10.31.2016

Religion Vs. Relationship


I hate it when people label me as "religious". 

Christianity is a religious term, just like Buddhism and Hinduism and Catholicism. But I don't practice a religion. 

My faith isn't a religion.  It's a relationship that I work at, that I cultivate, that I have with God.  Just like any other relationship I am a part of - such as with my parents, my siblings, my relatives, my friends.  
Knowing the difference between these two words - "religion" and "relationship" - is very important for any individual to understand about the Christian faith.  Not only do we follow Christ, but we also love Him, and we obey His Word because our love for Him compels us to.  I don't have to do a daily a, b, or c to make sure my faith is secure and that, if I die, I'll go to heaven because I remembered to follow those requirements.  
The Christian faith is based on belief and trust that once you ask God to forgive you of your sins, believe that Jesus Christ came to this earth to take the penalty for every crime you've committed against the Triune God, the Holy Spirit will come and reside in your heart and make you a new creation. 

This does not mean that you are now perfect.  This does not mean that you will never sin again. 

What it does means is that you believe that Jesus' blood was enough.  That His grace is all-sufficient to cover ANY sin - whether big or small in our eyes (because in God's eyes, it's all the same).  And that no matter how many times you slip up and falter and stumble, God will never let you go and say "You've had too many chances. You're on your own." 

Being a Christ-follower is about cultivating a relationship with your Savior.  It's not a matter of "how good you can be for how long", but about living day to day with His glory as the forefront of your actions, the reason you do what you do, so that others can see His hand in your life.

Because my faith is a relationship with Christ, it will look different than my pastor's relationship with Him, my best friend's and my coworker's.  Just like the bond I share with my Mama is different than with my Dad, or the closeness of my friendship with my best friend is a different relationship than with my boyfriend.  My relationship with Christ will differ from yours.  And that's okay.  There's no one way to be a lover and follower of Christ. 

It's all you and God.  This is where personal convictions come in, such as how God convicts you to do or not to do certain things.  Tattoos are a good example.  Personally, I don't view it as a sin to get them and I have several.  He has convicted me to never smoke or do drugs, but for other Christians, maybe that's something they're okay with doing.  It doesn't matter what the world thinks of you, or even other Christians.  Your relationship is between you and God. 
Yes, we are called to encourage and admonish each other as siblings in Christ and warriors in His army, and if a professing Christian is blatantly sinning or living a life of lust and greed and worldliness, we must speak to them with God's Word in hand.  Nevertheless, He is the ultimate Judge and will deal directly with their heart and soul in His timing.

In the meantime, I'm gonna keep living for my God because what I have with my Creator is more than just practicing rituals and obeying rules.  It's more than a religion.  It's about a relationship.

10.27.2016

A Challenge To My Fellow Women


I've heard many women of my generation complain about “how chivalry is dead” and “guys don't know how to treat us well anymore” and how they “wish we could go back to the day and age where men were real men and respected us”.

My question back to them is always - Well, are you giving them an example of a true woman and someone who deserves respect?

I am NOT saying that guys should treat women the way their character deserves to be respected.  (Because, honestly, I think women should be treated with dignity across the board - no matter her age or occupation.  And men don't treat women half as well as they should.)
But really.  
Are the women of this day and age setting an example, being a woman, demanding the respect and treatment they deserve as the female sex?

I remember a time when a a guy friend of mine paid me one of the greatest compliments I have ever received.  He said: ‘You deserve recognition [as a lady].  You make me want to be a better gentleman.’
When he told me that, I was like "Wow".  I felt a sense of accomplishment, in being able to encourage my guy friend to feel the need to be a better gentleman.  And the fact that he felt that his chivalry wouldn’t go unnoticed by me - because I actually care that men act like gentlemen - was flattery in itself.

I am disgusted by the way women treat men these days, but yet they still insist on being treated well.  You should do unto others what you would have them do to you, right?  That's a Bible verse that is constantly quoted - when it's in a person's favor to use it.  But when it's used on them, it's suddenly "something from an old book full of stories".  I'm serious.  I'm done seeing guys trampled on and walked all over, but made to treat women like queens, to have their feet be kissed and every wish and whim fulfilled.

A friend of mine texted me today and said that after two successful dates with a girl who he really liked - and who claimed to really like him - she suddenly stopped returning his texts and phone calls.  Just flat out dropped off the face of the earth.  Not one peep of a message back to him.  Now there is absolutely no excuse for that.  She didn’t block his number.  She just ignored him.  You don’t ignore someone for however many days.  Even if I’m extremely busy with work and family and life stuff, I always try to make an effort to let people know “Hey, I’m busy at the moment.  I’ll get back to you when I have more time to focus on a conversation.”
My friend asked me why women can't just be upfront and honest, but kind at the same time.  They're either brutally extreme or don’t communicate in the least.  Now what kind of an example is that setting for the guys we want to be kind and honest with us?!  Women are always saying "Why can't he just tell me if he likes me or not?"  And "Why can't he just talk to me or ask me out instead of being so shy around me?"  Well, why can't you do the same thing?  Why can't you be honest and tell him "Yes, I am interested in you" or "No, I would rather decline a date invitation, but thank you for asking”?  There's a way to do things in a straightforward, direct, yet nice way. 
Something I've noticed about women is how hard it seems for them to say "no".  And I get it.  We're sensitive creatures.  We're afraid of hurting a guy's feelings.  But hey, this is the real world.  Feelings are always going to get hurt.  If you're honest and upfront with them, that's the best way to go about anything.  But be kind at the same time.  And the way a guy responds to your answer is not in your control.  You don't control the way he reacts.  A good, sensible, respectful man who respects you - and women in general - will be mature about any and all responses that he receives.  

There was a guy who I had gone out with twice.  He was super sweet, we got along well, he was very creative in his date planning, just an overall super sweet guy.  I didn't feel any special connection or feelings with or for him, though, and when I ended up dating another guy, I told guy #1 - "Hey, I just want you to know that I'm not interested in pursuing anything with you and you deserve to know that I am seeing someone now so please refrain from pursuing me."  The guy I was with at the time said that guy #1 was going to totally flip after reading that text from me, but guess what?  
He responded with maturity.  
He said something along the lines of "Thank you for telling me.  I hope that whoever you with knows what a lucky guy he is."  
Now that, ladies and gentleman, is a sign of a good, sweet, kind, mature man.  He knows how to take rejection.  Not in the pity-party "oh she played me" sort of bullcrap way, but “oh she found someone who makes her happy and for that, I am happy".  He set an example for me.  And I will always be grateful for that, and respect him for the way he chose to react.

If women are asking why chivalry is dead, then maybe that's a reflection of the examples - or lack - of courtesy and grace that men are receiving from the women around them.

So I challenge you, my fellow women, if you're demanding respect, give the men something to esteem and honor. 
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Rant over.
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DISCLAIMER:
I know that I will probably get bombarded with feminist comments and emails on this article.  Maybe something along the lines of "your article was sexist" or "not a tribute to strong women".  But, trust me, I'm saving that for another time.

10.20.2016

How I Found God


“How did you find God?  Like, what happened?  What clicked?  What does it feel like?”

A friend of mine texted me this question out of the blue tonight.  
It took me a while to respond.  
Not because I didn’t know what to say.  
I just didn’t know how to say it.  

Here's my futile attempt.

---

I believe the Bible is the infallible Word of God.  Whatever it says is right and true and holy.  
One verse in it talks about how man has fallen short of the glory of God.  
This means that we as humans cannot compare to God’s glory and because of the sin in our lives, there is a barrier between us and Him.  

But there is hope!  

Because God loves His creation, He wanted to save us from ourselves, from the sin that we carry in our imperfect souls and that is in this world, so He sent His only Son to come to this earth and die for us, making Himself a human sacrifice.  And because of His blood covering us, God no longer sees our sin.  He sees His Son’s perfection and selfless love.

As far as how I found God, well, I didn’t.  

He found me.  

Because since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes, His eternal power and His divine nature have been clearly seen by all, so no one is without excuse of His power and glory.  You can’t look at this universe, the galaxies, a newborn baby, a snowflake, a fingerprint, without seeing His beautiful and perfect design.  He’s a Creator who is intimately acquainted with His creation and takes delight in showing His glory through His work.  He wants to have a relationship with us.  That’s how He designed for it to be in the Garden of Eden, but man chose sin over God and thus began the barrier between human and holy.  

Before He found me, I was just a wandering soul, living in a human world, content in my own way of life.  No person wakes up one day and decides “I’m going to follow Jesus.”  It doesn’t work like that.  There has to be an inward change of the heart, and then an outward declaration of faith.  

But the only One who can change the heart is the Holy Spirit.  

You see, God is a God of order.  He is not chaotic.  He plans, He purposes, He predestines.  Before the foundation of the world, He foreknew His chosen ones, the ones He would conform into the image of His Son.  And the ones He predestines, He calls.  And the ones who come, He justifies.  And the ones He justifies, He glorifies.  

What does it feel like?  Well, I will be one hundred percent honest and say that the Christian life is no easy journey.  It’s not all sunshine and roses once you’ve received His calling and committed to a relationship with Him.  

Why?  

Because it goes against human nature.  

We want to be our own god.  We want to make our own decisions.  We want to make our own rules.  God gave us His Word because He knows what’s best for us and what is evil and what is right.  And through it, He tells us so.  The enemy, also, wages wars against God’s people.  We do not fight battles against flesh and blood but against evil spirits and the world forces of darkness.  The war has already been won though.  After He died on the cross, Jesus was buried for three days, yet rose again, defeating the greatest curse - death.  

He has overcome.  
And we will win.  

For greater is He who is in us, then he who is of the world.  

And I consider that anything I suffer from in this present age won’t be worthy to be compared to the glory that I will receive when I die and go to heaven.  

So no, I didn’t find God.  He found me.  

And by His sovereign unexplainable love, He chose me as one of His own.

What does it feel like?
It feels like the most freedom you can ever have, the greatest victory you will ever experience, and the sweetest love you will ever receive.

And while the Christian walk is a difficult journey to follow, I will never regret my commitment to Him.  He gave His life for me, so I’m living my life for Him.  

And He is so worth it.

10.18.2016

50 Ways To Pray For Your Future Husband

  1. Pray that he lives in accordance with God's plan for his life
  2. Pray that he would be steadfast in the knowledge of his identity in Christ
  3. Pray that he will be learning to lead your future family 
  4. Pray that he is a hard worker
  5. Pray that the LORD will bless his job
  6. Pray that he be a witness for Christ wherever he goes
  7. Pray that he is blessed with godly friends
  8. Pray that he is surrounded by people who bring him up, not tear him down
  9. Pray that he learns to love as God desires him to
  10. Pray that he would lean on Christ in his trials
  11. Pray that he will hope in the LORD
  12. Pray that he would learn to trust, and trust the right individuals
  13. Pray that he will be content
  14. Pray that he would have a giving heart
  15. Pray that he would sacrifice himself for God and others
  16. Pray that he will always seek God first
  17. Pray that he will submit to God and any authorities that are over him
  18. Pray that he would trust in God's plan, not his own
  19. Pray that he would give everything to the LORD in prayer
  20. Pray that he would seek wisdom
  21. Pray that he would set aside daily time to spend with Jesus
  22. Pray that he would have a humble, teachable spirit
  23. Pray that he learn to control his anger
  24. Pray that God would give him discernment
  25. Pray that he wouldn't let past relationships affect his relationship with you
  26. Pray that the LORD would teach him to be a good husband, and likewise you, to be a good wife
  27. Pray that he would submit his fears to God
  28. Pray that he would fully grasp his purpose in Christ
  29. Pray that he would constantly be reminded of God's love for him in everyday life
  30. Pray that he would boldly declare the Truth of the Gospel
  31. Pray that he would grow spiritually through reading, studying and prayer
  32. Pray that he would be bold and confident in sharing Christ's love with others
  33. Pray that he would be quick to forgive
  34. Pray that he'll live a self-controlled life that is a result of his salvation
  35. Pray that he will grow and flourish because of his trust in the LORD
  36. Pray that others can see God through him and the way he lives his life
  37. Pray that he will be faithful in all things
  38. Pray for his maturity
  39. Pray for his integrity
  40. Pray for his protection against temptations
  41. Pray for his purity
  42. Pray for his patience
  43. Pray for his family, and his relationship with each of his family members
  44. Pray for his discernment in handling finances and that he would be good with his money
  45. Pray for his health
  46. Pray strength over him
  47. Pray for his humility
  48. Pray for his heart
  49. Pray that God's face will shine upon him
  50. Pray that God will be glorified in your future marriage

10.13.2016

Loving Someone Is A Privilege


Loving someone is a privilege. 

It's a rare occurrence when someone trusts you with their heart and gives you the power to either bless or break it. 
But everyone loves differently, and needs to be loved differently. And because love is selfless, it's important to love them the way they need to be loved.

While your significant other may need words of affirmation, but you are more of a physical touch sort of person, learn to love them through words that they need to hear. Or if you feel loved through acts of service, but your partner feels love most through gifts, then they need to learn how to help you with projects and not expect you to feel love from them through buying you gifts that they would like.

Relationships take time and effort. You should never change who you are for someone else, unless it's in a healthy way. And learning how to live and love to make your partner happy and feel loved can be a rough road sometimes.

Relationships aren't easy. It's about two imperfect people choosing each other above anyone else they know or will meet and continuing to choose that person through the good, the bad and the ugly. 
Learn about your significant other. 
Learn how to love them because afterall, they're giving you that special honor to care for them and their heart. 
They don't need you to survive this life. 
They're choosing to let you be a part of it. 
Don't take that for granted. 

And don't let them regret their choice.

10.11.2016

I Support the Right To Bear Firearms


With all these stupid gun control debates, I thought I'd show my support of firearms by posting this picture. 
I grew up around guns. I shot my first one when I was about eight years old. 
My uncle taught me how to aim, Mama taught me how to squeeze the trigger, and my other uncle taught me how to breathe while shooting. 
I've shot rifles, pistols, gone skeet-shooting, and target practiced. 
Guns themselves aren't harmful.  It's all about who's handling them, and who's pulling the trigger.  In this day and age, I actually feel safe knowing that firearms are nearby and that I can use one if need be. 
I believe they should only be used in self-defense, to put meat in the freezer, or for practice shooting in a safe area.
I support the right to bear firearms. And will use them without hesitation to protect myself and the ones I love.

10.07.2016

6 Ways To Know You're Guaranteed To Lose Me


1) If you ever lie to me
Honesty is one of the key elements to any relationship.  I trust that someone is telling me the truth until they give me a reason not to trust them anymore.  And once that happens, that trust will take forever to rebuild.  If ever at all.

2) If you ever yell at me
I've had too much experience with guys looming over me, demanding this or that, and thinking that raising their voices at me will make me "listen better" or "pay attention" or that that's the best way to get a point across to me.  But it has the opposite affect.  I lose respect for them.  I get scared.  And above all, want to be as far away from them as possible.

3) If you ever manipulate me
I don't think girls realize how easily guys tend to manipulate us.  It took me a while before figuring out that the way a certain guy would talk to me, and ask me things, or try to get me to do things for him, were all forms of manipulation.  The second a guy says or does something to make YOU feel bad, it's manipulation for something that he wants you to do.  I've had too much experience with this and am very aware now of when it's happening.  Thanks to a few jerks I've had the pleasure of knowing.

4) If you ever give me a reason to not trust you
I would never be in a relationship with someone I didn't trust.  And by trust, I mean, trust in and with anything.  Money, girls, my belongings, my family.

5) If you ever hurt me
I don't know which is worse - physical or emotional abuse.  I don't think either can be weighed in a spectrum of painful damage.  I've experienced both and I can guarantee that if either happens just once, you won't get a second chance.

6) If you ever stop pursuing me
This may sound like an attention-seeking, childish reason, but in all honesty, there's nothing worse than falling for someone, going through the honeymoon stage and then one day, waking up and realizing that they're "used to you".  If you truly love someone, you will pursue them indefinitely.  You won't take them for granted.  You won't assume that they'll just always be there.  They're choosing to love you, as you should choose to love them.  And show them this love.  Even if you aren't a super heart-to-heart, oozing feelings type of person, there are always ways you can show your significant other that you appreciate them, and love them in the way they need to be loved and how they need to feel valued.

10.06.2016

Reason Vs. Choice | a poem | #NationalPoetryDay


It’s true that the initial motivation for why you fall for someone is because of an obvious reason.

It can be anything from the way they smiled at you when you first met
  How you can’t breathe when they’re around
    How their very existence makes you thankful for your own life
      How you are when you’re around them

These are all wonderful reasons to love someone.  But the choice of love is another matter
For to stay in love with someone is a decision, a choicenot because of reasons. 

Reasons come and go.  Reasons change.

There will be days when they won’t smile at you
Where you’ll be too mad at each other to let your breath be taken away or your heart skip a beat
There will be a time when you wish you didn’t have to see them at the moment because you hurt each other so badly
And there will even be a time that you don’t like who you are when you’re around them.

It’s in those moments that you must decide:

  Do I love this person for the good memories of reasons that I have stored away?

    Or do I choose to love this person simply because no reason is good enough


      And because love is the ultimate incentive?