Monday, August 4, 2014

Trials by Veronica Willimas

“ And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”  1 Peter 5:10
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12

Scripture Application: All throughout my 2013-2014 college year, I found myself dealing with a lot of trials. Self-pity, depression, angry, passive-aggression, and biggest one of all; doubt. My troubles with doubt caused me to sink into a whirlwind of negative outcome and at one point it even drove me to physical harm. I knew what the cause of this was. I had stopped letting God be in control of me. Instead of letting God be that loving guidance and protector, I convince myself to think that I was it. It wasn’t until the beginning of summer (the summer break that is in progress right now!) when I decide let my savior be in control again. Now, I find myself happier and healthier and I can only thank God for that. Whenever life throws trials and tribulations our way, we always have to remember that God is with us. His loves and forever-flowing mercy is always shining through us. With him on our side, nothing on this earth can or will weight us down

Prayer:  Desert Song by Brooke Frazier
This is my prayer in the desert
And all that’s within me feels dry
This is my prayer in my hunger and need
My God is the God who provides

And this is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved of more worth than gold
So refine me, Lord, through the flames

I will bring praise, I will bring praise
No weapon formed against me shall remain
I will rejoice, I will declare
God is my victory and He is here

And this is my prayer in the battle
When triumph is still on it’s way
I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ
So firm on His promise I’ll stand

All of my life, in every season
You are still God, I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

This is my prayer in the harvest
When favor and providence flow
I know I’m filled to be emptied again
The seed I’ve recieved I will sow

By Brooke Fraser, Copyright 2008 Hillsong Publishing (Admin. in U.S. & Canada by Integrity’s Hosanna! Music)  

More for Reflection: Proverbs 3:5-6, Romans 5:3 

Question for Comments:  What were some trials you have faced, and how did you overcome them?
Please add your comments, life stories or questions to continue the thought for this week.

Monday, July 21, 2014

God’s Team  by Aaron Ware.

We are not going to be good at everything. There, I said it. It may be tough to come to grips with, but it is true. Our weak areas could be with academics, athletics, relationships, or even our daily walk.

But, as always, there is great hope! For all of the things that we struggle with, there is someone who has strength in that area that we can go to for help. The best part, this is the way God planned for it to be!

Scriptural Application   Read 1 Corinthians 12

This is Not on Accident. 
God has a purpose and reason for everything. There is a reason as to why we don't all have the same gifts and talents.

In our passage, Paul describes the church as the body of Christ. This body, like anybody, has a wide assortment of parts that must work together in order to function properly. All of the different parts, in short, rely on each other to do what God needs done.

Relying on each other requires us to have a certain amount of humility within is. It takes humility to acknowledge that you may not have a certain gift, but someone else does.

As Paul illustrated, we cannot all be eyes or ears. Some of us have to be the feet or the nose. But the different parts/roles do not affect their importance to the body.

In a machine, the smallest cog can prevent or allow it to function the way it was intended. The same is true in the body of Christ, the absence of one person's gift can stop a part of the body from being all it can be. All of the parts are necessary and are of equal importance when it comes to God's plan.

Back to Your World:

When you see yourself struggling with something, be willing to put off your pride and seek assistance from another part of the body. God puts people in our lives for this purpose. He knows that, despite our best efforts, that extra assistance is needed for his children.

Also, remember that all pieces are of equal importance to God. You never know who he may use to help and bless you. That person who you least expected could be the very person who God may use to make a difference in your life.

That's why we have teams. If one member is struggling, the other members can help them out. When all of the members use their gifts to support one another, wonderful things can happen. Remember, even Michael Jordan needed a team around him to win!


Lord, I thank you for choosing me to be a part of your body. Help me to be a better member of this body today by becoming more humble and less filled with pride. I thank you for the other members of this body and I pray that you would be with them and bless them as well. Help us all to put our best efforts into doing your will. Amen.

Please add your comments, life stories or questions to continue the thought for this week.  

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Swear Less † Pray More

“I cross my heart and hope to die. Stick a needle in my eye.” Does this bring back memories? It wasn’t until I wrote this phrase out that I realized how sadistic it sounds, especially when I was a little child.

However, little or old, all of us have sworn at least one time in our lives. It may have been to convince someone we were telling the truth. Or maybe a promise to perform some act.

Some of us may have even sworn to God.

Maybe in a weak moment, a moment we think something isn’t going to work out, we make a promise to God.

It goes a little like this… “God, if you ______, I promise I will be nice to the grumpy bus driver every day” or “God, if you _____, I promise to never forget to pray again.”

They may be silly, or they may be more serious. However, how many times have you made a promise to God hoping He would answer some other prayer?

God wants us to make one specific promise, to love Him with all our heart, all our soul, and all our might.

Our relationship with God shouldn’t be about us. Yes, you heard me. When we make the promise to love Him, we are making a selfless commitment to follow God.

God makes promises throughout the Bible and does not fail to deliver. One of these promises was to the Isralites who were enslaved by the Egyptians.

Read Exodus 6:6.

God promised he would make the Israelites free again. In case you don’t know the story, read over Exodus. For a quick summary, the God plagued the Egyptians and then Pharaoh let the Israelites leave Egypt. Even after Pharaoh let the people go, he then changed his mind and started chasing after them. God then parted so the Israelites could pass.

God fulfilled His promise and many others through the Bible, but how many times do we fulfill our promise?

Maybe you haven’t made this promise yet, or maybe you haven’t followed through like you should have. At this time, I would like you to speak to God and ask what promise He would like you to live by. We may falter, but He will always keep us strong.

Featured image: (FlawlessNobody/ Deviantart) 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Quit Less † Pray More

(Phil Roeder/Flickr)
When you were five, maybe you quit drawing because Susie told you you weren’t any good. When you were ten, you quit soccer because you couldn’t score a goal no matter how much you practiced. When you were seventeen, you wanted to quit math--who really uses the Pythagorean theorem in “real life” anyways? ‎

Why do we quit? It’s too hard. People are criticizing us for even trying. And then maybe we just get to the point of just wondering why we bother.

How many times have you stopped growing in your faith because of one of these reasons?

I want you to think of your first love (or maybe even making a new friend). When you begin a relationship, think about what it’s like. You’re excited. You go out of your way to please the other person. You have butterflies.

Our faith can begin this way too. We start on this “spiritual high,” claiming we will do anything God asks of us. I mean, what could possibly get in the way of this awesome new faith we have?

Those of us who have experienced the aftereffect of this high know what comes next. The shame, the guilt, the anger. We place our expectations of ourselves high, yet fail to follow through.  

However, it comes down to commitment. When life is chaotic, unbalanced or throwing you down a staircase, what do you do?

Please either play the following video while reading, or listen after and consider the song's message.

One misconception non-believers as well as Christians hold is we are “good” if we follow the ten commandments, read our Bible daily, pray, and have fellowship. It is not that we should do these things. It is that we should want to do these things because we are in love with Christ.

When you love someone, you facilitate a relationship with them. You communicate, include them in your life, and respect them.

Are there days when it’s hard to open the Bible? Yes. Are there days you might want to wallow in self-pity and not speak to God at all? Um, yeah. Are there times we don’t follow the Bible? Of course, every day.

When we fall deeper in love with Christ and develop a relationship, it is then that all of these “good Christian things we have to do” become what we want to do.

There are going to be times we feel ourselves drift away, but if we allow the Holy Spirit to reach us, we won’t become lost. God will search until He can find us. However, we have to allow Him to. 

Reflect on the times you've quit in your faith. What stopped you? Pray about solutions to future problems and think of how you can strengthen your own faith. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Doubt Less † Pray More

When we hear the word, doubt, we may think of the doubting Thomas of the Bible. After all, before he saw the holes in Christ’s arms, he refused to believe Jesus had rose from the dead. However, I want to rewind further back in biblical history to Jeremiah.

The book of Jeremiah begins with Jeremiah speaking to God. God tells Jeremiah that He chose he to speak for Him. Jeremiah’s reaction? Doubt. Read Jeremiah 1:4-8.

Jeremiah told God he was too young, that God couldn’t possibly expect him to speak to His people. Similarly, you may remember Moses mumbled an excuse when God called him to speak as well. Except his was that he could never quite form the right words. He said he sucked at public speaking, and speaking in general.

What excuses are you making in your life?

Yes, we doubt God. We might doubt Him with prayers unanswered, or with uncertain circumstances. But one doubt, I’m sure many of us have shared is how God will use us.
We suck at public speaking, so why would God want us to speak to a room full of people? We aren’t patient, so why would God want us to work with Sunday school children?

Excuses. Excuses. Excuses.

We let them take over our lives until we doubt ourselves and doubt that all is possible through God.

If we wear out from small troubles, what will happen when they become worse? Do we walk away from our relationship with God simply because it is too difficult to continue? Because He is asking too much of us?

Please watch this video.

We all know the iconic, Matthew 19:26, that with God all things are possible.

However, how often do we actually believe this? And how often do we hear what He’s saying and our brain just says, ‘no way’?

In light of the Easter weekend quickly approaching, I’d like you to reflect on the love of Christ, but also how we short-change that love when we doubt God. Letting fear overcome us can strangle the very faith we strive to uphold. 

Photo by: Beatrice Murch /Flickr

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Talk Less † Pray More

Photo by Mike Quinn. Copyrighted but licensed for further reuse.
Maybe the title sounds harsh, but don’t you ever wonder if God just wants us to listen sometimes? 

When we are little, we are taught to tell God everything. This includes our problems, our sister’s problems, our best friend’s problems and our neighbor’s problems. We might also tell Him how thankful we are, but sometimes that list is pushed to the end.

Are you listening to what God is trying to tell you?

When you spend time with God, are you the one talking? Think of your prayer as if it were a phone conversation between you and God. If one person was the only one talking, what would be accomplished? Sure, it is a conversation, but what’s the quality of a one-sided conversation?

Please watch this video.

We might ask for direction, but sometimes we fail to acknowledge it or make the effort to look for it. In most circumstances, God answers our prayers through the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit’s voice is usually a whisper and sometimes it’s difficult to discern.

I would like you to take a quick moment to write down a prayer to God, just like you would normally pray a loud. Then, I want you to reread it.

How many times did you say “I”? When I tried this, I realized almost every sentence included “I.”

As follows: God, I would like to pray for Sue. I’m having problems with stress this week. I…I…I

When we pray, it is important to not only listen, but also to realize how we are praying.

Let’s go back to the phone conversation.
Photo by Pixabay. 

If you had a friend who called you up and constantly talked about themselves, as well as asked you favors, how would you respond? Would you want to pick up the phone when you saw their name pop up on your caller I.D.?

God wants us to have conversations with Him and He wants us to tell Him about what’s going on in our lives, so I'm not saying that He would ignore your "phone call," but He also wants us to listen.

One of my recent favorite bible verses is John 10:27-28.

What I love about this verse is that God believes in us. He believes we will hear His voice and know it’s Him. However, how many times have we questioned whether our heart was actually being moved by the Holy Spirit?

This verse also says that He knows us. He knows every part of us.

In other words, we hear His voice and He hears ours.

Taking a moment in the silence to let the Holy Spirit in can change your prayer life. When you first start to try listening in the silence, it may seem awkward or off. We have all experienced an awkward silence, whether it was in an elevator, in the waiting room, or in a car ride with that person you offer to give a lift to but don’t know anything about.

We have almost been trained to know that silence is bad. That silence makes us feel uncomfortable. However, remember that it is in those silences with God that we can gain direction.

I challenge you to really listen while you are praying this week. See where God leads you. It is in those moments that we can open ourselves to God’s truth and His voice.

If you have a story, please leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Me Less † God More

Lent is marked by the sacrifices we make between now and Easter. From church to my home, the holiday has always been a tradition in my family. However, between decisions of giving up chocolate or meat or GameBoy time, I think I became lost in what this tradition really meant.

Sure, when I gave up chocolate, it was hard to contain. Those deserts (always with chocolate) called my name the day after I chose my Lent sacrifice. Being the stubborn, perseverant person I am, I usually made the entire 40 days without taking even a nibble of a Hershey bar. But this still was not the point.  

Please listen to the testimony of talented and adorable Bailee Madison.

Part of taking up our cross is humbling ourselves and as Bailee said, not being prideful. It’s not about us, but rather about how great God is.

What is something in your life that is getting in the way of your faith journey?

Please read Matthew 16:21-28.

Lent is the time that we sacrifice to come closer to God. When we give up something that we struggle with, it is important that if or when we fail, we fall back on God.

This Lent season I have decided to give up worrying. Just thinking of this word makes me, well, worried because I know how much it has held me back from being the best person I can be. When the worrying begins, however, my plan is to pray or refocus my heart. Through this season, I want to grow in my faith.

Don’t go through the motions. Give up something in your life that is holding you back from being a better steward of God. He knows your heart and He can’t wait to show you what He can do with it. 

Take a moment to pray about what God would like you to work on in your life. 

*** Featured Cross Image by JR Woodward