Scripture Sunday Vol. 25

     Good morning and happy Sunday!  Today I’m sharing my first “Scripture Sunday” post of the year, how exciting!  I honestly can’t believe it’s already 2018.  I made so many amazing memories around the world with several of my favorite people and had lots of success in 2017 (read my 2017 year in review post here), so I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings, especially for my faith and relationship with God!  Like I said, today’s post is a “Scripture Sunday,” so if you’re offended by the Christian religion or just don’t like reading about it this post might not be the one for you.  If that’s the case, feel free to scroll through my blog, I hope you find something else you like!  Enjoy!

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Today’s Verse:

Acts 14:22; strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.

     Before I begin my personal anecdote for this week’s “Scripture Sunday,” I’d like to address the fact that this verse was obviously taken out of context (as you can tell by the sentence’s fragmentation).  The complete sentence begins “When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconic and to Antioch,” referring to Paul and Barnabas’ missionary journey through hostile regions.  The reason I didn’t include more verses in today’s Scripture to avoid this explanation is that I really wanted to draw attention to verse 14 individually because I think it is so simple and applicable to a Christian’s daily life.  Now that you have a little background on today’s verse, let’s start applying it!

     As I head back to school for second semester of my junior year tomorrow, I have a lot of personal goals and changes for my life in mind.  I want to study harder, go to bed earlier, perform better in lacrosse, the whole nine yards.  The goal that is really at the top of my list is to start laying a spiritual foundation in my relationships and really begin to encourage my friends in their own relationships with the Lord.

A couple days ago, I had one of my best friends spend the night.  Around midnight, we had an impromptu Bible study in which we read Acts 14 and a bit of Matthew 4.  Something that really stuck out to us both was Acts 14:22.  This verse describes Paul and Barnabas’ actions when they returned to the hostile regions of Lystra, Iconic, and Antioch to check on the believers living in those areas.  According to the verse, Paul and Barnabas strengthened the souls of disciples, encouraged them to continue in the faith, and said that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.

Sitting on my bedroom floor with this close friend of mine, I realized that I want Acts 14:22 to be my daily life.  I think that as Christians, we should be strengthening and encouraging our disciple (Christian) friends to continue spreading God’s love and holding onto their faith.  We should remind them in tribulations (aka times of troubles and suffering) that a life with Christ isn’t necessarily an easy one, but one that is worth the work.

     This week, think about how you’re encouraging your Christian friends.  Are you already living out Acts 14:22?  Are you seeing any similarity between the verse and your own life at all?  I know there are days when I sure don’t.  It’s a new year, a new semester, a fresh start.  I firmly believe that if just a few of us begin loving on and encouraging our friends this way, this kind and Christ-like behavior will spread.  Let’s make a point to live a little more like Paul and Barnabas.

Thanks for reading!  Have a blessed week!

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P.S. – If you’re interested in reading my previous “Scripture Sunday” posts you can find them all here!

Scripture Sunday Vol. 24

     Merry Christmas Eve and happy Sunday!  Today’s “Scripture Sunday” post follows a Christmas theme, and I love the message of this verse.  If you are for whatever reason offended by Christianity, please feel free to scroll past this post and find another fashion or lifestyle post that better suits you.  However, if you’re looking for a good Christ-based read before bed on this anticipated night I’d love for you to read this post!  Let’s get on with the post already!

Today’s Verse:

John 12:46; I have come into the world as light so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.

     It’s so ridiculously easy to get caught up in all the gifts, songs, lights, and festivities that surround Christmas without even remembering what we’re celebrating.  When asked what your favorite part of Christmas is, you might think the “right” answer is “giving gifts to my loved ones” and know simply to avoid claiming that receiving is the best part for you.  However, the best part of Christmas would ideally be remembering the birth of Jesus.  Even if you are a Christian and know that Jesus’ birth is the “reason for the season,” it’s probably not at the forefront of your mind between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.  I’m definitely guilty of this as well, and I think it’s all to easy to get distracted these days.

     Recently at a Campaigners (YoungLife Bible study) meeting, one of my leaders asked the question “if you didn’t know Christ’s birth the way you do now as a Christian, would the way you celebrate look different?”  This question shook me a bit.  I’d sure hope my celebrations would be completely different without Christ’s presence, because I’d like to think most of what I do around the holidays is in honor of Jesus’ birth.  I thought to myself about what I do to celebrate this time of year.  I pick out a tree with my family, my stepmother decorates our house with garlands and nativity scenes, I go to church with my family each Sunday (as we do all year), before dinner each Sunday my stepmother lights the candles of our Advent wreath, I purchase gifts for my family and friends, I receive gifts from my family and friends, I attend a holiday party or two, and my family attends the Christmas Eve service at church.

     I wouldn’t jump to call any of those things not Christ-based, but they aren’t all centered on the idea of Christ’s birth.  Picking a tree and decorating our house isn’t so much to directly celebrate Christ’s birth as much as it is to “get us in the holiday spirit.”  Going to church and lighting the Advent wreath are both in theory Christ-based activities, but in all honesty I know I tend to zone out at church sometimes in our routine Episcopal services and the lighting of the Advent wreath becomes an afterthought for me after a couple weeks.  Buying gifts for my friends and family becomes more about finding the perfect thing for the lowest price than it is remembering the wisemen’s gifts to Jesus or God’s gift to the world.  Receiving gifts typically brings thoughts of “They know me so well!” and “Yes, just what I wanted!” to my mind instead of “While these gifts are kind and appreciated, they remind me of God’s great gift of eternal life that drastically overcomes any earthly gift.”  Holiday parties should be reminders of how worthy of celebration Christ’s birth is, but instead they are places to hear the latest gossip, gorge on good food, and wear a special outfit.

      John 12:46 truly embodies what we should be celebrating, what Jesus’ birth was all about.  It wasn’t God saying “Look, I made this perfect person!  Love Him and bring Him gifts!”  Instead, Jesus’ birth brought us guidance, love, and eternal life.  The verse reads “I have come into the world as light so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”  Brighter than the pretty Christmas lights we make fun activities out of viewing, Jesus has lit up our dark world of tragedy and sin.

     Tonight, as you lie awake in anticipation of the gifts you’ll find under the tree tomorrow morning, think about what a truly incredible gift you’ve already been given.  When you consider eternal life in heaven, the little things we receive or get upset about not receiving are pretty ridiculous.  Try to remember the real reason for the season, a reason even better than the smiles on the faces of those you’ve given gifts to or the beautiful tree you’ve decorated.  Tomorrow is the birthday of the greatest presence to ever grace our earth, don’t get distracted by the party.

Thanks for reading!  Have a merry Christmas and blessed week!

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Scripture Sunday Vol. 23

     Happy Sunday!  Today I’m sharing another installment in my “Scripture Sunday” series!  I hope you love today’s post as much as I loved writing it, but if the Christian religion offends you for any reason please feel free to continue scrolling through my blog and find another post that better suits you.  That disclaimer aside, let’s get into the post!  Enjoy!

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Today’s Verse:

2 Corinthians 5:20; Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.  We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

     Being born and raised as a Christian, I have grown up hearing about evangelism and how the love of God should be spread.  As an elementary school student, I thought the only real way to do that was to go on mission trips as my father had when I was little and literally spread the word across the world.  As a middle schooler, I started hearing about how you could do it in your own community and I honestly didn’t understand how that applied to me; I live in the Bible Belt, and it seems like everyone here is a Christian.  What I’ve now come to realize as a high schooler is that just because someone goes to church and labels themselves as “Christian” doesn’t mean they live as though they are or that they even completely understand what the term means.

     I now see the term “Christian” as someone who has accepted the love of God, devotes themselves to having a relationship with Him, and strives to help others to have the same experience.  I once heard this analogy that I love that relates Christianity to a favorite but less popular pizza parlor.  The analogy basically says that if I knew of this incredible pizza parlor that no one really went to, I’d recommend it to all of my friends and family because I’d be doing them an injustice by not letting them know about it.  If they don’t want to go try the pizza, that’s perfectly fine, but I’m going to continue recommending it because it’s that good.  As a Christian, I now do my best to convince my friends to try this “pizza” that is actively living aside Christ without becoming so annoying that they never want to try it.

     That being said, you can tell someone to try something as much as you want, but if you act like trying it has had no effect on you (or maybe even a negative effect) they won’t see the point.  I think that as Christians it is so important that we display God’s love and the joy that it brings us on the daily.  We are God’s best advertisements, the thing that separates Christianity from being a thick, random, and old book written ages ago.  This is not to portray Christianity as some dying corporate business that needs customers, but I think spreading God’s love is both the “right” thing to do and the kind thing to do.  Loving others well is the hardest and funnest part of being a Christian, and it’s something we can all get better at each and every day.

     2 Corinthians 5:20 says “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.  We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”  As an ambassador for brands, I can say that to me the meaning of the word is to represent something well, for what it truly is.  God wants to use us to make His appeal to others.  He wants us to show what His love is like and how it changes lives.  He wants us to bring people to church, youth groups, YoungLife, Bible studies, etc.  If the being that created me and loves me unconditionally despite all of my Sin and downfall wants me to do this, you better believe I’ll do my best to fill the role.

     This week, be an ambassador for Christ.  Represent God’s eternal and unconditional love in your school, in your home, and everywhere else.  Pay attention to the details and strive to make His presence known through your actions.  Through Him, love others well.  It won’t always be easy, but that’s why He’s one prayer away to help you.

Thanks for reading!  Have a blessed week!

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Scripture Sunday Vol. 22

     Happy Sunday!  As per usual on alternating Sundays, today I’m sharing a “Scripture Sunday” post.  I always love talking about my faith here and I get lots of kind feedback from y’all on these posts, so “Scripture Sunday” has to be my favorite series I’ve ever started on my blog.  That being said, if you don’t like reading about the Christian faith, please feel free to scroll through my blog a little more until you find something that strikes your fancy (my “Black Friday Online Shopping Guide 2017” post is filled with deals that extend through Cyber Monday if you want to check that out!).  Now, let’s get into the post already!

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Today’s Verse:

Psalm 34:18; The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

      Life is full of hardships and unpredicted negative blips that seem to throw everything off of its course.  One in my life that especially stands out is the time that my divorced mother lost custody of my younger sister and I in the spring of 2013.  There was a complicated event that took place that ultimately caused my parents to decide that my father’s home was the best for us to live in (at least for the time being).  At the time that this happened, my father along with my stepmother and younger brother had been living in another state for just over a year, meaning my sister and I would have to adjust to a new state (a few hours away from our mother), new schools, and new household rules.  I remember feeling absolutely devastated when I found out I had been enrolled in my new school.  I didn’t want to leave my mother’s town, my friends, or my spot on the cheerleading squad.  I was absolutely terrified of making new friends and leaving my old life behind.

     Now, almost five years later, I’m perfectly fine.  I’m actually glad I live where I do now.  Don’t get me wrong, I had a few really great friends where I used to live, but now I have several that I couldn’t imagine life without.  My current school is so much bigger than my old one, meaning I’ve had the opportunity to experience more diversity, choose from a larger variety of courses and sports (I’ve played lacrosse for three years now and love it, but lacrosse still isn’t even offered at my old school!), and have other educational opportunities (like WJMC) that I might not have even been noticed for in such a small town setting.  Besides time, what has changed my perspective?  How?

     Prayer and growth in my relationship with Christ have changed my life in ways I never imagined.  Yes, I was Christian and I did go to church in my old town, but I didn’t really engage in my relationship with Christ, especially in comparison to the way I do now.  Since that summer of despair and what felt like the end of life as I knew it, I’ve begun to understand that God is always going to be there for me, even when I question the fairness of what He’s allowed to happen in my life.

     Short and sweet, Psalm 34:18 says “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”  If that isn’t the truth I don’t know what is.  Over time I’ve discovered that nearness and started to lean on it so much more than I thought was even possible back then.  Looking back on all the fear, anger, and sadness I felt that summer in comparison to the confidence and joy I feel now (for the most part anyways.  I know I definitely still have my bad days, but don’t we all?), I can assure you that God saves the crushed in spirit, just like the verse says.

     This week, remember that even in the darkest of times, God is always there.  It’s hard to imagine and harder to explain, but even though God knows what has happened and what will happen (good and bad) in your life, He still wants to comfort you in it and build you back up.  Try not to push back.

Thanks for reading!  Have a blessed week!

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Scripture Sunday Vol. 21

     Happy Sunday!  Today I’m sharing my twenty-first “Scripture Sunday” post.  I can’t believe I’ve written this many, but if you’re interested in reading some of my previous “Scripture Sunday” posts, you can find them here.  Today’s installment is about having faith, I hope you enjoy!  If you aren’t interested in reading Christian posts or are offended by the Christian religion for whatever reason, feel free to keep scrolling until you find another post that strikes your fancy.

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Today’s Verses:

Proverbs 3:5-6; Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

     Within the past year, I have started driving on my own.  I only drive alone to a few places I go constantly and am comfortable driving to, including school, work, church, YoungLife, and a couple friends’ houses.  That being said, a few days ago my dad had to pick his car up from being worked on and he asked me to drive him there (about twenty minutes away, on a route I’d never driven).  He told me he would help me navigate on the way there then get in his car then lead me on the drive home.  I didn’t have any homework that afternoon and enjoy listening to music in the car, so I had no objection knowing that I could follow him home.

     I did not consider the fact that the space to fit in a left turn would not always allow for two cars and sometimes the stoplight would go red before we’d both crossed.  The first time we were separated by a stoplight, I was having a bit of an internal panic.  Then, sure enough, when I’d mimicked the last turn I saw him make, my dad’s car pulled out of a dead-end in front of me.  I couldn’t help but smile with relief.  This instance reminded of the way God leads our lives.

      Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”  Just like how my earthly father led me in ways I doubted and didn’t understand, so does our Heavenly Father.  Sometimes in life, we feel like we’re on the right path and everything’s going great until suddenly, it isn’t.  It’s easy to blame God for that feeling of being left out to dry, but you can’t always see how His plan will work.  You probably aren’t being left out to dry, just being led in a different way then you expected.  My trust was strengthened when my father seemingly came out of nowhere to lead me home when I thought I would be lost, and the same happens when God constantly comes to save us in ways that we likely don’t understand at first.

     This week, don’t doubt.  Trust that God knows what He’s doing, and He has a reason for every moment of your life, no matter how happy or how scary.  Follow Him in all ways and seek Him out when you feel like you’ve lost sight of Him.

Thanks for reading!  Have a blessed week!

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P.S. – I’m sorry my Bible isn’t in the calligraphy picture like usual (although you might not have even noticed), but I accidentally left my Bible in my locker this weekend!

Scripture Sunday Vol. 20

     Happy Sunday!  I’m so sorry I wasn’t able to write a “Scripture Sunday” post last week in accordance with my every-other-week schedule for the series, but I want these posts to be great quality and last Sunday I was tired and overwhelmed with homework after a weekend getaway to Montreat, NC with my family (a travel diary on the trip should be up soon!), so I thought it’d be better to delay the post than rush some less thoughtful faith based content.  Anyways, I hope y’all love this week’s “Scripture Sunday” and it’s worth the wait.  If you’re offended by the Christian religion for any reason please feel free to scroll past, but if you’d like to read more you can find all of my “Scripture Sundays” here.

Today’s Verse:

Psalm 143:8; Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.

     I’m so bad about staying up late to do homework.  I know tons of my peers just stop their homework at 11:00 p.m. and go to bed, but not me.  If I’m not done with my homework I’ll stay up until I am (or at least until I’m positive what I have left can be completed in my third period study hall) because I honestly have such a hard time going to sleep with that stress still there.  I think it goes without saying that seeing midnight or even 1:00 a.m. on the clock and knowing you still have homework left is among the worst feelings in a high schooler’s world.

     As I said, I try to get all of my homework done, and it sure feels great to wake up knowing it’s all done and I can begin my day without the stress of being behind on anything.  That feeling reminds me of the beginning of a verse in Psalm 143 that I recently came across.  It’s verse eight, and it begins “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.”  As I read this phrase I can practically see the sun coming in through the blinds and my Bible and journal in my bed.  It reminds me that mornings are proof of the second chances we have through Christ and God’s unconditional love.  The chance to fix what you know you’re doing wrong, like procrastinating homework, being rude to your loved ones, the list goes on (those are just a couple things I’m constantly working on).

     The verse continues with the sentence “Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.”  I sometimes struggle to completely put my life in God’s hands.  I like to think that I have, but I think sometimes I pull back.  Did you ever play that game with your friends in elementary school where they would put their palms out face up and you were supposed to put your hands on theirs face down and yank back to avoid them flipping their hands and slapping yours (I looked it up and it’s known as slap jack, hot hands, and red hands, because I’m sure that explanation was super confusing)?  Yeah, I feel like I’m doing that except my hands are my life and God’s not actually trying to slap me, He’s trying to love me and help me.

     So what’s the hesitation?  Me.  My own plans and ideas of what’s best for me.  Like this verse says, I want God to show me the way to go because I do trust Him with my life, I’m just not so sure I’m the best at keeping that constant.  Coming back to that homework analogy, it’s like I wake up the next morning feeling refreshed and ready to start the day alongside God but then ignore Him when He advises me to try to get my homework done as it’s assigned in order to avoid staying up late again.  I constantly choose my own plan over His even though His is obviously better for me.

     This week, start your morning with a prayer and try to listen to God’s guidance throughout your day.  It can be hard to completely place your life in His hands, but it’s the best thing you can do.  I know today’s “Scripture Sunday” was kinda all over the place, but I hope you got the point.  God knows what’s best for you and He’ll never stop giving you second chances, no matter how many times you ignore His advice.

Thanks for reading!  Have a blessed week.

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