More and More of You

I’d like to start by asking a few questions.  How many of us feel like we’re walking on a tightrope?  Do you ever feel like you’re spiritually and emotionally dead?  How does it feel when you don’t feel like your needs are being satisfied by your friends, family, or even God?  I can honestly say that I can answer “yes” on a regular basis to these questions.

One song that has really blessed me is Selah’s “More and More of You”.  It is an amazing song where the singer is crying out to God, asking Him to “fill us with Your fire, give us Your desires, Hold us close to You…give us revelation, Your healing visitation…”

How often I have cried those same words in my heart.  In my life, there have been times where I have been at my absolute lowest.  I have felt like I can’t feel anything emotionally.  I don’t feel good enough.  I don’t feel like I can measure up to the expectations that my friends, my family and God has for me.  There have been days where I just collapse and melt into a pool of tears as I cry out to God and simply just ask Him to fill me and make me whole again.

Something that He has been teaching me is to use my loneliness and emptiness to drive me closer to Him.  In order to “fill (me) with Your fire, give (me) Your desires, hold (me) close to You,” He needs to be able to empty me of myself and desires so that I can truly know what it’s like to be filled with God.

In my devotions, I am reading a delightful book called “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young.  It’s written from the perspective of God talking to His child.  In it I read, “I want you to be all Mine.  I am weaning you from other dependencies.  Your security rests in Me alone- not in other people, not in circumstances.  Depending only on Me may feel like walking on a tightrope, but there is a safety net underneath: The everlasting arms.”

I can say that I have felt like I was on a tightrope so many times.  I have trusted in friends that I thought would be there for forever and always.  However God had other plans and removed those relationships.  I have relied on my skills of preparation and speaking to best serve my team and I in mock trial only to come to my final competition and be so exhausted and unfocused that it was all I could do in my own strength to put one foot in front of the other to walk to the next room that I had to be in.

God is weaning us from our “needs” which are really just things that our flesh wants.  “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” (Romans 8:5)  We have to make a choice to have “enough of getting everything we want. “  We need to be “weary of living this life just for us.”

Isaiah 66:2 says, “For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist,” Says the Lord. “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word.”  We need to have a broken, humble, and contrite spirit before God.  We need to ask God to “forgive us for seeking Your hand and not Your face.”  We need to ask God to “Come and empty us, Father…”  We need to tell Him that “we are desperate in this place.”

God is a God of love. He loves to bless His people.  We need to acknowledge God for Who He is and be grateful and thankful for everything He’s given us.  God truly has “given us so much more than we deserve.”  He delivers “us by the power of (His) Word.”

When our prayer is answered or people see Christ in us and give us credit, we must immediately give credit to Whom it is due.    We’re supposed to be “giving (Him) the honor that is (His).”  We need to thank God for His love.  His love and the sacrifice that He made at Calvary; “this is what we are living for.”   2 Corinthians 9:15 says, “Thank God for His indescribable gift.”

God’s gift is the ultimate gift.  It is the greatest gift the world has ever seen or will see.  By that gift, mankind has a future, a chance to be restored to a right relationship with God.   The song details some of God’s blessings, “The love that covers us” as well as “the Savior’s mercy.”  Selah describes, “The blood makes us spotless white, “ like it says in Isaiah 1:18, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.”

We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit and constantly be asking God to fill us with His power alone.  As Sarah Young says in Jesus Calling, “Strive to trust Me in more and more areas of your life…Trust is like a staff you can lean on, as you journey uphill with Me.  If you are trusting in Me consistently, the staff will bear as much of your weight as needed.  Lean on, trust, and be confident in Me with all your heart and mind.”  (Jesus Calling, Sarah Young page 33)

More and More of You by Selah:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bpQqkCF__I

Our Mission

We were not made to be complacent individuals in this world. God created us to be set apart, separate from the world. That is what we hope to accomplish in this blog by writing about issues and ideas that affect teenagers in today’s society. We hope it inspires you in your walk with God.

Lessons from Hosea

I’ve been reading in Hosea lately. Hosea is a prophet, who tells the nation of Israel what God relates to him. One day God tells him to find a wife. But not just any wife, a wife out of the industry of prostitution. I can imagine Hosea’s confusion, but he does as God says and chooses Gomer. He provides everything she could ever want or need: food, clothes, valuables. He makes sure that she’s wanting for nothing. But she decides it isn’t enough. She wants to go back to where she came from, and leaves Hosea and their three children.

God tells Hosea to go find her, even now as she’s in the very act of committing adultery. I can’t imagine how heart breaking, how messy that must have gotten as he goes to find his wife. I don’t know how he finds her, but I can imagine that she’s on a pedestal in an auction being sold to the highest bidder. In my mind, I see him walking up and saying, “That’s my wife.” The auctioneer gives him a long look: “I don’t care who you think she is. This is her price.” Hosea pays it, pays for his wife, pays for what is already his. He takes her back to their home, and I can imagine her shame and embarrassment as he sits her down and tells her that he’s been faithful. She’s been unfaithful, and he’s remained faithful. Yet he will continue to remain faithful to her, and he will teach her to remain faithful to him.

The most beautiful thing I find about this story, is that this is a picture of what God has done with us. I was in the mire of sin, a wretch, and He pulled me out and saved me. He provided everything I would need, and yet I didn’t find it enough. I looked around at the world, and where I had come from, and wanted to go back. So I left, and God came looking for me. He rescues me once again. As He takes me back, I’m full of shame and embarrassment, but He sits me down and looks at me with love. “Rachel, I’ve been faithful. We both know you’ve been unfaithful, but that’s okay, because I will continue to remain faithful to you, and I will teach you to remain faithful to me.”

2 Timothy 2:13 says that even when are faithless, He remains faithful, because he cannot deny who He is. I’m so thankful for His faithfulness to me. He didn’t just save me and say, “There you go. Good luck, Rachel. I’m just going to sit back and watch.” No. He continues to walk with me, day by day. He’s faithful to stay with me, and teach me to walk in His steps.

No matter where you have been, and what you have done, God still loves you.  He still desires a relationship with you.  He wants to heal and restore your brokenness.  He desires you.  Yes, there will be consequences if you disobey Him, for He cannot reward sin.  But He will remain faithful to you, no matter where you go or what you do.  He loves you.  Run to Him!

The Power of Words

 

If I asked you to describe words with pictures, what would you use?

Personally, I think of either hearts or bullets. Words have the power to heal and show that we care about people. Conversely, they can also wound and destroy people. Words are how we communicate, whether it be through writing on paper or an electronic device or face‐to‐face.

Everyday, we talk with many people. During our interaction with those people, we have to make the choice to speak words of kindness and love that will build them up or words that will come from anger and hurt the other person. We use words to do everything from writing our feelings in our journal to giving a speech in public. We use them for personal matters as well as for school.

The power of my words is something that God has been working with me on. I tend to be naturally very outspoken. When I am angry or someone says something to me that ruffles my feathers, my first instinct is simply just say whatever comes to my tongue first. But is that really the right reaction?

The Bible instructs us how to react when someone says something that irritates us. “A soft answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). When I get mad, I’ve found the worst thing I can do is respond immediately. A quote that I often think of is, “Don’t do something permanently stupid because you’re temporarily upset.” (anonymous)

We never know what will happen when we say something. It may produce a negative reaction because of a misunderstanding. Often, when I’m angry I remind myself that answering softly after praying and waiting to respond is far wiser than responding right away. Most of the time, by doing this I’m able to get my differences sorted out in a very kind and loving way.

How does God want us to use our words? Psalm 15 talks about the character that we need to have in order to live with the Lord. The Psalm begins with the questions, “LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?” Psalms 15:3 answers specifically about the tongue, “He who does not backbite with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend;”

In Proverbs 15:2 it says, “The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.”  Right there in Proverbs the Bible tells us that words must be used wisely, not foolishly and loosely. 

I was in a situation with a teacher who was incredibly critical. Every time I met with her, she completely shredded me and all of my work. Often I would get incredibly upset and there were a few times where I dissolved into tears both in front of her and most often after she left, but I never said anything to her. Why didn’t I defend myself? If I had responded immediately I would’ve been using my words foolishly by speaking in anger. Instead, I had my cry and spilled my words of anger and hurt out to God and my parents. My parents gave me words of wisdom for how to respond to the criticism and God helped me be able to answer my teacher with the respect that she deserved when I saw her next. Because I learned how to hold my tongue then, I am able to have a good working relationship with her as we now work together.

“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14) We must seek to encourage and build one another up in the faith. Our words must be ones of cheer and comfort for those who need it, but for those who require correction we must give it in a loving manner.

2 Timothy 4:2 says, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” We are called to preach, convince, and rebuke. We must speak the truth in love. However the Bible adds the disclaimer that we need to do it in a way that seeks to teach others and do it in a patient manner. I know how hard it is to keep your mouth shut when all you want to do is set the person straight.

If we can’t speak the truth in love, what good are we doing? We’re just going to hurt them, ourselves, and our relationship with them. We will not have an effective witness to the world if we’re not showing Christ to the world in our words and actions.

The greatest things that we will use our words for is to witness to fulfill the command given in Matthew 28:18‐19. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.”

We must seek to be able to respond to hostile people with words of love and grace so that people can be won by both our words and conduct. If we can’t tame our tongues in ordinary speech, how will we react when confronted by someone who is very adverse to the Gospel and gets in our faces about it?

Something else I do when I’m upset by what someone says is I listen to music that calms me down by reminding me about the power of my words and what a devastating effect they can have on others.

Today let’s focus on building each other up with our words and seeking to proclaim God’s truth and love in a way like Christ did. Even when being tormented, He spoke with love and on the cross prayed, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34a) If Christ could show love even while He died for those who tormented and killed him, then we can do the same by God’s grace.

Here are the links as promised:

Little Toy Guns by Carrie Underwood: For me this a powerful reminder of the damage that words can have not just on the person I’m speaking to, but on others around me.

Words by Hawk Nelson (featuring Bart Miller from Mercy Me): This song describes what words do to us and other emotionally. The chorus is a powerful prayer of my own heart that asks God to use my words to point the world to Him.

What Are Words (Original one by Chris Medina, reprised by Jon Schmidt, Peter and Evynne Hollens): This song was a reprise done by the Piano Guys. It tells the story of Chris Medina and his fiancee who suffered a brain injury and he wrote it as he stood by her side through the healing process. I included this one because it talks very specifically about how when we speak our words we really need to mean what we say and that when we say them out loud we then have witnesses to hold us to our word.

Fight Song

A while back, I came across the song, Fight Song, because the YouTube stars, Piano Guys, mixed it with Amazing Grace.  (If you haven’t listened to them or this song, I highly recommend it and them.) So after listening to the mix I listened to the original song by Rachel Platten.  After I listened to it, I found that the lyrics really struck me.

I looked up the back story behind the lyrics and Ms .Platten said that she wrote them during a very difficult time in her life when she was struggling with trying to find her place in the world.  The story behind the lyrics struck me as it sounds like something that you and I have gone through and continue to go through.  The struggle to find our own place in the world.

For me, by the time I turned 11, I was quite aware of the benefits of dressing in fashion and acting the right way.  For the next 4 years, I tried to fit in.  I dressed in the latest fashions, talked endlessly about fashion and popular music and movies, and worked to be with the right people.

After 4 years, I found myself completely exhausted and confused.  Why was this?  I was doing all the right things, saying the right things.  So what was wrong?

After much heart searching and getting my relationship with God back on track, I realized that by trying to fit in I was trying to be someone that I wasn’t meant to be.  I also realized that by trying to be someone else, I was slapping God in the face.  I was rejecting the person He wanted me to be and instead was striving to become far less than what He had for me.

When I realized that God truly does, “..know the plans I have for You…Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you a hope and a future,” (Jeremiah 29:11) I was truly able to “play my fight song.”

In Isaiah 55:8-9 God says, “…My thoughts are not your thoughts nor are my ways your ways, declares the Lord.  As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”  By acknowledging and changing my thoughts and actions to match His I am able “turn my power on” and “be strong.”

“Be still and know that I am God.”  (Psalm 41:10) Once I stood still before Him and really understood this verse, I could “take back my life song” and “prove I’m alright”.  Only then could I say “all those things I didn’t say.”  No longer were the “wrecking balls inside my brain.”  I didn’t need to fear what the “in” people would think of me if I spoke my mind truthfully.  I no longer had to ask, “Can you hear my voice this time?”

The Bible warns us, “And do not be conformed to this world or the things of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God..”  (Romans 12:2)  We are also told that, “…the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:17)  Once I renounced the world and the glittering facade that it offered me, I could truly make an effect “on the ocean” of people and could “make an explosion”.

Even though I’m only one young woman in almost 7.3 billion people, a “small boat”, and “…only have one match”  “I can make an explosion” thanks to the assurance that God created me to be who I am.

Note for the end: By using this song, I’m not saying that all of Rachel Platten’s music is good.  I like this song specifically as it fit my life story really well, but by using it and saying I like it, that doesn’t mean I endorse her entirely.

“Fight Song” by the Piano Guys

 

Your Worth

Valentine’s Day is a day most couples look forward to, a day to show your significant other how much they mean to you. A year ago, around this date, a new erotic movie premiered in fashion. (50 Shades of Grey) It’s all over the Internet again, with the sequel coming out. In case you don’t know what it is all about:

“For those of you who don’t know the premise of the novel trilogy/movie, it centers around a young billionaire mogul named Christian Grey, a shy and inexperienced college student named Anastasia Steele, and their whirlwind affair, which is an indirect result of his traumatic past. Over the course of the story, the two embark on a dark sexual relationship hinged on a paper agreement Christian asks her to sign, saying that their relationship will remain a non-romantic one, with Christian having the right to do whatever he pleases to her while they’re together, contractually making her his “submissive.” (Sarah Fine, Project Inspired)

My heart is so heavy, as I realize the impact this will have on us girls. We are taught that our worth comes from our looks and how great our bodies are. That if we aren’t a certain way, no guy will ever love us, and we will grapple and put up with anyone who shows us “love”. But girls…
I want you to know that you are worth more than just what you can give a guy.
– You’re more than your mistakes
– You’re more than your hormonal days.
– You’re more than your failures.
– You’re more than your acne and bad hair days.
– You’re more than your imperfections.
And I have to admit, the list of these is long as we find more and more things “wrong” with us, and just how many ways we don’t fit in to that “perfect” mold.
We love you, and God loves you for YOU. And one day, the right guy will come along who loves you for YOU. Not what he can get or what you can give. Don’t fall for Satan’s lie that you’ll never be loved, so you need to grab at whoever glances in your direction. I know I sound so cliché. The “everything will work out” little speech. But trust me. I know from experience… It isn’t worth it. It isn’t worth it to accept unacceptable behavior because he “loves” you. It isn’t worth it to base all your self worth on how pretty or ugly you may think you are, or what others think of you. It isn’t worth it to give precious pieces of yourself away to someone who just cares that he’s getting them, and not that it’s you who is giving them, or that they’re precious. Don’t give yourselves away prematurely. Don’t go along with this society who believes that pain = love. Or love is all about what you can get. Because that’s the exact opposite of true love.
You are SO VALUABLE. Jesus, Jesus who died a very painful death and suffered excruciating agony, He died for you. Because He loves you. He sees your mistakes. He sees those hormonal days. He sees your failures. He sees your acne and misbehaving hair. He sees your imperfections. And He loves you. Because He sees your value. He sees your worth. He sees your beauty. He sees someone who will never be replicated or replaced. There is no guy on this earth who will satisfy your longing for Jesus. I’ve tried and tried to fill that hole with anything I could think of. There was still an emptiness, an ache, a longing. Why? Because no one can take the place of Jesus. They cannot complete us like He can.
Please, don’t fall for the lies of society. That anything goes, as long as he loves you. That you have to sacrifice yourself to please someone who won’t take a second to think about your vulnerability and fragility. That all your worth is how many likes you get on Instagram and Facebook. You’re precious. You’re loved. You’re worth the wait, and he will be too. I promise.

Change

Change. I admit, this is one of those words that terrifies me. I hate change. Most often, I start to feel steady and secure in my own little world, and I feel like I can handle life for once. Security is my comfort, and I love staying in my comfort zone. It is comfortable there.  Then suddenly, everything changes. All at once, my little world is flipped upside down and I lose sight of what I thought was truly steady. My mind whirls around and around: “What did I do to deserve this? God, where are you? What are you doing?”

More often than not, I get accusatory and start blaming God for the sudden disruption to my seemingly perfect life. I lose sight of the Jesus on the waves, and start to focus on the waves themselves. They are such big things, big deals in life. They seem overwhelming, too much to handle, and I start to sink. Just as Peter did in the Bible, I cry out, “Lord, save me!” And just like in the Bible, Jesus reaches His hand out and pulls me back up out of the mess. “Why do you doubt me, child of little faith?” Ouch.

I have recently realized my major lack of trust. Trust is a big deal for me. I do not like relying on other people. I like relying on Rachel, because Rachel has always been there. I get out of the boat, initially feeling confident in my Jesus. Sometimes stepping out of the boat is easy. It is a choice, made in the moment, and I just do it. I get out, and glance down. I am actually on the waves themselves!

I start feeling confident in myself as I take a few cautious steps forward. As if I had done this on my own… Then I take a look around and start thinking to myself, “Rachel, do you see the size of these waves? Do you realize how big they are? It is too much! I can’t handle this. I’m going to drown!” The next step forward seems too overwhelming, and just like that, that seed of doubt and uncertainty starts pulling me under. In a desperate attempt to stay alive, I yell at Jesus. “Jesus, do you see this? Do you see what is happening? Save me!

He does. He won’t allow me to go under and stay under. However, He also needs to address the problem. My lack of faith. In all of the shifting and changing waves of time, He is still steady and secure. He did not change, however, my focus did. Either because I got too confident in myself and my abilities, or I simply focused on the overwhelming load of life, I took my focus off of Him, and that is when I began to sink.

The whole concept of change for me is, no pun intended, changing. Change is not always a bad thing. Most often it is just a fact of life. People change and move on. Life will never be the same one moment to the next. Other times, change is very necessary in order to get us moving in a new direction we would not have otherwise taken.

It is God shaking up our world so we can pull our small focus off of our own tasks we “need” to accomplish, and focus completely on Him.

I find that when I get too overwhelmed in life, it is because I have pulled my attention off of Him, thinking I can handle this on my own. God is not the author of confusion, He is the God of peace. Despite life being hard and difficult to handle, I can be peaceful if I rely and focus on Him. I can trust Him. He is always there, He is never changing, and besides: He happens to be the maker and tamer of the waves.