Spiritual therapy

Sometimes I have so many thoughts in my head that it is captivating. The hundreds of anxious thoughts that are all battling each other within my mind for attention is kind of unbelievable.

Because of all of this, I figured it might help to write it all down. I think that some things are for a season. Lately and today I have found myself angry. I am honestly just mad. I am mad at some of the things that have happened in my life. I know that I am supposed to trust that God works through all things, and I do believe that He does, but I am mad that I have been so deeply affected by certain toxic situations in my life.

I am a theology student and this semester I have been learning a lot about the way that God allows us to speak to Him. First of all, the fact that we can even have a personal relationship with God at all is a gift. He is the same God whether or not we are worshipping Him, but the fact that He allows us to enter into His glory and get a taste of His character is something we will never deserve. That is a gift.

I am taking a class on the book of Jeremiah and I am learning a lot about how the people of Judah were constantly rejecting God and He continued to pursue them. This story is way more detailed than this, but for the point I am making, that is a main point in the story. Jeremiah, the prophet called by God to try to turn these people around, is having a really hard time with this calling that God has put on His heart.

It might sound really cool to be a prophet called by God, which it is, but it was also a lot on Jeremiah. It was challenging. At one point, Jeremiah even wishes that he were never born (Jer. 20:14-18). He explains the word of God as a “fire” inside of him (Jer. 20:9). He is going through some intense pain, but he continues to do so for the sake of the Lord, even though sometimes he may not have a choice.

Throughout all of Jeremiah’s pain, he expresses the pain in his heart to God (Jer. 12:1-4, 20:7-18). He says some things to God that we, the church today, may think of as “too far” or “too honest.” However, I believe that God already knows all of our troubles and thoughts. A guest speaker in one of my classes this semester explained this by saying:

Releasing our pain to God is like spiritual therapy.

This is so important. We must allow ourselves to be honest with our all-knowing God. We don’t have to put on a happy face for Him. He allows us to be upset and when we go to Him with that pain instead of running from Him, I believe His power is revealed. He loves us and wants what is best for us, and sometimes that journey will not be easy. However, He never forsakes us in that journey. He is always there.

Like I said, I have been really mad today. I have been frustrated that anxieties have come back up. However, I believe that God allows room for me to express those frustrations to Him. It’s not His fault that I have anxiety, so please don’t read this in that way. However, I believe He allows room for me to open up to Him about it. I believe He wants vulnerability and authenticity.

We don’t have to put on a happy face to talk to God. We just need to run to Him with whatever is going on in our lives even when it is messy. It is like spiritual therapy.

…act justly, love mercy, walk humbly…

Get rid of the “stuff”

Very often, life keep us from the purpose God has given us. A host of distractions swirls around us and takes our minds away from focusing on God.

There’s so much “stuff” that we need to get rid of because it is pulling us away from God. When we choose to follow Him, we put ourselves in a lifestyle that is like no other. Christianity is not easy, but it is certainly worth it.

Even though it’s worth it, we are still going to fight battles in our lives. These battles will look a lot of different ways. However, we are called to run to God when these battles come. We are called to praise and worship Him no matter what.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,” -James 1:2

About a year ago I went to a worship night on campus and I heard a song called “Surrounded” by Michael W. Smith. This is one of the most simple, yet powerful songs I’ve ever heard. This song could mean a lot of different things for people, but for me this song has one main message:

We may be surrounded by a lot of different things, but God is fighting our battles with and for us.

Therefore, we have to get rid of the “stuff” that is keeping us from our relationship with Him. We must rid of these things that surround us that either distract us or put negativity in our lives.

“You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and seethe deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.” –2 Chronicles 20:17

Whatever is surrounding you, God is bigger than it. Allow God to surround you instead of your trials. That is how we fight our battles in this world. We go to Him who loves us and wants what is best for us!

“Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God Himself will fight for you.” –Deuteronomy 3:22

We must not be afraid because He is fighting for us! This week, I encourage you to acknowledge the “stuff” that is keeping you from spending time with God. After you do that, go to God and ask Him to help you get rid of those things. Ask Him to fight your battles!

Have you ever heard a song that completely changed your perspective on something or God spoke to you through it? If so, please tell me about it in the comments below!

…act justly, love mercy, walk humbly…

Do what Jesus would do

What would Jesus do?

These are four familiar words that we put on our bracelets and clothes, but do we ever really take time to think about the significance of them? I personally wear my WWJD bracelet every day, but I think it could become more of a fashion statement than a truthful reminder if we aren’t careful.

Jesus responds in love. When He lived on the earth, He made it a priority to respond to people with love. He responded this way even when the people He was closest to left and betrayed Him.

When we see “WWJD,” we should think about how often Jesus loved His enemies (and His friends) even when they chose not to love Him. Whenever people upset me, even if they are my friends or family, I don’t always choose to love them. I get sad or angry, and I do not respond how Jesus would. I feel like this is a common reaction in our society, and it is something we can all be guilty of.

We have to remember that love is a choice, not necessarily a feeling.

Our emotions and feelings are so earthly and human, and they are not always true. We have to choose love and choose to believe God’s truth above all else. Jesus chose to love us, so we should choose to love others.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” -John 15:9-10

This verse is one of many examples of Jesus not only choosing to love us, but also teaching us to live in the love that He gives us. I believe we are called to love others in this way because we have the gift of Jesus’ love.

This week I encourage you all to be patient and choose to love those that hurt you. I encourage you to do what Jesus would do in every situation. Have you ever owned any “WWJD” items? If so, please tell me what this acronym means to you in the comments below!

…act justly, love mercy, walk humbly…

Allow Jesus to cleanse you

About a year ago I was sitting in my dorm room with tears in my eyes as I watched a video that Natalie Grant posted on YouTube. It was a video of her performing her song titled “Clean.” In this song, she says, “there’s nothing too dirty that You can’t make worthy. You wash me in mercy, I am clean.”

Our society puts a lot of pressure and expectations on teens, and for a lot of my life I have really struggled with carrying unnecessary guilt. I tend to hold on to mistakes I have made even if I have already been forgiven for them.

God does not want us living in guilt; He wants us to live in abundance.

We are called to lay down and leave our problems at the feet of Jesus. There is no reason to hold onto things that God has already forgiven us for. He is restoring us piece by piece. He is the God of forgiveness Who is constantly making us whole. We are washed in the blood of His sacrifice, and there’s nothing too dirty that He can’t make worthy.

I believe that God uses our hard experiences and mistakes to help us grow and learn from them. An interesting example of this is in Luke 8. This story is about a man named Legion. Legion was a demon-possessed man that Jesus came across during His ministry. Jesus ended up casting the demons out of Legion, and Jesus made him clean.

After this, Legion wanted to follow and walk alongside Jesus throughout His ministry. But instead, Jesus tells Legion to go back home and tell the people what Jesus has done for him. In this moment, Legion becomes the first missionary mentioned in the book of Luke.

If God wanted the earth to be full of people that He fully controlled, He would’ve done it because He fully has that power. However, I believe He wanted us to have free will in order to choose Him. With no mistakes, there is no choosing and fully surrendering to Him.

We have to choose God even when we mess up. We have to choose to believe His truth over what our human emotions tell us to believe. We have to trust God when He tells us that we can find refreshment in Him. There’s nothing too dirty that God can’t make worthy. We are clean.

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,”Acts 3:19

I encourage you all this week to try and focus on God’s truth instead of believing the lies that the world wants you to believe. Our feelings are not always the truth, and we have to choose to believe God’s truth over them.

Has there ever been a time in your life where you felt so weighed down by false guilt that you were putting on yourself? If so, let’s talk about it in the comments!

…act justly, love mercy, walk humbly…

Let God pull the weight off of you

In this world, we so easily get caught up in the stress of life. It’s crazy how anxiety affects us mentally, but also physically. Sometimes I feel like I can feel the weight of the world sitting on my chest.

I could easily say, “Just don’t worry about it! God is in control.” As true as this statement is, it doesn’t make the anxiety magically disappear.

God pulls the weight of our burdens off of us piece by piece, and it sometimes feels like a very slow process.

God pulling the weight of stress, anxiety, depression, etc. off of us is a process that could look different every time it happens. This process could look like taking time in your day to rest silently in His presence, or it could be crying out to God and asking Him to release the pain from you.

The world expects us to carry our own burdens, whatever they may be. But I want to make it very clear that we were never meant to carry our own burdens, and that is why Jesus died on the cross. I believe He did this because He was fully aware that the weight of the world is too much for us to bear. The world often says, “Every man for themselves.” But I want to boldly tell you that we are not meant to be on our own. We were created for fellowship, and we were created to depend on God and the people He has surrounded us with.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” –Matthew 11:28-29

We are not called to carry our own burdens and “fix ourselves” before we come to rest at His feet. We are called to come to Him, and He will give us rest whether we are broken or not. We aren’t meant to heal ourselves before we go to God; we are to go to God to be healed. We aren’t called to fix ourselves; we are called to be still.

Allowing God to slowly pull the weight of the world off of you could look like letting go of control. I am a self-proclaimed control freak, so this has been hard for me. We think we are supposed to have everything in order in our lives so that we can find rest. The crazy thing is that we are tightly holding on to the control that we never had in the first place. God is in control. Of course we have free will, but that doesn’t mean we are in full control of everything around us.

This week I encourage you to let go of the burdens you’re holding on to and turn to the God of peace that passes all understanding to find rest. In your life, what does it look like to let go of control? Please share in the comments below!

act justly, love mercy, walk humbly…

Trust in God’s perfect will

“It is all in God’s hands.” I know this is something we hear often, but it’s hard to put it into action, and it’s definitely easier said than done.

I am a sophomore at Lipscomb University, and I have struggled since I came to college because I haven’t known what my major should be. I was undecided my whole freshman year, but this year I have chosen to study communication and youth ministry.

I want God’s will for my life so bad, but I don’t know what it is yet. As stressful as this can be, it is so important to remember that He reveals it all to us in His perfect timing. It is really easy to know this, but it is really hard to trust it.

When I have thought about God’s will in the past, I pictured His will being major stepping stones in my life. I read a book by Francis Chan last year called Forgotten God, and it completely changed this perspective.

Chan explained that God’s perfect will is not only what we do in the next five years, but His will is also what we do in the next five minutes.

It is so easy in our society to get caught up in wanting to know God’s “big plan” for our lives, but we have to be continually asking Him to lead us in His will every second of the day. We cannot put His plans for us in a box.

We should remember that God wants and knows what is best for us. It is so much better for us to follow His will than to try and figure it out for ourselves. Jeremiah 29:11 is a Bible verse we hear so often, but it is so significant. Some of you may have never read it, but if you have read this verse, I encourage you to read it as if you’ve never read it before. Try to let the words of truth really sink in.

“For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

I encourage all of you to remember that His plans for each of us look completely different. My favorite pastor, Levi Lusko, put it this way: God’s purpose for us is not just a hole that anyone can fill. God has carved out a specific spot for each of you, and no one but you can fill that spot.

Something important to remember is that we can minister in any job/career that we are called to. We need to have people ministering in different job scenarios so that God’s truth can be spread in multiple different ways and places.

If we have this mindset, then we will see God’s will in a completely different way. I encourage you all to try and take everything day by day and try not to allow the things that stress you out overtake God’s truth. Try to remember that He will reveal everything to you in His perfect timing.

Has there ever been a time in your life when you didn’t know what to do, and you had to completely lay it all at God’s feet because you didn’t know what else to do? If so, please tell me about it and how you handled the situation in the comments below!

…act justly, love mercy, walk humbly…

Focus on the simple truths

Sometimes it’s all about the basics. I am currently in a class titled “New Testament Interpretation.” The class has been extremely interesting learning about the history of the Bible and the significance of interpreting it correctly.

However, the class has been quite challenging, and today we had our first test. Yesterday, I met a friend from the class in the library to study, but God had other plans for us. As I was trying to learn difficult concepts about God’s word, my friend said something that put everything back into perspective for me.

He said that sometimes it’s good to remember the basic things that many of us learned about God when we were kids. Don’t get me wrong, it is great to learn about the history and details of God, but we have to have a strong foundation for those things. God is good, and He loves us more than we could ever imagine. Sometimes that’s the only thing we need to understand.

Below I have made a list of simple truths about God that I learned growing up in church that are still so important to my faith journey. I need to keep my eyes fixed on these things more often than I do.

  1. God is good, and He loves us
  2. God sent His perfect Son, Jesus, to die for our sins
  3. God is always with us, and the Holy Spirit drives us
  4. God is all-knowing
  5. God has a plan for our lives
  6. God hears all of our prayers
  7. God wants the best for us
  8. God invites us into His presence so we can step into His glory
  9. God teaches His truths in different ways
  10. God’s invitation of love is open to everyone

Sometimes simplicity is the best thing, and that’s something I’ve had to learn the hard way. I overthink and overcomplicate things quite often. Sometimes simply whispering the name of Jesus is all we need to do.

Don’t overcomplicate things that can be so simple.

Again, there is nothing wrong with looking deep into God’s glory and truth. I actually suggest it. It has been so good for me to learn more details about God’s goodness. However, we cannot lose the foundation our faith is built on.

“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” -1 Corinthians 3:11

Jesus is our foundation and our truth. When you can’t do anything else, just breathe His perfect and Holy name, “Yahweh.” We are called to build our lives upon His love; it is a firm foundation. All other ground is sinking sand. We cannot forget the simple truths that we learned toward the beginning of our spiritual journeys because they are the foundation on which our faith was built.

I encourage you all this week to remember the simple truths. Focus on those truths, and don’t get caught up in the complicated concepts. Has there ever been a time in your life when you’ve felt so overwhelmed that it felt like your head was spinning? If so, please comment below how you handled the situation!

…act justly, love mercy, walk humbly…

Respond to conflict with wisdom

My whole life I have dealt with girls disrespecting other girls. In our society, we very easily allow other girls to treat us as if we are less than who we were created to be. In these moments, we are called to choose God and choose His perfect wisdom.

From elementary school to middle school to high school I dealt with mean girls. It tore me apart. I am now a sophomore in college, and I have not dealt with the same anxiety I used to feel around girls in high school and middle school. However, today I was in a similar, petty situation that I used to experience in high school.

I am a very confrontational person when there is an issue, so I ended up apologizing about a miscommunication. As much as I’d like to say this fixed the issue, the response I received was very passive aggressive. I walked away from the situation carrying frustration and feeling responsible for someone else’s feelings.

We are not called to be responsible for other people’s feelings. We cannot choose how other people feel. God calls us to care for people, but we are not responsible for other people choosing to feel a certain way.

I am by no means perfect, and I don’t claim that I have never been mean. I am definitely speaking from experience. As young women in our society, can can easily fall into the pattern of gossip and comparison.

We must remember that we were all created equally and for specific reasons. We are all beautiful women of God, and we should be building each other up, not tearing each other down. We are called to deal with conflict in a mature and wise way.

Proverbs 31:26 says, “She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” This is such a powerful reminder of how we are called to act as women of God. We are called to speak with wisdom! We should have faithful instruction on our tongues.

I encourage you all to lift each other up in kindness and prayer. It is never too late to forgive someone who has hurt you, and it is never too late to humble yourself and apologize to someone you have done wrong. We must humble ourselves to lift God up! All praise be to Him.

Can you remember a time in your life where you have tried to be the bigger person and the issue still wasn’t resolved? If so, tell me in the comments below how you handled the situation and what you learned from it.

…act justly, love mercy, walk humbly