1.27.2014

Eternal Security


There is no greater security in the world than knowing that you belong to God.  As a Christian and follower of Jesus Christ, you have confidence that you are His and this world has no power over you.

‘But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.’
- 1 Peter 2:9

It’s easy to say this when things are going well for us.  But we never know what tomorrow holds.  Or even later today.  Job difficulties, health issues, family problems, stressed relationships... All these things can change in an instant.  And it is so easy to fall into the trap of fear that this world holds open for us.  Fear causes us to build up walls and hoard our time, money and love. Or waste these things on a temporary life.

But no matter what happens to our physical bodies, our eternal future is assured to us by Jesus Christ Himself.  

'But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.'
- Philippians 3:20-21

Life isn’t easy.  Life as a Christian isn’t easy.  In fact, it’s harder because we are called to give up our possessions, take up our cross and follow Him.  Deny the world.  Hate our families.  And carry a burden.  For what?  For a far more beautiful outcome than we can imagine.  It’s all part of having faith and trusting in the hope we have in Jesus - Who is not swayed, moved or shaken by anything.  He is steadfast, true and eternal.

Be encouraged today that His love never fails.  And He will never fail you.

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‘Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.’

- Romans 5:1-2

1.25.2014

Meeting a best friend


Almost two years ago, I received this email from a girl.  Much like many of the other emails I receive from readers.

Hey I'm Emily and I have been reading your blog for probably two or three months now.....I am seriously in tears right now...I was reading "He Picks Us Up" and it was exactly what I needed to hear! I have been struggling so much the past few months, with sin and falling and failing to notice God in my life. I just switched to a new church less than two months ago and I haven't fully gotten back to normal yet. Life is crazy right now....and I really needed that! Thanks so much...please pray that God would help me get up and move on. 
Much Love,
-Emily

But little did I know that my reply to it would begin a long chain of email correspondence.  And that God would use those first emails to create a bond with this girl who lived all the way across the country from me.




She became one of my best friends.

And two weeks ago, on January 8th, 2014, I was able to meet her face to face for the first time.


There's a pin we found on Pinterest that says 'I'm wild, she's sweet'... and it really applies to me and Emily.

For almost two years, our friendship has been based solely on emails, chats, phone calls, texts, FaceTime, letters, packages and the grace of God.  And this month, He worked everything out perfectly for me to fly out to Pennsylvania and spend two weeks with Emily and her family.  And we had an amazing and lovely time.


Don't ever believe someone who tells you that you can't become 'best friends' with someone you've never met face to face.  Emily's and my friendship is living proof against that.  And the biggest reason why we're such close friends is because the love of Christ has been the center of our friendship.  She is one of the most encouraging people and one of the few friends I have been blessed with who have continually pushed me closer to the LORD.  She's amazing.  And I love her bunches.

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I apologize for the rather boring matching outfits.  It was about 19 degrees outside (with snow and heavy wind), so...


1.19.2014

Incomprehensible Peace


Peace is something that we all seek.  Something that this world needs more of.  We can try to create it - in our homes, our relationships, at our jobs.  But no matter how much we want it, and try to make it ourselves, it's something we can't find outside of the One Who IS peace.

We live in a fallen and depraved world.  But God is a God of peace, not of chaos.  And He sent His Son, the Prince of Peace, to bring eternal peace to us.  He gives us this peace internally, regardless of what the world is trying to give us externally.  No matter what forces come against us, His peace surpasses all understanding.  It's supreme, unchangeable, never-ending.  And it's ours today.  Only through His death.

God never leaves us gasping for breath amidst, what we think, is chaos.  He is always in control.  He doesn't allow things to happen to us that is more than we can bear.  And if we think it is, His strength and peace are only a prayer away.

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'For God is not a God of confusion, but of peace...'
- 1 Corinthians 14:33

'Peace I leave with you; My peace I give unto you.  Not as the world gives, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled.  Neither let it be afraid.'
- John 14:27

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Sorry for the lack of posts lately, peeps.  I've been away from home, across the country - in Pennsylvania, to be exact.  I return to Oregon on Wednesday, so from then on, you'll be seeing more of my own writings.  I hope you've enjoyed the guest posts though:)

1.03.2014

If you're looking for a sign to not kill yourself...


...this is it.

Suicide rates have risen considerably over the past ten years.  People die more by committing suicide than in car accidents.  Most of us may think that these are mainly teenagers, but statistics have risen to middle-aged people as well.  It’s estimated that 38, 364 people killed themselves in 2013 alone.  An average of 101 individuals per day (one per 14 minutes) will die by suicide.

I think that this is something that is over-looked in society.  It’s an everyday occurrence that we either choose to ignore or have absolutely no idea about.  

A Twitter follower recently messaged me to ‘say goodbye’ because he was contemplating killing himself.  While I think a lot of people on social networks make up stories just to get attention and sympathy, I honestly think this guy was serious.  And I know a lot of others are too.

As someone once said: ‘When one person commits suicide, others begin to see it as an option.  ‘If they did it, so can I’ is their mindset.’  

Reasons for suicides can vary according to different people.  The ones I’ve talked to have given me ‘reasons’ such as:

  • I just hate my life
  • No one cares for me
  • God has no interest in me
  • I fail at everything
  • There’s nothing special about me


And all these statements are usually followed with ‘It’s okay.  No one will miss me.’

I don’t claim to be an expert in this whatsoever.  And I’ve never experienced suicidal thoughts so some of you may be wondering ‘Well then how do you know what it’s like?’  Or even you yourself may be contemplating suicide and telling yourself ‘Raquel has no idea what she’s talking about.’

Well, maybe I don’t.  Maybe I don’t know what it’s like to want to kill myself.  Maybe I don’t know what it’s like to not want to live anymore because ‘life is just too hard’.  But I can tell you what the complete opposite of that spectrum is.

It’s this:

Life is precious.  Life is a gift.  Life is something God chose to gave you.  Why?  I have no idea.  I ask myself why He lets me breathe every single day.  It’s a question without an answer, really.  

I know that nothing I say can make you feel better.  Or change your mind.  Or make you realize your life has a purpose.  I don’t know you.  I don’t know what you’ve been through.  Or why you’re contemplating this action to take your own life.  And I won’t pretend that I do.  I know that’s something nobody likes - when a person says ‘I know what you’re feeling.  I know what you’re going through’.  It really is a lie, because no one can understand.  Everyone’s situation is unique and different.  And I’m sorry it is.  If I could, I would want to experience everything you have just so I could be able to relate and be able to help you through it.  But I can’t.  And no, I’m not trying to ‘push’ religion on you or just ramble on cliche things about God that I’m sure you’ve already heard.  All I can do is tell you the truth of what I know and believe with all my heart.  You may ask ‘Well what does God know about death and suicide?’  A lot, actually.  Because He killed His own Son.  For us.  (Can you imagine killing your own child for people who hated you?  I think that’s the biggest act of love ever.)

God created you in His own image.  And His own breath gives you life.  His hands shaped you and made you.  He formed every part of you.  Every little detail of your body is His own design.  You are wonderfully made.  No matter what others think about you, you are perfect in His eyes.  You are God’s own workmanship.  While you were still hidden from this world inside your mother’s womb, God knew you.  He knows all your anxious thoughts, every hurt you feel, every painful experience in your life.  And He thinks such precious things about you.  More thoughts than the sand on the beaches.  He wouldn’t have given you this life if He didn’t know you were strong enough to live it.  And when you think you’re not strong enough, He is - because His power is perfected in weakness.  God is always with you.  You can’t live life on your own.  It’s not by your might or power, but by His.  He cares for you.  He protects the children He loves.  No, life isn’t perfect.  It’s rough.  But instead of questioning God why He isn’t making things smooth for you, ask Him why He’s choosing to let you breathe right in this moment.  And I promise you, His answer is this:  

‘I know the plans that I have for you.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you a future and a hope.  Call to me, pray to me, and I will listen to you.  Seek Me and search for me with all your heart and you will find Me.’

And I am very sure of this - that He who started this beautiful work in you, will perfect and complete it.  Your life is precious in His sight.  And not only His, but those around you.  You may think that no one will miss you.  But I promise you, they will.  Your parents will be devastated, your siblings will cry for weeks, people at your school will go solemnly about their business knowing that their classmate is gone.  A suicide makes a domino effect.  You’re not just thinking of hurting yourself.  You’re thinking of hurting others.

Please, please don’t consider killing yourself as an option.  If you need help, there ARE people who want to help you.  (Click HERE to contact someone right now).  And if you ever need someone to just talk to or pray for you, feel free to email me any time: itisjustraquel[at]gmail[dot]com

And even if this whole post didn’t make you stop and think, I hope and pray that someone or something else will.


{The photo featured in this post is the result of a project by Carlos Navarro called ‘The Suicide Sign’.  The people holding the cardboard sign are all recording artists who have joined in suicide awareness.  And the sign says: 'Suicide does not end the chances of life getting worse.  Suicide eliminates the possibility of it ever getting better.'}

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(Genesis 1:27, Job 33:4, Psalm 100:3, 1 Corinthians 12:9, Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 139, Psalm 41:1, Joshua 1:9, Zechariah 4:6, Philippians 1:6)