I have considered myself to be a “Christian” for most of my life. However, truth be told, I only started having a real relationship with God in the last 5 to 6 years of my life. I sometimes say I found my way “back” to God, but, if I am truly being honest, that isn’t the case. Prior to my life with God now, I didn’t really have a life “with” God in it. I didn’t have God to go “back” to. At least, not from my point of view.
Don’t get me wrong, I knew “of” God and I did believe in Him. However, I did NOT have a real relationship with Him. It was all superficial. I thought about Him at Christmas and Easter. I prayed to Him when I was in trouble, or when someone I loved was in trouble.
I look back on my life and I realize that even though I didn’t recognize Him, that He has been with me the whole time. He has been taking care of me, protecting me, guiding me, and loving me my whole life! This thought brings tears to my eyes. He has loved me this whole time and I am just now beginning to comprehend what this means.
Like most people, I am very self-centered. I believe that this is just our nature. It has always been about me, me, me. What do I get out of it? What’s in it for me? What do I want? Me, me, me. The real questions I should be asking are: How can I be more like God? What can I do to share His love and light? What can I do to help others? What can I do to win people over to God? What is His will for my life? I need to stop thinking in terms of me and what I want and start thinking in terms of God and what His will for my life is.
How about you? Do you put God’s will before your own? Or, are you more concerned about what you want than what God wants for you?
If you only think about you, you, you, I urge you to stop being so self-centered. God’s will for our lives is so much grander than anything we can plan on our own.
Are you wondering what God’s will for your life is? Read your Bible. The Bible is the living, breathing word of God. A good Bible verse to get you started is Romans 12:2 which says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
If you are like me, then you want to know God’s will right away, but God doesn’t work that way. Knowing His will requires patience. Reading the Bible and understanding it and learning from it, requires patience. If you are truly seeking His will, He will reveal it to you one step at a time.
The key is to walk with God each and every day and form a close relationship with Him. Doing this will soon place a desire in your heart to be more like Him and you will want to know His will for your life. And, once you get to know Him, it will help you to know what His will is.
Make God a priority in your life. Read and study your Bible. Spend time each day in prayer. Get to know God. Then, make it a point to understand His will for your life. Because, as Psalm 37:4 tells us, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” And, who doesn’t want that??
If you want to get a better feel for God’s will for your life, please read the three-part post from John Thomas from Focus on the Family. Mr Thomas starts with “Finding God’s Will for My Life”.
Some days I just feel like crying. Do you? Sometimes, I don’t even know why. I just want to cry.
It’s been rainy here the last few days. A stupid terrorist killed people at a concert in the UK the other night. A sweet girl I know has a dear aunt in hospice and they don’t expect her to live much longer. A girl I went to high school with had her house burn down a few days ago. All of these things make me sad.
I know the purpose of this blog is to focus on God and good, but let’s be honest—it is not always an easy thing to do. Real life is tough and I want this blog to reflect that. You need the bad to know what the good is. You need the lows with the highs, the winters to contrast the summers, etc.
And, you know what? It’s ok! It is ok to be sad. And, no, you don’t always have to have a reason. I just needed to share that.
If you are feeling down or a little bit blue for any reason, I suggest listening to this song from We Are Messengers called Magnify. Listen to the words. Let them seep in. And, I hope you feel better.
If you look at my resume or my Linkedin profile, you will notice that I tend to move from one job to the next quickly. I average about 18 months in one place. My hubby will sometimes remind me that this is not good. (However, I was at my last job for almost four years. That is progress, right?) But, I personally don’t feel like job-hopping is necessarily bad. The professional world is not the same as it was twenty years ago, or even ten years ago. And, I have always had, what I feel like, are legitimate reasons to job-hop in the first place.
First, I want to preface this by telling you how my mind works. Or, rather, use to work. For many, many years I have had this notion in my head that I should be good at something. Or, be naturally talented enough at one thing to make a living out it. Or, have so much passion for something, that I should just KNOW what I wanted to do with my life. I would look around me and see people who were doing things they loved, or that they were naturally gifted at, or that they had a huge passion for. I had none of these things. I thought I was abnormal. I thought that there was something wrong with me. I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I felt lost and that I was on this job-journey that I did not want to be on. One that would NEVER end. I felt like Michael W. Smith wrote “Place in This World” just for me.
And, only recently have I had the epiphany that, most people DO NOT have any idea what they want to be when they grow up. Many start out thinking they want to do one thing, then pivot to something else, then pivot again and again. This means that I am NOT abnormal! I am not the only one who is adrift in this sea of “what do I want to do with my life?” Michael W. Smith wrote that song for many us! I can’t tell you how much better this makes me feel.
I go through this cycle of trying to find a good fit, as I suppose most people do. First, I thought it was most important to do something I loved. Then, I thought I needed to find a cool place to work. A place that was more fun and laid back. Later, I realized that the environment I worked in also needed to fit with my morals and values. (I need to work for a company I like, with people I respect.) Also, high on my list is being paid fairly for the work I do, having good benefits, and a good work-life balance. It would also be great if this job was close to home, because honestly, spending hours going to and from work sucks. (If you haven’t already figured this one out for yourself, you can trust me on this one. When you sit in traffic for more than an hour each way, you are worn out before you even get to work, much less do any work. But, I digress…)
For a long time, I thought that to be truly happy with my professional life, I needed these things I listed above: a job I enjoyed doing, a company I liked, leaders and co-workers I respected, a good and fair salary, and nice benefits. However, finding ALL of these things in a job is basically like looking for a unicorn in the forest. They only exist in our minds.
I have finally gotten to a stage in my life where I have realized two very important things.
ONE: As you grow and change, your job needs grow and change right along with you. Where you are in life and what you are doing will always change. The job you had when you were a teenager wouldn’t cut it if you got married and had kids. Conversely, if you are suddenly single again, or an empty-nester, your life has changed, which means your needs will change. This means that your job situation may need to change too. This is just how life is. The only constant is change. Just remember that you should always do what is in your best interest.
TWO: In the grand scheme of things, life is NOT about work. Sure, most of us must do it in order to live/survive. And, of course, you should do your best to be as happy as you can be at work, especially considering how much time you send there. But, life is about so much more. What job/career we do in life, does NOT make us who we are. How we treat other people, our family, our friends, and ourselves--that is much more important.
I read a story many years ago, about a man who was a trash collector. Now, this is not a job most people would like to do. Actually, the guy in the story didn’t like it at first either. But, this man shared that in his line of work, he came across a lot of different people each day. And, he soon began to realize that just by saying hello to them and showing interest in them, he could make them smile. He then started thinking of his job NOT as being a trash collector, but being a smile maker. He adjusted his outlook and what a huge difference he made in not only his life, but those he encountered each day. I remember thinking how beautiful that was!
Basically, what I am trying to convey is that we shouldn’t get so caught up in what our “jobs” are. What we should be concerned with is who WE are. Once we make that inward change and decide to find the good in our situations and focus on that, that can make all the difference in our lives.
It isn’t necessarily easy. But, I, for one am working on changing myself from the inside. Maybe this post will encourage you to do the same!
Something has been on my heart and mind a lot lately. I thought I would share it with all of you here on FOGG7. It is a huge issue. A really, really big deal. It is honestly, life or death. It is the answer to this question: how do you get to heaven?
Many people I know, many people I care about and love, THINK they know the answer to this question. They believe that you get into heaven based on the good works that you do here on earth. If you are a good person and do good things, then you will go to heaven. I am here today to tell you, with as much respect as I can and love in my heart, that you are incorrect in your thinking.
There is only one way to get to heaven: to believe in God and to ask him to live in your heart. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. ~ Romans 10:9-10, ESV
That’s it. It is that simple. Well, if you believe in God, it is that simple. Salvation is simply a process of confessing and believing.
In order to be saved we must first realize our true state of sinfulness before God and know that He alone can save us, cleanse us, and give us eternal life. Scripture tells us that Jesus is the only way and we can not have access to God through any other means. In fact, in John 14:6, Jesus plainly stated..."I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
Now, for some of my beloved family and friends, they are confused about this. For some reason, they have it in their heads that they just need to be good people, do good things, and treat others well, and they will go to heaven. But that is NOT the case. Ephesians 2:8-9 teaches us, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God – not because of works, lest any man should boast.”
Now, I have to admit, it is easy to get confused. Just doing research for the blog has got me second guessing what I have always believed. Honestly, after doing some reading, I can see why this is so troublesome. After reading Tim Staples article called “Are Good Works Necessary for Salvation?” I confess that my view may be adjusting a bit. Maybe the name of this game is two-fold: we must believe AND do the right things.
About five years ago, when I started having an actual, true relationship with God, I came to the conclusion that once you entered this relationship, it was only natural to want to do good things, right things—in short to be more God-like. But, I also know that we are only human, and have a sinful nature. And, that sinful nature is not something that can magically disappear overnight. (Nor will it ever go away. We just become more mindful of it and make better decisions once we are saved.) I know I struggle with it every day. I think most of us do. That is why I got the tattoo on my wrist of my favorite Bible verse, and why I started thinking of myself as a fighter. (Read my blog post on it here.)
That being said, in my heart right now I still find it difficult to comprehend that God would sentence us to eternity in hell UNLESS we didn’t believe in Him. Should we do good works? Yes!! Most definitely we should. Should the amount of good works we do determine what riches we gain once we get to heaven? Maybe. Probably. I also call back to the scripture that tells us God looks at our hearts. 1 Samuel 16:7 tells us, “But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." We will go to hell if we DO NOT believe in God, trust Him, ask him to live in our hearts, or flat out reject Him? Absolutely, without a doubt! So, where does that leave you? Heck, where does it leave me?
Oddly enough, in the midst of writing this blog post, a friend of mine from high school shared an article on “What Happens to Us When We Die?” It is a powerful reminder of why it is so important to be saved. It mentions that the unsaved are cast into the lake of fire where they will reside forever, eternally separated from the presence of Almighty God. And, separated from those that they love. To make it more personal, this is the destiny of your loved ones, your friends, your parents, your brothers and sisters, and children, if they die without Jesus Christ. This is why it is vital to know Jesus. Our eternal lives depend on it.
What do you believe? What is your answer? Why? Can you back it up with Biblical facts? I would honestly love to hear what you think. I strongly urge you to read your Bible, do your own research, talk to people you trust, and most importantly, talk to God. That is what I plan on doing. A great set of online articles to get you on your way is at Focus on the Family. Robert Velarde has some valuable insight. You can start with his post, “Is Christ the Only Way?”
Again, please do share with me your thoughts. This is the most important issue of our lives. For now, I am sticking to the fact that we must have faith and believe in and trust God. If you do decide that the two-fold way is the true way to get to heaven, I think you will agree that the faith part is the most important part. Without it, why would you even care about the good deeds and treating others well? At least, as in concerns your place in eternity?
I am so glad you are here! I am Erica Strickland, a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light and any good thing that I come across.