“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” // Psalm 23:4
I don’t think it goes without saying how we are truly in one of the most, if not the most, difficult season our country and our world has faced in a very, very long time. I’ve been just like the rest of you these past few weeks: Glued to the news and social media feeds, left shocked and heartbroken by the things going on around us. People have lost their jobs. Small business owners have lost their dreams. Many of lost access to health insurance, and many have lost access to their own health.
COVID-19 has gone through quite the transition, at least here in America. We all kind of went from joking about it with memes, to finding the toilet paper aisles empty, to now staying inside and hearing the death toll could reach up to 240 million people in America alone. As I’ve sat and thought the past few days, so many possibilities have crossed my mind. We truly don’t know what the next few days, weeks, or months bring. We are truly in uncharted territory. And as much as I’d love to comfort us all by saying God knew this was coming and that He is in control (because both of those things are true), I think God is giving us a little more substance to anchor our souls in today–because you know as much as I do, we need an anchor for our soul now more than ever.
Today is Palm Sunday and marks the start of Holy Week. Easter is my favorite holiday, even over Christmas. The emotions of Good Friday and the joy of Resurrection Sunday are days I look forward to all year. I can’t help but notice the timing of the Easter season this year, and how it collides directly with what could possibly be the worst week America has seen thus far in the amount of lives that will be lost, and the amount of cases that will be reported. It seems so interesting to me that one week in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago started off just like many of our weeks did before this whole thing happened: celebratory, joyous, excited for the future. But every day that Jerusalem moved closer to Passover, the more tense the air got, the more fuel that was added to the fire against Jesus, and finally it all accumulated in the darkest day of humankind: the day Jesus died.
The last month has felt somewhat like an elongated Holy Week. Most of us started off March pretty great. Then it got darker. And darker. And darker.
At the time I’m writing this, we have lost more than 8,000 lives in America due to the Coronavirus. And by the end of this week–by the time we are observing Good Friday–we could–and probably will–lose thousands more.
Isn’t it something that the week we will be observing the One death that paid our sins once and for all will be happening simultaneously along the world’s worst pandemic in nearly 100 years? Every day that we get closer to remembering Jesus’ death, we will be watching people die all around us. And how many people will we lose that very Friday as we reflect on Jesus’ death?
All this to say this: We are in the darkest valley right now. I’ve read Psalm 23 over and over and over again since this year started, and today I read verses 4-6 in a little bit of a different light, and I wanted to share that with you. The verses are as follows, bolded words are mine:
"Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
We will walk through dark valleys–that’s guaranteed, and everyone in the Bible did. David did, and as he details this in the above verses, there are some things we can take away from it. As we walk through the darkest valley right now, here’s what God is doing, and here’s what we can hold on to:
What happened on the worst day in history didn’t stay that way. Jesus died, but He didn’t stay dead. Sunday did come. Resurrection did come. Eternal life did come. We may be in the darkest valley now, but this won’t last forever. Because bad days never have the final say. Death never has the final says. Valleys never have the final say.
Resurrection has the final say. God has the final say. So let’s hang on. Sunday is coming.
But for those who might not make it to Easter Sunday this year, can we pray for them? The reality is so many people are questioning their own mortality in these times, and there’s never been a more opportune time to tell others about the hope and the life that Jesus freely offers to anyone who calls on His name (Romans 10:9-10). Pray for your friends and family. For healthcare workers, and our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. For those who’s eternities are hanging in the balance as they await the next week. God is still doing miracles. And we need salvation to flood this country. That will be my prayer this week: That the blood poured out on Calvary’s tree 2,000 years ago would flood America anew this Holy Week and Easter season. It’s not too late for anyone. Let’s do all we can to bring this message to those who need it, before it does become too late.
Thank you for being here during these trying times. If you ever need someone to talk to or pray for you, please feel free to reach out. Comments below are always welcome, as are DM’s on my socials. Remember, we are all in this together, and I’m loving and praying for you all. Please stay home, stay safe, and be wise.
Until Next Time,
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” // James 1:2-4
Happy Sunday! (+ Thanksgiving Week!)
Last week we talked about seasons of hurt, and how God is not only present in our hurt, but can relate to our situation. This week, let’s talk about reasons God sometimes allows seasons of pain and hurt, and maybe we can get a good perspective change on how to handle and go through life’s trials.
Take a moment today to reflect on seasons of hardship and hurt in your life. How have you seen God work in those seasons? If you’re going through one right now, ask God to show you what He wants to, and ask Him to open your heart for all He wants to do in you through this season.
Until Next Time
“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” // Romans 5:8
If you pay any attention to reality TV or any entertainment news, you’ve probably heard the now infamous phrase, “Colton jumped the fence.” All the hype surrounded the two-part finale of The Bachelor this past week. If for some reason you’re unfamiliar with the show, it’s where one person is cast as the lead and goes on a quest for love with about thirty potential mates, and as the show goes on, the lead eliminates their potential suitors until there are only two left. The lead then chooses one person to spend the rest of their life with. So this season its lead was 26 year old Colton Underwood, but it ended quite different than most seasons of The Bachelor. Two weeks before the show was set to end, the girl Colton wanted to be with, Cassie Randolph, broke up with him. And this left him upset – to up it mildly. After Cassie left the show, Colton was so upset by this that he ran away from the production set and jumped an eight foot high fence to do it.
However, he didn’t do this because he was mad. He did this because his love for Cassie was so deep that he couldn’t imagine going on without her. After he jumped the fence and ran away, the production crew eventually found him and convinced him to come back to the show. At this time, Colton still had two potential girls he could choose to propose to. Two girls who were in love with him. But he wanted Cassie. And because he loved Cassie so much, he broke up with the two remaining girls, risking the loss of every relationship left, to try and pursue Cassie again, in hopes she’d reconsider.
At the end of it all, Colton did convince Cassie to give it another shot, and the two are now together and in love (yay for happy endings!). Now, why bring all this up and how does it relate to anything in our own life?
There’s something in all of us that love love. We all love it when someone goes after the person they love with all their heart. We all want someone to “jump a fence” for us. We all want to be pursued without reservation. That’s why we love the movie scenes when the guy chases down a plane leaving with the girl he loves on it. The romance novel that detail the boy who does anything to get the girl. And while most see these circumstances as unrealistic for our every day life, I don’t believe so. In fact, I think God wired us this way.
I think God wired us this way because God knew He would send Jesus to woo us, to pursue us in this exact same way. Jesus left everything to pursue our hearts (Luke 15:1-7). He left the comforts of heaven, He came to this dirty and dusty earth, He became a servant and ultimately endured the most grueling death known to mankind (Philippians 2:5-8, John 3:16).
Because He loves you.
Because He wants you.
Ladies! You have a man who has left it all to pursue your heart. There is a man who jumped every fence in His way to get to you. To woo you. To have you. This is the greatest romance of all time! And yet it’s so often that we settle for thinking we’re not deserving of that kind of love in this life because we don’t get it from some guy who doesn’t pursue us like that. But no matter what a guy has or has not done for you – Jesus has done this for you! And nothing can change that (Romans 8:39, John 10:28-30).
So today, remember that you have a God who loves you more than you can imagine. He’s waiting for you every second of every day. Even if you’ve walked away like Cassie did to Colton, even if you’ve wanted nothing to do with Him, even if you’ve messed up. We’ve all done this stuff. But Jesus died for us anyways. And He’d do it all over again for you right now if He had to.
So, look up and see that you have been pursued with God’s whole heart, without abandon. And don’t settle for anyone in life that treats you less than this. Wait for the person pursues you like Jesus would. Who fights for you like Jesus does.
Who loves you like Jesus.
When we wait for His best and bask in His love right now, some day we might just change the world. ❤
Until Next Time,
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” // 1 John 4:18
Happy Sunday! This week we’re continuing our series on God’s love in celebration of February, Valentine’s Day, love. You know, all that good stuff.
Something that is crippling in our day and age is fear. Fear, anxiety, depression … all the things. I’ve struggled with this myself, but I’ve learned a lot through it. And one of the things I’ve learned is that if we truly believe God, if we truly take Him at His word, there is nothing to fear.
Now, before I continue, I understand that there are serious conditions that make this subject rather complicated. Please know that this post is not insensitive to that, and this is certainly not medical advice. However, I believe (as an anxiety sufferer myself) that there is nothing more powerful, more healing, and more freeing than believing and standing in the power of God’s promises.
We’re told in 1 John 4:18 that “perfect love drives out fear”. When I read this, I wondered why, if this were true, fear was still penetrating my heart. But when I read on, the verse tells us why. “Fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
When we fear, it’s usually because we aren’t trusting God for who He says He is in some aspect. Here’s a list of reasons, based in who God is, we have no reason to fear:
Because of God’s love, we don’t have to fear. And if we believe that and live like it’s true, someday we might just change the world ❤
Until Next Time,
“But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” // Ephesians 2:4-5
Happy Sunday everyone! And Happy SUPERBOWL Sunday! Honestly, Superbowl Sunday is one of my favorites days of the year. I’m a huge NFL fan, and no matter who is playing in the Superbowl, it’s always so fun to pick a team, root for them, and experience the excitement all day long.
But before the Big game tonight, we’re going to be starting a new series on God’s love for the month of February. Obviously, Valentine’s Day is coming up in a couple weeks, and most people associate this holiday that celebrates love with the second month of the year. So, for that, we’re going to be diving into four aspects of how God’s love affects our life.
Have you ever thought about this: When we were lost in sin, in the darkest of places, when we ran so far we thought we could never be rescued … it was then that Jesus stepped into our lives to save us. God pursued us in the moment of our greatest need, our most vulnerable weakness. When we couldn’t do anything for ourselves. When we were embarrassed to even show our face. That’s when we were pursued by God. Ephesians 2:5 tells us that it was when we were dead in our transgressions (our sins) that Jesus died for us.
Not only did Jesus die for us in our most helpless and ugly state, but that’s when God pursued our hearts. Most of us think that God wants the cleaned up church version of ourselves. That in order to be pursued, we need to look our best, act our best, and put our best foot forward. But this isn’t how God pursues us. In His love, He pursues us gently by calling our name. He pursues us recklessly by giving up His own Son to have us (John 3:16). In fact, God pursued us before we were even born (Eph. 1:4-5, Jer. 1:5). He made a way for us to know Him and receive His love before we even knew we needed such an amazing thing.
This week, take a couple moments to let this idea wash over you. You are loved unconditionally by the God who made the stars and the mountains. By the One who made the oceans and the galaxies. You are handcrafted by the King of Kings, loved more than you could ever fathom. And pursued with a love so pure that humanity will never truly know the height and depth of God’s love for us (Eph. 3:17-19). But know this week, that this God loves you. He is for you. And He’s pursuing you, even right now in this moment.
When we let His love penetrate our hearts and His pursuit grab a hold of our lives, someday we might just change the world ❤
Until Next Time,
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” // Philippians 2:14-16
I was reading a devotional book the other day when I came across a quote that really struck me. This is what it said:
“There is no point to a life in Christ if we lose the one thing that makes us different from the world. God wants you to display a life that shows how wonderful salvation is.”
Janelle Anthony BreckellThis made me stop and think for a moment. In today’s culture, it’s so easy to blend in. We think by “blending in” that we’ll somehow win others to Christ. They’ll think Christianity is “cool” because we do what they do. But if we think about it, what message is that portraying to the outside world? It sounds to me like that’s saying, “If you decided to follow Jesus, that’s cool. You can even keep doing what you’re doing right now.”
Now, don’t get me wrong. I think it’s fine that Christians laugh, have fun, and do cool things. There’s nothing wrong with that. The problem comes when we as Christians try to blend in instead of being set apart.
Can we meet the world where they are by having fun, doing “cool” things, without actually being apart of them? I think the answer is yes.
The thing of it is, that’s a hard yes. It’s hard to get close to culture without getting sucked into it. It’s hard to stand our ground against temptation and the lure of the world, especially when we’re trying to engage it. But as Christians, it’s imperative that we go and meet the culture where they’re at without getting sucked into exactly what they’re doing.
The Bible talks about us walking a different path in life. Ephesians 4:1 tells us, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” This is a strong exhortation from the Apostle Paul. He’s pleading with the church at Ephesus to live a life worthy of the calling they’ve received. When we came to know Jesus as our Savior, our old self was done away with. We were given a new name. A new identity. We were brought into a new family (2 Cor 5:17, Galatians 4:3-7).
You probably have some resemblance to your family, your loves ones. Maybe you have your mom’s hair, or your dad’s eyes. But what about to your Heavenly Father? Is your heart reflecting His? When people see you, are they seeing your resemblance to Him? Are you standing out, shining bright in this dark generation? Are others questioning why your life is soaked with joy and your peace unshakable?
This is the kind of life we are called to as followers of Jesus. If we look like everyone else, talk like everyone else, and live like everyone else, how is anyone supposed to see Jesus in us? How are people supposed to experience the life changing power of Jesus if they’re not seeing it in us?
In short, what is the purpose of following Jesus if we’re doing life the same way as the person who’s not?
I’m convicted to hide God’s word in my heart, to invite Him in every day, and by the power of His Holy Spirit to live a life that’s different, one that’s shining on the brightest and darkest of days. It’s not an easy life by any means. But Jesus didn’t call us to an easy life … He Himself didn’t live an easy life. He served when He could’ve been served. He gave when He could’ve received. He sacrificed His life when He could’ve just stayed in heaven, seated on His throne, and worshiped day and night for all eternity. But instead, He came to rescue us. To rescue us out of our life of sin and darkness, that we may have an eternity filled with Him. That’s why our life should look different. That’s why we want people to know Jesus. Because He’s not only changed our life, but the course of human history!
As you wade into this week, pray about where God might want your light to shine a little brighter this week. Maybe at school? Maybe at work? Maybe to your unsaved family members? How can you be salt and light and bring the hope and power of Jesus to other’s this week?
When we recognize we’re set apart by God to stand out for Him, someday we might just change the world. ❤
Until Next Time,
P.S.!! This week’s blog was inspired by the devotional Whatever Is Lovely by BroadStreet Publishing Group LLC & 100 Things God Loves About You: Simple Reminders For When You Need Them Most by Zondervan. Please check these wonderful books out!
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” // John 3:16
Hi everyone! Happy November!
Today I want to talk about the one single thing that is central to, not only the Christian faith, but to our very existence. It’s the one thing we’ve probably heard over and over again, but it’s something that I pray we never get tired of hearing about. Something that never gets so familiar that it loses its effectiveness to bring us to our knees in thanksgiving and worship to our great God. Today, I want to talk about the Gospel.
Romans 3:23-24 says, “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.”When we talk or reflect on the Gospel, this is where we need to start. We have all fallen short of the glory to God. Every single one of us. Pride, lust, disobedience, lifestyle choices. We’ve all sinned, and one sin is not worse than the other. Before God, they all separate us from Him. And for all people for all time, there is only one remedy to them all.
You see, God is holy. He’s perfect in justice. We all say that we love His justice side because when we’ve been wronged or treated unfairly, we want Him to execute His justice on our behalf. But at the same time, because He is a God of justice, He has to execute justice against sin and rebellion against Him. That’s why later in Romans 6:23, Paul tells us that “the wages of sin is death.” The truth of it all is that I was deserving of death because of my sin. And so were you.
Romans 6:23 goes on to say, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”We were all deserving of death, wrath, and an eternity separated from God. This reality is as frightening as it gets. We were all marked with sin, and the payment was death, because God is just. BUT. God is not all justice. God is also perfect in love. He loves you. He loves you so much that He didn’t want you to be separated from His perfect love and presence. He created you and wanted you as His child. So He made a way for that to happen. How could a God, perfect in both love and justice, both punish sin but also adopt us as His own children, securing our eternity with Him forever?
One. Simple. Way.
This is where the Gospel story gets amazing. The fact that we were lost and dead in our sin is the bad news. But God did not want to leave us there. So He sent His one and only Son Jesus Christ to this earth to live a life no one else could ever live. A perfect one. Jesus was fully God and fully human. It was the only way He could live a perfect life, only then to do the unthinkable.
After 33 years on this earth, not doing a single thing wrong, without thinking a single sinful thought, He willingly went to the cross–a horrendous way criminals would be killed in His day–to be put to death. The death you and I deserved. On the cross, God placed all the wrath and judgement His perfect justice demanded on Jesus. Why? So that we wouldn’t have to experience the judgement and wrath for our sin. Ultimately, so we wouldn’t have to experience the death we deserved because of our sin.
Guys, Jesus took our place. Jesus died so that we wouldn’t have to spend an eternity separated from God in our sin. Jesus didn’t do a single thing wrong. He didn’t do anything to deserve this death. But He willingly went to the cross so we could live. Then, three days later, Jesus rose from the dead, proving that everything He said and did was true. His payment for sin was sufficient. He conquered death, and anyone who believes in Him will overcome death too. Because for a believer death is not the end. It’s just the start to an amazing new life with God He purchased for us with His Son’s blood and resurrection.
Romans 10:9-10 says, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”As if this couldn’t get any more amazing, it does. We don’t have to do a single thing to earn this salvation. All we have to do is believe in our heart that Jesus died and rose again for the forgiveness of our sins. Confessing to God that we were deserving of wrath for our sin, but that we believe Jesus paid our debt in full. When you accept Jesus into your heart, you become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), and your eternity is secured in Christ forever. Nothing can separate you from God. Not sickness, not sin, not even death (Romans 8:38-39). You are now a child of God and more than a conqueror through Him (1 John 3:1, Romans 8:37).
If you’ve never accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, I want to invite you to do that. The Bible is true. When you accept Jesus, your life will change for the better. All the amazing promises that God provides in the Bible will become yours. Your eternity will be sealed, and you’ll start an amazing relationship with the One who created you and knows everything about you, and loves you anyways. We’ll never be perfect, so God doesn’t want us to wait until we’re all cleaned up and pretty to come to Him. He wants us to come to Him right now, right where we are. He’s waiting with opens arms … for you. He loves you. He wants you. All you have to do is say yes.
If you want to say yes to Jesus today, all you have to do is pray this prayer, believing it from your heart: God, I am a sinner. Forgive me for all the sin I’ve done in my life, and all the sin I’ll do in the future. Thank You for sending Jesus to pay the debt for my sin that I couldn’t owe. I believe Jesus Christ died and rose again for the forgiveness of my sin, and that He was raised from the dead, conquering death forever. I accept Jesus’ payment for my sin and accept Him as my Savior. Please come into my life and help me live for You. I love You. In Jesus’ Name, amen.
If you just prayed this prayer, congratulations!! Heaven is rejoicing because you are now a child of God, and your inheritance in God’s Kingdom is sealed. You have made the best decision by choosing to follow Christ. Let me be the first one to welcome you into the family of God! You’ll want to tell someone, get a Bible, and connect with a local Bible-believing church next. They’ll help you grow in your knowledge of God and the Christian life. Make sure to tell them you just received Christ, too. They’ll certainly celebrate with you!
That’s it. That’s the Gospel. So simple, so powerful. If you know someone who needs to hear of Jesus, please share this with them and pray that their eyes would be opened to the Gospel. And I pray that as Christians, our eyes would ever be open to the amazing news of the Gospel. It is certainly the best news of all time.
When we receive Jesus and chase after Him, you never know, someday we might just change the world. ❤
Until next time,
P.S.! If you’ve received Jesus today because of this blog, please let me know! I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, or you can send me an email!