Honest is Strongest

Have you ever felt inadequate in your life? Like “God how am I supposed to be in this situation?” That situation could be countless life events, but for me, this situation was the friends I was surrounding myself with. Now these friends were Godly, but I started to not be myself. I felt like I was walking on egg shells being around them. I no longer felt like I was who God wanted me to be. 

“Behold you delight in truth in the inward being and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.” 

Psalm 51:6

When I recognized the change in myself I realized how dishonest I was being with the outside world. God does not want us to be dishonest, but to live in truth. Anxiety had become increasingly more present in my mind, and I had just thought it was the normal anxiety everyone deals with.

SPOILER ALERT 

It wasn’t. 

I had like actual real people anxiety about life. 

When I began to be honest with myself and the people around me that I thought my anxiety was more than everyday anxiety life started to fall back into place.

“Jesus said to them ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one come to the Father except through me.’” 

John 14:6

Recognizing the anxiety I felt was real and get help for it and talking about it meant that I was living in truth. According to John 14:6, Jesus is the truth. I was growing closer to God by being honest about who I was.

Being honest is not always easiest route to take. Trust me I lived in denial about my anxiety a lot longer than I should have. Being honest meant something had to change in my life to bring me closer to God. 

So what happened? 

I lost the friends I was surrounding myself with. Was it because they were bad people, influencing me away from God? Absolutely not! But they were also not uplifting or bringing me closer to God. In all honesty, they were causing more anxiety than they were helping.

“But he said to me ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

But I kind of embraced this change. I started doing life more honestly with a new group of people. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 are verses I truly live by. I was being honest with the people in my life about the struggles I was facing by losing those other friends. 

I was becoming stronger the more I embraced the changes God had started in my life. Being honest with God and the people in my life has allowed me to unapologetically be who God wants me to be. 

Being honest with God is so hard but the reward is that much greater so take the leap and lay your burden on Him.

You’re Not Meant To Do Everything By Yourself

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
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.

Psalm 23

I’ve always struggled with wanting to be involved with everything, and not being able to say “no.” If somebody asked me to do something I would rearrange my own plans so I wouldn’t have to say no. But recently I’ve started learning that when I try to do everything, my focus is divided so everything is not as good as it would be if i had said no to something. 

In high school, one of my Bible teachers did a lesson on self-care, and she used a cup for demonstration. She had a cup full of water but started pouring it out saying she poured this much out for school, this much out for friends, this much for sports, this much for Netflix, and so on. By the time she got done pouring water out for every part of her day, she did not have anything left. 

Psalm 23 talks about how God is filling David’s cup so much that it is overflowing. My teacher then started pouring water back into her cup for time that was spent with God whether it was through prayer or worship or in His word. The Lord had replenished her cup.

This demonstration has always stuck with me because I struggle with pouring out more that what I allow God to replenish me with. I’ve been saying yes to so many things lately that Ive forgotten to let time with God be my first yes. Instead I fill my calendar and worry about things I cannot control when I should rest in God who is in control.

It is so important to rest in God. I would never want to give someone the last drop in my cup because I have spread myself so thin that I havent rested in Him. Again in Psalm 23 David talks of how he has rested and been restored by God.

One way of resting in God that has become extremely important to me recently is talking about God with others. I try not to let time with God and others replace the time I spend with God by myself. Proverbs 27:17 says “as iron sharpens iron so one person sharpens another.” Learning and talking about God with others teaches me and strengthens me. I find it important to let others know my struggles so that I grow and be strengthened by the body of Christ.

Let God refill your cup and share with friends so that you can both grow in the Lord.

My Battle is Not Mine

Every new year, people set resolutions and a word or phrase for the year. For most people that might last through January, but more than likely not. This year my phrase is “The battle is the Lord’s,” and it is a phrase I have kept all year so far. 

Sitting at Mercedes Benz in Atlanta during Passion 2020 at the turn of the year worshiping the Lord, I heard this phrase. Passion Music was leading worship and Melodie Malone was singing “It is Finished/Surrounded” and started speaking an encouragement during the song. She cited 2 Chronicles stating that “the battle is the Lord’s. “

When I got home that night I immediately found the exact reference which is 2 Chronicles 20:15. For context the Moabites and Ammonites waged war against Jehoshaphat and Judah. Jehoshaphat prayed to the Lord and the Lord responded through one of the people there with this 

15“He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’”

Okay wow! What? God had them protected cause it was not their battle to endure. Because of the great faith they had, the Lord allowed them to have victory through his deliverance.

In this crazy time that 2020 is God gave me peace of mind from the beginning with this phrase. I may not have known what was coming in this year but because I have put all of my faith in Him he prepared me for the battle that 2020 is and he sees the victory that will be on the other side. God has been telling me all year that He is in control, He has already won, and He will bring about victory. Whether I am facing Covid restrictions, online classes, all the 11:59pm deadlines, weather threats, or anything else that is not in my control, He is with me fighting the battle for victory.

Phil Wickham recently came out with a new song called “Battle Belongs.” I’ve linked the song below, but he starts the song with these lyrics: “When all I see is the battle, You see my victory.” Its a confession to God that all my human eyes can see is the battle but that God you see the victory and triumph that will come with you by our side.

Remember that whatever trial or difficulty you are going through, God will bring you through it. He has put you there to grow. Give Him time to fight.

Peace Be With You

I love the start of a new school year. You get new classes, new teachers, new notebooks, and most importantly new pens! But this year is different. Classes aren’t in person like we are accustomed to. School shopping is more stressful cause you don’t even know what to expect from classes. I don’t feel peace about this school year like I normally do right before it starts.

Yes I’m the person who has always been excited for the new school year. Im always mostly excited because of the pretty new school supplies but a new school year means new opportunities. I usually never worry about the beginning of a school year cause its routine and I thrive on routine so I have always been at peace with it. Even coming to Ole Miss I was at peace mostly about the new school year. I might have been in a different state not knowing a single person but I was still at peace with that school year. 

But before I go into this any further what even is peace? In the Biblical sense, peace can be described as totality, completeness, success, fulfillment, wholeness, harmony, security, and well being. So when I say I do not feel peace about this new school year, I mean I don’t see the wholeness, harmony, completeness, success, or fulfillment that a new school year normally brings. This new school year will experience completeness and success and harmony in new ways. 

In John 16, Jesus tells his disciples to call on him and ask for whatever they need and they will receive it and their joy will be complete. In John 16:33, Jesus says “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have have overcome the world!” In this verse, Jesus is saying to have security in knowing that going to the Father will bring complete joy because the world will cause pain and tribulation but Jesus has already overtaken the world. How good is it to know that we can have peace because Jesus has already faced the world for us!

Even though classes start in just a couple of days, I still do not know what my classes will be like. I do not know what school supplies I will actually need. I do not have much in my control that I know is going to happen. My out of class activities are questionable and up in the air. So many things are still unknown, but Jesus, the one who gives ultimate peace, is still the same that he was yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

The routine that I am holding on to this school year is Jesus. He is unchanging and always there. The world may cause problems and fail us but Jesus hasn’t and he won’t start to just because the world is in chaos. 

Love Your Enemies

I was given so much advice going into college about making friends. “It will happen it just takes time” “it could be some random person in the cafeteria” “friendships from the first six weeks of college don’t always last” and countless more. But going to a college five hours from home and not knowing a soul I wanted to throw all that advice out the window and jump to the having friends part. So that’s exactly what I did.

Going to college you meet so many new people. Maybe your roommate is someone you’ve never met or you become friends with the person you sit next to in class, or maybe you find family in a campus organization. For me, I made friends with the girl who lived next door to me. I made friends (sorta) with my roommate. I made friends with a girl in the next building. I made family with people in the Baptist Student Union and I made friends with people in Sigma Phi Lambda.

But see usually I am pretty good at figuring people out. I can typically determine if someone is really worth being friends with or not. But not this time. I so desperately wanted to have friends so I wouldn’t be alone that I think I threw out all the red flags saying “STOP this person is toxic!”

The girl next door and my roommate both had the blaring red flags. I think I was so desperate to live my own life that I never really turned to God for these “friendships.”  They would mock me and insult me to a point where being around them became toxic to my relationship with God.

In Ecclesiastes 4, verses 9 and 10 state this: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Here the author, most likely Solomon, is talking about friendship. The first part talking about a friendship that is building one another up. The second part a false friendship that is letting each other fall and suffer.

As much as I tried being a friend to these girls they never could lift me up or help me if I fell. It took me almost a year to fully see those red flags. I tried to share my faith with both of them. They wanted nothing to do with it. I tried to share small parts of my day. They had more important things. I tried to be open about who I am and what I value. They twisted it to fit their narratives. Many other things happened between us but it wasn’t until I was able to set aside the thoughts Satan had planted and firmly reset my feet with Jesus that I found my true friends.

The Baptist Student Union has given me friendships that will last a lifetime because when I fall, I know I count on any of them to be right there helping me back up. They have truly become a family of believers that make me stronger. Currently one of the ways they are making me stronger is through forgiveness. 

God started talking to me with Philipians 4:6, that says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God.” He was saying come to him even in my anxiousness and he will calm the storm stirring. I would get so anxious about seeing my former roommates that my plans would have to change just so I wouldn’t bump into them. I was tired of having to hide so I decided that I no longer wanted to feel this way and that I wanted to be able to forgive them.

I’ve had so many God filled conversations with my friends about how to forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it and each time the answer is God. The only way in life that we are able to make it through is with God right there at our side. I have held so much hate towards these two people for too long and with the help and advice from friends that are like family and the open line of communication with God, I am starting to be able to forgive them. I have even been praying for them. 

Matthew 5:43-48 speaks about love for enemies. Verse 43 and 44 say “ you have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” God treats righteous and unrighteous people the same and he wants us to do so as well. We are to show mercy to those who are our enemies just as he has shown mercy to us. So I am making a conscious effort with God by my side to choose kindness and prayer for my enemies.

Our Lives Are More Than A Netflix Movie

Recently I was hanging out with some of my closest friends, and in our typical manner, we found our selves pouring out the deepest thoughts about our lives and our spiritual walks with each other. See our nights typical start with something fun and then driving for a little bit and then finding somewhere to park so that we can all get extremely invested in each other.

This particular night we got really deep into our walk with God and where it is versus where we want it to be. One of my friends who has been struggling for awhile really let us know where she was. She talked about how she has been at her lowest with God recently and she doesn’t know how to get back on track. She cannot just turn off the thoughts in her brain that satan has planted. She was asking us for advice on how to get back on the right path with God. And the Lord started speaking with this idea.

Our walk with Christ is not like a Netflix movie where you can say “I want to watch that movie. Click start, and watch the movie in its entirety.” Instead, we choose cable t.v. We watch movies with commercials. Instead of being able to watch a movie on Netflix in about an 1 hour and 30 minutes, we end up watching a cable movie for around 2 hours. The difference is the commercials. But the best part about commercial breaks is that the show always comes right back on.

Just like in our walk with God we desperately want for our relationship with him to be perfect like a Netflix movie with No interruptions. But that is not how life happens. In Genesis when Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, they had the sinless life we dream of. However the serpent came along and tempted Eve into eating fruit from the forbidden tree. Thus beginning lives of sin and disobedience for humankind.

The only person who has lived a “Netflix Life” has been Jesus. Jesus is the only person who has lived a sinless life. God knows that we will end up in commercials which is why he sent his son for us. Jesus died for our sins to be forgiven. 

Commercial breaks with out fail are always always followed by the return of the regularly scheduled t.v. program. Whenever we as Christians sin and fall away from God we know we can always always return to God. No matter how far apart from God we may became or how small the sin was, God’s love for us runs so deep that he extends grace to us for eternity. 

On t.v., you can always tell when the commercial is about to be over. The last commercial before the return of the program is typically a network commercial. 

 So imagine if God is our network and our life is the t.v. program and satan is the commercials. That means that our lives start out and then we sin or fall away from God or are tempted by satan and we begin a commercial break from Him. Eventually during that commercial break we want to come back to the Father and ask for his grace and forgiveness that is freely given. This would be the network commercial because coming to God with our weaknesses and short comings brings us back to him. So then we come back to our regularly scheduled program, time with God.

God never leaves us no matter how far from him we may be. Just like how a t.v. program does not change networks just because it has become interrupted by a commercial break. 

We decided to live in the truth that no matter how long we are on a commercial break from God, because we are human and have sinful nature we can always turn back to God and he will accept us back to his program because of his love for us.