“Don’t let any evil talk come out of your mouths. Say only what will help to build others up and meet their needs. Then what you say will help those who listen.”
I love words. It’s one of the reasons I love to write, so many words with deep meaning can come together and create a complete thought. That thought can then translate into an idea, and ideas become unstoppable. They create change and leave an impact, but we have to be careful with our words. Many times, we get excited by the power of positive change and movements from people because of words, also have the capability to tear down and destroy others. I have a deep love of words, but I also understand that they have a dark side to them. It all depends on how we utilize this powerful tool. We all have a responsibility with our words, one that we can use to build up and encourage, or tear down and crush others. Today I want to talk about the impact of speaking life can be towards another person, because we need this more than ever.
Well, it’s finally here. This past Thursday I officially graduated from UNCG! It was an awesome experience to say the least, and to be honest, never really sunk in until I was standing there waiting for my name to be called to walk across the stage for my department graduation. I was able to walk and feel like the last four years were worth it, that I had accomplished what I had set my mind towards. Today I’m doing a bit of a different post than I normally do. My typical format (for those of you who may be new readers, welcome!), is I will have a topic, a scripture, and break down to three-ish core principles that God has shown me through it. I like to break form here and there to share my heart from time to time. You see I don’t have all of the answers, I know I know, shouldn’t I be some kind of all-knowing guru? Yeah not really. Life at the moment went from being normal and sort of have a flow to it, to again being shaken up. I hope today that through some personal stories that interconnect, you will be able to look at the shifting in your own life and know you’re not alone. That’s the biggest reason I write at all anyways, I never want anyone to feel alone for any reason.
This week marks my last week as a full time college student. Pretty weird but exciting at the same time. For one thing it marks a new start, a chance for me to get out of the mundane and into my passions. On the other hand it brings unknowns and uncertainties about the future. It’s all exciting and nerve wracking, but I can’t wait to see where God takes me. I’ve learned so much over the past four years during my time at university, but there was a moment about two weeks ago that taught me immensely about two things, love and family. I’ve written about these two things several times before, but I am taking a non-traditional approach to what it means to have family and what it means to love people. I want to talk about them because I feel like in our culture today, especially in a Christian spiritual culture today, we tend to see our family as just the people we serve alongside in ministry or flesh and blood. We also use love as a bargaining chip, saying if you do “x,” then I will give you love. That’s not what we are called to do, and today I want to talk about a moment that was a turning point in the life of someone I experienced not long ago.
“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.”
1 Peter 1:13
Well it’s that nice warm spring time weather. Here in North Carolina it pretty much skips the cool/warm and goes straight into the heat of the summer. This heat is too much for my bones, but it always reminds me of a classic warm weather movie; Frozen. Not you may being saying, “that’s a winter movie, silly,” but that’s technically not true. The movie takes place in summer, and is that important to what I’m talking about today? Not really, no. The reason I thought of this movie then shifted towards me thinking about the classic song from the film. Come on, I know you just started singing it in your head. The song “let it go” stands out in the flick, we see our ice princess finally using her X-men abilities and decides to cast off the words that people spoke over her. Now where Elsa is a tad misguided with her abilities and eventually learns the power of family love, it made me think of the idea, taking the emotions and words that we feel and hear, and simply letting them go.
Hello there dear reader! I hope your day is going well, it’s a tad rainy here (which is fantastic), but I hope you are enjoying your day during this spring season. This past week I had a lot on my mind. I have papers to write with the end of the semester coming quick, and I was preparing a message I had an opportunity to give Sunday night with our youth. Throughout the week I will typically have God speak to me and give me a topic to write on Monday morning, but this week, I felt like I heard nothing. I was a bit frustrated, because in the two-ish years I’ve been doing this, I never really struggled with having a topic. I chose not to give up. I got up this morning and began my drive to the coffee shop I write in, and it hit me. It was so obvious about what I could share. You’ve most likely guessed because of your detective skills being able to see the title of this post, but I decided to write about hearing the voice of God. There are many misconceptions about what it looks like to have God speak to us and how we can listen to what he is trying to tell us. It was so apparent that I needed to write about this because I read a verse the other day that I pretty much just looked right over, but there is so much truth to it. It’s a verse that tells us how we can listen to the voice of God and shift our behavior when we don’t feel like God is there at all. James 1:19 says,
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
Recently, I’ve been scared. There’s lots of scary stuff going on in my life. End of the semester stress, graduating this year, starting a job to fund raise for a future career of ministry, and simply wanting to do what God has called me for. I’ve been scared, but God is bigger than my fears. This past week had many cool moments occur. I learned that I had the chance to speak at our high school ministry, I had a great conversation with my campus pastor, and I had a chance to pray over people in our city. That’s the moment where it happened, where a simple thing hit me in my moment of feeling weak. Prayer. One of those basic things we have in our walk with Christ. So simple, yet often I overlook the importance of prayer. In my season of fear I have been praying a lot, asking for a sign (some kind of neon lights in the sky to point me) I have been wanting all the answers to my life immediately. God doesn’t work on my schedule. Aww man! But it would be so much nicer, I mean, I know what’s best for me! That’s my human side, and it’s many of your reactions too, well maybe you don’t whine, but you get the idea. In all of my fear, I am choosing to pray, because when I choose to humble myself, then the Lord works.
“So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude.”
Everything is rooted in one thing. Our roots formulate our ideas, our passions, and our desires for the future. Each of us has our foundation built on something. So what are you rooted in? What drives you, pushes you forward, causes you to think about it all the time? I think many of us want to have our roots growing in the presence of God, but we fear actually giving up control. So our roots stay in our own power. Sure for a time they seem to be growing well, but eventually we will find that we become dead inside. We put on our good face and try to make it on our own, but once we have a chance to be alone we feel the hurt rush in. We feel weak because we are weak; our foundation is rooted in the wrong source. I’ve been thinking about this because before I can go and do anything I need to make sure my roots are growing in the right place. I think about this because I never want to feel dead again, I never want to rest on my own power because my strength is weak. I’ve been thinking about this because I had remembered the time I had Lawrence the cactus.
This past weekend was fantastic. I had a chance to be involved with our children’s ministry event called FX (family experience). I was able to help re-write the script and help with the production, but I was also able to be in different aspects of the night itself. From the many costume changes I went through to the getting out of breath from being a wacky game show host, I loved every aspect of it. The feeling after that night was hard to describe, but the best way I can quantify it was that it felt like home. The feeling of being home is a feeling that you are in a place where you belong. It’s a sense of peace and comfort, where you can feel safe and secure. It’s the feeling I get in the presence of God. I think that’s a beautiful thing. We feel at home when we enter into our passions because God has given us these passions, and he calls us homeward.
“He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
‘You have answered correctly,’ Jesus replied. ‘Do this and you will live.’
What does it look like to truly follow Christ? I think so many times for us we wonder if what we are doing is the right thing, if we are allowed to do or say different types of things, or if we can associate with certain people. We need to stop. We need to break free of the mindset that faith is a set of rules. Faith with Christ is a relationship, an authentic relationship shared with the creator of all things. It’s so easy in the church world mindset that we have to follow a certain list of rules in order to be allowed in the club. Following Christ is not about earning enough gold stars to go to heaven, it’s about a relationship of love with the king of kings. This can be difficult. We live in a modern age where following Christ can be pushed to the side. We have endless entertainment and can post pictures of our bible on Instagram without ever actually reading it. The crazy thing is, this has been a struggle since Jesus came onto the scene. No they didn’t have hours of shows to stream on Netflix or some Jesus and coffee aesthetic to keep up with on Instagram. What they had was the core of the struggle, what does it look like to truly follow Christ?
This past week I went bicycling on the Virginia Creeper trail. It was a blast of a day trip. I woke up at six, carpooled with Danielle at seven, and then spent the day riding up to the trail. We arrived at a cute little bike shop and road up the winding path with an old bus driver who told us all about his grandchildren and great grandchildren. The drive took about a half hour, then we began our trek down. The weather had fooled us, so we were a bit colder, causing us to layer up and for me to use Danielle’s extra socks as gloves (Hey, I mean whatever works, right?). We road our bikes in the cold and stopped a few times to warm up our frigid toes. We survived on Fig Newton’s (the only restaurant on the path was closed) and luckily only had my chain pop off once. It was a long journey, which took us around three-ish hours as opposed to the half our ride up, but the journey was worth it. I think the same is true in our own lives. God gives us desires and passions in our hearts to do amazing things, but the journey can often seem to be never ending, but there is a purpose in our journey. The long journey is worth the wait because God shapes who we are in moments of wandering.