10 Years of Sanctification

This April will be a special one. It will mark 10 years that I have been following Christ.

I truly can’t believe this anniversary has come so soon. That fateful day feels like just yesterday.

Many of my anniversary posts are just a recounting of my testimony, and while those are great, this time, I’d like to do something a little different.

Because while God opened my eyes to His glory and Lordship on April 25, 2010, I am not the same person I was in 2010, 2011, 2012, and so forth.

God gave me some kind of spirit of discernment early on in my walk (I never like prosperity gospel preachers and, back then, I really couldn’t explain why, but something [the Holy Spirit] told me to be weary of their teaching), but that same gift and zeal for sound doctrine was abused for a few years as I bullied brothers and sisters in the faith for not holding to the doctrines ol’ important me thought were most important.

I thought I was strong and able to “handle difficulty”, but I didn’t realize just how powerless I was until I was thrown into a barrage crazy trials some years ago. And yet, during some of the darkest times of my life (as a believer), I realized I wasn’t nearly as hopeless as I had been during an earlier trial in my life (one that happened before I was truly saved).

And those trials humbled me. I began to realize some of those Christians I disagreed with understood the love of God better than my own “clique” did. I began to realize it is okay to disagree on certain things. We are a family. Family will never agree on everything, but that doesn’t change the fact that we are all brothers and sisters.

10 years is quite a vantage point.

From here, I can look back at things I asked of God and say “I am so thankful You didn’t answer my prayers the way I wanted You to”.

It’s encouraging. And humbling.

My pastor recently said “I am not where I want to be, but thank God I am not who I used to be” and I couldn’t agree.

10 years ago, I thought I’d be this well learned theologian. I thought I’d written a book, be some kind of teacher, etc.

But 10 years ago, I was also too zealous for John Calvin and wasn’t zealous enough for Jesus Christ.

Am I still reformed? You bet.

Do I still think TULIP is the most accurate interpretation of scripture? Yup.

Am I still Cessationist? Well…I don’t really know. I’m beginning to lean Continuist, but I don’t really understand how the gifts work for the modern day church.

And that’s okay to say I don’t have all of the answers.

I do have one answer though: the Word of God is living and active, inerrant, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and is the foundation for all of our lives.

As long as it doesn’t contradict something clearly laid out in scripture, we can have some friendly debates on things, but let’s remember that our unity is more important to God than getting to say we won an argument.

“Nobody has ever been argued into the Kingdom, but many people have been loved there.” – Chad Moore

Grace & Peace Saints,

Christina

Fulfill Your Ministry

One of my favorite Matt Chandler clips is the one where he talks about Mark Driscoll.

Chances are, most people nowadays don’t know who Mark Driscoll was. If you do, that’s awesome. But if you don’t, he used to be the pastor of Mars Hill Church. He was also the founder of the Acts 29 Network (which Matt Chandler now leads, ironically.)

Any who, if you do know Driscoll, you also know he had a pretty aggressive way of preaching (which I won’t get into now because it’s besides the point).

Well, in this clip, Matt Chandler is coaching pastors and, in essence, he tells pastors that, though Mark Driscoll is very good at what He does and God uses it, we are not all called to be Driscoll.

We can not emulate him and expect the same results because God didn’t call us to be Driscoll.

God calls us to be ourselves. 

We aren’t called to fulfill Driscoll’s ministry. We’re call to fulfill OUR ministry.

God has shaped you specifically for a specific purpose. Though it may be tempting to look at “success stories” and want to emulate them, the truth of the matter is that what worked for Matt Chandler, Beth Moore, John Piper, etc, may not work for you.

You’re not called to fulfill their ministry.

You’re called to fulfill YOUR ministry.

Your ministry may be at home, with macaroni and cheese covered fingers. And yes, do I know it gets tiring changing diapers and trying to constantly entertain children, but it may be where God is calling you for this season. 

Your ministry may be at that job you don’t like, surrounded by those people who always gossip about their sins around the water cooler. Sure, you can’t wait to get out, but maybe, you’re called to be the light in a dark place. You’re called to point one of God’s future saints to the light. 

Your ministry may be in a not-so-great marriage. We’re not meant to divorce one another at the first offense. Maybe God called you to a marriage that starts a little hard, but as time passes, you grow from the trials and your love becomes an example of God’s power and healing.

(And don’t read what I am NOT saying. I’m saying that, for some, the trials serve to strengthen a marriage. I am not saying not to divorce an abusive spouse. Just throwing that disclaimer out there).

Simply put, we are all called to different ministries.

Fulfill YOUR ministry.

What Is Your Witness?

A friend of mine and I were recently talking about work and she told me a story about her former boss that I would never forget. Let’s call my friend “Nicole” (to protect her identity).

Nicole worked as a secretary at a large firm. Now, Nicole’s boss claimed to be a Christian. He went to church (and drank of out of the church’s coffee cup every morning), had pastors as clients, and had bible verses hung up in his office. From what Nicole saw of him her first couple of days there, he was, in fact, a believer.

But his WITNESS didn’t match his WORDS.

See, people were scared of Nicole’s boss. He screamed at the secretaries that didn’t work to his liking (too slow, too many errors, moving things around the office, etc). He often yelled curses at them too. He was often in an angry mood. He was so bad that one of the paralegals at his firm quit, on the spot, after he berated her in front of the others in the office.

No, his witness didn’t match his words at all.

After hearing this story, I began to reflect on my own life. Do MY words match my witness?

Surely, I don’t go around cursing at people at work (or in general), but do I do things that endanger the validity of my witness?

What about the time that I didn’t give that homeless man something to eat?

Or what about the time I lost my patience with one of my kids in public?

What is my witness?

Now, I’m not saying that if you’ve messed up and “sinned” in public that you’re not a believer. We will struggle with sin until the day we die, so none of us will attain perfection on this side of eternity. We will all mess up in one way or another. Perhaps we’re short with our spouses or quick to snap at our kids one day. We haven’t suddenly “lost our salvation” because we snapped at our kid for refusing to pick up their room.

What I am saying is this; PEOPLE ARE WATCHING.

You may be the only Bible some people read. 

We live as ambassadors for Christ, representing Him everywhere we go; School, work, hobbies, among family, among friends, etc. Everywhere we are, there are people who do not know Jesus watching us and attaching our actions to Jesus.

What we do and say reflects on Christ and, when we act wrongfully, we give the wrong witness with our words.

And again, I’m not saying “do your best to never mess up so people think Jesus is awesome”. That’s unrealistic. We all mess up.

What matters is what you do WHEN you mess up. How does your witness speak to the ones you have wronged?

When you wrong someone (kid, spouse, friend, etc), do you pridefully stand your ground or do you humble yourself and seek forgiveness for not loving them the way Jesus loves you? 

What is your witness? 

Why You Should Sponsor A Child

By the time your done reading this blog, at least 150 children around the world will have died due to poverty.

(According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day because they lack the means to afford proper care).

Their deaths are preventable.

Organizations like the one I work for (Expect Hope) make it their mission to rescue children from poverty and provide them with food, clothing, shelter, access to healthcare, and most importantly, love.

But WHY does your sponsorship matter?

Well, for one, not every country is the United States. Many countries do not have the means to help orphaned children, so many of them end up on the streets, naked and begging for food.

Many of those same children are targeted by terrorist groups like ISIS or Abu Sayyaf who promise them the same things Expect Hope does, but asks them to pay a hefty price; psychological abuse and, at times, sacrificing themselves for the terrorist groups cause.

There is no Child Protective Services to call in many third world countries. There is no Medicaid, no Free or Reduced Lunch, and sometimes, there isn’t even an option for free “public school”.

There are children right at this moment, walking along the streets naked and barefoot, with tummies rumbling, lacking ONE thing above all else; HOPE.

You could bring HOPE to a child today. You can change a life forever.

Some may say “well, $35 a month is a big ask”, but is it really?

My HULU subscription costs more than that.

Taking my family of four to Chipotle just once a month costs more than that.

Buying three new shirts at Ross costs more than that.

The truth is $35 equals to about $1.17 a day. We spend more than that on Starbucks, McDonalds, or whatever brand’s coffee you enjoy.

Think about that. Skipping Starbucks for 8-9 days a month will literally rescue an orphan from property and give them HOPE.

You can literally be someone’s hero for just $35 a month.

If you’re interested in sponsoring a child, visit Expect Hope today and sign up to sponsor. Still have questions? Comment below and I’ll do my best to get them.

Somethings you just don’t have to pray for.

Jesus said when you care for the least of these, you cared for Him.

Will you?

The Road Is Narrow

Yesterday, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I came across an article about Michael and Lisa Gungor. Honestly, I probably would have scrolled passed it had one word not been in the preview; Atheist.

Surely, “atheist” and “Christian artist” typically don’t go together, so I clicked the link and decided to see why this publication chose to use that word. They used it because that is what he considers himself now; an atheist.

This isn’t a blog post bashing Gungor (by all means, please spend time in prayer for him and his wife and pray that God opens their hearts and eyes to Himself once again). What this post serves as is a sobering realization that no one is safe from falling away from God.

I don’t mean to say that salvation is dependent on us or that we can lose it (because I think both of those are false), but what I do want to point out is (1) we are never in a “safe zone” with our faith and (2) there is no leader, celebrity, etc that is immune from sin.

To be honest, it hurt to see that someone like Michael Gungor had turned away from the faith. Someone who wrote songs like “Beautiful Things” and “Dry Bones” now would renounce those very words (based on my understanding of a few of his tweets and an article from his wife, but nonetheless).

It a sobering thought; any one of us could easily head down a slippery slope that could take us away from Christ and bring us to believe lies.

Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.” – Matthew 7:13-14

As much as we may look up to Christian artists, pastors, teachers, etc, we need to realize that, at the end of the day, they are human beings with their own struggles and temptations. They are far from perfect, just as we are. They need community, the church, and most importantly Jesus Christ, just as much as we do.

I’ve often thought about those I started my Christian journey with. For those who don’t know, I had a blog on Tumblr and joined a community of fairly well-known Christian bloggers (within our own little community, of course). We were all young, restless, and reformed, ready to lead “the resurgence” in our own cities and spearhead this giant “revival” of sorts.

Many of those people have fallen away from the faith. Some have joined strange sects (that the reformed community would call heretical). Others just lost their passion for the Word of God.

Early in my walk with Christ, I met a group of college students who were passionate about the Word of God. I thought “surely”, these will be my life long friends who I stand with side by side to preach Christ to the world (or, at least, the city of Miami).

Some of those have also fallen away, lost interest, claimed heretical doctrines, etc.

And yet, some others have fallen into sin and fallen away from ministry (which is part of my husband and I’s story, if you didn’t already know that).

The road is narrow.

Man, pray for your leaders. Pray for those “celebrity pastors” that you listen to (Matt Chandler, John Piper, etc). Pray for the artists you enjoy music from. Road life is hard and the temptations are plenty. Pray for those you admire in the faith. Pray that your church stays away from false doctrines. Pray, pray, & pray, because only God has the power to keep a person. We get to contribute by praying, serving, loving, etc, but only God can keep a heart in His hands. Only God can change a heart to begin with.

May God keep us all until the very end so that we may hear those words, “well done, good and faithful servant”.

 

 

 

Fear Is A Liar

“Fear, he is a liar.
He will take your breath.
Stop you in your steps.
Fear, he is a liar.
He will rob your rest.
Steal your happiness.
Cast your fear in the fire,
‘Cause fear, he is a liar.” 

Have you ever felt afraid?

Maybe you were afraid for you life. Maybe you felt anxious, your palms sweating and your lungs short of breath.

Maybe it wasn’t such a “dramatic” moment, so to speak. Maybe you were afraid of what others would think of you. Maybe you were scared that nobody liked you and you were alone in this world.

Let me drag that fear into the light and say FEAR IS A LIAR.

Our feelings are real, but fear twists our perception and distorts the truth. It lies to us, shames us, and deceives us into making the situation 10X worse than what it is.

I remember the first time I heard that song I quoted earlier on the radio. It was as if God Himself wrote that song and sent it to the radio with a note attached that read “one of my daughters currently feels scared and anxious. Play this right now“.

At the time, I was feeling scared. The devil had whispered a lie in my ear and I took the bait. I was driving in my car, a million thoughts racing through my head, but when this song played, it’s as if God had said, “Daughter, none of that is true. You’ve been lied to. Just trust Me.” And He was right. It was a lie. Fear had taken something small and distorted it, robbing me of my peace and joy (If even for just a moment).

Today, I was looking at old pictures of myself and I realized something. (I’m about to get really transparent, so bear with me). See, I bought the lie that I was somehow unlikable. I truly believed, for years, that people just didn’t like me and never truly would. I believed that lie as recent as a few hours ago. People liked everyone but me, and because of that, I retreated. I didn’t go to events with friends, I spoke very little around people I didn’t trust fully, and despite being an extrovert who needs interaction with others, at the first sign of rejection, I completely abandoned friendships (for fear of them outright rejecting me first).

The fear of rejection had completely crippled me. 

But the pictures I found told a very different tale than the one I had chosen to accept as reality.

Here were a ton of pictures with groups of people. Tons of events I had been invited to, that I showed up to, had been documented. Things I had completely forgotten about. I was a bit saddened that I had chosen to hide these pictures in the first place, but it also brought me joy to know that it was a LIE that I was completely unlikable.

Had some people rejected me because I “fell” and wasn’t a “good Christian” anymore? I’m sure some did. Had some people stopped talking to me because I no longer had anything to offer them? Maybe. Do I think some people tried to rekindle a friendship with me after years of pretending I don’t exist because I was suddenly married to “Lawren” and it would benefit them? I think so.

But even so, it was not as prevelent as I thought. A small percentage of my “friends” were like that. Most weren’t.

I had been lied to, but the revelation of the truth felt like FREEDOM.

What lies have you been believing brothers and sisters? Where has the enemy managed to warp your worldview and steal your joy? We have FREEDOM! Look behind you! Your chains have been BROKEN! Fear can no longer hold you captive; neither can shame, sin, doubt, etc! Nothing can cancel out the cross!

Brothers and sisters! Read these verses from the very Word of God and take a breath from the fresh air of freedom!

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John 14:27

I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take courage; I have overcome the world!” – John 16:33

I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” – Psalm 34:4

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” – Psalm 27:1

Confess your fears and rip them of their power over you.

Lay your fears down at the cross.

Choose freedom today.

Grace & Peace,
Christina

I Should’ve Been A Lawyer

Anyone who knows me well knows that my life long dream was to be a lawyer.

In 5th grade, I told my classroom’s DARE officer about this dream and, in response, he gave me an outdated version of his rule book (which I actually read a few times). In middle school, I joined drama to work on my presentation and work on hiding my nervousness when I “performed”. In high school, I joined a debate team and competed in the Student Congress category to try to sharpen my on-the-spot debate skills. And when I went to college, I pursued a Political Science [PoliSci] degree on a pre-law track in the hopes to finally start working on my dream.

I should’ve graduated with a bachelor’s degree.
I should’ve attended FIU Law and graduated from that too.
I should’ve moved to an apartment in Brickell.
I should be working on getting my last name on the company sign and becoming a partner.

I should’ve been a lawyer.

I wanted be a lawyer, but God didn’t choose to write my story that way. 

I know I just wrote a whole post about not looking at the past, but the death of this dream actually demonstrates an important point; God knows what is best for us, even if we may not think so.

See, I’ve worked at law firms; three, in fact (two big ones and one boutique one). At my first firm, I realized quickly that this dream wasn’t what I thought it was. I did my job (and then some), but the entire time, I couldn’t help but feel I was “working for the bad guys” (we primarily did Insurance Defense law, which basically means we were the attorneys for big companies doing their best not to pay people what was owed to them). I hated it. I had borderline panic attacks thinking about working for the rest of my life for people who were (legally) cheating other people and doing them wrong.

The two other law firms I worked for weren’t as heavily into Insurance Defense as the first one was, but something still didn’t sit right with me. I remember having a conversation with one of the associates at my second firm. He asked me what I wanted to do with my life (he had rightfully assumed I didn’t want to stay a receptionist/administrative assistant for my entire life) and I answered by summing up much of what I have written here.

And I will never forget his response for as long as I live; “The fact that you can see ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ in this field means you are too good to be a lawyer“.

I realized something that day. It was not that I was “too good to be a lawyer” (we are all depraved and fall short of the glory of God), but I did realize that one of God’s gifts to me was a burden for justice in this world.

It’s what makes my heart race and my fist clench when I see someone treating another human being as “less than”. It’s why small comments made by Christians who “don’t quite understand grace” make me clench my teeth and can set me off (just read this post called “Grace & The Unplanned Pregnancy” to see that play out). It’s what fills me with anger when yet another black life is taken at the hand of racist men and all Christians choose to say in response is “well, all lives matter, you know!”. It’s what frustrates me when I try to show others where they could improve on social issues, but all I get in response is “you’re a demon worshipping liberal” (or some less dramatic form of that). It’s what makes me sob when I see families being torn apart because of fear-driven policy, yet others are focused on the fact that they entered illegally. It’s that feeling, the only time when I get legitimately angry at someone or something. It’s a fire deep in my soul.

And that fire that burns for justice has been there all along.

It’s what drew me to law in the first place. Through it, I believed I could change people’s lives for the better. Truth is, were I to pursue law now, maybe I still could. Maybe I could become an immigration attorney or a defense attorney and help people. Maybe I could do Intellectual Property law. Maybe I could do Corporate law and help different ministries and non-profits.

Maybe…but I still think God didn’t chose to write my story that way. 

Maybe He allowed me to do badly at school so that I wouldn’t waste 7-9 years of my life seeking a career I would end up hating. Maybe, he allowed me to hold a low-risk job at a law firm to give me just enough of a taste to know I wouldn’t like it. Maybe, just maybe, all of that training I did to be a better lawyer was meant for something else entirely (like apologetics, which I also love) and I was never meant to step foot inside of a courtroom.

No, God didn’t choose to write my story that way.

I don’t have all the answers. I don’t do all the things I should. There are plenty of protests that I wanted to attend, but didn’t. There are ideas I’ve had (like one for a Christian political roundtable show) that I didn’t try to bring into fruition. Trust me, I may say I have an intense desire for justice in this world, but I also fail all the time at doing anything to bring change. I’ve stayed silent when someone made a racist comment for fear of losing my job (that person had the power to fire me on the spot). I’ve failed to write/call senators, etc. There are times when I did speak up, but there are also times when I haven’t. I have been guilty, more than once, of swinging too far to the other side and not acting Christlike towards brothers and sisters in the faith for their political beliefs.

And I don’t know exactly how any of the gifts God has given me fit into the bigger picture…but maybe, just maybe, it’s not for me to know just yet.

I should’ve been a lawyer, but I’m not…and praise God for that. 

Grace & Peace,

Christina

Run Devil Run

Lately, it’s been hard to sit down and write (for many reasons).

My last real post (that wasn’t a book review) was in November 2017. I’ve been hit with wave after wave of discouragement, disappointment, and despair. I kept dwelling on things that happened yesterday, choosing to stay in those feelings instead of face the day’s new mercies that God graciously provided me with. I chose to dwell on people who walked away from me instead of be grateful for the people who still stood by me. I chose to define myself by the things I had (and the things I didn’t).

And I’m not perfect. Sometimes, I’ve been the lousy friend. Sometimes, I was the one who was too wrapped up in the things of this world to love someone like Jesus asked me to. Sometimes, I’m the one who idolized something I shouldn’t have (like politics, amongst other things – hey, I keep it real) and placed it on the throne in place of the only One holy enough to be seated there; Jesus.

At times, I used to look back at who I used to be when I was first saved, full of fire and passion, and wonder just how to get back to that person. But the truth is, I don’t want to be that person! That person was prideful and was so wrong on so many things! Sure, I “felt” God closer, but just because we don’t “feel” God doesn’t mean he’s not there.

As Well Watered Women puts it, “Your nearness to God is not limited to ‘mountaintop moments’ or seasons where you may feel close to Him. He is always near.

I used to wish for those “mountaintop moments” because I felt if I didn’t have them, then maybe I was doing something wrong and needed to fix it before God could be close to me again.

But today…is different. Today I say ENOUGH.

Enough dwelling on my past.
Enough looking for meaning in things that are temporary.
Enough bowing down to modern-day golden calves.
Enough living in a spirit of fear.
Enough living in a spirit of defeat.

Enough acting the Savior hasn’t resurrected and death & sin have not been defeated!

So, why did I title this post “Run Devil Run“?

Because, as David Crowder puts it, “I’ve got something make the devil gon run“.

I heard this song not too long ago on the radio for the first time and fell in love with it. I can’t credit it entirely for really making me realize how I was living (because Jesus gets that credit), but it really put into words how we should live as Christians and co-heirs with Christ.

I’ll link the video towards the bottom, but if you feel defeated today, I encourage you to read these lyrics from the song and realize just what you have that will make the devil run:

I got the King of kings and the Lords of hosts
I got angel armies and a Holy Ghost
I got spirits here that are tied by fire
I got a valley of bones that came alive
I got a cross, a hill, and an empty grave
I got a trumpet sound and one sweet name
Shake the gate of hell, the sinners and dogs
I got my Jesus and the devil gotta run!

What power! Not only do the demons tremble at the very name of Jesus (James 2:19), not only to the winds and the waves obey him (Matthew 8:27), not only did He heal the sick (Matthew 9:6) and the blind (John 9:1-12), but He has sent the Holy Spirit to live within us and convict us, counsel us, testify to our salvation, and so much more.

We are weak and wretched, but God?
Not God!
But Jesus?
Not Jesus!
But the Holy Spirit?
Not the Holy Spirit!
And we have all three on our side.

So be encouraged brother or sister! Whatever you may be facing today, the devil holds NO power over you if you are in Christ! Got secrets? Confess them and be freed! Got sin? Confess it and be freed! Got fear? Confess it and be freed! The devil has no power over you at all. He has already been defeated and he awaits his judgment day in terror! Live in freedom and victory and live life as Christ intended, with abundant joy!

A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.”
John 10:10

We are not promised an easy life (far from it), but rest assured that no matter what can possibly happen to us in this life, we have a joy in Christ that can not be robbed from us. Live in that joy, brothers and sisters.

And may we all come together tomorrow and celebrate our resurrected Savior that made such a joy possible.

Happy (Early) Easter everyone!

Grace & Peace,
Christina

 

Hope

I’ve always been attracted to the concept of justice.

Before I was saved, I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant for my life. I simply knew things weren’t fair in this world and justice was lacking. I thought becoming a lawyer would help me become a part of the solution. It had been my dream since I was a kid to become a lawyer and help people. Through working at several law firms, God allowed me to realize He kept me away from that path for a reason.

And isn’t that always the case? Even some of most passionate dreams aren’t good for us. Romans 8:28 promises us that “… all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Everything works for our good, even the denial of some of our dreams. Even when the things we desire most never come to fruition.

Can I be honest? I am honest to a fault. That doesn’t mean I never lie (I’ve lied many times in my life, to myself and to others). What it does mean is that I can’t live a lie for too long. I can’t look myself in the mirror, knowing I am consistently lying about something, and continue to do so for too long before I eventually either walk away from everything and everyone associated with that lie or tell the truth, despite any and all consequences.

And that’s why I haven’t written in a blog in a while. I couldn’t honestly write to others, on a blog called “The Glass House Gospel” without acknowledging that I had closed the curtains on my own proverbial glass windows, unwilling to voice what was truly on my heart about my own doubts, questions, and struggles.

No, I didn’t walk away from the faith. On the contrary; Christ is my Lord, whether I am testifying to it joyfully or sobbing, barely able to whisper it out loud. That will never change. Whether I have much and am celebrating or have very little and I am struggling, Christ is always Lord. 

So, no, as I am today, I can not sit here and tell you my heart is full of overflowing love and faith. I struggle with loving unconditionally. I don’t want to be hurt anymore, so I withhold. My heart wants to love and embrace others fully, but I have been hurt so many times, it is hard to let go. I struggle with trust. So many people have broken my trust throughout the years, it’s hard to look at someone and not think “you will eventually betray me, so what’s the point?”

But there is one thing God has consistently provided; HOPE. 

This is where God found me back in April 2010. My losses were numerous. I had tried everything. Church didn’t work. Walking away from God didn’t work either. This “Christian” didn’t know where to turn. I truly felt in my heart, with the utmost intensity, the words of Solomon when he wrote “Absolute futility. Everything is futile” (Ecclesiastes 1:1).

It was there, in that darkness, that God found me. He brought me out of it all and, even surrounded by loss, I felt at peace. Everything was no longer loss. Now, everything was filled with an abundance of hope.

And somewhere along the line, I lost that tangible hope. But God is still faithful. 

Am I that person who is full of hope, love, and trust that I once was at 20 years old? No, I would be lying if I said that. But I am also wiser. I don’t see through such a small lens. I am not intensely angry at brothers and sisters in the faith who I disagree with. I am not so quick to judge others as I once was. I am not as self-righteous. I am not as prideful as I was. I now understand anyone can fall in sin, not just the “bad Christians”.

God is slowly working on different areas of my life. Some of the most painful moments of walk with Christ have been moments of God prying my hands from idols I wanted to worship in His place. And sometimes, it took a deep wound to get me to finally let go of certain idols. Some of those wounds still haven’t healed fully. Perhaps they never really will (not on this side of eternity, anyway). Maybe, like Paul, God has allowed a few thorns in my flesh to stick around so that I will never cling to those idols again. Maybe they are meant to lead me to the same place they led Paul to, so that I would believe fully the very same thing he did; His grace is sufficient. His power is perfected in weakness. 

I am wretched. I am an adulteress, constantly looking toward others things for fulfillment and meaning.

But God? He is perfect. He is righteous. He is holy. He is beauty. He is completion. He is justice. He is grace. He is mercy. He is love.

HE IS HOPE.

There is hope. As long as God reigns, as long as Christ lives, there is hope.

There is hope. 

God has not left us. It’s not over. 

My Favorite Study Bible: The ESV MacArthur Study Bible

(The following post contains affliate links). 

When I was first saved, I didn’t know many other brothers and sisters in the faith. Because of this, I ended up walking into the nearest Christian book store and buying whatever I could find (which led to me reading some “questionable” things, to say the least).

Because of this, one thing I never want to stop doing on my blog is recommending theologically solid resources that will help you grow in your faith. So, without further ado, I present to you my favorite Bible study reference tool:

The ESV MacArthur Study Bible.

 81OFHXx1kOL

I can not recommend this study Bible enough. It is my number one go-to resource for questions I have about scripture. While I will admit that I don’t agree 100% with John MacArthur (or any teacher, for that matter), he is an incredibly gifted Bible teacher. Every time I set out to read a chapter a day of scripture, I include a quick reading through that chapter’s commentary.

image3

Using an extremely detailed, verse-by-verse approach, John MacArthur breaks down just about each and every verse, giving full context and history details within the commentary. For those who don’t know, he is a pastor that is famous in the Reformed community for his expository preaching.

image1 (2)

You can also find maps and charts throughout the Study Bible. The one above charts out the miracles of Jesus and where you can find them specifically mentioned in the Gospels.

image4

You can also find maps in the back of the Bible visually depicting a variety of resources. Pictured below is a map of the twelve tribes of Israel.

image5.jpg

As I mentioned earlier, it is my go-to resource when I want to dig deeper into a specific passage or chapter. If I have a question and want to know the full context of something said, I usually pull out this Bible. I would recommend it for everyone and anyone looking to dig a little deeper into scripture (which should be all of us).

Not fond of the ESV? John MacArthur has a version of this Bible in NKJV and in NASB, if you’d prefer those translations.

As time goes by, I’ll be recommending more of my favorite resources for those interested!

Grace & Peace!