GPA ≠ Worth

I’m not really sure when this whole grades thing started. I looked up the creator of the GPA system and it was made by a guy named William. Will seems pretty legit. I know he was just trying to make it easier for himself when it came to grading mass amounts of students, so I’m not hating on him. What I am hating on, is the idea that imperfect humans are measured by tests that were created by other imperfect humans.

I am one of those imperfect humans who was measured by the standards of others, but in my case, I have always strived for the perfect GPA. When people would ask me how I got good grades, I would simply state that I was “just ambitious”. I made it seem like it was natural. Like I came out the womb knowing how to find logs and describe the process of mitosis. I talked as if getting good grades was just a part of who I was. I didn’t notice it then, but it was a part of my identity and followed me for years down the line.

It was all people ever really knew about me. It was how people described me when talking to other people. It was all my family and friends ever asked me about. It was what I thought about all the time and it became how I determined my future success. I began to find comfort in the conversations centered around this topic- mainly because it always led to someone telling me how great I was or how proud of me they were. It was how I defined myself. It was who I was- my grades, my GPA- so I began to measure myself by it.

Honestly, it was overwhelming. I was in a constant fight to keep a 4.0 because somewhere along the way I believed the idea that if I got anything less that I just wasn’t good enough. I believed that my grades (that were given by another human’s standards- mind you) determined my worth, my success, my happiness, my worthiness to be a wife or mom in the future, and people’s love for me.

As I sat before my computer this semester, looking at my foggy grades through sobbing eyes. I just kept beating myself up over them.

“Why didn’t you try harder?” “What if you would’ve studied better?” “What’s going to happen when your next school doesn’t want you because of these grades?” “You just must not be good enough for a good grade- no matter how hard you tried.”   

Maybe you were in this fog as well. Maybe you’ve had the same thoughts or maybe a variation. Maybe you’ve felt like you’ve always tried to reach the top of this totem pole and you just never measured up. Maybe you’ve failed your parents’ expectations, your friends’ expectations, and your own expectations for yourself. And maybe you just feel D E F E A T E D by your GPA.

“You are not defined by your grades. I am in control.”

It was the soft whisper of words that I heard behind my wails of sobbing. I tried to brush it off because I had heard it so many times, but it kept coming up in my mind over and over. That’s what I had to hold on to, and that’s what I still have to hold on to.  The fact that God still loves me despite what I make for a final grade and the fact that my identity is not pulled by any scale or determined by any number. My identity is an unwavering foundation. That I am loved, called, chosen, and wanted no matter what I do or what grades I make. It was determined when Jesus died on the cross- THAT’S how much I’m worth. Point blank. Period.

God loves you and me so deeply. He has AMAZING plans for us, and he’s not going to let a GPA get in his way. If he wants you in that school, you’ll be accepted. If he wants you at that job or if he wants you to get that degree, you won’t get it a day later than you’re supposed to. God is always on time. He never fails. He is always giving good things.

I know this season may be rough for you, but you are not defeated. You are not alone. You are not stupid. You are not forgotten. You are not your “C” or your “D” or any other grade they want to define you by. You are you. I’m sorry that the system has failed to let you know that. They have forced you to believe that a letter grade is who you are. They you’ll fail in life if you don’t get a certain GPA or that you’re just not as good as those who are on top. Or those who are on top can believe they are the ones that have got it all together. Don’t become a slave to this mentality. It will drag you around for the rest of your life keeping you striving for a fulfillment that will never be there.

So give yourself a stinking high five. Yes, give it to yourself. Because you made it. Through the long sleepless nights, mental breakdowns, and crazy schedules- you made it here. You made it this far. THIS is your celebration. THIS is your victory. Don’t look at your grades again, and stop thinking about the what ifs. You’re not going to get those moments back, so tread forward. As the wise words of Jay-Z would say, “Get that dirt off your shoulder” and run towards your dreams. God is before you rooting you on and fist pumping while screaming your name along the way. You are not the number you see or the statistic they label you by.

You are a freaking world changer.

in•security

The world we live in has a crazy way of setting this standard of how you should look. From the transformation body pictures on Instagram to the models posted up on Twitter- all of which you look nothing like- it begins to shape your perspective of “enough”. You won’t be pretty e n o u g h until you have abs like her. You won’t be successful e n o u g h until you have followers like her. You won’t be good e n o u g h until you.are.her. All of these lies are whispered into your ears, and you believe them because you have never been told any different, or if you have it’s hard to believe with this standard hanging over your head. It leads to the defeated life. The inadequate life. The life of feeling like you’ll never measure up. The life of insecurity.

It’s exhausting trying to chase after perfect standards we were never meant to pursue. Kind’ve like a swimmer trying to run track. They’re in the wrong field, playing the wrong game- of course they’re always going to fall short… they weren’t trained for that. In this world, we too, have been trained for a different standard. It doesn’t involve comparing ourselves to the person on the side of us because we all stink no matter how rock hard your abs are or how much your highlight glows. It’s about comparing ourselves to our Heavenly Father. The one who created us and labels us as his own. His royal priesthood, His warriors, His jewels. We are precious in his eyes, and he took his time creating every detail of our body, mind, and heart. We were created to live in•security. His security. The security of knowing that all he’s created you to be, is exactly all he expects.

You’re not alone in this battle. In fact, I’m pretty sure every girl I know is fighting along-side you. So today, I’ve decided to give you a glimpse of your team, your army, the girls in armor right beside you while you fight. They’ll speak life over you and truth they needed to find for themselves. They’ll give you wisdom and they’ll give you reality. They’re here to show that you’re not a one man army- you aren’t alone.


To note, every picture you will see here on out is unedited and untouched, and the girls you will see are ALL natural for the purpose of being completely transparent on this topic.


Aly

“I have been insecure about how I looked ever since I was a little girl. Getting bullied and talked about through elementary school and middle school was tough. When so many lies are told to you on a daily basis you start to believe they are true. My weight and how I look is something that has been a challenge for me. When you hear lies all your life and you finally hear the truth, the truth sounds like a lie. I didn’t start believing and living in truth until the end of 2017. Once it hit me how much God really loves me, everything changed. I began to speak Life and truth over myself. I have always been an encourager for everyone else. But, when it came to myself I didn’t feel worth it. Once I realized my worth in Christ, I began to live in my truth. Everyday I look in the mirror and I speak truth over my life- “You have a purpose!” “You are beautifully and wonderfully made!” “You are worthy!” “You are God’s princess!”. I stopped comparing myself to others and logged off social media when it was necessary. I still did compare myself with it sometimes. Not always my looks, but if I’m smart enough or capable or if I would be successful. The list can go on FOREVER! I’ve noticed that once you’re over one thing about yourself the enemy attempts to bring something else up. But now I am able to decipher between his lies and my Father’s truths.  I had to shift my focus and my perspective to my Lord’s truths. That’s how I find joy in the darkest times of my life. That’s how I’m able to serve even if I feel insufficient. God’s love for me makes my life easier.”

Kathleen

“Before I gave my life to Jesus, my standard on how i should act or look always reflected the world. I use to see other girls who looked almost flawless with or without makeup and I’d compare myself thinking I needed to look better, even if that meant wearing a bunch of makeup. Over the years, as God began to show me my worth, I realized that God embraced my insecurities. I began to see myself through who I was in christ and not who I was to the world. I always use to feel like I had to try so hard to stand out or appeal to others, especially guys. I never felt like I was enough, but now that doesn’t matter. I have realized that yes, I’m far from perfect, but I don’t have to be perfect because that’s why I serve a perfect God. Now, I’m not saying that everyday I wake up and feel beautiful and confident. There’s days I still compare myself to other girls or don’t feel good enough, but even in those days I feel something in me say to myself, “you are enough because I am enough for both of us.” I remember my God and how His thoughts of me outnumber the grains of sand. I remember that He was willing to die for me in the midst of me not loving Him. I remember that He saw beauty in me before I even gave my first breath. The same creator who made the stars and the sunsets and the angels and flowers thought it was necessary for someone as awkward and silly like me to exist. Truths like that keep me going and remind me to stay confident. So in my bad days, where I can’t see the beauty in myself, all that matters to me is that He sees the beauty in me.”

Callee

“When I was five I started swimming competitively so my wardrobe consisted of t-shirts, oversized hoodies, basketball shorts (because they were modest) my converse, and flip flops for the pool deck. My entire childhood was swimming in the bayou and exploring the woods with my three brothers. Everyone always told me I looked just like my brothers. When I was younger I took it as a compliment. However, when I started getting older, as makeup, fashion and boys came into the picture, it started to sound more like “you look like a boy”.  I didn’t think much of myself. I always thought the girls I swam with or the girls in my youth group were so much prettier than me! People would tell me I was pretty and I would just shrug it off thinking “You are just saying that. My shoulders are too big because of swimming. I don’t have cute cloths (because, even in high school, my closet consisted of T-shirt and jeans). My hair is always in a bun. I don’t wear makeup. My legs are too muscular. I’m too tall. I have a gap in my teeth. I’m not outgoing.” And on and on I would go convincing myself that I was not good enough. It wasn’t till I was out of high school when I discovered how to conquer my insecurities everyday, because, I’m sorry, they don’t ever go away. Fortunately, you can overcome them and genuinely love yourself! Number one: I had to understand that my character and my actions were more important than my insecurities. I was a state champion swimmer by the time I was ten years old. I played piano and sang. I was involved in several different ministries. I had incredible friends. But I still felt like a second class person compared to the girls who had boyfriends, cute cloths, big friend groups and outgoing personalities. I had to learn what was important in life before I could place value my life.  Number two: give and receive compliments! If someone is going out of there way to compliment you, choose to believe it. Whether it’s about your looks or your actions, God is trying to verbally affirm you through your brothers and sisters in Him. Also, don’t be afraid to compliment others. A lot of times we become insecure because we see someone else succeeding and we feel less about ourselves. But comparison is the thief of joy while bringing someone else joy multiplies it. And number three: develop eyes like Jesus. Begin to read your Bible and see what he says about you. Maybe there are some things that you need to change in order to become the person God has called you to be, but you will never experience true self worth without knowing God and how He adores you.”

Ashley

“Insecure, unconfident, and self-conscious were the words to describe myself growing up. My childhood was filled with negative words from the people who meant the most to me. My family treated me as if I were invisible. I felt unloved. They constantly made comments about my weight because I was “too skinny”. I started to pick on my self over everything. I was bullied in school. I hated my glasses, height, skin, race and everything you can think of. I started searching, but my security wasn’t found. I felt hopeless. I grew an addiction of trying to find hope in the wrong places. I gave myself to boys. I was confused because I was mistreated by them. I gave pieces of my heart and received nothing in return. I was broken. Then I consumed my self endlessly with drugs, parties, raves and alcohol. Those things made me feel empty at the end of the day. I suffered with depression. One day, I broke down in my room. I had enough. I hated myself. I was ready to give up and commit suicide. In this moment I felt a hand on my shoulder stopping me. It was Jesus. He had seen I hurt myself so many times but He looked at me with nothing but love. When I seen love in His eyes, I felt peace. I gave Him my heart and He gave me His truth and promises. He was my Father. He was my best friend. I started to heal. Walking with Jesus, I saw my worth. I gained so much confidence after I let Jesus invade my heart. I don’t ever want to hurt myself again or go back to those unhealthy habits. I love myself. I am secure in Jesus, made whole, priceless, a daughter of the King, beautiful, pure, beloved, confident, bold, and chosen by Jesus.”

Carmin

“My name is Carmin. Above is an awkward picture of me that I fought hard to stop from being posted. But here you are… looking at it. The moment I was asked to do this, my mind immediately skipped to the answer “NO”! I’m a photographer for a reason, I stay behind the camera. I cringed at the thought of everyone reading about my insecurities. For a very long time, I have had detrimental insecurity issues. Issues that I have hidden so very well. What people don’t know about me is that for years I couldn’t walk past a mirror without being completely ashamed of myself. Every single day I would wake up and let my appearance control my every action. Some days I’d even knit pick every personality trait of mine. Don’t let me fool you, I am still fighting this battle.
In the beginning of 2018 I asked God what my word for the year needed to be. His response was confident. God told me, “It’s time Carmin. You have been running for too long.” This is for the girl who is still running:
Stop. Just stop. You’ve tried time and time again to fix your insecurities. You’ve tried losing the weight. You’ve tried getting rid of the acne. You’ve tried to be more extraverted. Stop trying to fix something that isn’t meant to be fixed. Do you realize that God hand knitted you? That He took His precious time creating every detail of you. Until you appreciate that, you are going to miss out on so much love that God has for you. Not because He is holding it back from you, but because you are literally blocking it. You keep trying to fix things about yourself so that other people will love you. Just stop trying to fix yourself. Let God teach you how to love yourself just the way you are. Tear down the walls of insecurity that are blocking God’s love.
This is me tearing down my walls.”

Kirsten

“Ever since I was in grade school, I was made fun of about my teeth and how they were not straight. All throughout high school, and even after, I was very insecure about smiling and feeling beautiful. I never thought that any decent guy would want to look at me as someone beautiful because my teeth weren’t straight, like every other girl that I would see. I thought that it made me lesser and insignificant, so for years all I thought about were braces…because I thought that braces would make me beautiful. But when I came to know Christ and I began to understand my worth and I got a revelation of who I am and Him. I realized that no matter what I look like on the outside what matters most is how God views me! I still to this day struggle with smiling in pictures sometimes and wanting to smile in front of other people and laughing with my mouth open, but then the Lord reminds me that he sees me as beautiful, and no matter what I think about myself, or what other people say about me, what the Lord says is always truth!”

Victoria

“Thinking about the word insecurity. That word has been apart of my life since i was in elementary school. Growing up something was always “wrong ” with me. Being the fat girl in school, being called an imbecile because I couldn’t understand something the correct way, or being too “ugly” to hang out with the popular group at school. The words that people spoke over me crippled me and still has affected me till this day. It affects my thoughts, on the way I take pictures, it affects my work in my calling,  it has impacted my interpretation of others actions, all the way to the simplest things. And I can be completely honest and transparent in saying that the reading the “Who you are in Christ ” pamphlet and edifying yourself in the mirror doesn’t help me personally… I think what helps me is recognizing the insecurities and locating that hurt, which is definitely not the easiest thing to do, it’s actually very painful and humbling. But bringing the insecurities to light has helped because it can take away some of their power as you increase your awareness of when and how they come into play and how to manage those feelings that come along with it. Straight up insecurities keep us from living into the full potential God has for us. When we are consumed with fear, because thats the root of all insecurity, it leaves little room for the Lords guidance and direction. It leads us to believe in lies, and it will start to tempt us to find reassurance through comparison with others. But the Lord calls us to a higher standard and desires to truly know our hearts. We have to learn (key word LEARN) how to take every thought captive.  Paul urges us to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (Rom. 12:21). Confront your disabling thoughts. Turn them over to God and become who He sees you can be. Sometimes we need to lay the way we feel at the feet of Jesus, sacrifice, and choose to believe his truth over the feelings that consume our minds. And please, let’s not get this twisted and think that I am free of insecurities because that is the FURTHEST thing from the truth. This is me working out my freedom from my insecurities. Us as women, because we are very emotional, we tend to go in the same directions that our feelings are pointing to. And I’ve had to learn the hard way that , that’s very dangerous because,  yes, feelings are valid and are cared about in the eyes of the Lord, but also are very deceptive. My encouragement to us who deal with insecurities on a day to day bases is to agree more with God’s truth over us vs the way we feel, and let us not forget that there is a real devil a real enemy trying to destroy you and rip you in pieces. But as for us as Christians, let us also not forgot the Spirit that lives inside you- the Holy Spirit- and the authority you carry to put those thoughts to rest. He knows your name and He doesn’t fall off of His throne.”

 Shakira

“I remember how my life was a little girl. I had a beautiful family life! My parents loved each other; my siblings and I (although we would bicker at times) grew up having memories of laughing and playing together… It was the perfect life to me. I knew that I was loved. I knew that I was cherished. I was absolutely secured because I knew that my parents loved me and that they would cross the ends of the earth just so that I could know that I was theirs. I was SECURE and there was nothing that I had to fear, until elementary school came. The girl who was once so sure of whom she belonged to and what she was worth, was called ugly for the first time. Although at once she believed she was beautiful, she now began to believe the voices of somebody else. I can remember walking down the hallways at school with my head held down because every time that I looked up, I was afraid that people would make fun of how I looked. To make matters a little worse, I would go home and compare myself to my sisters at home. I would spend days, even hours, as I got into middle and high school, straightening my hair and covering my face with makeup. I became hungry for love and attention from other people and I was lost and broken, until a man name Jesus Christ knocked on the door of my heart. When Jesus Christ came into my heart and into my life, He began to restore the things that the devil had stolen from me. This once very insecure girl, became secure in Christ. One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is Psalm 139 (specifically verses 13 and 14). It talks a lot about how God is aware of every, single detail of our lives. He not only knows us intricately, but He loves us relentlessly and passionately. I want to share with you one of the things that God has helped me to learn through this process of overcoming insecurities: You were FORMED by God INTENTIONALLY. He made you WITH A PURPOSE, ON PURPOSE (His wonderful purposes), and FOR A GREATER PURPOSE than you could imagine. You are not a mistake. You are not a regret. When God created you, He knew what He was doing. He looks at you through the eyes of love. He looked at the dust on the ground, picked it up with His hands, formed you out of it, and He breathed His breath of life inside of you. He makes things that are broken beautiful, and He is absolutely in love with you. Your worth is found in your Creator, not in what others or even yourself may say about you. BELIEVE IN HIS TRUTH. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Even though God has revealed this truth to me, there are still days where I struggle with insecurity, but I know that God’s grace is sufficient and that He will continue to show me who He is and who I am in light of who He is. We are all works in progress, but God loves us the same. We can rest in Him and have assurance that He is with us every step of the way. He is greater than any insecurity that we face, and we are indeed precious in His sight. Don’t believe me? Take a look at Isaiah 43:4, God can say it better than any of us ever can.”

Brooke

“Since I was young I always had acne. Seriously, I can remember getting my first pimple in first grade- it was kind’ve ridiculous. Since then I have accumulated black heads, pimples, scars, and scabs all over my face and back. It’s something I’ve always been insecure about, and honestly still am. There are days when I just HAVE to put on concealer, for fear that someone will be grossed out or want to look at it while I’m talking to them. I tend to think that I’m saving them from some sort of trouble if I just cover it up. It’s crazy to say I feel more confident that way. I cover up my acne, and most times I cover up my personality as well. I have the “too much” syndrome. The one where I always think I’m “too much” for a room to handle. Too emotional, too sensitive, too obnoxious, too awkward. So I keep to myself most times, afraid that if I am the way I am or look the way I look, then someone won’t like me. It’s been a hard process- especially because social media S U C K S at uplifting people. All you need to do is go to the popular page and you can find 10 reasons why you aren’t good enough the way that you are. For me, my process has been painful. It’s about doing the things you don’t want to do until you want to do them. It’s about choosing not to wear makeup on the days when I look like a pizza even when everything in me wants to pick up my foundation brush. It’s about choosing to take a break from social media even when I want to stay ‘up to date’. And it’s about choosing to look in the mirror and speak life to the darkest places, even if you don’t feel it. You are beautiful. You are special. You are unique. You are enough. You will never be too much. You are secure just being you. God created me to be that way, and when he did, he said, “It is GOOD”. Every part of me I hate and every part of me I wish I could change- it is good. It is good. It is good. Sometimes you just need that reminder that you are exactly who you were meant to be in every way, and your struggle with this doesn’t make you any less significant.”

Today is the day that you stop living the life of a swimmer trying to run track. Pick up your sword, put on your armor, and let’s go to war together. As one army, against one enemy. The only person who can stop you is you. The you that believes the lies and chooses to live in insecurity. Look at yourself in the mirror today and tell yourself truth. You are secure. You were meant to live in•security of who God has made you to be. You are beautiful. You are unique. You are enough.


1 Samuel 16:7
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

Group2*

Huge shoutout and thank you to CARMIN FRISARD who took all of these beautiful pictures/headshots of all of us, as well as ASHLEY GUAN who took Carmin’s pictures so she could be a part of it as well!

Embrace Your Place

To be honest, God has been pressing my heart to write about this for awhile, but I pressed back for fear that I wasn’t ready to write about something I was still struggling with. Still, I am struggling, but onward I write because as much as I need this, you do too. Thank you for being so faithful with tuning into my journey- let’s press forward:

This month is my 8th month since God has revealed to me that I struggle with acceptance in my life, and it has been one of the hardest journey’s I’ve ever been taken on. There has been so many tears, screams, questions, frustrations, and convictions. The Lord has brought me to my knees again and again and continues to push this area over and over with full intention of bringing to completion what he has started in my heart- thank you Lord! A couple months, though, I realized that I had become discontent in several different areas of my life, and it began to breed a root of bitterness against God. Why am I still HERE and not THERE? Why THIS and not THAT? I inquired of God. I was so worried about being in another position or season, that I had lost the luster of the season that I was in. I became frustrated, aggravated, disappointed, and angry to the point where my heart began to harden. At this point, God simply couldn’t use me- I wasn’t allowing him to. I was mad because I wasn’t hearing from him, but I wasn’t actually paying attention either. I was too busy screaming at God about how to do his job that I couldn’t hear his reassuring whisper. God had me right where he wanted me all along, and he had knitted together every area of my life so intricately. As he is doing this for me, he’s doing this for you too. Planning every season, strengthening you, testing you, giving you opportunities to EMBRACE the PLACES he has put you to see his glory in full effect. It’s the process that makes us more like Him and shows the world more of Him.

So let’s look into three areas of life that I struggled with embracing my place in. I’m praying that through these words you would hear God’s reassuring whisper to you. That you would feel empowered and encouraged knowing that He is who he says he is, and He does what he says he will do!

Ministry

My heart burned with anger as I sat on the bus on the way to the local church we were volunteering at for a mission trip. We were getting ready to do our huge youth night, and they were recruiting for certain aspects. I really wanted to be in a skit, but I wanted a good part. You know- the one that people get the spotlight for and everyone applauds them for after. The one that knocks people out of their seat and sends them falling towards the altar for salvation after how great you just performed. That’s the part I wanted, and that’s absolutely not the part I got. I got the backup part. The one that they didn’t have the original person for, so they stuck me in with hopes that I’d do it just as great as the prior. I’m pretty sure you could imagine how discouraged I was. Looking around I started to compare my parts to others, and even the amount of time I had on stage compared to everyone else’s. I felt so insignificant and so stupid until I turned my back around preparing for the first attempt at the whole skit, and God so vividly spoke the words over me, “embrace your place”. It was one of those whispers that knocks the senses back into your prideful and oh-so-emotional little heart. I took a deep breath and told myself, “you are going to be the best actress at this part that anyone has ever seen in their life, you got that Brooke?” And with that I stirred up all the energy I had left in my body and rocked that small, backup part that I got thrown into last minute. I did it with all my heart and strength, and at the end I didn’t really care who was proud of me- I knew that Jesus was.

Much like I did in this skit, I know that so many of us do this in our ministry. We begin to look at others who are in the spotlight, who have jobs on staff, who plan and organize, who speak and preach, and we think, “Man, God, why am I not right there? Why am I still HERE?” And your here can be anywhere. Your “here” may be being the one picking up the trash every service, printing up the order of services or announcements, doing lights, giving the band water, or leading a small group- the list is endless. The point is that you think you’re job is insignificant compared to the others. Or maybe you don’t think that. Maybe you know that you still play a big role, but you just don’t believe that doing your job every service is BIG ENOUGH, and you’re just wishing that God would place you somewhere bigger.

I bet King David felt the same way. In 1 Samuel 16-17, David is anointed as King and then given the opportunity to kill a giant called Goliath. Now, David wasn’t in any high position when he was anointed as king. For one, he was the youngest of his brothers, and usually the youngest was not anointed as the next king unless the other brothers physically couldn’t. Second, he was a shepherd of the sheep that his father owned, which was not the most glamorous job to have considering you walked in the heat all day with stinky sheep. What’s amazing, though, is that after he is anointed, he goes out to battle to talk to his brothers and a huge giant named Goliath comes up. No one has the courage to go against him, so David speaks up to fight. Everyone gets angry and discourages David because he is so young, but in verses 34-36 he says, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears and this uncircumcised Philistine shall belike one of them…” (ESV). To wrap up the story, David ends up killing Goliath with one stone, and everyone ends up going crazy.

I share that story in the Bible because you are David, the shepherd. Your are tending the sheep. Your work feels dirty, useless, and boring. It can be overwhelming and you can be overlooked more often than not. Your work in the field seems daunting and like you’ll literally be stuck there forever- but you won’t. Be encouraged that the place God has you in in ministry is preparing you for the next season he is taking you into. He is going to have you protecting sheep, killing lions, and running off bears in this season because he is preparing you to kill your Goliath. Embrace your place in ministry. If you are doing lights, be the best freaking lights person the world has ever seen. If you’re picking up trash, be the best and most diligent picker upper that the church has ever known. Do everything in excellence, even the little things, because then God can trust you with the bigger things that your heart desires. Know that your part of the body is just as important as the rest. The heart would have no job if it didn’t have a leg to send blood to, and the same in ministry. You matter, and your place matters. EMBRACE YOUR PLACE IN MINISTRY.

Purpose

I was sitting at the desk at the hospital scrolling through my phone as I was volunteering. I volunteer to get some hours down on my resume for PA school in the future, but while I’m there I do a whole lot of nothing (usually just writing in paperwork when it comes). As I am scrolling, I come across a video of a girl. She looks about my age, has the same style, and she loves Jesus, the only thing difference is that she’s standing in front of a crowd of thousands preaching, and I am sitting in front of an old desk in a hospital watching her fulfill her dreams. Immediately, discouragement washed over me. For awhile I had been hearing from God about different visions he wanted to accomplish through me- a youth girls conference, a class to equip high school girls for success, a book one day to be written for youth girls- and here I am, scrolling through Instagram on my phone, feeling like I’m doing a whole lot of nothing while this girl is doing a whole lot of something. I texted my mentor immediately and described how discouraged I felt because I didn’t feel any closer to fulfilling this purpose I knew God had set out for me, and she responded with, “It’s good to remind yourself that dreams take time and even when you feel like all your doing is ‘not doing your dream’ you are actually putting in the time and consistency needed to make those dreams happen. To make opportunities for the dreams to happen. A big part of dreams is patience. So as long as you’re literally not being a couch potato, then you probably are right where you’re supposed to be. Waiting and doing the lowly work is just not as glamorous.”

So many of us have dreams and visions of things that God wants to do in and through us, but it seems so far away. You see all these other pastors and young leaders doing the dream you feel like God has called you to do and you feel like you’ve missed the mark. You’re still living with your parents, still going to school, just sitting in front of a desk like I was and you feel so powerless because you aren’t in the exact position that you feel like God is calling you into. Be patient. Where you are is going to benefit your dream more than you realize. It’s going to open up doors for your dream or give you skills for your dream that are a necessity. God is building you up to be the person he has called you to be for the vision he has placed on your heart. Jesus didn’t start his ministry until he was 30 years old, and he only did his ministry for 3 years. YES! God’s son had to have 30 years of training and learning before he was ready for the 3 years of intense discipleship and ministry ahead. In the same way, God is preparing you. It’s much like a cake that’s being prepared for baking. There are so many ingredients that are put into the mix, and if one is missing or one step is not done right, yourncake will be disgusting once it has been baked. Likewise, if you are given the opportunity to advance your dream, or vision, before your fully prepped and ready, then the outcome will be a failure. God loves you way too much to see that happen, so he is prepping you and preparing your perfectly for that moment. He’s in the waiting. He’s in the preparing. He’s in the process.

On the other hand, you may not even know what your future looks like. When I was in high school, I had the dreams of going to a private college on a full ride for nursing school, and did not end up getting the scholarship. I remember the fear that washed over me the moment I got that call from my mom. The fear of the unknown, the fear of what was to come, where I would be, and what my purpose was. I couldn’t see what was next or where God was taking me, but in order to get through I had to embrace the place God had me- the ministry he called me to, the girls he had me leading, the community I was in at the time- taking it day-by-day and walking in obedience to God’s word. If this is where you are, it’s okay to not know the will of God for your life. It’s okay to not know his plans. I don’t actually believe we’re supposed to know, because if we did we wouldn’t need to have faith and trust. He hems you in behind and before. He knows where you will go and what you will do, and the outcome will never be against you. I mean c’mon, we serve THE God who created the universe. His plans for us have got to be out of this world. EMBRACE YOUR PLACE IN YOUR PURPOSE.

Battles

Soap box moment: this battle with acceptance has ripped me to shreds. I have watched my friends win victory over many things around me. I have watched them fight battles, win them, and move on while I was the girl who was STILL battling with the same thing. I have probably cried to every friend asking them why I am STILL in this place, STILL battling this fight, STILL not where everyone else is when it comes to victory. A few nights ago, I was crying out to God about the same matter. I’m trying so hard Lord, why do I still feel like I’m treading the same battlegrounds of blood, sweat, and tears? In that moment, I felt such a huge peace over me- sometimes they are battles, and sometimes they are wars. Man. Sometimes what you’re struggling with is not just a battle, but a war. And as seen in history, wars usually have far greater gain than battles do. We learn about the wars of the world and are told to memorize them, because they have made the greatest impact on America and from the wars we’ve won, they give the greatest reward as well. Your war that you are fighting will reap reward that will change this world.

Now Like me, you may want the over-the-counter quick fix, or the over-the-night-wake-up-and-I’m-delivered victory, but there’s no character building or becoming like Jesus in that way. Much like when you’re trying to gain muscles, there is no pill you can take to make them grow or inflate. Muscles are formed when old tissue is torn apart, leaving room for new muscle cells to build on top. This means that you have to be dedicated and persistent to working out in order to see results, and it also means that you have to be pushed past your limit to grow. You can’t quit after a couple days, though. Six packs aren’t gained in a week (trust me on this one, I’ve tried and failed). You have to keep going and keep pushing, and always remember that the place you feel MOST stuck is the place where God wants to set you free from MOST.

If you don’t get told this enough: YOU ARE AWESOME! What you’re going through is normal. There are so many people around you who are probably going through the same thing. We have a God that sympathizes with what we go through and how we hurt (Hebrews 4:15). Your war is not stupid. You are not defeated, you are a fighter and you are a warrior. With Jesus, you HAVE overcome this fight. You are so dearly loved and you are so dearly cherished. You WILL get through this. You are MORE than a conqueror. That means you won’t just WIN the fight, but you will BENEFIT from the victory. Hold on to your hope. Take courage. If no one believes in you, I do and God does. EMBRACE YOUR PLACE IN YOUR BATTLES.

Practically, I’ve learned that the devil fights most in the mind. He schemes and he plans for just the right moment to attack your thoughts and bombard you with jealousy, bitterness, and rage. Put on your helmet of salvation, and make “small deaths” to your flesh daily. We may want to dwell in these thoughts because they seem fair and they seem like right to feel that way. Die to yourself. We may want to stay in our pity party because it seems comforting and we’ll get the most attention from people that way. Die to yourself. We may want to jump to a different season that God is NOT calling us to yet. Die to yourself. Die to yourself over and over and over again, remember God’s promises written in his word, and speak them over your life out loud for the devil to hear. Where you are is where God wants you to be. EMBRACE YOUR PLACE.

“You don’t know what I am doing now, but you will understand later.” John 13:7

 

Clock Out

I remember what it felt like the first time I forgot to clock out for work. I woke up the next morning with a notification on my phone reading: “Alert: you have not clocked out for your shift”. I traced back every step I took on the way out of work the prior evening in a matter of seconds, retracing and retracing. I could’ve swore I clocked out last night, did it not go through? I thought to myself. Guilt and shame washed over me endlessly as I laid in bed staring at my ceiling. My gut feeling was that I had tried, but it hadn’t gone through, so I texted my boss and made amends in my heart vowing to NEVER miss my time to clock out ever again.

Many of us make the mistake of not clocking out at work many times in our lives, but my fear is that, likewise,  many of us forget to clock out of working when it comes to the Lord. I’m coming from a place of STILL struggling with this, but God is so kind and generous to make it known to me so that I could share it with you guys as well.

Since I was born, every relationship I’ve ever known was conditional. If I made good grades, I was loved more out of excitement or gratitude. If I made bad decisions with guys, I was loved less out of disappointment or anger. The list goes on- from friends, to mentors, to family, to church people. There has been and there always will be this expectation for every person written on their heart: “If you do this for me and act this way THEN I will like/love you”. Because of this, as you have seen in past posts, I struggled and worked hard to be accepted by everyone. I searched their hearts, found out their secret code of expectation, and catered to it. When I got saved, it was as if that burden trickled into my relationship with God

Working for my salvation

One of the ways that burden followed me was through “working for my salvation”. I knew that I wasn’t good enough, and so I tried to be good enough for God in every way I could (I mean, I did it for the rest of the people in my life, wouldn’t it work for him too?). It was an endless race, much like a dog running in circles trying to catch his tail knowing he will never actually get it, but still I tried. This, my friends, is what I will label as religion. The rules, the standards, the fingers in the face, and the condemnation. I stretched myself as thin as I could, tirelessly volunteering, reading, serving- thinking the more good deeds that I did would get me in better standing with Jesus. In actuality guys, this just gets you burnt out and bitter. For me, it caused me to go into depression. I would spend weeks feeling like I didn’t matter to God because I wasn’t creating decor for my youth ministry or I wasn’t leading a small group. I was pinning my tasks over God’s promises.

In the book “Swipe Right” Levi Lusko put it this way, “We mistakenly think that getting into heaven is based on doing something, but it’s based on believing something- God’s promises.” Salvation is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), so that means that by God’s grace you are saved, through your TRUST in Jesus. Notice I didn’t say through your VOLUNTEERING for Jesus, through your READING for Jesus, through your HAVING SMALL GROUPS for Jesus, through your SPEAKING for Jesus- just your trust and surrender.

Now this is NOT a stand for complacency or a rebellion against serving. DO NOT BE LAZY. If God is calling you to have a small group, do it with all diligence and excellence. If God is calling you to do lights for services, do it with all diligence and excellence. If God is calling you to share a word with a friend or to your congregation, do it with all diligence and excellence. But do not let the devil let you believe that because you do those things, you have a one-way trip to heaven. In Matthew 7:22-23 Jesus says “Many will say to me on that day [the day of judgement], ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you…”

You are not saved by your good deeds, NOR are you unsaved by your bad deeds. “Salvation is a gift; you can’t lose through bad behavior, what you didn’t deserve in the first place” (Levi Lusko). If you slip, stop questioning your salvation. Get back up and begin again. Now if you’re slipping in the same area habitually with no regard to our Lord Jesus Christ who died for your hurts, habits, and hang ups… Then do a heart check- it could be that you were never saved in the first place. Accepting Jesus into your life is accepting change and hustling for progress.

When you said yes to Jesus, he said yes to you. There’s no if, ands, or buts. It was finished when God hung his son on the cross for you, and he’s already been resurrected so there’s no digging you have to do. Lay down your shovel, embrace God’s grace, and remember that your identity is NOT based on what you DO, but what God has DONE. It is finished.

Working for God’s love

Let me finish before I even begin- God loved you before you were even thought about by your parents, so you don’t have to DO anything in return for his love. His love is not a thermometer that reciprocates a reaction from an action. When your on fire for him, his love doesn’t shoot up, and when you aren’t feeling it anymore, his love doesn’t slowly fall.    Did you read today? his love didn’t go up. Watched porn again? his love did not go down.

Romans 5:18 “but God showed his loved for us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Okay… Let’s look at this verse. He showed his love for us, that while WE WERE STILL SINNERS. STILL. SINNERS. Still broken, still crazy, still messed up, still disappointing others… He died for us. God never said “Hear yee, hear yee: all who are jacked up, get perfect so that I may THEN love you and die for you.” HE LOVES YOU RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE. When I realized that God’s love for me was the same before my mess up, during my mess up, and after my mess up, it radically changed my life. When you live in this truth, you don’t have to spend your life working to make up to God for the mistakes you’ve made- you can just move forward.

Many of us, though, will never see God’s love for what it really is. The moment we mess up we start decorating. We buy chips and dip, send out invitations, and hang up signs reading, “Welcome to my pity party”. Trust me, I get it. I’ve probably had many more than you. We isolate ourselves, condemn ourselves, and guilt trip ourselves for “losing” God’s love, but it’s not like you deserved it in the first place! Then that’s when the devil comes in… quiet and sneaky. Levi Lusko (yes, his quote again- “Swipe Right” is amazing) says, “He knows that if you are a believer, he can’t take you to hell; but if you let him, he WILL keep you from living for heaven.” You do not LOSE your salvation, and you do not LOSE God’s love.

On top of this, you are NOT branded by your failure or your pain. Your mess ups to not define you. Though others may shame you, God renames you! And it’s not a nickname (as my pastor once said).. It’s a NEW NAME. And the new name is CHILD OF GOD- powerful, redeemed, set free, restored, healed, lovely, wanted, cared for, chosen, forgiven, and LOVED.

Retracing back to the first paragraph, God’s presence and his love his not defined or reciprocated by your performance. He is NOT only with you on your good days, or MORE with you on your good days. He’s not somehow suddenly distant on your bad days, and just not there when you haven’t read a scripture for the day. And that is not because of anything YOU have done, it’s just because of who HE is. Imagine a stranger coming up to you and handing you a $100 bill (praise God!). They don’t know you, but their nature is just giving. You didn’t have to do anything for that, and you never will have to- they just wanted to give. God KNOWS everything about you and STILL he loves. It’s the nature of his being. Lisa TerKeurst, at a recent women’s conference said, “God’s love is not based on us, but PLACED on us.” So live loved.

It’s as if you God has bought you a car, paid in FULL, and there’s nothing you need to do. You are still trying to go out and work for it, though, and while working, you’re missing out on the experience of freely driving a car with no debt. SO DRIVE YOUR CAR. You are debt free. God has paid your ticket, your price, your debt, whatever you owed. He loves you so much. Stand up strong, look past your mistakes. They do not own you, they do not define you. CLOCK OUT, go home, and let God love you.

 

Except-ance Syndrome

In my last post I shared about acceptance, telling you guys how accepted and loved and complete you are in Christ. For this post I want to share a way of thinking that blocks the blessing of ever knowing acceptance in its most raw state, the except-ance syndrome. Now before I get started, I want to be real with you guys- this is the epitome of my thinking. These type of thoughts drive my motives and have been driving the motives of many women and men since Genesis. So stay tuned because this very well might be what you need to hear.

I rolled my eyes once everyone started naming their praise reports amiss my life group circle. “_____ never has anything wrong with them”, “______’s life group has way more people than mine”, “_______ has way more appreciation for what they do than I do”, my thoughts scrambled around like chickens with their heads cut off. When it got to me I began to feel my eyes swell, and that sweet ol’ lump in my throat came back once again for another round of waterfalls. “I feel like everyone is doing so great in this area…. EXCEPT me” I choked in front of my very kind and gracious friends. I cried. A lot. Snot running down my face and tears dripping from my chin. They tried to encourage me, but nothing they could say would help. I felt like God had left me out.

I felt like God had forgotten me and left me outside of the blessing he was putting on everyone around me. “What’s wrong with me, God?” I questioned. “Why do girls not want me to pour into them?”, “Why is my family not coming to know the Lord?”, “Why can’t I get over this sin struggle and everyone else is free from theirs?”. With those questions, the devil decided to answer them for himself. “Brooke, you aren’t good enough for these girls. You’re boring, and you’re not cool enough.”, “Brooke, you’re not doing enough at home, you’re inconsiderate and selfish.”, “Brooke, something must be wrong with you. You can’t get over this one struggle? Wow, what a shame.” I couldn’t even hear what God was trying to say to me through my amazing friends because the devil was so loud in my ear.

What’s amazing, though, was I CHOSE the devil in that moment. I CHOSE to pity myself. I CHOSE to believe the lies. I was in control of the volume of his voice and I chose to let it ring. I chose the highest volume it could go. “How dare God skip over me. After all I have done for his kingdom? Psh… I should have riches and wealth and blessings and….” I imagined what God SHOULD be giving me instead of what he WAS giving me. I started trying to shift God’s plan according to my preferences (Stephen Fertick quote). I got out my dirty gloves, snapped them on, ran to God, and said “Hey God, so you aren’t really doing enough in this area right now so what I’m going to do is take these areas, and then I’ll give them back to you when they’re fixed. Thanks for all your help and all, but it just wasn’t fast enough, good enough, or perfect enough. Love you, though!”

As you can guess, it didn’t end well at all. And it never will. Even in the bible there are many stories where people thought “Why is everyone getting A,B, and C EXCEPT me,” and once of those is the story of Sarai (later called Sarah) and Hagar. Sarai was the wife of Abraham, and God had done many miracles for her life as well as Abraham’s. They KNEW the goodness of the Lord. They saw the Lord’s provision when they went to Egypt and his promises in his covenant with Abraham- but it wasn’t enough. Sarai was still missing out because she couldn’t bare children. She looked to her servant and said “SHE can have children, but I can’t?!” This kind of “except-me” thinking led her to do something without even thinking. She walked right up to God’s thrown, pushed him off the seat, sat down, and said “So Abraham, you’re going to go to my servant and she will conceive and she will have my children- God just isn’t being fast enough with what I want. *eye roll*” (my own translation). Then what she chose to happen, did. Hagar conceived a kid and Sarai got mad- nothing was fixed.

Moral of the story is Sarai thought that God had missed her womb when making the women of the Earth. Sarai loved the idea of God’s plan, but wasn’t patient enough to wait for it. I believe we have accustomed the same thinking. We have taken God’s place on the thrown and told him “I like your plan, but I like my own better”- we have become our own gods.

But let me tell you a truth today that will make you feel a lot better:

No matter where you are in life, God has a plan. He has not left you, he did not skip over you with that blessing, he didn’t miss that one prayer, he didn’t make a mistake, and he’s not just taking a long time because he forgot you.

It’s a process.

Psalms 84:11 “For the Lord God is a sun and a shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing will he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”

I want to highlight one part of this verse- “no good thing does he withhold”. He is NOT withholding anything GOOD from you!! Now we have to remember that “good” in our sight and “good” in God’s sight are two totally different perspectives. God’s good is good even if it doesn’t feel good:

You and your boyfriend breaking up may not feel good, but it’s good in the sight of God. You moving and having to switch schools may not feel good, but it’s good in the sight of God. Your friend that may not be so good for you distancing herself may not feel good, but to God IT IS GOOD.

We have to remember that this verse doesn’t just say that he gives all good things to us, it also says that he shields us from things he knows WILL NOT be good for us. Either we aren’t ready, or those things are straight up not good for our lives right now. Whatever his reasoning, it’s a protective measure FOR you and not AGAINST you.

Well then what about the actual good, God things, Brooke? Like the salvation of my family, the disciples I’ve been searching for, and the freedom from my sin,” you may be asking. All I have to say is patience. One of my favorite verses in John is 13:7 where Jesus says, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Right now you can’t see the blessing that’s ahead- the husband, the car, the house, the graduation, etc. God is working through these circumstances in your life to prepare you for them. So be patient, and know that God is ALWAYS on the move in your life, even if it seems like everyone’s life is moving forward EXCEPT yours.

 

To wrap up I want to go back to the ending of the story of Sarah and Hagar. Hagar ends up coming back to be a servant after Jesus met with her, and Sarah conceiving the son she always wanted. Everything, and every detail, worked out once Sarah stood up from the thrown and let God have his place back. Imagine how much pain could’ve been prevented if she just could’ve WAITED.

Wait on God. Don’t rush him or take his plans into your hands. Put Jesus back on the cross and take yourself off of it. He became a victim for your sin so you wouldn’t have to. He will not forsake you, just like he didn’t forsake Sarah- EVEN after she messed up. He’s the same God now as he was then (Hebrews 13:8). Trust him because his plans are GOOD.

It’s only when you destroy your EXCEPT-ANCE syndrome that you will receive true and raw ACCEPTANCE you have been longing for.

 

Jeremiah 1:5

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born, I set you apart and appointed you…”

Accepted

A couple weeks ago God shared with me something so special for this next year that I have to get out to the world, and it’s only one word-accepted.

What do I need to do this year to be better?” I asked myself as I stared at a blank sheet of paper titled NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS. Immediately, thousands of thoughts crammed my brain from every aspect of life: “Stress less”, “Read more of your Bible”, “Pray more consistently”, “Spend more time with family”, “Memorize every verse in the bible”, and the list goes on and on. Many thoughts were super irrational (like memorizing the whole bible), and many were super reasonable (like spending more time with my family). Within about 30 seconds I was overwhelmed by the millions of ideas.

How could I possibly get all of this done by the end of this year… Knowing my resolutions last year were the same and I didn’t feel like I completed any of them. 

With a deep breath, God spoke- accepted. Everything just clicked then, and I can’t even really explain how (by the grace and love of God most definitely).

All of my life I have been determined to become perfect. If that means cursing less, being nicer, smiling more, dressing more modest, encouraging others, quoting scripture, speaking on stage, no matter what, I did it. Looking back I have realized that it never was really for God, but merely for my own image. This mentality was rooted by the thought that I wasn’t accepted the way that I was. To me, I always had to be better in some sort of shape or form so that people would like me and want to be around me… More oddly, I wanted to be perfect so that when it was time for guys to choose their wife, I would be worth fighting for, or in their running line up (super selfish- I know).

Crazy, right?

I’ve always known this was a problem, and I could name it anytime someone asked. I knew the root and I knew the actions, but I never did anything to change it. I guess the idea of being perfect outweighed the idea of being free in some way, so when God spoke to me this word I honestly felt a bit sad.

So you actually mean no more trying to be perfect in hopes to be accepted by you and everyone else, God? That’s a crazy world to live in for me. But I am ready to embrace God’s acceptance.

James 1:18 “…and, we, out of all creation, became his PRIZED possession.”

No more putting on a mask of who I aught to be anymore. Everything that I am is loved and embraced by God. He says that WE are HIS PRIZED POSSESSION! We are to him like our phones are to us in this day and age- we never go anywhere without it, we use it for almost everything that we need, and we would be devastated to lose it (except for the fact that he sees us as way more valuable than a phone).

Psalm 139:13 “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

He created you in his own image. He created you separate from the person to the right or left of you. He gave you your own unique laugh, beauty marks, voice, as well as your own interests, goals, and hobbies. He created you and he sees you as perfect in his eyes. We are loved and accepted by him. If we weren’t, then he wouldn’t have sacrificed his son in our place- end of story.

HIS view of me is the only one who matters. Not the friend’s who didn’t invite me to their gatherings or the boys who don’t like me because of the way I talk or dress or laugh. None. Because at the end of the day, I don’t stand before them and give the account of my life, and they aren’t the ones who open the gates of Heaven for me.

So this is my stand against the list of New Year’s resolutions. This is my stand for all teenagers and young women- you are accepted for who you are. You cannot resolutionize (totally made up word) yourself to perfection, and God has never asked you for such a thing. YES- goals are awesome. YES- it is okay to strive to be a better person than yesterday. BUT NO- you do not have to be perfect to be accepted. We will NEVER reach that point on earth. Romans 3:23 says “We all fall short of the glory of God”. We will never be GOOD ENOUGH! But let’s love who we are in the process of going home.

You are L.oved, A.ccepted, and C.omplete – You L.A.C nothing (Psalm 23:1)

 

 

Spirit-less Christian

This past week I went out of the country on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. It was an amazing experience that would take me days to write about, but I want to focus on a specific ministry God worked through while I was out there- my heart.

While on a mission trip you are immersed and pushed into nothing but the Lord’s work. You have no choice but to rely on the Lord and whatever he wants to do through you. You wake up every morning and go to sleep every night constantly fed by God’s word and surrounded by people with the same focus. It becomes easy to get wrapped up in what God is doing through you, or even what you feel like God ISN’T doing through you.

The first day I was very discouraged and couldn’t believe he did so much through my other team members, but I couldn’t think of one thing he did through me. I didn’t save anybody or heal the sick, I didn’t speak during street evangelism, and I didn’t connect with anyone at their youth service. I didn’t feel called to go on the mission trip by a dream or vision, and there was not any radical miracle of how I ended up there- and that made me feel useless.

My heart was heavy.

I reached out to others about what I was feeling and listened to a sermon my pastor preached, and God spoke. There’s only one thing needed to create a wall in my heart to stop the flow of the Spirit to fully build God’s kingdom and that was myself. It’s like building a house. If you aren’t filled with energy you can still do the work just not with 100% effort, and therefore you probably won’t reap as great of a reward since your work is done with a tired and lazy mindset.

You can be a Christian and still not be spirit FILLED.

The reason why I wasn’t “feeling” like God wasn’t moving through me was because my heart was so full of doubt, comparison, fear, and pride that the spirit had no more room to poor into me. I mean believe me, he was there… But my heart just wasn’t full of him, and because of that my flesh ruled majority of my actions. In Acts 4:23-31 we see that Peter and John returned to the other believers to tell them how they just had been freed from trial for preaching God’s word. The believers all began praying and singing praises, and in verse 31 it says, “After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.” Sometimes we think that in order to feel the spirit or be filled, we have to do, do, and do some more- preach God’s word, serve in the church, heal, read, do this, do that… But these believers weren’t filled by the doing. The believers sought God and THEN were filled to carry out the mission. Also, in Acts 13:52 it says, “And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”

I don’t believe any order of how the Bible is written is by accident. The verse says that the disciples were filled FIRST with joy because joy is an effect of being filled with the Holy Spirit. This begs the question that if you aren’t continually filled with joy, are you truly full of the Spirit?

Yes, you can continue to live your Christian life not filled by the spirit and probably still get into heaven, but is that what you truly want out of your relationship with the Lord? I hope that when I meet Jesus it’s an embrace and not a handshake, a “well done good and faithful servant” and not just a “welcome to heaven”. The only way we can get there is through emptying our hearts of ourselves and things of this world and instead filling it with the Spirit and things of heaven.

So what are the bricks in your life that are building up in your heart to prevent a constant flow of the spirit every day? 

Start tearing them down and allowing God to use you. Not because he needs you, but because he wants you, and if you don’t allow him to then he’ll find someone who will. Be encouraged! Don’t be a christian who is Spirit-less, but Spirit-filled.

Philippians 2:5-8 “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”