I think the hardest thing for me was learning to love myself. I’m 27 & God is showing me how to do this. He’s showing me the ins and outs of my heart & it’s been an adventure to say the least. The kind that is breathtaking but takes time to get to that beautiful mountain top view. He’s teaching me who I am. He’s showing me myself through His eyes. He’s demonstrating how to have healthy boundaries and even healthier relationships. I’m learning loving yourself takes intention. It takes purpose. It’s the same way when you love someone else. It’s not by accident or by mistake. You have to choose everyday to learn who you are. Loving yourself isn’t an overnight success. It’s a life long process of learning what it means to be comfortable in your own skin, in your words, in hearing the sound of your own laughter, and allowing yourself to feel all of those feelings that encompass your emotions. It’s a daily decision of picking up your cross and learning what that cross entails. It’s learning to meet yourself exactly where you are. Loving yourself is the greatest lesson you’ll ever learn because you are heavenly royalty. Spread love the Christ way.
“As you come to him, the living stone – rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” –1 Peter 2:4-5
I recently brought my youth I teach through a series titled “living loved” and we focused on the life of Jesus from His birth to when He performed His first miracle. One thing they kept bringing up was if Jesus was always all knowing from birth. And I stressed that just as Luke 2:52 says, Jesus grew in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and man just like we need to do. He wasn’t born with all this biblical knowledge and spiritual maturity, He needed to grow in it. The same is true for us.
Sometimes we want to rush the process of being molded and built into a spiritual house but it takes work. It takes willingness of heart and spirit in order to become who God has called us to be. We need to be content in the process allowing God to build, to add, to take away, that we would be mighty soldiers for the kingdom of God. I’ve learned what God does through us on earth is for spiritual kingdom purposes. Whatever your current walk of life, God is using it to prepare you for future preordained plans. So my encouragement for you today is to allow God to build you up which may sometimes look like a breaking down. God is the holy potter that wants you to explore with Him what needs to go and what needs to grow in order for you to be built into a spiritual house.
Being that Valentine’s day just passed, I want to address the huge elephant in the room. The one in the form of bubbly hearts, expensive chocolates, even pricier roses, and cuddly teddy bears. One thing you should know about me is I love valentines day; not for the excuse to eat chocolate but because it’s a great reminder to show love and be love. And to put it simply, we all need reminders. We need to be reminded to be kind and patient. But mostly, we need to be reminded to love even when it’s hardest to love because that’s when it counts. But what exactly is love? Not that artificial, high caloric, sugar drenched love made by humans on valentines day but that real, authentic, raw, unconditional love.
The other day I was watching a movie on Netflix that really got me thinking about human love versus godly love. In the book of 1 Corinthians, Paul the apostle was writing a letter to the church at Corinth. In this letter, he addresses many things the Corinthians were concerned about. One of those things was love. In 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, it says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always, hopes, always perseveres.”
I’m sure you’ve heard or read this somewhere. But I believe God wants to remind you what you have forgotten or maybe what you haven’t known. Let’s break down these verses and really reflect on the nature of Gods love and how we can reflect the love of Christ.
- Love is humble and zealous. That means you lay down your own desire and eagerly desire the well-being of the one you love.
- Love is self-less and slow to anger. This means it isn’t selfish or quick tempered. Next time you do or say something to someone, question your intentions. Is it for personal gain or godly reward?
- Love does not keep a checklist of what people have done to you. It is forgiving.
- Love is always honest. It isn’t merited on human standards but on biblical truth.
Godly love is without conditions. This simply means whatever you do cannot exempt you from the love of God. In the same way, our love for others should not be contingent upon what they can do for us or what we’ve done for them. It should rest on who our foundation should be: Jesus Christ. 1 John 4:8-9 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” We need to love as if we are living through Jesus. This means we must be his hands and feet, his heart and ears. But this can only happen when you place God as “the one” for you before a wife, a husband, a girlfriend, or a fiancé. Knowing the love of God first hand places you in a position to spread love the godly way. Let us strive to love as God loves us.
Watch my spoken word poem “The One” on youtube here
“That same day Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s sons, took their censers, put hot coals and incense in them, and offered “strange” fire to God – something God had not commanded. Fire blazed out from God and consumed them – they died in Gods presence.” – Leviticus 10:1-2 MSG
The bible says Aaron’s sons offered up strange fire to God in the context of a holy and sacred offering. They tried to mix holy with unholy and God consumed them; they died the same way they tried to cheat God. The moment you try to bring in an unholy thing into the holy things of God, you automatically negate the sacredness of a holy act. For example, the bible speaks on meditation; to meditate on the word of God but if you begin to practice yoga as a means of meditation, you are bringing “strange fire” into a sacred act. You cannot do yoga and expect it to be a good offering to the Lord because it is a spiritual practice that has its origin in offering incense to other gods.
In the same way, you cannot incorporate practices from other religions into your relationship with the Lord. It is strange fire that is an abomination to the Lord. While God is all loving, it’s important to be aware of your practices and habits. If it is not biblical or biblically supported, you should always bring it to the foot of the cross.
I decided to do this post because so many people (all the ladies) always ask about my bible. Now if you know me, you know I love all things girly. Pink, flowers, glitter; it all makes me happy. So when my sister bought me my own bible tabs, I was obsessed! But after wearing out my NIV study bible, I bought a new ESV journaling bible and had to get new bible tabs as well.
My bible is from barnes and noble. Check it out here . It’s only $28! Although this is a journaling bible, I always have a cute journal to write down any insights, questions, and prayers when I have my bible study time. I usually have the moleskin journals but the one I’m currently using is from Green Room Eco which I also purchased at barnes and noble. These are made from 60-70% recycled fiber and they come in a pack of 3.
My AMAZING super CUTE bible tabs are from The Salty Biscuit on etsy. They are only $15 for a full set. I’ve purchased from them about 5 times because I’m the youth teacher at my church and the girls fell in love with them. So of course, I had to get a set for them too. Each time I’ve purchased, they’ve never disappointed. I also got the decal on the front of my bible that says “It is well with my soul” from The Salty Biscuit. They have a few different options to choose from in different colors and different sayings as well as different bible verses.
As for my pen, I’m currently using the glitter gel pens from Yoobi which I bought at target. (Told you I love glitter:) They came in a set of 12 for $10 and for each item you purchase, a Yoobi item will be donated to a classroom in need.
Now it doesn’t matter what your bible looks like, as long as you read it and make time to really soak it in. If you do decide to purchase any of these things, let me know! 🙂
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” – Psalm 139:23-24
This is a dangerous prayer. David was so bold when he asked God to search him. I’m in a season of God revealing to me things within me that need work; things that do not lead to the way everlasting and it’s hard. You feel bare and naked. You feel exposed. But here David is giving God access because without that invitation, God is not going to force His way in. God is patient and has given you free will for a reason. So if you don’t give Him access to search you, healing won’t happen. Now God doesn’t need to search you, He already knows your heart. But David is saying, “Okay God, you can come in. I invite you in to help me, to mold me, and ultimately to heal me.”
Because the moment you give God that invitation, you are on the road to healing. You are on the road to wholeness. David says, “Lead me in the way everlasting.” What he’s saying is that he can’t get himself to wholeness. Another yoga class or deep breathing exercise is not gonna get him on the right path. Another bible study class or life group isn’t going to open the door to fulfillment. Another diet or self help book isn’t going to set him on the straight and narrow. But Jesus is. Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the light.” These things might help but you need to allow God to search you so that He can heal you from the inside out.
Jesus can bring light where there is darkness. He can set you on the right road when you are lost. He can guide you out of the lies and into the truth. And the truth is, we all need work. I know I do! We are all a project only God can take on and bring to full completion. The bible says God brings every good work He begins in us to completion; you know why? Because He loves you, He cares for you, and He’s concerned about the smallest details of your life. He wants you healed that others may be Healed too. The way everlasting is to say “Hey, Jesus, come on in. There’s more than enough room for you.”
I kind of squealed a “let’s go see the horses guys” before walking off to be extra touristy with my iPhone 6+ in the middle of the campo in Sancti Spiritus, Cuba. Thank goodness a few of my team members followed behind me as I snapped a gazillion photos of the less than mediocre brown horses patiently eating yummy grass. Being born and raised in New York City, you don’t see horses just lounging around. You catch the occasional police officer perched on top of a horse but for me it’s a rare sight. So the inner city girl was joyous each time I saw one of these majestic animals. I must have driven my teammates insane with the “oh my gosh, I love horses” for the hundredth time. But thankfully they were patient with this city girl.
As I walked away from the horses, we all walked down the broken streets of colorful homes. Everything seemed pretty silent until I stopped to say hello to a few kids sitting outside. After introducing myself, they all seemed pretty intrigued. Before I knew it, my team and I were walking down the street & a whole crowd of about 12-15 kids gathered around us. It was amazing! They asked tons of questions like where we were from & how long we were staying. Ironically enough, they knew we were with the church without us having to say anything.
As I spoke with them & asked them questions, I noticed the cutest little hotdog (or a dachshund for you dog lovers) waddling past me. Because there are so many stray dogs in Cuba, I knew better than to pet just any dog. But when I saw the cutest little lady following behind this even cuter dog, I asked if it was hers and she said yes. So I leaned in to pet my new little dog friend Suzy. Too bad Suzy was not at all friendly. She was too scared of this super smiley New Yorker chasing after her to pet her than anything else. So I settled with not petting her & began to speak with her owner whose name is Maria.
After a few introductions, Maria asked us what we were doing in Cuba & I shared we were working with the church just up the street. Because it is still illegal to have or build churches in Cuba, the Cuban people turn a portion of their homes into a church. So I pointed her in that direction & she wanted to know more. One thing led to the next & I asked her if she had ever heard of Jesus Christ. As she leaned in closer, her eyes full of questions, she shook her head no.
Without hesitation, I told her how Jesus died on the cross and three days later he rose again to show her that not even death could invade the love he has for her. I told her how Jesus wants to have a relationship with her. As she listened intently, I knew how much God loved this woman. He loved her so much that he sent his only son Jesus to die for her that she may have eternal life. In that moment, Maria was famous in the kingdom of God! She was famous because Christ died specifically for her. And not only her but for you too.
It was in that moment, I knew God strategically placed me on that road, on that day, in that hour, that Maria might know Jesus’ love for her. He set up a divine appointment that Jesus would divinely intercede from the throne through me. I was so humbled to know the truth of Romans 10: 14-15 which says, ““How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”” God sent me so Maria would know Him. That is the good news of the gospel; the faith of Maria in that moment activated the power of the gospel.
When I asked Maria if she wanted a bible, she eagerly said yes. I asked my leader Mark for a bible & helped her understand it a bit. With my leaders suggestion, I told her to start reading in the book of John & she said okay.
As she was getting ready to leave, she made me promise her I would come back to her home for coffee. And so I promised her knowing God would bring me back. And thank God, two days later I walked up to her little home who’s walls were made of wood & called out, “Mariaaaaa”. Surely enough, she called back & as I made my way in, Maria’s bible was on the sofa because she had been reading it.
Maria nestled into my heart in such a profound way that I understood the power of Gods love for you, for me, and for the entire world.