Faithful

We believe in a God who is able to bring justice and mercy to all 

And He promises strength for the journey to the steadfast who answer the call.

We believe in the truth of the Bible, in its power and purpose today

There is meaning and life in its pages; we believe and we choose to obey.

We believe that He’s calling His people to embody His story of grace

Bringing rescue and hope to the broken, may our lives be an offering of praise.

Let us be faithful, faithful, faithful, Lord 

Let us be faithful, faithful, Lord

Though we cannot see, we still believe 

Let us be faithful, faithful, Lord.

I recently learned this devotional song at a youth event, and have been stuck on it ever since! (Listen to a beautiful a capella rendering here.) The words are so uplifting, and got me reflecting on the concept of faithfulness in our walk with the Lord. The word “faithful” means “to be steady in allegiance or affection, to be loyal, to be constant, or to be full of faith”.  To me, this definition speaks of a deliberate choice, a decision made between me and the Lord, that I will follow Him closely no matter what may threaten to come between us. True faithfulness means taking ownership of my faith and living it out to its fullest potential. My faith cannot come from my grandmother, my parents, or my friends. A personal relationship with the Lord is just that: personal. My faith must be my own.

This means that I will not want to serve God out of obligation or out of habit, but rather because of all He has done for me. He has been faithful to me, so the least I can do is be faithful to Him! Digging a  bit deeper, what does it mean to be faithful as a child of God?

Faithful in worship.

This is what we typically think of when we hear the word “faithful”. If we are “faithful church members”, we are there every time the doors are open, perhaps even beyond that. Hebrews 10:24-25 does encourage this: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” But let’s go a little further – if we are truly “full of faith”, then we aren’t simply going to be filling up space. Just as the Hebrews writer states, we will be trying to think of ways to love our church family and inspire them to good works. But most importantly, we will be giving our all in worship to God, holding nothing back, praising Him for His faithfulness and promising ours to Him.

Faithful in Bible study.

When life gets busy, it is easy to neglect our spiritual growth. When we first come to the Lord, we are told to “desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). However, as the Hebrews writer warns, it is possible to become “dull of hearing” (Hebrews 5:11). The writer then admonishes his readers to “go on to maturity”, desiring the meat of the Word rather than simply milk (5:12-6:1). We cannot be faithful to God unless we are in His Word! It is through the Scriptures that He speaks to us and gives us purpose. Whether it is reading through a book of the Bible, using study tools such as devotional books and commentaries, or selecting a number of verses to memorize, find your niche and dig into the Word!

Faithful in prayer.

We all know 1 Thessalonians 5:17: “Pray without ceasing.”  Romans 12:12 similarly exhorts us to “be constant in prayer”, while Colossians 4:2 instructs us to “continue steadfastly in prayer”. Just like our Bible study habits, we cannot live a faithful life without faithful prayer. It is the charger that connects us to our Power-source. Without it, our souls become weaker and are at risk for spiritual death. Just as we plug in our phones every day, talking to God should be as much of our daily routine as charging our devices. One way to do this is by possessing a prayerful mindset. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to “take every thought captive to obey Christ”. We should possess such a frame of mind that we are able to have a continuing conversation with God throughout the day. Another way is by creating a daily prayer routine. Making a prayer routine means intentionally setting aside time every day simply to talk to God. We prioritize what we consider most important, so how important to you is communicating with our Savior?  It is impossible to pray without ceasing if we do not make the time to pray.

Faithful to our promise.

When we obey the gospel, we make a commitment to the Lord, a sacred vow, that we will follow Him wherever He goes, with “no turning back”. We die to the old life filled with sin and become a “new creation” filled with purpose for the glory of God (Romans 6:4; Ephesians 4:22-24; 2 Corinthians 5:17). However, the Christian life doesn’t stop there.  True faithfulness means keeping that promise we made to Jesus as we obeyed Him. We are no longer “slaves of sin” (Romans 6:17-18);  we have a new Master! Yes, we will make mistakes and disappoint Him, but His grace flows freely and His love abounds. He will receive us anew when we but turn to Him (1 John 1:7, 9).

Faithful in our mission.

Just as our obedience doesn’t stop at baptism, our purpose doesn’t stop at committing our lives to the Lord. As followers of Jesus, we walk in His steps and do what He does (1 Peter 2:21). Christ’s mission on earth was “to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10), and so He passes the torch to us: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Paul likewise encourages Timothy, “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2) Did you notice how Paul describes the men who would carry his teachings to others? Truly faithful people will bring souls to the Lord; it is in their very being! As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:13, “And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, ‘I believed and therefore I spoke’, we believe and therefore we speak.”

Jesus said to all in Luke 9:23, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Faithfulness happens in the day-to-day. Faithful worship, faithful Bible study, faithful prayer, faithful commitment, and faithful teaching all culminates to being faithful in daily living. Each moment, each hour, each day, each month, each year devoted to the Lord will add up to a faithful life lived for Him!

 “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10)

“…for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.” (Revelation 17:14)

Theme Word for 2017: JOY

I’ve always loved the feeling of newness and second chances that comes with the new year. After closing out the year with various holiday festivities, we all look forward to the opportunity to begin afresh, to set new goals and bolster our willpower and diligence to stick to them.

I’ve been vaguely aware of the idea of choosing a “theme word” for the upcoming year, but I hadn’t really understood the concept until a friend mentioned the idea several weeks ago. My planning-self jumps at the opportunity to set new goals, so a new way to do that fascinated me: all of your goals and aspirations for the next 12 months can be contained in a word or phrase that embodies all you want to do and be. I started to think about the areas in my life that I need to strengthen and ways that I can better glorify God in the way I live. I thought about words like “surrender”, “trust”, and “selfless”, but they didn’t seem to capture the entire essence of what I wanted my 2017 to look like.

Then the idea came to me slowly and hit me all at once: JOY. I’ve always been intrigued with the word and idea behind it. For such a small word, it holds such boundless meaning. For myself personally, I know that I need to possess and demonstrate the true joy that can only be found in Christ on a deeper level more each day. This kind of joy gives us a new perspective on life, helps us overcome trials, and radiates in our entire being (Nehemiah 8:10). It is a quiet, trustful hope that looks beyond the temporary and into the eternal.

“For the JOY of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

But the main reason I love this word is that it’s more than a profound idea. True joy really means putting J esus first, O thers second, and Y ourself last. JOY is my word for 2017 because all of my goals for this year fit perfectly within these categories!

Jesus.

  • Full surrender. It is so easy to let my problems and my desires become so much bigger than my God, when it really is the exact opposite. He is the Creator, I am His treasured creation (Psalm 139; 1 Peter 2:9-10). He is my Master, I am His servant (1 Corinthians 4:1). Surrendering to Him means letting go of what I want to make way for His will. It means seeing the bigger picture of what eternally matters rather than letting my plans take control.
  • Unreserved trust. I want to place my confidence in the One who holds my times in His hand (Psalm 31:14-15), and makes everything beautiful in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Even when I can’t see what He is doing, I can trust that He is there, working to provide what I need so that I can better serve Him.
  • Intentional prayer. Going before the Throne every day, just me and the Lord, changes my whole outlook on life and will strengthen my relationship with Him. Giving all of my cares to Him will enable me to watch for His hand working in my life (1 Peter 5:7). Most of all, Jesus not only needs to be first, but also in the center of everything I do (Colossians 3:1-4).

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4

Others.

  • Investing in people. I want to be more present in the moment, to listen more, and to reach out to those who need encouragement.
  • Less of me, more of others (Philippians 2:3-5). I want to make the best use of the time I have with others (Colossians 4:5). I’m going to challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone, to put the phone down and start that spiritual conversation, to initiate that Bible study, to make that coffee date with an old friend, to love others intentionally.
  • Giving. Putting others first means looking out for their interests, and what makes them happy. I want to be more generous with the time I give others, putting on a compassionate spirit as Christ would (Colossians 3:12).
  • Sharing the gospel. As I reach out to others, I want to make the most difference I can for Christ, and share the gospel with as many souls as possible (Matthew 5:16; Mark 16:15). Thinking about eternity gives me a better perspective as I encounter people on a daily basis.

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:3-5

Yourself. This year, I want to make time for things that have taken a back burner lately.

  • More reading. I love to read, but as life has gotten busier and that thing called college becomes more demanding, I’m not able to delve into as many books as I’d like to. But even if it’s slow going, I’m going to enjoy that novel that’s been on my to-read list, and finish that writing book I’ve been picking up every now and then.
  • More writing. I want to be more deliberate about refining the craft of writing. More consistent and freestyle blog posts are the goal, and utilizing every opportunity to write for the Lord and His kingdom (including other Christian website, blog, and magazine ministries).
  • My education. The online college program I am involved in is wonderful about being flexible around my schedule, but I’m ever seeking that balance between work, school, and life, being more realistic and deliberate in educational goal-setting.
  • Finding contentment. There is a quote that says, “Plan to be a dreamer. Be content in the moment.” In the midst of all the goal-setting and drive to climb higher on the ladder of success, we must remember to enjoy life in the season we are in. Albert Einstein once said, “Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity.”

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

My favorite thing about the word and acronym “JOY” is that it is so encompassing. Those words that just didn’t seem to quite fit (surrender, trust, selflessness) are all included in with joy!

This year will be a year of not just dreaming, but also doing. A year of not just goal-setting, but also go-getting. A year of not just faith, but also action. But most of all, this year will be a year filled with Jesus’ joy, spreading that joy to others, and nurturing that joy in my own life.

“These things I have spoken to you, that My JOY may be in you, and that your JOY may be full.” John 15:11

New Year, New Look

Happy 2017!

The crisp calendar and fresh beginning a new year brings tends to inspire change and revived aspirations. As an avid planner, I’ve found myself setting several “new year goals”, one of which pertains to rejuvenating this blog to make it more of a home for writing. As I’m pursuing an English degree and a career in writing, I’d like to move forward in simplicity and with a clear vision.Those pretty blogs with all the bells and whistles are great, but in this season of my life, a simple space for me to spread out and strengthen my love for the written word is all I need. (More about specific goals for writing coming soon!)

I hope you enjoy the new layout as I attempt to share a bit of my heart in this little corner of the internet. Thank you all for your encouragement thus far in my journey! I’ve loved being able to connect with some of you over this great “blogosphere” and share our stories, and I hope we can continue to admonish one another in the ultimate Word — God’s story for us. To Him be the glory!

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

2 Corinthians 5:17