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.
So many people in this world don’t feel any love in their lives. They grew up in homes that were broken in some form or another. Or, they grew up in the home of a grandparent or other relative, rather than with their birth parent or parents. Or, their parents didn’t know how to show their love or declare their love. Oftentimes, the parents were never shown love either. It seems to be this vicious cycle, passed on from one generation to the next.
The older I get and the more people I meet, the more I realize that we are all hurting from something. Therefore, it really is important to be kind to everyone. We need to look at each other through the eyes of Jesus. Jesus looked at everyone with love. We need to love and pray for each other, even those who we consider our enemies. (See Mark 12:31 and Matthew 5:44)
Our world is hurting and everyone in this world desperately needs to know about God and His love for us. I want each one of you out there to know that you are loved very much by God. As a matter of fact, you are His beloved.
If you look beloved up in the dictionary, you will see that as an adjective it means greatly loved or dear to the heart. As a noun, it is a person who is greatly loved. And, that my friends, is what you are to God.
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:1-2)
God’s love for us is unconditional. This means that we do NOT have to do or say or be anything in particular. We do NOT have to do or say anything special. We do NOT change who we are in any way, shape, or form. We do NOT have to do anything at all. We just need to accept His love. That’s all. Accept it. Beloved is a word that indicates an action on the part of the one doing the loving. And, the one doing the loving on us is God. So, allow yourself to be-loved by God. Be-loved.
As I so often do when I am typing up a blog post, a song comes into my mind. "Beloved" by Jordan Feliz is a great little song to get stuck in your head. It is the perfect way to be reminded that you are God's beloved. Take a listen to it.
You are beloved
I wanted you to know
You are beloved
Let it soak into your soul
Oh, forget the lies you heard
Rise above the hurt
And listen to these words
You are beloved
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.