Arise, Soldier | You Aren't Finished Yet

Arise, Soldier | You Aren't Finished Yet

Close your eyes. Breathe. It'll pass. Just trust me. I am still. I am strong. I am steady. I know what this is like, and I am giving you peace and telling you how to fight instead. You're going to be okay.

We have all been there.

Every one of us can pinpoint at least one single moment in our life where joy seemed to be a far-fetched notion in the reality of our life. One punch, two punches, and then three. Suddenly, we feel like we cannot get up.

Most of the time, the punches taste similar to the last ones. The enemy pulls back and thinks, "Oh, if I could just hit her one more time in this tender area, surely she'll be out." And the blow comes. The darkness clouds our vision for a second. The clock is ticking, the seconds are long. Maybe it's because we were off our guard, distracted by the things of this world. Maybe it happened because we were disregarding the power within our own strength. Or, perhaps we have just been beat up so many times, we had little strength to raise our own fist. Then there are the times when the blow is simple and direct, because the enemy hates what we are doing and will do anything to stop it.

It is true.

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…"

But then, there is the second part of the verse.

"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10

Because of Jesus, we don't actually have to stay on the ground. And even better, we don't have to wait for someone else to pick us up. Though the Lord will send help time and time again, He ultimately wants to be the one to come close, whisper in our ear, and tell us exactly what to do next. Our head may be pounding, but He gives us direct access to the weaknesses of our opponent through pure faith in the power of the resurrection.

"If Jesus can get up, so can I."

Holding onto faith in who God is and who you are will give you the full amount of strength to win your battle.

He is Elohim, God of incredible power. He is Yahweh, "The Lord" of all things. He is Abba, "Daddy, Father." He is El Elyon, "God Most High." He is El Roi, "The God Who Sees." He is El Shaddai, "God Almighty." He is Yahweh Yireh, "The Lord Will Provide." He is Yahweh Nissi, "The Lord Is My Banner." He is Jehovah Rapha, "Healer, the Lord who heals you." He is Yahweh Shalom, "The Lord is peace."

This means that He is good, and because He is good, we are free.

We are more than conquerors. We have the power to heal and set captives free. We are purified, healed, and made righteous through Him. We are sons and daughters with a divine inheritance. We have the authority to choose Him over sin. We are able to have love, joy, peace, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control, and patience. We are able to hear God and speak to others by Him. We have access to the Holy Spirit and the gifts He stewards in our hearts and minds. We can dream again. We can live again. And most importantly, we are able to experience His presence and walk so dearly close to Him within the journey of our lives.

Sure, there are times when He will carry us.

There are times when He will let us choose to scale a mountain right beside Him, and He will tear down threats that come in the other direction.

Then, there are times when He will tell us to get back on our feet, stand in the face whatever is against us, and tell the thing to move.

Be steadfast in Him. In whichever way He wants to equip you for your current season, you are equipped. In whichever way He wants to equip you for the next season, you will be equipped. Even in past seasons, He has equipped you to stand strong. You are still alive.

And I promise, you will always win with Him.

"In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one." Ephesians 6:16

Arise, soldier. You aren't finished yet. Don't you remember that I am the God of all things? Pick up your weapons. The enemy's weapons are false. They seem overbearing, life-threatening even, but they actually crack at the weight of my glory. The table I have prepared for you is equipped with the finest metals. Gold and heavenly jewels mark their place in the Kingdom. The weapons I chose for you are the essence of my character: purity, righteousness, nobility, bravery, and honesty. They are brutal to the enemy's schemes.

So, lean back for a second and breathe. Center your eyes like a lion. Be compassionate for your brothers and sisters at your side, but focused to destroy the flaming lies, insults, setbacks, and temptations that the enemy sends over you and your people. Take up your shield of faith and know that I am your God. My fountain quenches the raging fire of the thief. He didn't give you your light, so he can't take it away. Remember that you shine from the inside, and he is simply no match for the power I have invested in you.

Author | Emily Helton

Shoes of Peace

Shoes of Peace

Think back to a time when you wore a pair of shoes that just hurt your feet or didn’t fit correctly. You’re standing there, wishing you could go back home and change. You don’t feel like standing for longer than a few minutes, let alone running around in those uncomfortable shoes.

Okay enough of that.

Now, think about the most comfortable shoes you’ve ever worn. Maybe they’re a nice pair of tennis shoes, or maybe they’re some very supportive boots. Whatever their type, you felt peaceful wearing them, and you were ready to go and do the things you needed to do that day.

I love how the armor metaphor in Ephesians 6 describes your shoes:

“For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.”

We get to derive our peace from the knowledge of our salvation. By understanding the sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross and believing it for ourselves, we unlock the full level of peace that we have access to through Jesus. When our worth comes from God and not from earthly circumstances, nothing can hold us back anymore from walking the path He set out for us.

I can’t imagine a better pair of shoes for us to have when engaging in spiritual warfare. The peace from God is a perfect fit for each one of us because Jesus died for everyone. It’s comfortable because it never changes, and it puts our worth in eternal places instead of temporal ones on earth.

When we put on the shoes of peace and readiness, we are prepared for battle.

My prayer for you is that you choose to put on these shoes and not some cheap, uncomfortable, earthly shoes that won’t last. Don’t settle for obtaining your comfort from momentary outlets on earth like alcohol or Netflix or sex, because those things aren’t going to equip you for battle. I pray that you have the knowledge and understanding of your salvation to find your peace in Jesus.

(This is all a metaphor of course. You should probably still wear real shoes lol)

Author | Maddie Marsh

Rest

Rest

What is rest and what does it look like?

The original Greek word for “rest” means to: cause or permit one to cease from any movement or labor in order to recover and collect one’s strength.

I’ll be honest... this is a hard topic for me to write on. I’ve wrestled with whether or not to write on this, but if you’re reading this, that means God has finally convinced me to put the pen to paper (or fingers to keys in this case), so here we go...

I *really* like working. I like the idea of being busy and always having something to do. If you’re familiar with the enneagram, I’m a Type One or “The Perfectionist”. It is natural for me to work and want to do it perfectly. That “wanting” to do things in perfection, can easily become a “have to” for me, leading my wanting to striving. And if I’m being completely honest, that perfectionist mentality has ruled most of my life, specifically in these last two months. On the flip side of the coin, resting is challenging for me. My mind naturally races thinking about the next thing or task I can complete. You’re probably thinking, wow this girl probably has no life outside of work. That assumption is 100% accurate, up until this past week.

Here’s the truth that shifted my perspective:

We were never meant to strive.

I’ve believed the lie that striving is natural and normal (and maybe it is, apart from Jesus).

The truth is: it is supernatural to find rest amidst the chaos. (because Jesus is supernatural!!)

Jesus came for us to experience rest, not striving.

Jesus came for us to find rest, even when it seems impossible.

He came for the supernatural to be natural.

Matthew 11:28-30 (TPT) says this,

28 “Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis. 29 Simply join your life with mine. Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in me.30 For all that I require of you will be pleasant and easy to bear.”

It was never God’s intention for us to be burdened with work or struggle to make it through our next class, next meeting, or next year. The verb “come” in verse 28 is not just an invitation; in the original Greek, it’s an imperative asking for immediate action.

—It is an urging, a pleading, a heart cry for you to experience life abundant through Him—

There is also a choice in this. We can choose to continue doing life apart from Him, or we can choose surrender, freedom, and from that: rest. Easy-peasy, right? Lol. I like how Jesus uses rhetorical questions to drive points home, so there’s my shot at typing like Jesus if He had a computer and used texting acronyms.

Back to the blogging: it is a constant battle and daily choice to choose Him. But take heart, because the best part is that we have the freedom to choose, and we are empowered by Holy Spirit to do this. Romans 15:13 in The Amplified Bible says this:

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you will abound in hope and overflow with confidence in His promises.”

“We have the promise (Matthew 11), the freedom of choice, and the empowerment to choose Him no matter what (Romans 15). Our Father designed us for relationship. Our relationship with God is true rest’s residency. As we spend time with Him, we are refreshed and renewed, filled with all joy and all peace and all hope. We were designed to be in constant, regular communion with Him.

It is our choice to cease from any movement or labor, and in return, He provides a place to recover and collect our strength.

When we choose to fight for our rest in making space for the secret place with Him, only then do we experience rest.

I know my mind immediately jumps to this (and maybe yours does too): “But I have so much to do. I don’t have time to do this.” However, when we spend time with Jesus, somehow everything else falls into place. I think Bob Sorge put it best in his book Secrets of the Secret Place: “It is the understanding that spending time in His presence does not diminish our productivity in life, but rather becomes the wellspring from which flows Spirit-empowered effectiveness and fruitfulness. It is the only abode of true rest.”.

Choose rest today, friend, by choosing to fight for your time with Him. John Mark Comer calls it the spiritual discipline of slowing: “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry in your life; hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. Slow down to the speed of Jesus.”.

Let your pace match the pace of Jesus.

Take a seat.

And soak in His presence for a while.

Author | Brooke DeLoach

Breastplate of Righteousness

Breastplate of Righteousness

In the time of ancient Rome, one of the most crucial pieces of a soldier’s battle armor was his breastplate. A breastplate made of iron tightly bound together by leather straps protects essential internal organs, including the heart and lungs.

Just like the breastplate is important in protecting a Roman soldier’s physical body, the breastplate of righteousness, which Paul mentions in Ephesians 6, is crucial in protecting us from the schemes of the enemy.

In real life terms, wearing the breastplate of righteousness looks like living a life of righteousness, turning from sin and obeying what God asks of us.

The reason God asks us not to continue sinning isn’t because we have to earn relationship with Him by “being good.” It’s because he knows the enemy will try to create separation between us.

When we choose to do something we know we are not supposed to do, it gives the enemy wiggle room to slip lies into our heads and confuse us. It’s as though we are loosening off our breastplate ever so slightly, creating a chink in our armor where the enemies attack can come through.

For example, when you sin, the enemy may attack you with shame and hope that just by placing that type of thought in your head that you would hide from God and think that God wouldn’t want you anymore.

The truth is that Jesus blood covers every sin we have ever or will ever commit, and God wants us to run to Him when we sin and turn to Him for the strength to overcome whatever we may struggle with.

The love, the grace, the mercy and the promises of God always stand true and are always available to us. God never retracts those offers, but if we do not choose to protect ourselves and turn away from sin, we hurt our ability to accept and walk into the good things God has for us.

Wearing the armor of righteousness and choosing to obey God prevents the enemy from being able to get a little foothold in our lives.

Prayer: Father I pray that you would give each of us a new perspective on sin. I ask that you would help us understand the gravity of sin and the importance of obeying you. God I ask that you would help us to understand how separate our value and confidence in salvation is from living righteously, but that walking into the freedom you have for us involves turning from sin. Holy Spirit would you fill us afresh and empower us to live lives free from sin. We love you. Amen.

Author | Lindsey Conway

Belt of Truth

Belt of Truth

When I think about what it looks like to send people into battle, I envision really strong, really prepared men. I imagine them clothed in the most magnificent armor and equipped with the sharpest swords and toughest shields. However, I do not think this is what Paul is writing about in Ephesians 6.

Paul is writing to remind us to put on the "every piece of God's armor" in order to withstand the battles and temptations that are thrown against us during our daily walks. This is not shiny golden armor that has been found to be the most reliable or dependable. This is the armor that is made up of the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit.

As a worship leader, when I think about getting battle ready, I am reminded of how they sent the worshippers in first and how it was important for them to be equipped and ready for whatever the opposing army brought to the battle field and that they fought with what they knew. They led warriors into battle with songs of truth.

Every one of us falls into the category of "worshipper". None of us are excluded from being a part of the praise and worship that God asks of us. God has called every one of us to worship and praise continuously!

"Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that openly profess his name." Hebrews 13:15

In order to do this, the belt of truth is one of the most important parts of the armor to remember. How are we able to lead others onto the battlefield with confidence and boldness without knowing the truth about who God has called us to be and what God has called us to do? Being able to live in the truth that God has called us to is not easy without knowing what it is that He actually wants and expects from us. To fight the battle that is our daily life, we must remind ourselves to lead with worship that is informed by truth.

In John 4:24 it says "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the spirit and in truth."

Without the belt of truth, our worship cannot and will not be given in the fullness that is expected from God. We must equip ourselves with the belt of truth in order to completely surrender our continuous worship to the Lord.

So my challenge to you today, is to ask God to reveal the truth that He has for you and then in turn ask Him what it looks like for you to live a life of worship with the belt of truth secured around you.

Author | Morgan Attebery

You are Powerful

You are Powerful

So spiritual warfare exists. There are things working against us in the world - powers of darkness, forces of evil, scary sounding stuff. While there are battles that must be fought daily in prayer, the war against darkness was won over 2000 years ago when Jesus died on the cross and pulled a fast one on satan and rose from the dead three days later. It is a story of grace and love and mercy, and it is also an epic display of the might and power Christ possesses. His show of power doesn’t end there though. Jesus takes this whole resurrection power thing to the next level when He sends us the Holy Spirit so that we can have access to the exact same power that brought Him back from the grave.

Paul writes in Ephesians 1:18-21 “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age, but also in the one to come.”

Paul’s cry is that we would live out of the truth that we are not powerless in the face of any trial that we face. We are not powerless to anxiety. We are not powerless to fear. We are not powerless to circumstances or trials. We have the same power that Jesus used to heal the sick, and calm the storm and bring Lazarus back from the dead. This is the power Christ died for you to have. No matter how desperate or dark a present circumstance, or how deeply entangled in a sin struggle you may be, the thought “you are powerless to fight this” is a lie straight out of the pit of hell. You may not have control over a situation, but Christ didn’t die for you to be in control, He died for you to have the power to fight back against the enemy. So fight like you’ve already won because your God has already declared you victorious.

Paul again references the power we have in Christ in Romans 8:37. He claims that “we more than conquerors through Him who loved us,” meaning that the enemy will do his level best to keep us from the fullness of God by trying to trap us in sin or destructive thought patterns or circumstances, but we don’t have to take it. We have Christ and His power dwelling in us, ready to be used as soon as we call out to it.

So amazing, we have this power in us, but why do we sometimes feel so powerless? Why do we feel defeated when we are supposed to be more than a conquerors, Paul?

I think Paul would say that our power is not determined by how powerful we feel. Our emotions do not dictate how powerful we are. We just are powerful because that is the identity we have as children of God. So when school is going poorly, or relationships are hard, or you lose someone close to you, take heart in the fact that you don’t have to feel powerful, you just have to exercise the power that has been given to you in faith.

So practically speaking, what does putting this power to use look like?

It means putting on the armor of God that Paul speaks about in Ephesians 6: 13-17

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground...stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

The way we fight back is to immerse ourselves in truth from the Word, stand boldly on his promises, and pray ceaselessly to our Father who will move in power in response to our cries.

So take heart. Hold fast. Be courageous. Exercise the authority and power Christ has given you.

Author | Katie Pilson

There is a Battle

There is a Battle

There is a battle raging around us, whether you see it or not. Spiritual warfare is as real as physical warfare happening around us. The way you perceive spiritual warfare is predicated on the personal language you have with God. There are as many ways to communicate with God as there are people. We have a bit of a framework of how God has communicated with people in the past through the Bible, but that is not an exhaustive list. We see God speaking through dreams to many prophets, through the still small voice with Elijah (1 Kings 19:11-13), and in the new testament through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. As there are many way to perceive spiritual warfare, do not discount how God is communicating to you, because God will talk to you in a way that makes sense FOR YOU.

Spiritual warfare is important, but it is not meant to weigh you down. Ephesians 6:12 instructs us that our battle is not with human beings but with the spiritual forces of darkness. As important as Ephesians 6:12 is, we have to understand that verse out of 6:10 where Paul says, "Be supernaturally infused with strength through your life-union with the Lord Jesus. Stand VICTORIOUS with the force of His explosive power flowing in and through us (TPT)."

Any spiritual warfare you come across should be addressed from a position of sonship. You are not an orphan. You are claimed. If you try to combat any spiritual warfare outside of being a son or daughter, you will lose, and not because you are not completely qualified for that battle but because you do not know who you are. There is a narrative in the Bible that speaks to exactly this when the sons of Sceva tried to cast out demons using the authority of the name of Jesus. The demon said, "I know about Jesus, and I recognize Paul, but who are you?" The sons of Sceva did not know who they were and could not respond. You are a son and a daughter. All of the authority that Jesus walked in while he was on the Earth was given to you on the resurrection day. You are not an orphan, so you do not have to act like one.

The second part of verse ten speaks to a victorious mindset going into spiritual warfare. You are not fighting a losing battle. The war is won; we know the ending. At the end of time, Jesus still reigns victorious and satan goes to the pits of hell where he belongs. Hear me say this as loud as possible, Satan cannot win the war, but he will try to win you. Satan cannot get back to God, so he will try to take as many of God's children with him in the process. You have an enemy that seeks for you to live outside of relationship with God, but you are more powerful than Satan could ever hope to be. He knows exactly the buttons to push to get you away from God, but you have the Holy Spirit. There is no spirit in the spiritual realm that is greater than the Holy Spirit. Stand victorious in the place God has called you to be in, because he has set you up to win. All you have to do is call on the name of Jesus, and any demon standing against you has to flee. Jesus has won the war, so you can win the battle.

Spiritual warfare does not have to be heavy. Those that are called to intercede and stand in the gap for others or even nations should actually be the most joyful people in the room. We are not fighting for victory, we are fighting from victory. When spiritual warfare is happening around you, pray for the opposite thing to come in its place. If you feel anxiety in a room, call out the peace. If you feel depression, call out the joy. If you feel apathy, call out the passion. In the midst of the darkest room, you can always call out the light. God allows you the be aware of spiritual warfare, so you can partner with his heart for the people around you.

We move in response to the relationship we have with Jesus. You are an ambassador of Christ to this world, but first and foremost, you are a child of God. God cares infinitely more about having a personal relationship with you than God cares about anything you could ever do for his kingdom. God does not need you to expand his kingdom, but he is kind enough to let you help.

Author | Cristina Rosiles

Sabbath Rest

Sabbath Rest

“One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grain-fields, and His disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he gave some to his companions.” Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

On another Sabbath He went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched Him closely to see if He would heal on the Sabbath. But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand,“Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So He got up and stood there. Then Jesus said to them,

“I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?” He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and His hand was completely restored. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.”

Luke 6:1-11

Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath.

I don’t believe this means he gets special say-so on Sunday. I don’t believe this means that each week demands a 24 hour fasting prayer session.

I believe Jesus is Lord over our rest.

He knows that rest is good for us. He asks us to rest. He is our rest.

We know, we know.

So why don’t we do it?

I don’t believe it’s because of the internet. Or a workaholic culture. Or Netflix originals.

These obstacles may be new gears in an old clock, but the tick is the same.

We don’t rest because we can’t rest with ourselves.

It’s like this:

Screen Shot 2018-10-07 at 7.09.09 PM.png

I’m busy. I work 20 hours a week, go to school full time and try to see some people. Maybe sprinkle in a side gig, a few organizations, and family face-times.

I’m treading water. It’s all fine, but a free moment is a tired moment. So I avoid true rest and go for the easy distraction. On to the next. Rinse and repeat. And before long I haven’t actually laid anything down… to rest. I just keep picking up. Go go go. The next time I consider resting, it feels that much more impossible. I feel more distant from myself, from God.

And so the cycle goes.

But rest does not just mean finally facing our failure.

It means finally returning to his success.

He is waiting for us to put the mess down. But is it a hard choice. Rest is a hard choice. Tim Keller refers to it as “an incredible act of the will” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ux0_5zctrsI). It takes strength to say no to distractions and escapes before we finally give in and say, “Lord, I just need you.” Sit with him and that thought for a while. Dig your heels in. See what comes up. The mess will be there waiting for you. And God wants to untangle it with you.

What happens when I don’t choose rest?

I fear what God thinks of me

I go into autopilot

I skim the surface of my day

I actually feel fatigued

I lose the perspective that I have in Christ

What happens when I choose rest?

I feel whole

I feel restored

I know that God is in control

I see His work throughout the day

I feel more energized

I sense the purpose that is mine in Christ

Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath.

He is waiting to welcome you into his rest. Push yourself to have this time with him. Dig deep and deny distraction. Rest is a practice - a training of mind, body and spirit.

But God is ready to clear the slate once more. He is ready to lead you beside still waters and show you that he is God, you are his, and only he can give you rest.

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Prayer

Lord, thank you for being my rest. I am sorry for choosing a thousand distractions over your presence. Please show me how to rest during this season. Teach my soul to rest. Give me strength to enter your rest in my mind, body and soul. Amen.

Author | Claire Jordan

Testimony | Missions

Bailey Davidson’s testimony about her mission trip to Guatemala

A Disciple of Jesus

A Disciple of Jesus

Becoming a disciple of Jesus is a life-long process. As we learn what the truth is, we align our hearts with that knowledge so that we can live it out. Knowing the truth takes our “yes” to God deeper than a one-time decision and transforms it into a lifestyle of saying “yes”. If we want to be more like Jesus, we have to consistently pursue Him in everything we do.

The act of being a disciple has to be intentional. While God can reveal truth to us, we have to take it a step further by actively applying that truth to our lives. In order to truly live in truth, we have to be honest about where we are in our walk with God. Psalm 139 says, “You have examined my heart and know everything about me” (Ps. 139:1 NLT). God already knows the state of our hearts, so in order to let him change us, we have to be honest about what we are feeling and experiencing. Being transparent requires humility and vulnerability, but when we allow ourselves to engage with it, God meets us in it.

Paul gives us a really clear view of what this kind of discipleship looks like in 2 Timothy 2:2. He says, “You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.” This simply means that discipleship is about learning the truth and then telling it to others. When we let God into the vulnerable places of our hearts, He takes us deeper into who He is. There, we experience healing, freedom, and restoration. When we experience victory over sin struggles, we learn about God’s heart towards us. Then, we get to take what we learned through that process and share it with others. That is what discipleship is all about: freely giving what you have freely received.

Author | Emily Baker

In the Garden

In the Garden

In the beginning, God created the world. It was His masterpiece- His very good masterpiece. Of course, we know that sin would enter the world, perverting the perfect world God had created. But that’s the part of the story where we usually get stuck. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” We know all too well our sin, and all too well the broken world in which we live. And that’s important. We must bridge that gap to gain understanding of our need for salvation. But there’s much to be learned if we go a little further back- to the Garden. To God’s ideal plan for creation. There we can see the way God has called us to live in an ideal world without sin. The garden is our model for living a life of intentionality in pursuing Christ.

In the garden, God walked hand in hand with man. His physical presence was able to coexist with us, not yet mortals- still unmarked by sin or blemish. Later in the Old Testament, God would reveal his fullness to Moses, given that Moses did not look at His face. God knew that the fullness of His glory would strike Moses dead, but in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were able to be with God. They walked with Him, and they talked with Him. They were in perfect community with God. After the fall of man, we could no longer walk hand in hand with God, and chat with Him as we would a close friend. Now, in order to have community with God we must communicate through prayer.

It is easy for prayer feel like second best. We tend to think standing face-to-face with God would be a much more rewarding and fulfilling experience, especially when we struggle to recognize God’s voice speaking back to us. The yearning to meet God face-to-face isn’t a bad one; it’s a holy desire that we know will be fulfilled because of the standard set in the Garden of Eden.

Several centuries after humanity’s fall into sin, there was another Garden- the Garden of Gethsemane. It was there that Jesus went on the night He would be betrayed by one of the men in his inner circle and turned over to Roman authorities to be crucified on a criminal’s cross, where He would bear the sins of humanity. On the night before all of this occurred, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed.

Jesus lived a life without sin. He also was God made human. If anyone on earth could withstand the tangible presence of God, it was Jesus. But in the Garden of Gethsemane, he prayed. The presence of God didn’t appear in physical form, but Jesus entered communication with God in the very same way we do now. If prayer were second best, I have no doubt that God would have appeared before his son that night to answer his pleas. His failure to manifest on Earth gives me faith that God sees prayer as just as valuable as communicating with us face to face.

With that in mind, it’s important that our prayer life is cultivated with the same virtues as our real-life relationships. If we look at it the way that Jesus prayed, we can see that transparency and hunger are vital to building intentional and fruitful prayer lives. Jesus knew what was coming when he prayed at Gethsemane. In verse 39, and again in verse 42, we see a side of Jesus that is very human. Scared of what’s to come, he cries out to God and asks Him to spare his life. In that moment we see Jesus being vulnerable and honest before God. He doesn’t try to have the strength for what’s to come. He plainly asks his Father to take away his pain, and if that cannot be done, then he asks for his will to be aligned with God’s.

It can be easy to hide our weaknesses and failures from God. So often we feel like we have to approach Him with all our flaws neatly tucked away so that we don’t offend Him or scare Him with our mess. But God never intended for us to hide ourselves out of shame. In Genesis 3:10, Adam admits that he hid from God out of shame at his nakedness. In Genesis 3:21, God creates clothes for Adam and Eve, not as an affirmation of Adam’s shame at his nudity, but as a provision for Adam’s needs. When Adam admitted his fear to God, God provided a remedy for that fear. Rather than encouraging Adam to hide, God gave him the covering of clothes that granted freedom in the face of his shame. Likewise, when we pour our most vulnerable selves out to God, He dignifies us rather than leaving us in our brokenness.

The overflow of the dignity given to us by God in spite of our brokenness is hunger. We become desperate for more of Him in our life. Like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, we begin to beg for our will to align with God’s. In the Garden, Jesus prayed for hours. He prayed for so long that his disciples fell asleep. Yet all he did was awaken them, ask them to join him, and pray again- that same prayer repeated over and over again. “Not as I will, but as You will.” We see Jesus’s hunger for prayer all throughout the New Testament. In Matthew 14:23, Jesus retreats to a mountain to pray after teaching crowds, and in Mark 1:35 Jesus rises before dawn to retreat to a place alone and pray. This hunger for prayer is unleashed within us by the experience of God’s grace that gives us the power and courage to pursue prayer with intention.

At the root of it all lies God’s grace. Once we have decided to pursue intentionality and are humble and vulnerable in our prayers, God’s love and mercy lavished upon us does the work of setting our hearts on a path to Him. So all we have to do is start.

Prayer

God, I ask that You would unleash a hunger and passion for prayer within my life. Only You can light the fire that cannot be put out. I come before You knowing that I have nothing to give, but everything to receive from You. I pray that You would begin to align my heart with Your will, that my desires would look like the desires of heaven. I pray that the mercies You have already poured into my life would inspire confidence, not in my abilities but in Your provision through my weakness. Amen.

Author | Sarah Savoie

The Significance of Worship

The Significance of Worship

As we enter the fourth week of the series Ups & Downs, we have talked about trust, obedience, and following God even when it is hard. Another topic that is very important even in the pruning and harvesting seasons of our lives is the significance of worship.

When we think of worship, the first example that comes to mind might be someone raising their hands in a church or campus ministry service. Maybe it is even somebody kneeling in prayer. But it can also be forms of serving, tithing, or even managing your time well in school. It can be all of these things, but worship’s significance in your life carries more weight than most anything else in a relationship with God other than prayer. Worship becomes significant to God through humility, honesty & vulnerability, and hunger for him.

  1. Humility

“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” - Ephesians 4:1-3

God will honor us when we approach him in a position of humility. Humility is an interesting topic because it is multi-dimensional - it involves a healthy level of awareness, knowledge of how the Holy Spirit moves in our individual lives, and a choice to submit ourselves willingly to God. As we humble ourselves before God, we admit our need for Jesus because of our innately sinful nature. Through that place, we are putting Romans 12:1 into action, offering ourselves as living sacrifices to God.

The reason why God honors us when we present ourselves as sacrifices to God is because he wants to transform us from our former selves, conformed by sin and death, into the image of Christ, which is life and peace. Even though this is difficult, because it requires us doing things that we don’t want to do, such as group projects or tedious homework, God honors that! He loves when we lay down our desires for the sake of being faithful to what he wants to do in and through us.

  1. Honesty & Vulnerability

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” - James 5:15-16

Submitting ourselves to God through humility means that we must be honest and vulnerable with both him and the people in our lives. We live in a society that thrives off the idea of being self-dependent and a self-made man or woman. Oftentimes, American cultural values suggest that the strongest people are the ones who don’t depend on anyone to help us through trying times. However, this isn’t how God calls us to live. We are called to be honest and transparent regarding the sins and struggles we think have stained our self-image.

God loves to bless people who come to the cross, being completely transparent and honest about areas in our lives we may not be proud of. This might be one of the most difficult components of following Jesus, especially with the cultural values of being a self-made person constantly being taught in American culture. However, as students and followers of Christ, admitting our need for a savior shows us that Jesus truly does carry the weight of our temptations and doubts. The process of honest confession is an example of worship because we are willing to allow God to move in us.

Transparency is the best way to live out a life based on Psalm 139:13-14. Acknowledging God created us on purpose and for a reason is so freeing. He created us to be in relationship with him and worship him. Although we have sinned and fallen short of his glory, confessing our sins to both God and other people is one of the best things we can do in order to be transparent and worship our Heavenly Father.

  1. Hunger

“...but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” - Isaiah 40:31

Before worshipping God through humility and honesty, we must desire to follow and glorify him in his splendor. He is the one who is giving us strength to fight the battles we fight living in a fallen world. Desiring God and his kingdom gives us strength, as we see through Scripture. Sometimes desiring God’s glory for your life means being willing to wait on things you need or want. Through the process of waiting, God is still making himself known to you each day you decide to pursue him.

To hunger for God doesn’t, by any means, require you to deny that there have been hard circumstances in our lives that have caused us to sin. Those areas mean we have pain we must deal with. Acknowledging pain’s weight in our lives pushes us to desire more for Jesus’ grace to be sufficient for us. Even though we may not get the picture of the finished promise the first time we are in the secret place doesn’t mean that what we’re doing isn’t worship. It just means that God acknowledges our pain and wants to bring us comfort. To bring us peace. To bring us hope. To exemplify his love through the cross.

Worshipping God occurs through a number of different scenarios. It serves as a way for us to be a living sacrifice to God, and acknowledge our need for him as our Lord and Savior because of sin and shame. The act of worship allows us to surrender ourselves completely in humility and transparency.

As a closing thought, think of your life as a student and your place in other people’s lives and how you can be completely surrendered and transparent about God’s place in your life. Think of how you already glorify God and also ways that you could improve in worshipping him. And be hungry! God is mysterious but is so kind to respond to a humble, transparent, and hungry heart, especially when surrendering everything about your life in an act of worship through the changes and seasons of your life.

Author | Brad Schiebel

God’s Love Languages Pt. 2

God’s Love Languages Pt. 2

If you read my last blog post, you would see that it was all about intimacy and obedience. Well, I feel strongly that I’m supposed to revisit these two things and perhaps provide more of a framework around how they’re related. They might, after all, seem like two disparate topics to some of us. The ideas of being intimate and being obedient often conjure up very different things in our minds. For me, intimacy often brings to mind this deep feeling of being known whereas obedience sometimes makes me think of things like, “I better do this so the worst case scenario doesn’t happen.” So at what point do the ideas of intimacy with God and obedience to God actually connect?

Look at the scripture John 15:12-15 in which Jesus says,

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

In one of His final exhortations to His disciples, Jesus is making it known that intimacy is found in obedience.

Jesus commanded His disciples to love each other as He had loved them. He goes on to explain in the next verse that the greatest expression of love is laying down your life for your friends, which He does a few chapters later. And what He says next is something you cannot miss. In verse 14 Jesus says, “You are my friends if you do what I command.” He links His friendship with the disciples to His commandments of them. He links intimacy to obedience. He goes on to elaborate in verse 15 by saying that we are not his servants who simply do His bidding. But rather it’s us knowing His business (His commands) that proves that we are friends of Jesus. Again, linking intimacy with obedience .

This reality that Jesus presents to us needs to be heard and internalized by every one of us. Whether we tend to strive and perform for God, or whether we tend to only receive and never serve, Jesus is calling us to find intimacy in obedience. It’s a sweet place of belonging to find yourself knowing what the living God is doing and then choosing to co-labor with Him to see it come to pass.

And sometimes we know what God wants us to do, but we just struggle to do it. I once thought of it like this. Imagine a door being flung wide open in front of you and on the other side of it is a hallway. You know you have to walk down the hallway because there is no other way out of the building. Only issue is that the hallway looks like something straight out of The Walking Dead. The lights are flickering, you can’t see what’s further down and it’s honestly just kind of frustrating that this is the only way out of the building. You sit there wishing the lights would come on and you even become desperate and start looking for another hallway or door out of this place. When you realize there are none, you slowly step towards the open door. You tentatively step across the threshold holding your breath and… boom. The lights come on. The hallway is lit up. Turns out it’s a really normal looking hallway with the exit to the building at the end of it. Your fear has left and all of a sudden you’re excited about having finally found your way out.

Many times, I feel like we want God to turn the lights on in the hallway before we ever step out. When really God’s promise to us is that He’ll light it up as we step out. God’s often opened a door wide for us, but we sit there looking for another way out. And even when we realize we have to walk through that door we still want God to show us what’s at the end of it. But it’s never about knowing what’s down the hallway. It’s about faith. And if there’s one thing I know about God, it’s that He honors faith. When we step out in faithful obedience, His Spirit fills us with all power and comfort. He’s just waiting for us to take that step across the threshold.

I believe a huge part of knowing God wants us to walk down that hallway is found in hearing His voice. In John 10:4 Jesus speaks of a good shepherd and says, “and his sheep follow him because they knew his voice.” Later in that parable Jesus says He is that Good Shepherd. This is Jesus’ way of saying that you don’t have to guess how to love those around you. If you simply believe that Jesus speaks and that you can hear Him (pro tip: He speaks through the Bible and your good thoughts probably more than you realize), then you will begin to learn how to follow Him as He leads you to love those around you.

That’s intimacy being found in obedience. He’s not a God shouting directions at you. He’s a God who decrees just commands and then demonstrates for you how to live them out. That’s a big reason why Jesus came. He told His disciples to love those around you with no regard for yourself and then He went and actually did it by dying on the Cross. And I guarantee you there was such sweet intimacy between God the Father and God the Son on the other side of that glorious Resurrection. As a proud Father looked upon His obedient Son and welcomed Him back to the throne.

Prayer:

God, we want to connect with you. We want to hear what you’re saying and then we want to do it. And we want to know you more intimately as we are more obedient to you. Show us how to walk in your ways and give us the grace to do so. Show us what you want us to step towards, and I ask that we would do it boldly as soon as we know it’s what you’re asking of us. We love you. Amen.

Author | Adam Salway

Joy and Obedience

Joy and Obedience

Our joy in and after obedience is God. More of Him. A greater understanding of His presence or goodness. Experiential knowledge of His heart and the way He works in and through our lives.

Every time God asks us to do something difficult (something we are afraid of doing) or something that might not seem that attractive in our eyes (possibly giving up a sinful pleasure), He is offering us a chance to trust Him. He offers us a chance to see Him do what He does best: take situations that aren’t good and make them good. To me, getting to see that happen, in whatever context and way that God deems best, is a great source of joy.

As you take steps of obedience and see the faithfulness of God in response to those steps, I believe obedience itself becomes more and more of a joy rather than some kind of burden because we see more of God, and we see He is good.

For example, He only asks that we be obedient because He desires connection with us.  

Disobedience separates us from Him. Lack of trust separates us from Him. And it’s not God that pulls back. It’s us. Just like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, when we disobey God, it’s a natural human tendency to try to run and hide. And God more than anything wants to be connected to us, so He asks us to obey Him so there is nothing in our lives that would cause us to want to run and hide from Him.

God shows us His great faithfulness as we are obedient to Him. He is so patient, even when we struggle. His patience will never run out. If you are struggling to take a step of obedience in any way, take some time to reflect on His goodness and how much He just absolutely loves you. Shaming yourself into obedience will not work.

As we are more and more faithful to God, He shows us more and more of Himself. He leads us into deeper places of His heart and trusts us with His assignments in the world. Getting to, one, be in communion with God and, two, be a part of His processes of loving the people on this Earth is probably the greatest joy of being obedient to God.       

“Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me,” (Exodus 19:5).

Author | Lindsay Conway

Endurance: How to Follow God When We Don’t Want To

Endurance: How to Follow God When We Don’t Want To

When you’re growing up, parents have this natural tendency to tell us to do things we don’t want to do. It’s just a given. And without fail, when you ask them why they give that dreaded answer of “because I said so” or “because I’m the parent.” But the thing is, as we get older and wiser, we can see that in the end those things were more often than not for our benefit. When they asked us to do what was best for us, it was never just a way for them to mess with us or be in control - even if we couldn’t see that in the moment. Often, following God looks the same. He calls you to something you don’t want to do, and when you ask why, his answer tends to be vague or hard to understand. Sometimes when He answers, it’s not the one you want to hear, leading you to disregard His word altogether. But there’s assurance in the fact that no matter where He leads you, He will remain faithful.

2 Thessalonians 3:3 says, “but the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” He isn’t going to lead you down this path to emptiness, or death, or any number of bad things. He will uphold you. He will protect you against the attacks of the enemy. He will guide you and guard your heart. But just like with your parents in the past: in the moment you can’t see the good things that will come out of God’s will, so you get caught up in the idea of not wanting to follow Him. In the times where God is calling you some place that you don’t want to follow, it’s important to look back at the times where He’s been faithful in the past. Look at the Israelites in Exodus: God delivered them from the Egyptians, He performed miracles including parting the Red Sea to let them cross, yet they did not want to follow into the wilderness for fear that He wouldn’t provide for them in their wandering. God told them, though, “behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you” (Exodus 16:4). He proved Himself faithful time and time again, yet they succumbed to fear rather than faith that He would carry them through the things He was calling them to. They did not know then that the manna He provided would be exactly what they needed to sustain them, but God called them to faithfulness and gave them the tools they needed to survive. Eventually, they did follow Him, and despite their mistakes and shortcomings, God made a covenant with the people of Israel and brought them into righteousness.

The process of following God isn’t always going to be a glamorous time. Sometimes it will look like eating bread day in and day out while wandering for 40 years through the wilderness. It will feel bland and unexciting. But over and over again, we are reminded that if we seek first the Kingdom and follow the Lord, we will reap a great reward in Heaven. I’m not telling you to only follow God for the things He will give you. Instead, sometimes you just have to humble yourself. You’ve got to suck it up and follow God into the unknown, into the wilderness, in order for you to come out on the other side with God’s grace and the blessings He promises to those who follow him. In the times when that is hard, however, keep this verse in your heart, put it on your mirror, write it on every notebook/journal you have in your possession, do whatever you need to do to remember the words it says: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him, and he will act” (Psalm 37:4-5).

The more that you seek out God, the more time you spend in His presence, following His callings on your life, the more your heart and your desires will align with His own. It may be difficult now to see the purpose He is calling you to, it may be hard to want to follow Him into the dark and desolate-looking places. But He has begun a process within you that He will carry out until His day of completion. He will not abandon you if you fall back or behind. He will guide you through this calling and provide you with the tools you need to follow Him. It won’t always be easy, but it will be fulfilling, and you will be told some day, “well done, my good and faithful servant.”

So, keep pressing forward. Pick up those crosses you want to leave standing. Die to yourself and follow God. It will be the most worthwhile task you will take in this life.


Author | Emma Whitmer

Doubting God

Doubting God

In the church today, we are always told to have faith.  I know I’m not the only one who thinks this is infuriating.  Having faith is hard, especially in a culture which teaches us to be skeptical of anything and everything — especially of the things we can’t see.

In other words, doubt is easy and faith is tough.

Whether we are 20 or more years along in our faith, or barely straddling month one of trusting Jesus, doubt is something that, as humans, we will never be able to escape.  I don’t say that to discourage, but to be realistic.  Just as a brief recap, let me explain our faith: Christians believe a Jewish carpenter was actually God who came to earth to die for our sins; that death and our subsequent acceptance of Jesus’ role as Messiah and Lord of our lives lets us live forever in the presence of Holiness and be forgiven for a centuries-past rejection of Him.

Let’s be honest here.  It’s a little wacky to believe that.  Yet we do.  I believe it with every ounce and fiber of my being.  But let me be honest again: I’m a former atheist, and I fall back into those old questions of faith easily.  Why should I believe that Jesus is God? What makes God faithful? How do I know He will fulfill His promises?

I’m not going to get into those existential questions right now.  Those answers can come at a different time in a different conversation.  But what is common between all of those questions is two things: doubt is at the core of the questions, and faith is at the core of the answers of each and every one.

I like to think of faith as the opposite of doubt.  This isn’t because doubt can’t exist in the middle of faith, but because faith denies doubt its power.  It’s saying, “My brain/culture/experiences are telling me this, but I am choosing to believe this.” A quick internet search can reveal that faith is complete trust or confidence in someone or something.  We can be confident that a friend will answer our call, but still have doubt that they actually will.  We can trust our dog really loves us, but still have doubt that it actually is just reliant on us for food.  Likewise, we can trust and be confident that God is good, that He loves us, and that He will move in and through us—but still have doubts that He actually will. The test of our faith isn’t whether we have doubt; rather, it is whether or not we persevere through that doubt.  That perseverance includes during times when our experiences say our faith is wrong.  That looks like being intentional one more time, even though your best friend has flaked every time for the past month.  That looks like going through with that one interview, even though you’ve been turned down for every job you’ve ever applied for.  That looks like praying for your mom to be healed miraculously, even though praying has never seemed to work before.  Our doubt can be a very real stumbling block to persevering in faith, but it isn’t impossible to overcome.

In the Bible, there are several accounts of faith in spite of doubt.  In Daniel 3:16-18, the author describes the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  If you’re not familiar with the story, the TLDR of the account is that the King of Babylon was requiring everyone to worship idols, but these three men refused because they knew Yahweh was God.  Yet even in their confidence, they were not 100% sure God would save them when King Nebuchadnezzar threatened to throw them into the blazing furnace: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18 NIV, emphasis added).  

Even the disciples doubted Jesus’ sovereignty after He rose.  In Matthew 28, just before Jesus gives the Great Commission, it says, “When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted” (Matthew 28:17 NIV, emphasis added).  Jesus had risen from the dead, He was in front of the (now) 11 disciples, and the disciples worshiped Him; but some still doubted.  The world’s largest religion was built on the backs of 11 men who still doubted the Lord when He stood in front of them, resurrected.  It should be reassuring for us, then, when we doubt knowing the men who actually lived with Jesus doubted Him.  

We’re not called to be perfect in our denial of doubt.  Having faith, according to Hebrews 11, is “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV).  We’re called to trust God’s heart and intentions for our life, and to follow Him wholeheartedly even when we don’t think He’ll respond to our faithfulness.  The heart of God is to be faithful, so He will always be faithful even when our human nature calls His Faithfulness into doubt. God knows we will fail, and He doesn’t punish us for that.  He called Peter onto the water knowing he was going to doubt Jesus—but Jesus still came to Peter’s rescue.  He does the same for us: even when we doubt, He will be faithful to us and the promises He’s made.

“‘…for I assure you and most solemnly say to you, if you have [living] faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and [if it is God’s will] it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you’” (Matthew 17:20 AMP).  Jesus says this after His disciples were discouraged that they couldn’t drive a demon out of a suffering boy.  Sometimes we will fall flat on our face when it comes to faith; something we pray for won’t come to pass, or we’ll just flat out doubt.  But when we have just an inkling of trust and/or confidence in the power of God—even when we have the smallest faith in Him and His power—even mountains can move.

To sum this up, we believers have two opportunities.  We can trust God’s faithfulness and step out in faith even if we doubt, or we can give our doubt power and let our disbelief rule our belief.  It’s okay to not be perfect with our faith, but to deny the power of faith is to deny the power of Christ.  We always have the ability to follow Christ, even when we don’t know if it will work out in our favor.  But here’s a fun spoiler: it will.

Author | Alex Hinton

We are Brave

We are Brave

“If you will go where you’ve never gone before, you will see God like you’ve never seen him before.” ― Annie F. Downs, Let's All Be Brave: Living Life with Everything You Have

One of the biggest things God is teaching me about in this season is bravery. One of my mentors gave me the phrase “Be Brave” as a mantra for my year, and those words seem to be following me around. I have a keychain with them on it, I have them pinned to a bulletin board in my room, even the random wifi password assigned by my cable company has the word “brave” in it.

It’s safe to say that I knew bravery would be a big deal this year. I think a small part of my heart hoped God would just teach me about bravery rather than ask me to actually be brave, but He quickly showed me that the only way to learn bravery is to take brave steps. So for the past several months, decision by decision, He has been coaxing me into a place of deeper trust in Him and proving Himself worthy of that trust. In this place, I have to rely on Him fully to give me a future, satisfy my dreams, and provide for my needs.

God began building a foundation of trust and bravery in me that He knew I would need later. Recently, someone very close to me began to experience a deep struggle, one that I have absolutely no control over. It often brings me to the point of tears and has stirred up fears in me that I didn’t know I had. I don’t know about you, but it is so much easier for me to trust God with my future and the things I need than it is to trust Him with my people. Do I believe He is powerful enough to make the path straight for my life? Sure. Do I believe His power can bring breakthrough when a person I love is experiencing so much darkness? I don’t know.

It’s with that situation that my year of being brave took on a whole new meaning. I don’t know all of what God is doing, but I do know that He has called me to pray and intercede for this person, going to battle against the enemy and the work he is trying to do in their life. This means fighting for this person harder than I’ve ever fought for anyone and being more aware of what the enemy wants to do than I ever have been. That’s scary, and it’s confronted me with questions like “What if God isn’t actually big enough for this?” or “What if His power isn’t strong enough to intervene?”

When we’re up against things and our minds start to ask those questions, we’ve lost sight of who we are and who God is. Instead, we’ve chosen to focus on the object of our fear, in my case, what will happen if the enemy has his way. When we do that, we’ve started to accept defeat in a battle God has already won for us! Knowing God and receiving His love means we get to stand in the victory He has claimed. Amanda Cook’s song “You Make Me Brave” comes to mind here. His love crashes over us in wave after wave, which enables us to be brave, so brave that “no fear can hinder now the love that made a way.”

In Deuteronomy 31:23, The Lord is commissioning Joshua and says “Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the people of Israel into the land that I swore to give them. I will be with you.” There is grace over us to go bravely into places we’ve never gone before because we know we are headed into the Promised Land. God’s promise is to be with us in times of struggle. He will not forsake us as we fight for ourselves and for the ones we love.

In spite of my fears, I am choosing each day to be brave. I pray bravely, fight bravely, and love bravely, and the coolest thing is that I have seen God do so much that I had never seen Him do. He is increasing the giftings He has placed within me, He has given me a much greater awareness of His Holy Spirit, and He has made Himself more real to me than I’ve ever felt Him before. I believe He is honoring my bravery and prayers by moving in the situation I am asking Him to move in. I have seen little glimpses of it already, and I have faith that He will respond to my every prayer by leading me into the Promised Land, which means freedom for the person I’m fighting for.

If God is calling you to be brave in this season, put on the armor of God and fight. Ephesians 6:16-17 says “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Let this be your anchor. Faith, salvation, the Holy Spirit, and the word of God are all you need to be brave.

Prayer:

Lord, I pray that you would increase our faith in your power. When we are faced with daunting situations, would you convince us of your strength and fill us with the bravery to boldly move forward. Show us what it means to trust you with everything in our lives, even the things closest to our hearts. I pray that we would keep our eyes fixed on who you are and that no distraction from the enemy would enter into our thoughts. We believe that you will come through. Amen.

Author | Kalli Drake