a moment when I just fell on my face before the Lord and cried because I felt like I couldn’t take another hit and I didn’t understand why I wasn’t able to catch a break. As I was crying out to Him, I heard the faintest whisper say “Remember who I am. I am Peace. I am Love. I am protecting you, even though you can’t see it. Remember how I have constantly shown up for you. It’s not in my nature to let you sink. Remember me. Stop looking at the storm, look at me. I’m not worried about what’s happening, take my hand in the middle of your mess and receive my peace.” 

I know what it feels like to be worried… and I am sure many of you are worried about a number of things right in this very moment… but y’all… GOD IS NOT WORRIED! He is the one in control and He knows the outcome of it all. If you want to understand what I am describing, look at the moment when Jesus calmed the storm in the sea while the disciples were on the boat freaking out. 

“A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said, “teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” Mark 4:37-39 

In this situation, the disciples actually thought that they were going to drown and they were all in extreme panic mode.  Meanwhile, Jesus was snoozing away, resting His body and mind, then He simply stood up and calmed everything with 3 words. 

I don’t know about you, but next time I face a difficult situation I would much rather experience rest like Jesus than the chaos and fear the disciples were experiencing. However, I usually find myself falling in the category of the disciples. It’s just so much easier to look at the crazy waves swirling around you. Right? But at what cost? 

Just because it’s easier, doesn’t mean you feel more joy, peace, or freedom; the disciples surely didn’t experience those things at that moment. They actually experienced more fear and more anxiety. So, which do you think is better? Giving in and looking at the chaos only to feel destructive emotions, OR  fighting to see God in the midst of it, trusting Him to take care of you, and experiencing peace and stillness? If you answered that question with the latter that might bring you to the question “well even if I want it, how do I tangibly find peace when my current circumstances are out of my control?” 

Let’s be honest for a sec… we are all going to have moments when we feel that our circumstances are crazy and out of control. It’s kinda part of the deal. Jesus said “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

We live in a fallen world and chaos is all around us, kind of depressing, I know… except that it isn’t at all because we have access to ultimate peace through the one who literally OVERCAME all of the darkness in this world!  

The next time you find yourself in one of those seemingly never-ending circumstances, try to shift your perspective. It’s all about rewiring your mind and making it your natural response to look to Jesus instead of the waves. When your go-to is Jesus and not the problem it will become your nature to cling to peace instead of worry. One of the easiest ways for me to do this in my own brain is by physically looking up when the world around me becomes too overwhelming. When I look up I physically cannot see what is around me which gives me space to reconnect to God and remember that His power is limitless. It’s really simple and kind of silly, but it is exactly what I need to snap myself back into the mindset that God is moving and I don’t have to give in to the chaos.

(Don’t be afraid to have silly tools that bring you back into alignment with God’s perspective - it’s honestly super fun because it gets to be a little inside secret between you and God.) 

So, I challenge you to fix your eyes on Jesus this week, even when it’s hard. Declare truth over yourself, even when you don’t want to - speaking truth out loud releases more power to shift atmospheres than you may realize. Ask God to show you where He is in the midst of your storm, ask Him what He is doing. Connect with Him. He is for you, and He is protecting you. He overcame this world so that He could personally guide you through every storm you will face. Peace gets to be yours! 

Author | Tori Kramer

Jehovah Jirah

Jehovah Jirah

To me, the root of anxiety is the need for control.  But we don’t always have control of things.  Actually a lot of things we don’t have any control over at all.  But we try to control it.  We want control, but we can’t.  So we fall victim to anxiety.

We can’t overcome anxiety on our own.  We need God.  You were not meant to handle this life on your own.  You we not meant to figure everything out.  It is ok that there are unknowns.  To overcome anxiety, trust that God will provide.  

JEHOVAH JIRAH - The Lord is my PROVIDER

Genesis 22 is a crazy story of how God provided for Abraham.  God tells Abraham to offer his only son, Isaac, as a burnt offering.  Abraham immediately obeys the Lord and takes his son to the top of a mountain to do as God asked.  Isaac asks where the animal is that they will sacrifice and Abraham says, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.”  

Abraham could have been riddled with anxiety and fear going into this situation, but he fully trusts God.  He is confident that God will provide for the burnt offering.  He doesn’t question what to do next or what will happen.  He just takes the next step in obedience to God, trusting that God is by his side and that He will provide.  

As Abraham is about to kill his only son, an angel calls out to him, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 

God then provides a ram for Abraham and Isaac to sacrifice to the Lord.  And Abraham named that place: THE LORD WILL PROVIDE

I can’t get over the crazy trust that Abraham had in God.  Even when God called him to do something that would have caused him to question why, he still obeyed.  Abraham remained calm.  He didn’t run from God.  He stayed close to God in every moment of the process.  He wasn’t anxious because He knew that God was in control of the situation.  He trusted God’s character wholeheartedly.  

Knowing and trusting who God is allows us to release control to Him.  

Know that God has your best interest in mind

He finds great joy in providing for you

He knows what you need

He is trustworthy

He is safe

He wants to give you abundant life

He’s not in a hurry

He is patient with you

He’s never disappointed in you

He is a proud Father

He will never leave you alone

He is always present

He is in control

GOD WILL PROVIDE

Release the tension

the need to understand

the need to have is all figured out

the need to be in control

You have permission to rest

God has you 

He always will

Author | Sam Forbes

Everything in Him

Everything in Him

“But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished--he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:21-26 NIV

I think the terms in which we, as humans, understand righteousness and how to obtain it is so far off from what the Lord actually intended. I believe He knew that would happen, and so did Paul. After His encounter with Jesus and knowing Him deeply thereafter, Paul knew His standing with God. He experienced His healing and holiness. With the eyes of God, He saw the lack of worth in the Church. He saw that identity confusion had caused people to be enslaved their past lives and displaced trust created misaligned thoughts about God's character. Over and over again He was able to speak through Paul and guide His children back to one simple truth: if they believed, they had everything in Him, and their identity was completely changed forever.

Today we are fighting the same war in our minds and on Earth. I think the Lord is asking us that we would receive His righteousness by faith. It’s a gift that we simply get to live in it as a part of our inheritance. Every single person who has said yes to Him is righteous before Him, no matter his or her history. In this new story for us, we have authority over the past life, we have access to knowing God deeply, and we are completely worthy of walking in freedom and living in fullness.

I think it is periodically important to look within ourselves and ask the Lord to reveal any part of us that may be teetering on the side of self-hatred and unbelief. Often times, when looking down upon self, questioning God’s character, and trying to live righteously, we adopt a religious spirit to work our way into a false goodness. From an outer perspective, it looks great but on the inside, we are often crumbling. It is almost as if we believe that we are on ground zero or in the negative, so we have to strive to please God or do things for Him in order for Him to bless us. All of a sudden our motivation to do things in Jesus's name becomes founded upon self affirmation or working into a status of "holy" rather than simple love for God and His people. He knows our hearts (Proverbs 16:2, Psalm 139:1).

I think it's time we let go of trying to be something for God.

We are already seated in Heavenly places. Read Ephesians 2:6.

We are already holy. He made that our identity when all Hell was defeated and was transformed Himself. He gave us access to the same story. Before the righteous judge we are free from the death sentence, because we are His.

He let us go, and He gave us every piece of Himself in the process. We are saints.

As saints, we are given insight to the mysteries of God's will. We are filled with His life in its fullness. We have authority and dominion over all the Earth through the Heavenly places where we sit with Him. Most importantly, we always have access to His presence.

I am bringing my righteousness near, it is not far away; and my salvation will not be delayed. I will grant salvation to Zion, my splendor to Israel. Isaiah 46:10 NIV

His salvation is not delayed. His splendor is pouring out and there is more to come! Believe! We have all the promises of Jesus. And we can approach Him boldly. We are a citizens of Heaven, a temple of the Holy Spirit, and a dwelling place for people to know Him. We are to be revealed to the world thirsting for His presence.

I think its time we begin to open our temple gates to Him and the world. Let Him heal us and let Him be seen. There is no delay. The time is now.

Right now,

We

Have

Value.

Right now, this life has value.

Because this life is so valuable and because we are so valuable, we are called to live set apart. Lifestyles of the past don’t feel so luxurious anymore. Subconscious sins such as slander, self-pity, self-hatred, envy, manipulation, and many others begin to feel off putting when we understand our inheritance as royalty. Grime doesn't sit real well in the Kings courts, and He is more than willing to get on His knees with us and help clean it up. He is actually the one who does most of the work.

I think in this season He is inviting us to let go of fear and control when He beckons us to remodel our inner rooms. It will be glorious with Him. He is not a destroyer, He is a restorer and redeemer. He is the one who wants to heal. More importantly, He isn't upset when it happens. He knows that we are going to mess up and have thoughts that don't align with His. That's why He made a covenant with us that nothing could change our resting place in the Kingdom of Heaven once we simply believed in Him. But we aren't called to live in that place, so I am praying that we would allow Him to rework us. I'm asking God that we would let Him move, mold, chisel, and take our roots extremely deep in His presence and character. I am praying that He would reveal the stains in the process— [that] He [who] is our beauty would be revealed. All we have to do is say yes to Him.

Saying yes is righteousness. Moving with His spirit is righteousness. Seeing ourselves as worthy is righteousness.

I am proclaiming that all believers in this city would know Him deeper in this way and that our worth in Him would affect every thought, every word, and every action that comes from us. I am declaring that we would then minister out of simple abiding in God, holding the Kingdom inside of us. I am speaking out that we would use our keys to open up doors in other people and in the spiritual realm. I am agreeing with God that we would let the love of God inside of us grow so much that it would burst out of the gates, and flood every place where it is unfamiliar in our minds and in the physical world we live in. I am praying that as the sons and daughters of Christ begin to come out of hiding and reveal themselves, the ground would quake in response and mountains would be moved in this city. I am praying for an atmosphere of Heaven to fall and that it would be easy for every person in Athens to encounter Him.

Our ministry matters. What He tells us matters. What we pray matters. How we live and what we speak matters. There is no neutral ground. Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! He is coming. Let the oil flow from us into the streets and into every heart that is in a desperate cry for one simple word from His lips, from one simple touch of His hand. We are His body. It is time that we begin to realize the power we hold, to come to Him with the perspective shifts that need to take place, and to renounce schemes of the enemy that are at work in our lives. It is time to be more aware. It is time to have more of Him. It is time to give more of Him. It is time to claim our land over and over and over again until we see Him face to face.

So, I invite us, as the bride of Christ, to declare it. I invite us to speak it out. Let’s get the mess out. Let's let Him clean it up. Let's proclaim who He really is! Let's fight for the ones who don't know Him. Let's believe everything that He did and everything He has said He is going to do! Let's get hungry for His word and His people. In response, put on the armor of God and wear it everywhere you go. Creation is groaning for you to come alive, to be a warrior, and to open your mouth. One ear to Heaven and your eyes on the desperate; He will do it. He will give you the words. He will fill you up. You have the King of every realm and the King of every other god on your side.

You are being asked to take back the King's land in your mind and on Earth, will you accept the invitation?

Author | Emily Helton

Faith

Faith

God is so good. He loves meeting us where we are. He loves it when we begin to understand and seek Him in the ways that excite us. There are so many aspects to our faith and there is such a beauty that comes with each one. 

Having faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  (Hebrews 11:1) Faith is knowing something so deeply that we are willing to give our whole lives to it. 

Some aspects of faith that I think of are emotional, intellectual, voluntary, and heart. When we relate to God emotionally, we can receive His gifts. We have the Holy Spirit to fill us with hope and peace. This hope goes deeper than just a wish and this peace goes deeper than just a sense of calm. We begin to gain confidence in God. We see the fruits that he gives and feel assurance in His presence. 

When we view our faith intellectually, we form a belief about God. This belief goes deeper than feelings. It roots you. There are always hard seasons, times where it’s really hard to hear God and see the fruits of the gifts that He has freely given to us. God knows us and He made us with intellect. He made us beautifully complex with a desire for knowledge. He wants us to ask and understand. In our confusion and in our distance, He wants us to keep seeking Him. He is always searching for us and He is so honored when we turn back and look for Him. It is good to question. It is good to seek answers but if you become discouraged because of the magnitude of God or cannot grasp truth, remember that His truth is greater than any human reason. He is still there and He will always reveal himself to us. In Genesis 1:27, it says that He created us in His image. I want us to just think about the power of that line. He created us to know Him because we were created by Him. Our whole bodies were created in His image; this includes our minds, our souls, our hearts… everything. 1 Corinthians 2:9-13 says the following: “But, as it is written, ‘what no eye has seen, nor ear has heard, nor the human heart has conceived, what God has prepared for those who love Him’ these things God has revealed to us through the spirit; for the spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within it? So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we speak these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual.”Because we are in relationship with God, we have His spirit flowing through us. We have the capacity not only to know Him but to know Him deeply. Just as He is able to know our innermost thoughts and desires, so we also get to know Him more and more deeply. He created us to be capable of truly knowing Him. 

God is kind in that He gives us the choice to follow Him, and when we make the decision to follow Him we grow to understand that we have a place in His kingdom as a daughter or son of the King and our whole lives are changed. This is a voluntary faith. This type of faith transforms our will to be aligned with God’s will. It takes love to a deeper place than just a feeling. It’s a type of love that manifests itself in our actions. 

In Proverbs 4:23 it says “With all vigilance guard your heart, for in it are the sources of life.” Having a heart of faith is more than a feeling. The heart is our core. The center of our soul. It is in this place that the Holy Spirit works in us. It is our source of life, both physical and eternal. The Holy Spirit lives in us and flows out of us,  it draws us to God. 

My prayer for you is that of James 1:2-5: “My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given to you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.”

I pray that if your faith gets tested, you would know that it will give you endurance. That if you are lacking wisdom, you would seek it purely, not because you are doubting God but because your heart is pure. That you would seek to know God. That you would listen for His desires, that you would open your heart and let His spirit move in you. That in the seasons where you don’t feel His presence, you would fall back on what you know of God to be true and ask Him to transform the lies in our lives to truths that come from Him. I pray that these moments would lead you to a greater knowledge of yourself and for you to see that God formed every part of you to be made in His image. 

Author | Natalie Mata

Overflowing Hope

Overflowing Hope

I’m going to start this blog post very honestly: the first thing I did when starting to write was google “righteousness” because I wasn’t entirely sure what it meant. I’ve grown up in church so I’ve heard it a lot, but when I sat down to think about what it means to live righteously the only thing that came to my mind was, “...what the heck even is righteousness?”

So, to be entirely cheesy, the definition of righteousness, fresh from Google is: the quality of being morally right or justifiable.

And then because I’m a little slow on the uptake, I read through the synonyms: goodness, virtue, worthiness, honor, nobility.

So when we hear JEHOVAH TSIDKENU, the Lord is our Righteousness, that means God is our morality. God determines what is right, but he also fulfills that rightness within our lives. Righteousness isn’t a call to perfection, but a reminder of the mercy God bestows on us to meet us where we lack. But just because we can’t fulfill the entirety of the law, and just because we are human and prone to sin, doesn’t mean we aren’t called to live righteously. In fact, we are specifically called to live in righteousness. 2 Timothy 2:22 says “flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness.” And in 1 John 5:18, when John says, “we know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning,” it is a call to live a righteous life.

Knowing what righteousness is is the first step towards practically living a righteous life. The next step is to know what a righteous life looks like. And for that we look to the only one who has ever lived a truly righteous life-- Jesus. In order to see his example and know how the righteous are called to live, the Bible is the ultimate authority. It may feel a step removed, but the Bible is the most direct source for guidance on how to live righteously. Psalm 119:11 says, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” So the most practical thing you can do to live a righteous life is read the Bible, and to hide God’s word in your heart, and learn from the example of Jesus’s life. In Matthew 4:11, when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, he used scripture to refute the lies of the enemy. The power of the scripture was enough for Jesus to sustain himself against the enemy, and that power has not changed.

The next biggest practical in living a righteous life is to maintain a posture of service to God. Living a righteous life can easily become striving for goodness and a love of the law. The Pharisees who persecuted Jesus in the New Testament knew the law and followed it well. But their hearts were postured to serve the law and strive towards righteousness for their own glory. We should want to live a life of righteousness out of an overflow of love for God and an overflow of thankfulness for his mercy.

Finally, the most important thing you can do to live righteously is depend on God. If Jesus himself was tempted, we can be sure that there will be times when we will stumble. On our own power, that can seem daunting, but as 2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us, God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. If we continually surrender ourselves to him, humbly admitting our weakness, God’s power in us will always give us the strength we need to continue living righteously and to fight against temptation.

If you need a place to start, start in silence. Sit and meditate on your daily life and ask, “Am I living a life worthy of the sacrifice God made on the cross?” If the answer is no (and it probably will be), cry out to God in that weakness. Confess the areas of your life that are not righteous, and ask for his love to grow within you so that can live a life worthy. He will never leave you in hopelessness, so you can go forth in the confidence that God’s power is your weapon against the enemy.

Author | Sarah Savoie

Covered

Covered

Righteousness is defined as the quality of being morally right or justifiable. One of the most fascinating things to me is looking at how one became righteousness in the old testament vs. new testament. The overarching story of the Bible has something unique to say about righteousness. It is one of the clearest depictions of what access the old covenant gave us to God vs. the access we have now under the new covenant.

Righteousness, or right standing, in the old testament, was primarily found through cleaning yourself, rituals (specifically purification), and following a bunch of rules to keep yourself clean and pleasing before God. It was about man trying to take their sin away or at least cleanse themselves long enough to get in the presence of God. Keep in mind that even in this there was only a specific group of people that could have access to God. The even crazier part is that there were only certain people that could enter the holiest of holy places in the temple, where the presence of God was. Imagine that. Only the high priest could go into the presence of God. The best way I can define this part of our history is that it was mankind searching for God in the best way they knew how to.

 There were a few men in the Old Testament that had a unique relationship with God. The ones I am thinking of are Abraham and Elijah. They had a friendship with God that allowed them to move on behalf of the people of Israel, a friendship that allowed them to meet face to face with the one true God. They had right standing with God, and it showed in the way that God moved on behalf of their prayers. They weren’t much different than any other person, aside from their belief. They believed God was who he said he was, they believed he was the one true God.

Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”-Genesis 15:6

 This is one of my favorite verses because of its simplicity. In the works-based mentalities a lot of us have, we could lean on this verse a lot more. We have done nothing to deserve right standing with God except believe. Just think about that for a second. God, himself, is positioning us to have right standing before him because he could not bear to spend eternity away from his kids. God changed the course of history by essentially saying, “You cannot do anything to make yourself right before me, so I will send my son to cover every sin you have. Therefore, the only thing you have to do is believe in me, and it will be counted as righteousness.” That is literally the best news in the world.

 Jesus changed the story. God came down, searching for man, and the world was never the same. Jesu came for relationship. He came down and made us right before God when we could do nothing for him. Now, the access that a few men in the Old Testament had is available to anyone who puts their faith in God. The reason you get to have right standing before God is God.

 You can trust God for your righteousness, because he’s the one who decided it. You did not have any say in this other than simply believing. This concept may never seem like you did enough and that’s the point. We were alone in our sorrow. and Jesus gave us a more hopeful alternative. There is nothing so good that we can do to earn God’s favor, and there’s nothing so bad that we can do to take away God’s favor. Our righteousness doesn’t depend on us, it depends on him, and that is how we can be sure that it is sealed. God knew we could never earn any righteousness on our own merit, so he made us righteous on his own merit. God is sustaining our place before him. God literally sees us covered in Jesus’ blood and calls us good.

 Author | Cristina Rosiles

Delightfully Close

Delightfully Close

I read a book recently titled Hinds’ Feet on High Places—if you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it. It’s a story about a girl, Much-Afraid, going on her journey to the High Places with the Good Shepherd. On the journey she has to overcome many things, such as self-hatred, pride, bitterness, resentment, and self-pity. She goes over mountains, through valleys and even travels through the desert at one point before she ever got close to the High Places. The thing about Much-Afraid was that she was literally afraid all the time. She was raised in the Valley of Humiliation, her family was crazy and manipulative, and everyone was telling her not to trust the Good Shepherd. But despite all of her circumstances, she chose to trust the Good Shepherd anyway. The Good Shepherd had promised Much-Afraid healing and a new name once she reached the High Places and that’s the hope she clung too along her journey.

Once Much-Afraid reached the High Places the Good Shepherd kept His word to her: she received healing and a new name. Now, I won’t spoil too much because hopefully you’ll read it at some point, but once in the High Places, Much-Afraid has an encounter with the Good Shepherd where He basically asks her what she learned along her journey. Here is one of her responses to that question:

“The third thing that I learned was that you, my Lord, never regarded me as I actually was, lame and weak and crooked and cowardly. You saw me as I would be when you had done what you promised and had brought me to the High Places, when it could be truly said, ‘There is none that walks with such a queenly ease, nor with such grace, as she.’ You always treated me with the same love and graciousness as though I were a queen already and not wretched little Much-Afraid.” 

What an encounter and revelation to have with the Lord. It gives me chills every time I read that response, and I hope that by the end of this blog post you’ll have a revelation similar to this one with the Good Shepherd himself. A revelation that all along, He sees us through a lens of unconditional love and righteousness because that’s the position He has freely given us and is inviting us to step into.

I think it’s easy for us to grasp unconditional love—love without conditions, requirements, etc. Love that is freely given and full of grace. I mean we think about this all the time when it comes to our relationship with the Lord. But what does it mean for Him to see us through a lens of righteousness? In other words, what does it mean for the Lord to be our righteousness? And more importantly, how do we respond to that promise?

 If we had to define what “righteousness” means, many of us would describe it as “having a right standing with God.” Yes and amen; but, how do we actually relate to that? How do we grasp what it means to be in right standing with God, which is something many of us have heard for so long we are practically numb to it. How do we let this idea come alive to us again? I think it’s important to understand what happened and then understand how it happened. What I mean is, understand what God did to make this right standing happen, and then understand how He chose to do it.

So, what did He do?

“You had none of the Jewish covenants and laws; you were foreigners to Israel’s incredible heritage [freedom]; you were without the covenants and prophetic promises of the Messiah, the promised hope, and without God. Yet look at you now! Everything is new! Although you were once distant and far away from God, now you have been brought delightfully close to him through the sacred blood of Jesus—you have actually been united to Christ!” Ephesians 2:12-13 TPT

I think these verses give a great picture of what the Lord did to restore righteousness to us. We were without everything—without covenants, without promises, without freedom, without God! Yet, look at us now! What a statement! Everything is new, everything is different, everything has changed just by one look from the Father! Where we were once distant, we are now delightfully close; how wild is that?! We have been brought close to our Abba Father by the blood of Jesus—we now have right standing with God through the sacred blood of Jesus. We went from having nothing to having everything just because the blood of Jesus counts for something.

Jesus died so we could be delightfully close to our Father. He died so we could have right standing with our Creator just like we had in the beginning, without shame, without sin. We are perfectly acceptable to the Lord. Let that sink in for a moment.

 How did He decide to do this? How exactly do we have right standing with Him?

”Every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm has already been lavished upon us as a love gift from our wonderful heavenly Father, the Father of our Lord Jesus—all because he sees us wrapped into Christ. This is why we celebrate him with all our hearts! And he chose us to be his very own, joining us to himself even before he laid the foundation of the universe! Because of his great love, he ordained us, so that we would be seen as holy in his eyes with an unstained innocence.”Ephesians 1:3-4 TPT

He has freely lavished us with every spiritual blessing just because He wanted to. When we stand in front of God, He sees us through this lens of righteousness that says we are perfectly innocent right here, right now. We are perfectly pleasing to Him because He chose us to be his very own. We don’t have to wait for righteousness to come because we are already wrapped into Christ and that’s how He sees us. The blood of Jesus means something to Him and He marked us with His love so that we would be seen as holy with an unstained innocence.

Simply put, the Lord did everything so we could be in relationship with Him. He made a way so He could see us through a lens of righteousness. He made sure right standing was a possibility and, through the blood of Jesus, we now have that position with Him. Our position with Him has always been the High Places. He’s always treated us with love and graciousness as though we were kings and queens already. We have always been His first choice and that was His design from the beginning.

Let’s recall Much-Afraid’s encounter in the High Places.

“The third thing that I learned was that you, my Lord, never regarded me as I actually was, lame and weak and crooked and cowardly. You saw me as I would be when you had done what you promised and had brought me to the High Places, when it could be truly said, ‘There is none that walks with such a queenly ease, nor with such grace, as she.’ You always treated me with the same love and graciousness as though I were a queen already and not wretched little Much-Afraid.”

In this moment Much-Afraid realized who the Good Shepherd actually was. I pray we would have a revelation like this; one where we realize there is nothing we can do to earn His love or lose His love. In the moments we are lame, weak, crooked, and cowardly I pray we would trust that He sees us differently, that He sees us rightly through a lens of righteousness. I pray we would live as though we were kings and queens already. I pray we would let our Good Shepherd take us to the High Places and trust we are worth being there. I pray we would live from a place of unconditional love, knowing the Lord will keep every promise He makes.

No longer are we wretched little Much-Afraid—Grace and Glory shall be our new name as we run in the High Places with the Good Shepherd himself.

Author | Elizabeth Sprinkle

Jesus, My Good Shepherd

Jesus, My Good Shepherd

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. -Psalm 23:4 NLT

In verse 4 of Psalm 23, there are three things mentioned that are characteristics of a shepherd. The verse reveals that a shepherd is close to his sheep, protects his sheep, and comforts his sheep. Protection and comfort are tied to the fact that the shepherd is physically and emotionally close to his sheep. In order for a shepherd to protect his sheep, he has to know them. He has to know who is present, who is running off, and who is close beside him. He must be aware of his flock at all times. A personal relationship with each sheep would imply that he knows which sheep has a tendency to run off and which one will stay close by his side. The shepherd doesn’t stop at simply knowing his sheep, though. He puts his knowledge to action by leading them and protecting them.

A shepherds staff has a curved handle - think a wooden candy cane. While this might be helpful for walking through mountain ranges, the main purpose of the crook is to enable the shepherd to be able to pull the sheep in if they start to drift away from the flock or walk to close to the edge of a mountain. The shepherd would extend the staff so that the crook could wrap around the waist of the sheep so that he could pull him to safety. If a sheep gets to close to a cliff, the shepherd must be close enough to reach out and grab the sheep. This means the shepherd isn’t necessarily behind or ahead of his sheep. Rather, he’s in the middle of the flock, looking around to see if everyone is present and safe.

In addition to the shepherd’s staff, a shepherd would also have a rod. This rod was a hybrid between a baseball bat and a walking stick. In the mountains, there are bears and lions. David knew this because he fought off both to protect his sheep. If any animal tried to attack the sheep, the shepherd could use his rod to beat the predator away. Something kind of funny about sheep is that they have amazing peripheral vision, but terrible depth perception. It’s like they have side-view mirrors. They can see what’s around them, but they don’t always know that objects may be closer than they appear. So if a sheep is running towards the edge of a cliff, it may know where the edge is, but not how much room it has till it falls off.

We may not be sheep, but it is so much easier for humans to look back than to look ahead. That’s why the shepherd’s staff is so important. When Jesus reels us in, it’s not because he’s controlling or cruel, but for our safety. God can see what is behind and before, so he knows when we’re close to the edge much better than we do. Knowing this makes the valley a lot less scary. There’s a reason David says he walks through the valley instead of runs or walks around or over. He knew that with God as his shepherd, he had nothing to fear. He knew that Jesus would pull him to safety, stay close to him, and protect him from anything that would try to consume him.

When we know Jesus as our shepherd, we don’t have to run through the hard things. We can walk in peace and confidence knowing that Jesus isn’t far off, but rather, he is walking right beside us. We can walk in peace knowing that even though there is darkness, it will not consume us. The valley will end. It is not the journey, it’s just a part of it. We don’t have to rely on our own strength to survive. We don’t have to avoid the hard things out of fear. We get to walk through them with peace because Jesus is offering comfort and protection along the way.

Take a moment to reflect on the truth that Jesus is your good shepherd, that he is close, and that he protects and comforts you. If you feel like you’re in a valley, ask God for his perspective, to have hope for what you can’t yet see. Meditate on his peace that surpasses all understanding, his peace that is not overcome by the darkness. Ask God to increase your trust in him and to reveal himself as your protector and comforter. If you have been believing that his rod and staff are cruel, ask God to right your understanding of his love and discipline. It is his kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). Jesus is not a controlling or cruel shepherd. He is a good, kind, and faithful friend. Invite him to reveal himself to you as that.

Author | Emily Baker

Our Dwelling Place

Our Dwelling Place

“He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His namesake.” Psalm 23:3 

river.jpg

Where is your refreshing place with God? A place to enjoy his presence and the rest that comes with that. Mine looks something like this - a mossy creek surrounded by a forest. There’s something familiar yet extraordinary about it. I encourage you to find a place of still waters. To imagine meeting God there, creating a sanctuary in your mind. 

From this place I more eagerly and easily move along the narrow path of righteousness. I am both more surefooted and light on my feet. 

In the Message version this verse says, “You let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction…”

These paths - the “right” ones - lead from this space with God… back to this space with God. His presence is the preparation and the prize - where wholeness and rest dwell. 

I love to think about these two verses in light of Psalm 23:3 - 

  1. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. (John 7:38) 

Your connection with God, your relationship with Him, makes you a source of living water. Think back to the picture of the creek - how far do those waters reach? How far does rest, wonder, and wholeness reach? How loud is the babbling brook of restoration? 

  1. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness… (Matthew 5:6)

Righteousness has a dissonant ring to it in our culture. The word brings to mind pictures of the pious and pushy. In Tim Keller’s sermon, “Inside-Out Living”, he breaks down what righteousness looks like cross-culturally and lands on a concept that hits home for many of us - approval. Ultimately righteousness is right-standing before God. It’s His approval. It’s to know we are ok. The phrase, “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for [approval]” cuts a little deeper. 

Because of Christ, we hunger and thirst for righteousness/right-standing/approval that is already ours. He made a way. We can look down and see that the narrow paths of righteousness have already been marked out for us. It doesn’t mean they aren’t hard to follow. It doesn’t mean we won’t feel lost and lonely on a path that has no end in sight. It means that we know where we are headed - it’s the same place we left. It means that whether it’s a roaring waterfall or distant babble, His presence is there to provide the rest, peace, wholeness, direction, and approval we so desperately long for. 

Author | Claire Jordan

Rest in Every Season

Rest in Every Season

"The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures." (Psalm 23:1-2 ESV)

Classic church stuff right here... I mean, I'm assuming. I didn't exactly grow up in church. Life was something like gloomy-but-hopeful in the season when I finally decided to become a Christian this final time around (and this time is meaningfully different than before). Prior to that, I had defined my beliefs simply as "I believe in love"--like, as a force that transcends understanding and is somehow the most powerful thing in the universe. I finally decided that I believed in Jesus in May 2017.

~ I shall not want. ~

Ten months later, I started walking through the most painful season of my life. Two things became painfully--painfully--obvious to me: 1) I had neglected my mental health in pursuit of comfort, and 2) I didn’t have any friends to walk through life with.

I tried going to a ministry where they talked about being best friends with God. That wasn't exactly working for me. I really wanted friends, but I felt like an outsider in this ministry. Everyone else already had their friend groups. I just wanted God to be as fulfilling for me as I had heard He could be. One of the most useful concepts I learned from there was:

“If you don't believe it's true, pray for it until you do!"

I looked for God really hard, searching for any kind of guidance. During that time, Psalm 23 was my go-to (and the Book of John, ‘cause that's just awesome). 

I read the first verse to myself daily for several months. Most of the time in my mirror.

The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.

The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.

The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.

I'd say it through tears. I'd say it through unbelief. This was my daily meditation because, to be real, I needed it to be true. I needed God to be as satisfying as this verse said He was. And, so far, I hadn't experienced it. I was afraid, and I was alone.

I didn't understand the shepherd imagery at the time--I've never met a shepherd before, as far as I know. But I knew that I had many wants and many needs. I wanted to be loved. I didn’t want to be alone. I needed help. I needed healing. I needed a friend.

I'd love to say that this tension resolved immediately--scroll credits--, but, truthfully, my healing process had just begun. I made one close friend and had moderate-to-low amounts of community, and I started going to counseling to address the pain that I had tried to repress. God’s freedom is still unfolding in my life, and, looking back, I can see that the Lord was my shepherd and best friend even then.

~ The Lord is my shepherd. ~

During this season of my life, I felt like a sheep without a shepherd. I felt helpless. I was afraid. I needed guidance. I was lost. I had no idea where I was going or what I was doing.

The best thing I could think to do on my own was distract myself from the pain. I decided to throw myself back into school in the following semester. I decided to go pre-med in an attempt to feel like I was smart and like I mattered.

Something you should learn now if you don't already know it: you are worth more than you can think or imagine because God says so. I wish I had known that at the time, because trying to earn your worth through your achievements and external validation from people is a recipe for disaster.

I commuted to school, took difficult classes that I lacked passion for, drove 45 minutes back to my house, and cried all the way home. I prayed and cried, cried and prayed. I didn't know what I was doing. All I knew was that I was in a terrible pattern that I couldn't break myself out of and that I needed someone else to guide me.

During one of those drives (between tears, I'm sure), I listened to a radio show where the host talked about the Apostle Paul's mission to the church in Athens, as mentioned in Acts. I knew it was talking about Athens in Greece, but to me, it was God putting Athens, GA back on my radar. And I really really wanted to go to UGA, but I wasn't sure if God wanted me to, so I asked for some sign. And then I got three in three days!

I didn't know if God could send signs, but I asked for them anyways. After coming to Wesley, I started to learn about hearing God's voice--which may seem like a confusing concept--, but it finally explained what I was experiencing! God was speaking to me and leading me to where He knew was best for me to go.

~ He makes me lie down in green pastures. ~

I'm still learning what "green pastures" look like. The best I can understand, green pastures are like the good seasons in your life. The thing about Him making you lie down in green pastures is that it's never about the circumstance--at least not really. It's about who you're with. It's not like asking "God, what can You do for me?" It's like saying "God, this place is beautiful, and this season is beautiful. Thank you for everything! And all of the wonders of this season are amazing. But my favorite thing about this is that You're here. Let’s just spend some time together!"

~ What Can I Do? ~

I'm still learning to trust God. But one thing I've found helpful is to really think about God's character before you start thinking about what you need from Him. Take time to meditate on it and consider what it means that Jesus loves you the same way the Father loves Him. That He would give His life for you. That He's constantly interceding and fighting for you. That He says "Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you" (John 15:3 ESV). God loves you more than you can possibly think or imagine, and He created everything that exists with His word. If He says you are clean, then you are clean. He is powerful, and He loves you. Let that sink in first.

From that understanding, then you can begin to let God lead you. You can begin to share your deepest wants and needs, knowing full well who you're talking to, that He deeply understands your wants and needs, and that He is the Lord who heals you (Exodus 15:26). If you know God's character, trusting Him is easy. Sharing your deepest anxieties and insecurities with Him is freeing and easy--plus, He already knows them anyway. Because God is always with you, you can find rest in every season.

Knowing God is not a burden. It's a privilege.

Following God is not stressful. It's joyful.

One of the best parts about being a Christian is actually being able to talk to God. So, pray to Him! Pray however you want! God loves your unique, authentic, 100% real voice! But these are two really helpful questions to get you started:

1. Who are You?

2. Who do You say I am?

And from that, learn to live it out with God by your side. :)

Author | Andrew Elder

When You're Not Feeling It

When You're Not Feeling It

Do you ever have those seasons with God where you’re just not “feeling it”? Where it seems like in comparison to the past, you’re not as excited about spending time with Him or going to church or praying or worshipping or whatever. Or it seems like you’re not hearing Him speak as much. Or countless other things that just don’t make it the easiest to follow God. It might feel like a lot of pain, or it might just feel painfully apathetic.

I 100% have had seasons like that. Honestly, more than I want to admit. But, I want to begin by saying that if this is you, please know that there is no shame or condemnation in this. Absolutely none. Scripture says that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, so we get to trust this and know that if we are in Him, we are okay if we go through seasons like this. So any guilt is not from God. (If you’re super struggling with condemnation, read several of the last blog posts! They’re alllll about that!)

Now, I wish I could tell you why these seasons happen. I also wish I could tell you that there was an easy fix. Maybe like a light switch or something that you could just turn on, and then everything is back to normal with you and God. And maybe sometimes there is. But also a lot of times there isn’t, and that’s okay.

So what do we do in these dry or quiet or hard seasons? I don’t know if there is a one-size-fits-all solution. But I do know what has helped me in seasons like this.

Do it anyway.

In these dry and hard seasons, I think it can be hard to engage with God because we’re scared that we are just going through the motions or being inauthentic, so we just don’t do anything. But I don’t think that that’s how we should handle it!

I think that there is actually something really beautiful in these times where we aren’t really feeling a ton of emotion toward God, but we still choose to abide in Him. I think an intimacy develops when we acknowledge that even if things don’t feel quite right God is still worth worshipping and pursuing. Our feelings toward God do not change a thing about who He is or His heart towards us.

Even if we don’t feel super excited walking into a worship night, God is still worthy of our praise. Even if we don’t feel confident if He’ll respond to our prayer, it doesn’t change the fact that He is always listening to us. Even when we have no freaking clue what’s going on, and we don’t even have words to describe the season that we’re in, we can trust that the God who was present in the beautiful, crazy, wonderful seasons is the same God who is here now.

There is something that happens when we choose to go to God even when we aren’t feeling it. When we choose to move toward God, something begins to shift and soften in our spirits. So, if you just feel like there’s no reason to worship, pray, dance, whatever… I challenge you to do it anyway.

Be real before the Lord. Pray.

Listen, even if it feels a little awkward or uncomfortable, God already knows where you’re at. So you might as well tell Him.

You might be asking the question, “If God knows where I’m at, why do I need to actually tell Him?” Well, have you ever figured out that something was wrong with a friend and you wanted to help, but they hadn’t actually said anything yet, and you knew that if they just told you and let you in, it would just be easier? Like, you don’t have to wait for them to tell you, but it would just be so much better if they did? I’m not sure if I’m 100% right, but I really think that that’s how it is with God. Psalm 145:18 tells us that God draws near to those who call on Him in truth. So, even if it’s hard to tell Him something or you feel like He doesn’t care, we can hold fast to truth that He draws near.

When you choose to let Him in on what’s going on, it builds intimacy, it builds trust, it builds friendship. So, even if you aren’t “feeling” it, tell Him!! He will respond with what you need. And God Himself says that He is patient and slow to anger. So, I just really, really believe that in these moments and hard seasons, when we come to Him with whatever is on our hearts, He is going to draw near and meet us with patience, kindness and love.

And I would just encourage you to pray for God to move during this season. Jesus tells us ask and the door will be opened. So ask and ask and ask until you see a move of God. Tell God how you feel. Tell God how you’d like to see Him move so that you can be out of the hard season. But in the midst of petitioning God, be okay in the waiting.

Be okay in the waiting.

I think it can be easy to go from being unsure to being bitter if you aren’t careful. But I just want to encourage you to be patient in this season and to be okay in the waiting.

What I’m not saying: Settle for this hard season, and accept this as God’s best for you, and suck it up because that’s how it’s going to be!

What I am saying: Keeping praying for things to change. Make space for God to move. Make changes that you need to make. Press into the goodness of God. But don’t get so tired of the waiting that you try to exit the season outside of God’s will for you. Petition Him, but also wait until He says yes.

Hold tight to truth.

In these times, it can be hard to let our feelings (or lack thereof) or our circumstances determine how we view ourselves or view God. But I just really want to encourage you to hold tight to truth. Below I’m going to write out a few lies that it can be easy to believe in these seasons and truths that directly fight that:

Lie: God is distant when I’m not “feeling it.”

Truth: God is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

Lie: God is mad at me for feeling this way.

Truth: God is compassionate to this season and how it’s affecting you. (Psalm 145:8)

Lie: You have to carry this burden for yourself and go through this alone.

Truth: God wants to take this burden from you and walk through this season hand-in-hand with you. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Lie: This will never end.

Truth: Persevering through the hard stuff is worth what’s on the other side. (James 1:2-4)

Lie: Maybe it’s not worth it.

Truth: God is worthy of any and everything. Even enduring hard things. (Revelation 4:11)

Cling to these truths. Read them. Write them down. Even if they’re hard to believe, ask God to show you what it would look like for you to live as if these things are true.

If you’re reading this and going through a hard season, I pray over and encourage you that it is worth it, and God is good. He is empathetic to the hard stuff. Invite Him in. He responds to our brokenness. Just give Him the space to do that by inviting Him in. You’re loved a lot by Him. :) <3 :) <3

Author | Hannah Cole

Called to More

Called to More

My years of undergrad are marked by a desire to do right in the eyes of God, but no capability of executing those desires. I relate to what Paul writes in Romans 7:18,“For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.”

 Have you ever felt that way in your life? That maybe there was a sin that you couldn’t seem to shake or fully surrender to God? That you knew you were supposed to be experiencing more freedom and breakthrough than you currently were?

 It’s hard to walk away from sins that easily ensnare us because often times, they are enjoyable. They fill some temporary void or distract us from the hardships of our daily lives. A little pride to help us cover up the fact that we don’t feel like we are enough. A little drinking to numb the lack of community or purpose in our lives. A dating relationship to try to fill our overwhelming longing for love. 

 Over time, the pride overtakes us. The drinking has led us to sins of deep regret and left us even more alone the next morning. The constant dating relationships have led us to look to our significant other as our source of life.

 I remember feeling so ashamed to come to God asking for forgiveness for sins I just asked forgiveness for days prior. I would delay prayer or quiet times, thinking I didn’t deserve to come into the grace and presence of God just yet.

The reason I wanted to repent and turn from my sins in the first place is because I felt conviction from the Holy Spirit. I knew I was being called to more. But during that time, the devil tried to throw in words of condemnation to make me think they were from God. He has twisted the words of God since the Garden of Eden when he asked Eve "Did God really say you must not eat from any tree in the garden?”

 No. God didn’t say that. God said that they may eat from any tree except for the tree in the center of the garden. And he didn’t say you deserve to sit in your shame either. God is love. If the words you are hearing over you are not words of love – they are not of God. Conviction is the restoration of a relationship. Condemnation is the severing of a relationship.

 In Romans 8:1, Paul says “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” And in verse 15, “The spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

 God sent the Holy Spirit to bring us into his sonship. From slavery to sonship – how crazy! He loves us as his own son. As his own daughter. Nothing will ever separate us from the love of Christ. And he loved us so much he gave us the Holy Spirit to guide us into truth. I love the way The Passion Translation interprets what Jesus said in John 14:15-17:

 “Loving me empowers you to obey my commands. And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Savior, the Holy Spirit of Truth, who will be to you a friend just like me – and he will never leave you. The world won’t receive him because they can’t see him or know him. But you know him intimately because he remains with you and will live inside of you.”

 God allows the Holy Spirit to empower us to walk in truth, if we so choose. This translation calls the Spirit a friend, and a good friend doesn’t force you to do anything. They just encourage you to make the best decisions and walk alongside you in the decisions you do make.

 The concept of choice is really important in this story. God has always given his people the opportunity to choose him, from the beginning of the story with Adam and Eve to the story you are living right now.

 Romans 8:9 (TPT) says, “But when the Spirit of Christ empowers your life, you are not dominated by the flesh but by the Spirit. And if you are not joined to the Spirit of the Anointed One, you are not of him.”

 So, just how does the Holy Spirit empower us to leave behind our lives of sin?

 I think the Holy Spirit allows us to taste the goodness of God over and over again until we want nothing else. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to the truth. The Spirit literally changes our desires. However, when we try to change ourselves apart from full submission to the Holy Spirit, we are operating from our flesh.

 Galatians 6:8 says, “Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” Thus, as we begin to walk more in line with the Spirit, we are going to experience more of the Kingdom on earth. That is why sanctification, or being made holy, is often a process.

 The Spirit grieves when we rebel, and we feel it deep in our souls. That guilt differs greatly from condemnation and is actually good, leading us to repentance and helping align us with the Word of God.

 If your soul has been grieving lately, the Spirit is trying to lead you into something greater in God. It is time to cry out to your Abba Father for forgiveness and freedom from sin. He has so much more life for you.

Author | Makinizi Hoover

The Gift of Repentance

The Gift of Repentance

I love cookies. Chocolate chip cookies are my favorite, and I love when they’re fresh and warm from the oven. My mom knows this too, so, growing up, whenever she took the cookies out of the oven she was sure to warn me not to take a cookie right away or eat too many, or I’d hurt myself and make myself sick. Now, in my youth I was a strong man and I knew how to handle my stuff, so I ignored her often and took for myself cookies just seconds out of the oven and threw them down my throat—and it hurt. Most times, I waited a little while before taking several more cookies to satisfy my sugar cravings, and, without fail, shortly after my stomach started cramping.

I used that analogy to talk about sin my first summer as a camp counselor in 2017. That first summer, I was a counselor for boys ages 7 to 9 (in a couple instances, 10). If you haven’t worked with those age boys before, know that it can be overwhelming to work with just one; I had ten. (Praise the Lord for co-counselors, though!) One of my jobs was to describe the Gospel to them over ten nights of devotionals. Oddly enough, I think my favorite night was talking about sin and turning away from it. We know that cookies aren’t bad (for most of us, at least), but sin is very similar to those cookies straight out of the oven or several down our gullet all at once. God tells us something will hurt us or make us ill, but we in our pride tell ourselves it’s okay—and we end up hurting ourselves.

The kids loved that analogy, and I love it too. Sin, for many of us, looks enticing—warm and filling, like freshly baked cookies. But at both the beginning and end of the day, sin does nothing but hurt us.

Turning from our sin is no small feat. From the moment Eve and Adam chose to disobey God, the spiritual DNA of humanity was altered. Without Jesus, sin is a part of who we are and with Him we have a constant battle to fight against the temptation of it. The beginning of this process is simply acknowledging that we have sinned which leads us to repentance. 

Repentance is just a fancy way of describing how we deny the power of sin and live in alignment with God’s heart. It is saying, “I’m sorry for behaving this way. God, help me to do better.” In Christ's grace we are already saved, redeemed, and justified—so we do not need to worry about our salvation when we fail at being perfect, but a promise God makes is that if we turn from our sin and seek His face, the ashes of our failure will be made beautiful. I think 1 John 1:7-9 (TPT) puts it perfectly:

But if we keep living in the pure light that surrounds him, we share unbroken fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, continually cleanses us from all sin. If we boast that we have no sin, we’re only fooling ourselves and are strangers to the truth. But if we freely admit our sins when his light uncovers them, he will be faithful to forgive us every time. God is just to forgive us our sins because of Christ, and he will continue to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

For us, in Christ, turning from our sin means turning to Him. He cleans us, and redeems us, and set us free. Holy Spirit reveals to us the ways we’re falling short—and in those moments, we are called to turn from our short fallings and turn to God knowing that when we freely admit our sins He will be faithful to forgive us. He will cleanse us from unrighteousness. He will turn the ashes of our sin into a beautiful crown of flowers (Isaiah 61:3). He will heal our land and our lives—because He has promised. That doesn’t mean it won’t be hard, that there won’t be missed opportunities or that the denial of ourselves will come naturally, but it does mean that it will be worth it all.

Author | Alex Hinton

Kindly Loved.

Kindly Loved.

We often expect God to comment on our sin like the Pharisees in John 8 expected from Jesus. We know He has strong feelings about sin and has called us to a standard of living we fall short of in our own strength. We may have attempted to compromise His character by projecting feelings of disappointment, anger, or other harsh responses to our sin on Him. There are a number of ways we misunderstand God when our view is distorted by sin. But none of these are what God intended for us.

My best understanding of sin is that it is anything and everything that God has not apportioned to us because sin is in opposition to God and we were made for God. We have agreed-upon obvious sins like murder and lust but sin is also ignoring when God asks us to encourage a friend or refusing to open up the Word when we’ve felt drawn to it for weeks. Sin isn’t just a list of things God thinks is lame and so we hate it, too. We abstain from sin because its everything that contributes to living less than the abundant life Jesus freely gave us. Sin is a thief of what we deserve and what we are entitled to by the sacrifice that was made on the Cross. It is not only negativity introduced to a Christian life but it’s only product is death when our inheritance in Christ is eternal life.

When the woman caught in adultery was publicly shamed and awaiting the consequences of her actions, Jesus first took the opportunity to draw everyone’s attention to the prevalence of sin. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God so we don’t need to stand around pointing out specks in each other’s eyes when we have planks in our own. We don’t need to shame people for their sin because we have sin, too. Paul says that even our righteousness is as filthy rags because apart from God we cannot be holy.

Jesus is holy but he does not shame us in our sin because there’s no condemnation in Him. Instead, He offers those in Christ grace that teaches us not to sin. His extraordinary forgiveness motivates us to pursue abundant life. When we catch a glimpse of how good He is, we chase after His goodness which by default is leading us away from sin. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “and we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” Seeing the glory of the Lord— His goodness, His love, whatever it is that makes you want to worship Him— transforms us into His likeness. Sin becomes less a part of us as we behold what our lives can look like in God.

The NIV of Zephaniah 3:17 says that in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. How empowering would it be to see God respond to us this way when we come to Him with our mess of sin? Hopefully knowing God this way will remove any fear that may exist in confessing or dealing with our sin. Our Father deeply desires for us to know that He is not condemning us. He doesn’t want shame for us anymore than He wants a life of sin for us. He’s rejoicing over us in song. That’s a dramatic expression of feelings that’s meant to remind us of His love. I remind myself of this through a song I learned years ago when I start to feel condemnation. It says:

You really are kind, God. You really do love us and I’ve cheated Your heart when I think from the start that You don’t love me in weakness. I really do make you happy.

As you go through seasons of intentionally addressing the sin in your heart, or even having it exposed in you like it happened in John 8, be mindful of who you are accountable to. God is Judge and through Christ you are not condemned, so don’t let shame lead you further away from God. Let God’s loving-kindness draw you in. The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Now go and sin no more because you are loved by the One who overcame.

Author | Savannah Ugan

A Life Worthy to the One who is Worthy

A Life Worthy to the One who is Worthy

This year we, as a Wesley body, are diving into the idea of how to give our whole lives to the one who gives us life. When I first heard that phrase I began to ask God what that would look like on an individual level. Every time I would sit on this, I would hear this little whisper saying “as you are.”

As you are - I believe that this is actually the best way for us to bring heaven to earth. What I mean by “this” is, embracing the uniqueness God blessed us with in order to glorify His name and walk in greater levels of unity. Remember, unity is not conformity. Unity is working together in agreement for a specific purpose. So, in order to glorify the fullness of God’s glory, we have to embrace the small parts of Him that he placed within each of us. Then we can come together as a whole body and those around us will get to see the full picture; and eventually, they will see that we are all pointing to Jesus.

Since we started work this semester, I have been in awe of how special it is that we were all created so uniquely. One night in particular I was talking with one of my friends about what she was feeling impressed to pray for and as she told me I was wrecked by how important it is to follow the little tugs we feel in our own hearts. While we were both at the same prayer night surrounding the same general topic, God was speaking incredibly different things to each of us… but both were equally important! I began to think about all of the ways that God knit each of us together as intentional creations and then I remembered this piece of scripture: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it… so Christ himself gave the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God… we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ” Epesians 4:4-15

You have probably heard the analogy relating the body of Christ to the human body before, I love this idea because it paints the perfect visual for how God intended us to function. Obviously my elbow can’t function as my foot, because it was never designed that way. In the same way that my elbow was not created to be my foot, you were not created to be your roommate and your roommate was not created to be you. God has placed unique gifts inside of you that only you have the power to release. So what I mean by this phrase “as you are” is, you have the freedom to be exactly who God created you to be. Just because you don’t pray the same way as the person sitting next to you, doesn’t mean that you don’t have important things to say in order to shift the atmosphere in prayer. Just because you aren’t the most outgoing person in the room, doesn’t mean that you can’t show a stranger the love of Jesus at the grocery store (truly, if you smile at a person and make them feel seen and loved they have experienced the same God they would experience if you walked up and asked if you could pray for them). And just because you don’t feel like you have yourself “as together” as the people around you, doesn’t mean that you don’t have vital things to offer to others in a discipleship or small group setting.

It’s also important to not fall on the other end of this spectrum and live out of frustration when others don’t see exactly what you see. If I were wanting to use my elbow as my foot, but just kept falling down on my face because it wouldn’t work, I couldn’t get mad at my elbow for not working… it wasn’t created to support the weight of my body. You would all think it was pretty silly if I expected it to work no problem. The same is true among the spiritual body. If you find yourself with a huge heart to spread the gospel and the only thing you can think about is talking to strangers about Jesus, but the person next to you has a heart for pastoring the people within the church, you shouldn’t become frustrated with one another for not doing what God has placed on your heart. Instead, you should team up and acknowledge the importance of both sides and work together to show people the love of God from every angle.

When you live the life you were given with joy and expectation that God wants to use you as much as He wants to use those around you, you are actually honoring Him so much. You are saying “Hey God, you created me in your image and I’m really proud to be your daughter/son.” You are coming into alignment with what God intended your life to be, and what a better way to live a life worthy of the one who is worthy of all things than by living out of the places he always intended for us to live out of.

You have SO much more to offer than you give yourself credit for. Comparison only comes to steal your joy. So I challenge you this year to lay down your comparison and start asking God “what do you see in me that is good? What do I have to offer those around me? Where do you want me to use myself?” As He starts to reveal things to you, hold on to them, and let them be the new lens in which you see yourself. As you do that you will be able to step into far greater things than you ever thought possible while you were trying to live like the person next to you.

Author | Tori Kramer