Goodness Gracious

It’s okay to be desperate. It’s okay to want goodness. It’s okay to want a better life. The problem: our world presents a range of false advertisement. It’s okay to be desperate, to want goodness, or to want a better life—when Jesus is in the heading. Here are three ways to literally change your life this week.

1.) Read Scripture

I’ll be the first to recognize my short-temper when I don’t get much sleep. Anything less than the classic eight hours, I am a straight grump. This is similar to when we live distracted from God’s Word leaving us deprived of the key to a better life. The Bible is able to refresh our joy in ways inexplicable. It activates our soul’s purpose. It awakens our love for God. It initiates a restless pursuit of serving. Take a day, see for yourself. If this is new, start with John and discover who Jesus is. Read a couple of Psalms, find a study, scroll through Pinterest…whatever you decide, get ready.

Matthew 4:4 (ESV) Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”  

2.) Journal Your Prayers

There’s something so intense and delicate about journaling (I say this with no writers-bias). With complete honesty, something happens when you put pen to paper on the subject of Jesus. Especially in the specific of writing your prayers. No matter if they are verbal, mental, or written; it is direct communication to the King of Heaven. Still, the difference with writing them is the permanency and the option of recalling them. This gives us the chance to see answered prayers and strengthen the appreciation of God’s listening skills. Try it. Dedicate a journal to love letters to God. Because if I can be truthful, that’s what you’ll end up with.

James 5:13 (ESV) Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.

3.) Be Kind

I know, it’s difficult. Mood swings are a thing, bad days are real, and people can be stupid. But the Holy Spirit enables our kindness and makes our patience possible. I truly believe our negativity hits our own hearts. I know it tangles our own thoughts. Also, rudeness is a chain reaction of disbelief on the cross—and this is the issue. We can cut the crap when we understand the blurred reflection it puts on Jesus. Kindness brings our love into one consistency. Not only that, kindness manifests the design of the gospel. It nudges those around us to love and it changes our lives.

Proverbs 16:24 (ESV) Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

It’s okay to be desperate for God’s goodness and take in a better life. This doesn’t mean a smooth life, but it brings along hope and it provides contentment. I want this for you. I want this for me. I want this for all of us.

 

Typed, Revised, & Edited

Cameron

 

Repetition is Key

I’m thankful for Easter—thankful how it’s a day centered around Jesus and His love. But you see, I often catch myself using Easter as a heavy reminder of the cross. It’s a day filled with praise for my risen Savior. On Easter, I give Jesus my undivided attention for hours in a row. He’s all I think about on this day, but here’s the issue with reminders: something (or Someone) had to of been forgotten.

To be transparent with you, I am so refreshed from yesterday. The many captions with the subject of Jesus and all the recognition being shown to the cross is amazing to see. Viewing Easter as a reminder though, I’m not sure this is the best we can do. Y’all, mediocre is removed when our souls are prompted by these three truths—daily:

1.) Jesus is alive.

2.) Grace is ours.

3.) Can’t undo it.

The matter of Easter is the scandal of the tomb. Jesus is alive. This changed everything for the world. He seized the debt of sin, the pressure of perfection (on our part), and ordered the chaos of our souls. The resurrection is so unbelievable until our hearts speak up. When God’s enduring peace is shown, when God supplies needs we were unaware of, when the joy from God’s Word is evident…the doubting is cleared up. When we remember the results of the cross are supplied in everything opposite of the world; we live because Jesus is alive.

Grace and Jesus’ resurrection are inseparable. Since Jesus is alive, grace is ours. To be transparent again, throughout the day of Easter my attitude towards myself shifts. Along with its many reminders, “I’m the reason He had to die” hits the surface. Jesus’ resurrection is monumental in itself, but when you match it with us being the cause; grace is accounted for. You see, the reason we can live an innocent life is because grace works constantly.

Grace is ours because Jesus is alive, and the cross can’t be undone. This fact of life doesn’t depend on future circumstances or current emotions; it’s set in stone (my pun for the post). This is where we change the reminder to a lifestyle. Y’all, this makes life doable. We have been given salvation. The truth is, Jesus’ temporary death has been turned into our eternal life. It is finished.

I hate using the word cliche regarding the gospel, but I would say you may have heard this all before. But I challenge us to encourage each other in our reminding habits. Repetition and action of the gospel will create a boldness our world is desperate for. Think about it. How would the world look if we lived out the goodness we recognized on Easter? I would dare to say our internal vibrancy would enhance and out external communities would be brightened. What do you think?

 Typed, Revised, & Entered

Cameron

Oh, the Two-Oh

In light of my 20th birthday tomorrow, I asked twenty people a question: What do you wish you would’ve known in your twenties? Below are their anonymous answers.

1.) “You don’t know everything you think you do.”

2.) “Crap never quits happening.”

3.) “Take more time to stop thinking about everything.”

4.) “Some relationships may seem insignificant now, but later they will become your lifeline.”

5.) “God created me for Him, not for me.”

6.) “Jesus loves me no matter what I do or don’t do.”

7.) “Begin using your talents for the Lord even now.”

8.) “I wish I would’ve known God could love me.”

9.) “Enjoy even the bad times because it’s through them that you grow.”

10.) “Everyone deserves a smile, no matter how they live.”

11.) “When you feel empty, don’t dig deeper…fill up.”

12.) “God is in control, wait for what He has in store.”

13.) “This is not the end, no matter how much it feels like it.”

14.) “It’s never too early to prepare a financial plan and live by it.”

15.) “Take care of your body/health now, it only gets harder with age.”

16.) “Don’t date anyone you can’t see yourself marrying.”

17.) “Every word and every action has value, no matter how small.”

18.) “You want Jesus; trust me.” 

19.) “Don’t let anyone steal your joy.”

20.) “Be brave enough to try and experience while you have the chance.”

 

Comment a number or two of the sentence you enjoyed! Or, if you’re over 20, comment a piece of your own wisdom! Life is fun, y’all.

Finally Freed

Something happens when we finally understand Christ’s freedom. Our essence of worry is transformed into living purpose. Our energy of judging others becomes a lifestyle of service to their needs. The question of, “How could Jesus love them?” goes to a realization of, “How could Jesus love me?” Humility and brotherly love is the difference. When freedom finally makes sense, we react.

Do we live confused of who Jesus is?  Jesus is more than a character in a story, but our connection to the Author of the novel. He is not the face of a do-this-do-that religion, but the relationship of- you did this and I still love you. When freedom finally makes sense, we realize.

Are we being selfish with the gospel? Once we accept Jesus we aren’t called to keep Him to ourselves, but let people know- we must let them know! By being a follower of Jesus, we bring others to Him because we have the fix to emptiness. We must show the forgiveness done. Selfishness is the complete opposite of Jesus. Non-followers should bother us, not through a legalistic view but the status of their souls. When freedom finally makes sense, we reach out.

Something happens when we finally understand Christ’s freedom. Our struggles are regrouped. The fear of not fitting in this world becomes a fear of not standing out enough for Jesus. The anxiety of not living up to this world’s standard is erased and, “I choose to serve God.” is written in. When freedom finally makes sense, we regroup.

Living out the gospel wrong pauses our joy in Christ. We need to rework how we have lived out the good news. Our salvation is neither a token to sin carelessly, or a requirement not to sin ever. Our salvation is the deliverance from the pressure to be perfect. God wants our obedience, He wants us to love His Son, and He is ready to rescue us. When freedom finally makes sense, we reevaluate.

This life is not about us, it’s about Jesus. On the cross, it should’ve been us, not Jesus. We don’t have to (nor are we able to earn God’s grace), because Jesus. It’s all about Jesus. Freedom is evident when we love, like Jesus. Freedom is evident when we live, like Jesus. Freedom finally makes sense, we will remember.

 

Typed, Revised, & Edited

Cameron

 

Becoming a Tree

He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season. Psalms 1:3. 

We live in a confusing world, with a quickly persuaded and always changing culture. We are surrounded by new ideas, patterns, and acceptances able to cause our minds to sway. Do we have a possibility of living steady in a perplexed time as this? Yes, by planting ourselves in freedom. How? By becoming trees.

Plants are not my expertise so I had to *dig into some Google results. I needed to compare  shrubs with trees. One can easily point out external contrasts, but we need to see the internal makeup. The difference to help us today, is this: shrubs have multiple trunks whereas a tree only has one. 

“Is there a point?” I’ll show you.

The reason we can often feel shaky is because we are planting ourselves near a variety of sources. Our roots are tangled in temporary provision. By this I mean: we put trust in man, we pause God, or we put security in ourselves. Can you picture a common shrub? Notice the frailness of the leaves. We wont survive as weak shrubs in an exposed world able to easily conform us.

Isn’t it possible we are being as these plants? Remember, they have multiple trunks. At times, can’t we be confused on what to believe, or what category we want to be in? When we have uncertainty in our confidence,  we carelessly settle. The feeling we have to stretch this way to please and that way to prove. We are thrown so many ideas to consider, and often it can seem like the world isn’t giving us a choice. “If you don’t agree with our new way, then you are against us all.” This is why we must become trees. This is why we must remain planted in Christ.

Trees have one trunk, they are sure of the source of their nourishment. As followers of Jesus, our freedom is accessorized with confidence. In a back-and-forth culture, we must stay near God and His Word. …Like a tree planted by the water. There is wisdom in this truth, are you ready for it? When we live as trees, we know the only source of life we need is God- the water. Rooted near to Him: we hunger for scripture, thirst for service, cry out in prayer, and in our follow through we become solid trees.

Freedom flourishes when we are living firm in Jesus. We have a way out of pleasing and proving because we are sure in the care of our Father. Our roots are in order because we are pointing them to the cross and outreaching with His love. Shrubs sway in confusion, but as trees, we bloom because of His freedom. With one trunk we are balanced in God’s truth and can’t be moved by the world’s pressure. So go on, be and live as a tree.

 

Typed, Revised, & Edited

Cameron

Don’t Cue Ryan Seacrest

When I was 15, my parents divorced and a hunger arose. I became thirsty for comfort, so I created an idol. Comfort became the craving, and food became an idol. The problem: I was broken and I had turned to a temporary target for fullness.

I felt dumb for making an idol of something to me seemed small. I built failure onto my temptation of my idol. My relationship with food was a mental battle with physical results. Calories were all I thought about. “How many have I had today?” “Surely one more snack won’t hurt.” My mind was only on my meal I just had, the meal I was about to have, and the meal I was going to have. Idol (n)- a thought build up taking the place of God and preventing the action of expanding His kingdom. 

The ripple-effects of my idolatry in food included: insecurity, self-doubt, jealousy, depression, mood swings, and other fleshly patterns. When I was watching my calories too closely, I was mentally exhausted and was rude to those around me. If I wasn’t watching my calories too closely, I gained weight and was self-disgusted. The war never ended. The weight, up and down. The attitude, up and down. I jeopardized the status of souls around me due to the repercussions of my idol. My relationship with food was a mental battle with physical results, but with Jesus, I put food in it’s *plate (my one pun for the post, enjoy).

Maybe your idol is not food, but believe it or not, we have a similar story. Divorce might not be a factor, but tragedy is. The need for satisfaction and comfort is what most of us are after. Our target for fullness needs to be adjusted. The healing for our bland emotions needs to be reordered.  Our mental and physical focus areas consuming thought capacity, needs to be thrown out so Jesus can sweep in.

How did I make peace with food? I realized it was not my eternal Savior. I can try to run to it for love, but it only heighten the need for more. I remembered I praised food more than my fulfilling God. I decided instead of consuming the cupcakes in the fridge, to consume my life with Jesus Christ. I made peace with food because my body is a temple, not a disposal. Trading in the sin of idolatry for the lifestyle of worship in God. Scraping off the sin of gluttony and becoming healthy.

We can have peace with our idols when we realize we are breaking the command of God. They are putting a pause in our daily duty to show the love of Christ- they ruin our attitudes. Idolatry prevents us from drawing closer to the arms of Jesus- we allow no time for Him. Idols only lead to more destruction, more problems…more issues. They only hold us back, and pull us down. Wherever you turn for safety or to get a sense of hope, limit your attention. Money, alcohol, social media, sex, drugs, food, whatever is distracting you from the fullness of our Savior, tie it up. The garbage expels out, and the grace of God flows in.

 

Typed, Revised, & Edited

Cameron

 

 

 

 

Searching, but Never Finding

To the Girls Who: Are Searching, but Never Finding

 

Pain hits. Change happens. Loneliness kicks in. Brokenness forms. Anxiety builds up. Holes appear, cracks creep up, and a void is alive in our soul. We panic. We have to fill this void, we need to fill this void. Anything or anybody really, we just need to find it or them. But where? But who? But how? We just need to feel important. We just need to feel loved. We just need to feel something. We’ll take anything really. 

Oh, what is this? This might do the trick. This might sustain our void. It’s not exactly what we had in mind, but it will at least work for a short amount of time, we hope. Yes, this seems to be working, we think. Wait, wait! We still feel the void. We didn’t know this is what we asked for. We’ve seen this in movies, in our friends, in the books, why did this not work? They look so happy and they always seem to have a good time. We were supposed to find our approval here. Did we not take enough? We are so confused, this was supposed to solve the problem. We didn’t really want to resort to this, but we were desperate. What now? Where is our lasting solution?

Look! Over there, who is he? Now this has to work because I feel more emptiness from our first shot at a fill up. Yes, this looks more appealing, his face is already. This guy is so cute and he is so dreamy. He has a past, but we would be judgmental if we stuck to our standards, right? By the way we are feeling, maybe this is what we deserve. He is nice but sometimes his words are hurtful, who cares this seems to be what we were looking for. He says we can’t hang with our girlfriends, but this is just how he tells us, “Babe, I just want to spend more time with you.” Hold on, we just got a text from him, “Babe, sorry something has come up, tomorrow?” Gosh, we hope everything is okay, maybe something terrible happened. We hope this is working, look at him! Is it working? Hold on, another text, “Babe, I don’t think this is working.” Ouch. 

Well, he didn’t work either. How is it we are sinking lower and lower each try? Maybe we should’ve went through with what he asked. Maybe it would have really fixed us. We just couldn’t, now we feel so embarrassed. We just couldn’t, great well there is our reputation. Why is none of this working? I was so sure of the last one. Are we not searching in the right places? I still feel the void, you can see right through the hollowness. Maybe emotional fixes, we could try revenge? Or maybe anger? We could really get to the root the of our hole. We are onto something here. Revenge, karma, now these could really give us what we are searching for. We act. We are alone now, can we take it back? 

Wait, now who is He? Should we go over and introduce ourselves? He kind of has the look like He knows us, or like He has seen us before. Have you ever seen Him? How did we miss Him in our search? I mean, it’s worth a shot, let’s just go over and see what He has to say.

Finally, something or somebody to make sense. We have found our lasting fix! We wish we would’ve seen Him sooner- less hassle, less regret. We can’t dwell, we have found Him now! We were searching for worldly answers, we were trusting fleshly human and chasing after their ways. If we would’ve just looked up! What we were pursuing were things we only saw eye-level. They looked to be making our search successful. They temporarily blocked our void. Temporarily. They temporarily gave us affection to comfort our void. Temporarily. They temporarily made us laugh to amuse our void. Temporarily. We have found it though. We have at last found it- our lasting fix. We have found our true joy, our candid contentment, our breakthrough freedom, we have found it.

Pain hits. Change happens. Loneliness kicks in. Brokenness forms. Anxiety builds up. Holes appear, cracks creep up, and a void is alive in our soul. We rest. We have filled this void, we can fill this void. The one thing, we just have to remember is Who we found it in. But we are not deserving? But we are not worthy? But we will mess up again? We just need to remember our Savior. We just need to remember His love. We just need to feel His presence. We won’t take just anything, because we have found it.

And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:17 

For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? Luke 9:25 

               

                 Typed, Revised, & Entered

Cameron