My Beloved

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Genesis 1:27

I think one of the hardest things to feel is not being loved. So many times in our lives we try to earn the love of others. We try to have the people around us look up to us, think that we are important and relevant. Sometimes we try to earn the love from another person in a relationship, which can leave us empty and broken. Maybe you are trying to earn love from a parent who wanted nothing to do with you. You try to earn love in your job, hobbies, in most things you do. Why? Why do we do this to ourselves? We are creatures that were made for love, because our God is love. The thing is, we have become disconnected from God; we’ve lost our source of true love. This love is a deep love, one that enters into our life and breaks our heart, making us new creatures. We are searching for love in all the wrong places (that’s gotta be a song, right?). We are wanting love because we feel incomplete, and in our incompletion we feel the farthest thing from beautiful; we feel ugly. This is the lie Satan, the great deceiver, is speaking over us. The truth is, we follow a God who is all powerful and made us in his image. We have a God that calls us sinners, those who have chosen independence from him; he calls us his beloved.

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Fearfully and Wonderfully Created

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Psalm 139:14

About a year ago I had this revelation. I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and saw a t-shirt. It was the daughter of someone that I follow and her shirt said, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” That stuck with me so much, because it means so much. The caption was something sweet about his daughter and helping her know she was made in the image of God. Cut to a few days later when I went to the Orange conference (a Next gen ministry conference), and they started talking about how vital the role of pastors and small group leaders play in the lives of the next generation. They said they do this by helping the next generation see that they are made in the image of God. Not a coincidence. Over and over since then God has been placing this on my heart, and if you’ve read my blog consistently, you know that I really like to push this fact. The reason I push it is because living into that title shifts your perspective. It allows you to move from thinking that you were some accident by science, but that you were created, fearfully and wonderfully, with a higher purpose for your life.

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Guard Your Heart

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

Proverbs 4:23

Everything we do; our actions, our words, our attitudes towards others all flow out of our heart. This month I’ve been going through b-movie tropes to help teach life lessons that I have learned from God’s word. Today I want to continue but with no direct example, because there is a trap that we all fall into and it is a serious one. In movies we see people make dumb choices, they go into the graveyard/basement/abandoned circus and get themselves into big trouble. In movies we yell at the screen and laugh as a poorly acted character gets into the trap that we all saw coming. The truth is, we are often that character. We walk into obvious traps and lies from our enemy, and it costs us a great deal. Maybe you went into a relationship that everyone said was a bad idea, or maybe those friends you have that don’t really change the way you act (riiiight), or maybe it was the under-the-table dealings in your job that no one would find out about. We walk right into these traps, and they stare us right in the face. We can easily blame God for not warning us, but the real issue is us. When we don’t have our hearts set on what really matters, we will fall into the traps of the enemy.

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What Defines You?

I hope you have been able to stay warm this past weekend if you were like me and caught up in a crazy snow storm. This past weekend I had a lot of free time on my hands, the cabin fever was strong with me. While I had time on my hands, I had to write a brief paper on social media and how I present myself for my relational communication course. It was a strange project, not the paper itself, but the idea of looking at how I present myself to the world. It was enlightening, because of the fact that it made me look introspectively, and it reminded me of things that I have learned on how I define myself. In high school, I came to the realization that I want to be who I am, not wear a mask or pretend to be someone that I’m not. From then on, in every area of my life I wanted to be me, because I have been defined by something greater. Someone greater. I have been designed by an all-powerful God, one who has given me talents, gifts, and interests that make me unique. Too often I used to waste time trying to fit in, pretending to like the things that everyone else liked, talk the way others talked, did what everyone else did. These weren’t me. When you choose to not live like everyone else, others will try to define you by your earthly achievements. I was weak because I didn’t excel in sports, I was a fool because I didn’t learn like everyone else, and I was an outcast because I wanted to truly follow Christ. These accolades, grades, and feelings of an outsider didn’t define me. Only God can define you.

Once I started living this truth, the earthly things around me began to not matter anymore. I learned to love the hobbies that gave me joy. I loved comics, movies, and writing because God designed me to think through mixed media. I learned to be vulnerable, to be open with my struggles to help those who are suffering around me in similar ways. I learned that life is so much more fun when you live knowing that only God defines you. The pressure of trying to be perfect, or fit in with everyone else fades away. It fades away because it isn’t important. I am so thankful that God defines me. The verse that spurred on this post was Psalms 139:14 which says, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” What a beautiful verse. When we believe that God has made us, we know that he defines us by saying we are fearfully and wonderfully made. When looking at how I present myself through social media, I am me. I am the same person on the screen as you will meet in person, and I do that on purpose. I want to be exactly who God has made me to be, all the time, no matter what form others see me in. I want you to believe that same truth, you can be all that God made you to be, when you start believing that he is the only one who will ever define you.

Know that you are beautiful.  

God made you beautiful. Yes, guys too. The word beautiful means that something is aesthetically pleasing to the senses and has a high standard, something that is excellent. You are beautiful, because God made you. No matter what people have said to you, or how people may have treated you in the past, you are beautiful. You have a unique personality, one that is filled with strengths and weaknesses, hopes and dreams, a future that is unlike any other. I’m not saying this to make you feel like you are better than someone else, I’m saying this because you have been designed by an awe-inspiring creator. Without him we would have nothing, and he has given you so much. One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is that we are not good enough, saying we are worthless, but this is the lie. You are worth everything, that’s why an all-powerful God gave his son to die for you. God did that saying that he loves you so much, that you are his beautiful creation. Our society has put a standard up for what makes someone beautiful or special, young girls hate the way they look and young boys try so hard to attain what a “real” man looks like. This breaks my heart, because God has already made you to be exactly who you are. One day when I have children of my own, I hope to tell them that they are so special. One day I will tell my daughter that she is beautiful just the way she is. One day I will tell my son that a “real” man is one that follows God with everything inside of him. Today I am telling you the same. You are beautiful because God has made you, and you must believe that he is the only one that defines you.

Strive towards what is good.

Once you know that God has designed you, you must strive towards what is beneficial to your life. None of us would knowingly drink poison, so why is it that we make decisions that could harm us? We do this on a daily basis, it is the sad truth. God wants to be with you in everything, yet we choose to try and live life on our own strength. Time and time again we fail and get frustrated as to why God would let this happen, the truth is, we are not coming to God first. When God isn’t first, we lose sight of what is important. We let the small things slide. We hang around those people that really are terrible influences, we waste time with things that aren’t important, and sometimes we let our eyes fall into places they should never be. So we need to make a choice, will we believe that God defines us, or make compromises that only satisfies our flesh for a short time. I hope you choose to live the way that God made you to be. When you live that way, you spend time with people that push you to be better, we use our time wisely, and we focus our eyes towards heaven. It’s not big things, it’s the decisions to be wise. Finding community at your church, spending time in the word and in prayer, keeping your eyes guarded from the computer screen or that underwear commercial that comes on the TV. Strive towards what is good, because God has defined you to be a child of the most high.

Don’t define others.

We can forget this quickly. We start living without a mask and live the way God designed you to be, but when we see others, we are quick to judge. We need to live by the golden rule, yes that one. Treat others the way you want to be treated. If you’ve ever experienced a hurtful word spoken about you, or had a rumor started about you, it is devastating. It hurts because people judge you for living the way God wants you to live, and that means that you seem weird to others. Why then would we do the same? It seems so simple, but it’s the truth. Only God defines you, and only God defines the people around you. So don’t gossip, don’t speak words that will only destroy the spirit of people around you, instead, speak life. Build others up, tell them the truth that you have found, show them that only God defines them. Come to them with love when you see they are not living the way scriptures say, and before that, make sure your life lines up with scripture. Don’t define others, because only God can define them.

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How do you live your life? Do you try to fit in and let the people around you define who you are, or do you choose to believe that only God can define you? God has made you. All of your talents and quirks, he has made you to be exactly who you are. I love that verse in Psalms. There was a company that sells a T-shirt with the words, “fearfully and wonderfully made,” on it. I was scrolling through Instagram and saw a young girl, must have been around 7 years old, wearing the shirt. I love that. I think we should all be like that. Proud of who we are because we have been fearfully and wonderfully made. I hope my children one day know that truth and hold it that close to their own live. You were made by the same God that created the universe, the beauty and wonder that surrounds us, that same God, created you. Not by accident or by chance, God designed you and made you. God is the only one that can define you. So live knowing that you are beautiful, strive towards what is good, and don’t define others. God loved you, made you, and gave everything to save you.

God is the only one that will ever define you.

-Joshua Thomas