Life is a crazy thing. Some days and seasons of our lives can feel like we are on a run-away train. Other days and seasons can be slow and rote. Good days, bad days, ups and downs. That is just life. But, the basic ins-and-outs of the everyday pressures can be mind-numbing. We can easily grow weary, tired, worn-out. Life is full of hills and valleys. The Bible tells us this, often. Most of the time we find a way to slog through and do what we feel like we must.
No matter where you are today, valley or hill, I wanted to share a little something with you. In the past, I have talked about how important it is to pray. Well, not only is it important in our spiritual walk and to our spiritual growth, it is indispensable.
As you grow, you will learn to pray more adeptly and more often. I know I have. (And, as a side note, the more time you spend with Jesus, the more time you will want to spend with Him. It truly is an amazing thing!)
And, in the vein of prayer and how critical it is, I would like to share with all of you my new basic, go-to prayer. I stumbled upon it not too long ago while I was reading a book. (And, sadly, I read so many books, I can’t even remember which one it was. But, I digress…) It is a simple prayer, but one that I now find myself praying often. And, I think it is one that each and every one of us can use and find great value in.
That simple prayer is this: Change me, Lord.
Change me, Lord. Change. Me.
So often in our lives, we pray for what we want, or how we want things to be, or how we want people to be. I think it is so easy to forget the fact that the only person we have any control over is ourselves.
And, I don’t know about you, but I want to change. I want my heart to change. I want my mind to change. I want my thinking and my way of life to change. I want my sight and my hearing to change. I want to see people the way Jesus does. I want to love people the way Jesus does. I want to be more and more like Jesus every day.
In order for this to happen, I must change. Me.
But, as I grow in my spiritual life, I have also realized that I can’t do any of this on my own. I need Jesus. I need His help in order to change. I need His strength in order to change. I need His grace in order to change. I need His mercy in order to change. I simply just need Him. And, I need Him more and more each day.
Now, this is not to say that I don’t pray for other people, things, events, or outcomes. I most certainly do. However, with this simple prayer I have learned to look at everything I pray for with fresh eyes and a new perspective. I believe that everything and everyone we pray for is an opportunity for us to grow. I can’t change a person or a situation, but I can change how I see them or it. I can ask God to change me and my heart and how I see things. I can also ask God to change the hearts of others. He can do these things. He has done these things. I have seen Him in action. It is wondrous to behold!
When we pray, we change.
Why? Because we are talking to God; communicating with Him. We are seeking more time with Him, and spending more time with Him. And, when we spend time with God, the person who loves and cares about us the most, we change.
You know it’s true. Just think about it; you are the company you keep. There is an old Japanese proverb that says, “When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends.” That speaks volumes, doesn’t it? That is why it is necessary for us to spend time with God each and every day. (Not just on Sunday mornings.) And, not only should we be spending time with God every day, we should be spending GOOD, QUALITY time with God every day.
This is how we change.
And, the first step is as easy as saying one simple prayer: Change me, Lord.
Have you ever been at a point in your life where you realized that you needed to make some changes? Maybe you have some health issues you need to address. Maybe your finances are starting to get out of whack. Maybe there are some friendships you want to work on. Maybe you just need to take care of yourself a little better. There are many areas in our lives where we should get serious about making good and lasting changes. The benefits we can reap are tremendous, if we are willing to put in the work.
Eating nutritious food and starting an exercise program will give you better health. Creating a budget, spending your money wisely, and saving some cash each month will help give you peace of mind about your finances. Spending quality time with your friends and loved ones gives you much needed social and emotional support. Taking time out each week to do something that you enjoy allows you to rejuvenate and relax. By making these types of changes, you can make your life better and more enjoyable.
To make any real and lasting changes in our lives, we have got to be deliberate and sincere in wanting to make those changes. We can’t be wishy-washy. We can’t be double-minded or go back and forth. We have to REALLY want it and be intentional about making the changes we need. However, in order to make these changes, YOU have to be the one decide to do them. YOU are the one taking action here. Only you can make the decision to change your life for the better. No one else can do it for you. You are the responsible party and you are responsible to and for yourself.
As I have been growing in my relationship with God and wanting to make better, more responsible life choices, something has occurred to me. No matter what other areas of my life I need to work on, there is one specific area that I should be devoting most of my attention to: my relationship with God.
I truly believe that once we get serious about our relationship with Christ, He will give us the help, strength, guidance, and wisdom we need to make better life decisions in every other area of our lives. With His help, we can get serious about making significant changes elsewhere. God wants us to live lives of abundance and happiness. (See Psalm 37:3-4, Psalm 126:2, Luke 6:21, and John 10:10)
So, if you seriously want to get healthy and lose weight, get serious about God. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 tells us, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
If you seriously want to get your finances in good order, get serious about God. Luke 14:28 tells us, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?”
If you want to seriously nurture and grow your relationships, get serious about God. Ephesians 4:2-3 tells us, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
If you are serious about living a better, joy-filled life, get serious about God. Psalm 89:15-16 tells us, “Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord. They rejoice in your name all day long; they celebrate your righteousness.”
So, are you serious about making changes for the better? I hope so! The first step is to get serious about God. I will leave you with one last bible verse. This one connects the dots to all the others I mention above. Matthew 6:33 tells us, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.”
I walked into work this morning and my co-worker asked me if I had heard about Anthony Bourdain. I had not. But, by now, thanks to the world we live in, where information is shared in a split second thanks to social media, I am sure we have all heard this sad news. Death by suicide. It comes in the same week that we lost Kate Spade. Also, death by suicide. My heart just aches for them, their families, friends, loved ones, and everyone who knew and loved them.
These two famous deaths this week have brought suicide to the forefront. #SuicidePrevention, #YouMatter, and #SuicideAwareness are all trending on social media right now. As they should be. I can only hope and pray that anyone who is in such a dark place will find the help and hope that they need. Actually, that is why I am writing this post.
I think back to other famous people we have lost to suicide. People I like and respected. (Robin Williams, Chester Bennington, and Chris Cornell to name a few.) I think of friends who have lost family members to suicide. I also think of people that I know personally who have taken their own lives. (Or, I guess I should say people I have known.) I have seen how devastating their actions have been on the people they leave behind. Honestly, just thinking about all this right now is making me cry.
I understand how easy it can be to let things in your life get you down. It is easy to let things fester in your mind and only focus on the bad things. It can become a slippery slope. It can be easy to just sink further and further down into that nasty pit. And, as I have said before, in a post just a few weeks ago, that is exactly where the devil wants us.
But, I am here to tell you something: Do NOT Give up Hope. You ARE loved and Beloved by God. He created you for a purpose and He loves you like no one else ever can or ever will.
You may be thinking that only a miracle can help you, only a miracle can save you. Guess what? You have that miracle. It was given to you as a gift approximately 2,000 years ago, when Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins. Then, when He rose on the third day, He became our miracle, YOUR miracle. (And, I can’t help but think about that 80’s song from Mike & The Mechanics, “All I Need Is A Miracle” – the lyrics go, “All I need is a miracle, all I need is you.” Listening to this song I realize that all we need is God and He IS our miracle and He is ALL we need. My little Musical Hide and Seek with God game has come in handy yet again! lol)
If you are in that abhorrent pit of despair and you feel like you are all alone, please, please, please reach out to God and receive your miracle. He is waiting for you and He longs to give it to you. He has already paid the ultimate price for you. His deepest and greatest desire is to grab you by your hand and lift you up out of that horrendous pit.
Once He has you in His hands, and you put your faith and trust in Him, you can be assured that He will be with you forever. He will take loving care of you. He will be your shelter. He will be your light in the darkness. He will give you everything that you will ever need. You will become His child and He will be your father. Please, I am begging you, reach your hand out to Him. Let Him be your miracle.
I want to leave you with some Bible verses that illustrate the points I make above. Take some time to sit and read them and soak them in. These are words that were written specifically for you. For. You. Hide them in your heart. Take Jesus in your heart and hide Him there too. Then, allow Him to do His work. Pretty soon you will want to let Him shine brightly through you for all the world to see. He is pretty amazing like that!
Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
John 3:16-17 – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
John 15:13-14 – Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.
Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Matthew 28:20 – Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Psalm 23:4 – Even thought I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Zephaniah 3:17 – The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by this love; he will exult you with loud singing.
Joshua 1:5 – No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.
Psalm 46:1 – God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Deuteronomy 33:27 – The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms; and He drove out the enemy from before you, and said, “Destroy!”
Isaiah 25:4 – For You have been a defense for the helpless, a defense for the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat; for the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall.
Deuteronomy 3:22 – Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.
Lamentations 3:25 – The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the ones who seek him.
John 14:27 – Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all of our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
The Royal Wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was less than two weeks ago. And, in typical fashion, I am lagging behind on the current news of the world. I had lots of friends who were so excited about this wedding. And, to be completely honest, I just was not feeling it. Weddings and all things considered “girly” are not really my thing. (I am a tom-boy who prefers muscle cars to dolls. But, I digress…) Anyway, once the wedding was over and I started seeing my social media accounts blow up with pictures, links, and videos from the wedding service, to my own surprise, I turned into a total fan-girl.
From everything I saw online, the wedding was simply breath-taking. It took place at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. Which, by-the-way, was established in the 14th century by King Edward III. (Wow!) Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, Michael Curry, gave a powerful, uplifting, and moving sermon during the ceremony focused on the power of love. (This is a must watch!) And, while many people seemed to think that Meghan’s wedding dress was too plain, I thought it was so elegant and timeless. It was designed by English designer Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy. (You can read all about the Royal Wedding on Vogue.)
With all the articles, posts, and fanfare going on, lately I have found myself daydreaming about what life would be like as a princess. (Or, as in Meghan Markle’s case, a Duchess. Her official title is Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Sussex.) This is totally NOT something I would normally do. But, it is kind of fun to think about none-the-less. Of course, my favorite parts are thinking about how nice it would be to not have to cook or clean. (Okay, I don't actually cook, my hubby does. But, it would be nice to have someone else cook and give him a break!) Or, about how I could spend my time and money on the causes that I care about rather than having to work for a living. Both of those things would be fabulous! Of course, I have no idea what life as a royal would actually be like. However, I am almost positive that it is NOT all sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns. (Contrary to popular belief.)
But, I did hit upon something in my daydreaming that I wanted to share with all of you. It is probably something that you already now, but I think it’s pretty cool. I AM a princess! Yes, that’s right. I am a princess. And, you, you reading this, you are a princess too. (Or, a prince.)
How? Because our father is the King. Psalm 47:7 tells us, “For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise.” And, Revelation 19:16 says, “On his robe and on his thigh, he has this name written: King of kings and Lord of lords.” Finally, Galatians 3:26 tells us, “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.” Our Father is King of the universe! Through faith, those of us who believe in Him are His children. Therefore, we are princes and princesses!
And, the best part is that He is a loving, kind, just, and merciful King. He is full of grace. He doesn’t just do good—He IS good. Once Jesus returns, He will rule over His earthly kingdom. Revelation 17:14 tells us, “They will make war on the Lamb (Jesus), and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful."
While being a daughter of the King of kings and Lord of lords doesn't require me to wear a crown, it is honestly the highest honor I can think of. I am grateful, thankful, and blessed to be called a child a God. I am indeed a princess and child of the one, true King.
In our every day, Christian walk we face many trials and obstacles. Once you give your life over to Christ, the devil will work overtime to cause you as much trouble as he possibly can. Satan is a supernatural enemy that will do whatever he can to rob us of anything and everything that we hold dear. In 1 Peter 5:8, we learn that Satan is our “adversary who prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” That is also why the first part of this Bible verse tells us to “be sober-minded and watchful.” We must always be on the lookout for the devil and his underhanded schemes.
We are at war. It is spiritual warfare that we fight against the devil and evil that is both within us and in the world around us. And, sadly, because of our sinful nature, it can be easy to fall into the devil’s traps. The true enemy that we fight every day is sin and Satan and our own hearts that hold fast to our sinful ways. Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Being the music lover that I am, I can’t help but think of the INXS song “Devil Inside.” The chorus of that song goes, “the devil inside, the devil inside, every single one of us, the devil inside.” Truer words were never spoken. (Or sung, as the case may be.)
I am not going to lie, I fight this devil inside me often. (More often than I would like, or even care to admit.) However, as I grow in my Christian faith, I feel like I am doing a better and better job against him. But, man, sometimes he gets inside my head and he can really do a number on me. I over-think and worry. I say the wrong things and then dwell on those words. I let what other people say bother me. I don’t let things go. And, I can do these things to the point where I make myself sick. And, trust me, it is not a good place to be. But, it is exactly where the devil wants me.
I know I am not alone in this. I know that each one of you reading this is facing the same types of things. We are all facing spiritual warfare in our lives every day. That is why it is vital for us to grow spiritually, to read our Bibles avidly, and to pray without ceasing. It is important that we have fun too. We can and should gather together and praise and worship God often. (See Hebrews 10:24-25)
We must learn to suit up for battle every day and have our weapons close at hand. Chief among these, in my mind, is being knowledgeable in the word of Christ. When we read and study the Word, we start committing to memory verses that we can recall and use when needed when we find ourselves at war. As the Bible tells us in Ephesians 6:10-18, we need to put on the armor of God.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
God equips us with everything we need to not only fight the devil, but to be victorious against him. As a matter-of-fact, our victory was already won by Jesus at Calvary. Isn’t that the best news ever? I think so!
But, unfortunately, we still have battles to fight. So, let us all be vigilant and stand fast with the Lord. He will stand by us and with us through every trial we face. Let us learn to hide His word in our hearts and use them when they are needed. Pray them. Whisper them. Speak them aloud. Shout them out. And, fight the good fight.
I will leave you with ten Bible verses that are powerful and empowering to help you get started.
As a Christian growing in my faith and spiritual life, I have reached a point where I am actively looking for God in anything and everything around me. Even in music.
Did you play Hide and Seek as a kid? I used to play it with my cousins and friends sometimes. I enjoyed hiding much more than seeking. Now as an adult who is working hard to grow my relationship with Christ, I sometimes feel like I am playing a game of Hide and Seek with Him. How about you? I know that God is definitely seeking me. I couldn’t be more grateful and thankful for that fact. And, I am desperately seeking Him too.
I know you are asking yourself, what does music have to do with Hide and Seek? Stick with me and I will get there. I thought I would share with you a game that I came up with that helps me to seek and find God in music.
I am a lover of music. I think I love just about every type of music you can imagine. Bluegrass, classical, pop, Christian, country, opera, jazz, hip-hop, rap, musical theatre, classic rock, alternative—I love them all. (And more.) Each and every type of music has it’s time and place in our lives. Music is medicine to the soul. It can make you happy or sad—it has this amazing ability to fit whatever need you have. It is also a real-life time machine; taking you back in time to places, events, and people in your life. It is one of the few things that I need in my life. (Along with food, water, shelter, clothing, love, and books!)
Lately, my music staple has been contemporary Christian music. I listen to it more than anything in this current season of my life. I love it so much, because it puts my mind and heart and my focus on God. When I listen to it in the mornings, it truly helps me set the tone for my day. And, oddly enough, as my hubby pointed out, a lot of it doesn’t even necessarily sound “Christian” per say. Many of the songs sound like they could be played on any pop music station. They are upbeat and have great hooks. But, the key is to listen closely to the lyrics of these songs. It is the lyrics that tell you that these songs are for or about God and His love. The magic of these songs is in their lyrics. (At least, I think so.) But I digress…
So, back to my music game. I tend to flip through all the local radio stations when my favorite contemporary Christian station is playing commercials. You do this too, don’t you? Come on…I know you do! Well, now when I do this, I listen to the lyrics of any song that I come across to see if I can find anything “godly” in them. And, very often, I do! It is just a new way I came up with to seek out God.
To give you some examples, I am going to flip through some of our local stations now and see what I come across.
Oddly enough, the first song I hit upon is “God’s Plan” by Drake. I hear the lyrics, “God’s plan, God’s plan. I can’t do this on my own.” Yup, easy to find God in this song. I have no idea what Drake’s religious beliefs are, but just the fact that an artist as well-known as Drake is singing these lyrics, makes me happy.
Next up, “My House” by Flo Rida. Now, don’t forget this is a game. And, I can just picture getting up to heaven and God telling us, “Welcome to my house!” in a big booming voice, can’t you?
Third, is “Pink Houses” by John Mellencamp. (Or is it John Cougar Mellencamp?) Anyway, some of the lyrics to this song go, “Little pink houses for you and me, oh for you and me.” This reminds of John 14:2, “In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” Pink houses remind me of the mansions in this verse. Houses and mansions are both dwelling places. See the connection? Yes, maybe it’s a stretch, but this is how my mind works!
Finally, let’s check the country music station. “Broken Halos” by Chris Stapleton is playing. Another easy one. Halos are worn by angels. There are many angels in the Bible. (And, I believe that angels are all around us every day, helping to keep us safe.)
Obviously, this game doesn’t work with all songs. But, it is still fun to try and find little pieces of God in them. Some might only be one word that makes you think of God, others can be the whole song. You should give it a try. The next time you are in the car scrolling around your local stations, see how you do. I would love for you to share with me what songs you found God in and how you found Him.
In closing, I thought I would go to billboard.com and look at the top 100 songs in the country. As of today, Thursday, May 17, 2018, there are 12 songs in the top 100 that remind me of God, with just their title alone. That is 12 percent. Not too bad. They are as follows:
1. God’s Plan – Drake – ranked #3
2. Never Be The Same – Camila Cabello – ranked #8 (Because with God’s love,
you will never be the same.)
3. Perfect – Ed Sheeran – ranked #9 (Because God is perfect)
4. Heaven – Kane Brown – ranked #20
5. Pray For Me – The Weeknd & Kendrick Lamar – ranked #22
6. In My Blood – Shawn Mendes – ranked #27 (This reminds me of the blood of Jesus.)
7. King’s Dead – Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, Future & James Blake – ranked #60 (Because God is our King, but He isn’t dead.)
8. Most People Are Good – Luke Bryan – ranked #73 (Because God is good.)
9. Woman, Amen – Dierks Bentley – ranked #86
10. Everything’s Gonna Be Alright – David Lee Murphy & Kenny Chesney – ranked #87 (Because with God, everything will be alright.)
11. Mercy – Brett Young – ranked #97
12. Preach – YoungBoy Never Broke Again – ranked #98
Over the last six or so years, I have been growing up spiritually. I like to think that each day I am growing closer and closer to God. While I consider my journey to be a slow and steady pace, I often wish I would grow, and go, faster. Then, I think of Joyce Meyer’s quote, “I’m not where I need to be, but thank God I’m not where I used to be.”
Lately, I have been thinking a lot about how much I want my relationship with God to become second nature. If you look up “second nature” in the dictionary, it will tell you that it is a characteristic or habit in someone that appears to be instinctive because that person has behaved in a particular way so often.
I want to think of God first and foremost each and every day. I want to automatically go straight to God with all my thoughts, questions, feelings, and/or problems. I want to spend quality time each day with Him by reading my Bible and in prayer. I want to be able to know the right thing to do in every situation I find myself in. (And, say the right thing.) I want to know the Word of God inside and out. I want to go to scripture and find the help and comfort I need. I want to be able to point others to Christ. I want to fight the good fight and finish the race God has set before me. I want everything I say and do to reflect God.
And, I want to be able to do all of these things so well that I don’t even have to think about them, I just do them. Kind of like breathing. I want them to be second nature. I am not asking for much, am I? (Insert sarcasm here!)
As Twyla Tharp, the famous choreographer and dancer, has astutely said, “Over time, as the daily routines become second nature, discipline morphs into habit.” In order to accomplish all the goals, I have listed above, I need to make it my daily routine to do all of these things.
While I have a very, very long way to go, just the fact that I want these things is an encouragement to me. It has taken me years to get to this place in my life. And, I am ok with that. I am just happy to be here! Plus, it is helpful to remind myself that everything happens in God’s timing, not mine.
I am exactly where I should be.
I am a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light and any good thing that I come across.