2019: Lessons Learned

Do you ever stop to think about how far you have come? What God has brought you through and how He has grown you? I’m doing a lot of that with the new year and new decade that has started. So I thought I would make a list of some of the things God has taught me over the past year.

  1. Forgiveness – seems pretty straightforward right? Just tell the person who hurt you that you forgive them? No! Yes, you should tell the person you forgive them but forgiveness is first a heart thing. Forgiveness means giving up bitterness towards the person. It means letting go of your natural want for vengeance. When I finally understood the utter selflessness of forgiveness I was able to forgive all those who hurt me in the past. And ultimately I was able to let go of the pain I had harbored in my heart for so long.
  2. Fear – this is definitely a thing I have struggled against all of my life and still do today. Fear is natural of course because it protects us from danger but there can be too much. And a lot of people, including myself, have too much. That fear ultimately gets to the point where it causes major anxiety and panic attacks which can be debilitating (take it from a pro). But what God taught me this year was how to overcome that fear. The only way to do that is to be overcome with Christ’s love. 1 John 4:18 says that perfect love casts out fear and that is what Christ’s love does. It can help you rid yourself of that paralyzing fear. When I am in the midst of an anxiety attack the best thing I can do is focus on Christ. Think of His love and how it can overcome the fear I am currently facing. I’ve also found that when I cannot think about His love that it is good to have a friend who can speak truth to you. Overcoming fear and anxiety is still a process I am going through and it may be lifelong but Christ’s love is the only way to make it through.
  3. Surrender – this is probably the most important thing I learned this year. The art of surrendering to God. Giving every part of my life to Him and living it for His glory. I even created my mantra for the year from this lesson. “Live life for the glory of the King.” The Bible says that whatever we do should be done for the glory of God. This includes surrendering everything to God. Every blessing and trial surrendered to Him. Every blessing and trial for His glory. That’s the way it should be. Releasing control of our lives so that He can have control.

I pray each and every one of you has an amazing year filled with learning new lessons and growing in your walk with Christ. I hope my little explanation of the lessons I learned in 2019 will help you on your journey. Have a blessed year my beautiful people!

It’s Okay (3am thoughts from my best friend)

We’re just a bunch of kids trying to figure out life, and that’s okay. It’s okay to feel the feels. It’s okay to mess up. It’s okay to test the waters, to try new things. That’s what being a human is all about. Nothing is ever set in stone and it doesn’t need to be. The only constant thing in life is our unchangeable, unwavering, all sovereign God. He is the Author of our stories – wouldn’t it be stupid if we wrote a story and you had a whole plot planned out, but the main character decided “nah. Imma take matters into my own hands and I prefer THIS thing not to happen. Maybe I’ll tweak that adventure too…. But I DON’T love her, why would I want to go through heartbreak and betrayal in order to love her and marry her? Lol let’s get rid of this part so my uncle DOESN’T become the villain. No I’m not losing my best friend’s life over a stupid plot twist. Why would I need ninjas to attempt to assassinate me if they never actually succeed anyway? Hey don’t write in that I lose my lucky bracelet – I kinda want that for the whole story thank you very much.”

How dumb does that sound? The author purposely creates a story to develop their character. The character must go through hardships to be wiser, to be better, to grow and to grow up.

So, love that girl! Maybe she’ll break your heart in the future? You’ll grow from it. You’ll be a better man.

So travel to a new school! You might learn things you never knew you needed to learn in order to fulfill something later on in your future that’ll be thrown into your path.

Marriage? Sure that would be nice. But wouldn’t you like to wait around for the right person? Yeah it might take trial and error. And maybe through trial and error you’ll learn you weren’t meant to be married all along. Or maybe through those trials and errors you’ll discover yourself more – figure out who you are as a person and be more comfortable in your own skin.

But you know what makes a person lovely? What makes a person beautiful? What makes a person a person? Talking daily with God. No one can satisfy you more than He can. He’s the ultimate Author. What if you’re destined to be a sniper in Afghanistan? What if you’re destined to lose a limb or go blind? What if you’re destined to save a life? What if you’re destined to be a sniper in Afghanistan and the enemy finds you out and gauges your eyes out then later one of your friends betrays you and blows your leg off, but all of that was necessary to save someone’s life?

You’ll never have great adventures until you submit to God’s will.

Perhaps your greatest adventure is to knit for refugees, and you get to hear harrowing stories from people totally different from you. Perhaps your greatest adventure is to be an art teacher at an elementary school, and when one of the kids grow up they want to be just like you because of the kind of testimony you gave.

Great or small, we all make impacts. Every choice we make has a rippling effect whether it hurts someone or helps someone. And hard choices are inescapable. All parties involved are involved in some way – the freedom you have in all of this? The freedom to choose how you’re going to react. And that reaction will have its rippling effects as well. So be careful of how you respond to life’s circumstances. The right attitude will make you a winner, even when you’re stuck at the bottom. So what do you have to lose? Live! Stick to integrity and you can handle any surprise the universe throws at you.

Pain? She’s unavoidable. So dance with her. Learn from her. She’ll make you cry. She’ll make you want to quit.  But she’ll never take away your power – the power you have to not let her rule your life. She’s only a lesson. She’s not your owner.

God is our Teacher and can use her – but she’s only there to be used. Nothing more. So allow God to use her. Let yourself be taught from her use. It’s only temporary – and what you’ll learn from that will be with you forever.

We’re just a bunch of kids trying to figure out life. And that’s okay.

So?

Live. 🌻

There is No Fear in Love

Anxiety, fear, anger, they all flow together. And they control us daily. Some more than others. I know I struggle with anxiety often and have had a hard time battling it. But recently I read a book, fiction mind you, that opened my eyes to how to conquer fear. I would like to explain to you two different ideas I took from my reading of The Girl Behind the Red Rope by Ted Dekker.

First is the idea that fear creates more fear. When we give in to anxiety it just seems to bubble over into more and more anxiety until it overwhelms. It never seems to go away the more we let the fear control us. For me, with panic attacks, every time I have another one the next is worse. And they become more and more prevalent as time goes on if I give into my fear. Fear only creates more fear. So how do we not give into our fear?

There is no fear in love. It’s as simple as that. There is no fear in love. 1 John 4:18 says that perfect love casts out fear. Fear is the embodiment of evil so of course the holiness of God and His perfect love for us would rid us of fear. But so often we do not claim this love, instead we claim fear. We cannot serve two masters though. We cannot live for fear and also live for God. It simply cannot be. So we must claim the freedom from fear that Christ’s love affords us. Whenever you feel fearful think of the love Christ has for you. You need not fear with that on your side. There is no need to fear rejection, large crowds, pain, death, loss, etc. because of the perfect love of our Savior. He has freed us from it. We just have to claim that victory.

I do hope that you will read The Girl Behind the Red Rope. Especially if you are like me and struggle with anxiety. I cried near the end because of how much this book touched my soul. I pray that if you read it then it will do the same for you.

‘”I think we’re enslaved often, whenever we cling to this world in fear of losing something. Fear’s always available to us, just like love is. We have the opportunity to choose love over fear with every breath we take, and each time we choose love, it becomes more natural, until it becomes our breath.”‘

On the Topic of Suicide

Within the past few days something really discouraging has popped up on my news feed. Pastor Jarrid Wilson of Harvest Ministries which is led by Pastor Greg Laurie committed suicide last Monday, September 9th. When I saw that, I was shocked and its taken me awhile to digest it. I often will listen to Jarrid’s sermons and this came as a complete surprise. I realized that this turn of events might discourage some as he was an advocate against suicide. If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts and then this happens it can definitely steal your hope. That is why I knew I needed to write this post.

I have personally dealt with suicidal thoughts since I was around 8 years old. It is a consistent struggle in my life to this day. I have friends that struggle with suicidal thoughts too and even some that have attempted suicide. This is such a common issue with young people today and I have several points I want to make. First I will address the individual struggling with suicidal thoughts and then the church itself.

To whomever is battling thoughts of suicide: There is no worse way of ending the pain than suicide. In order to kill the pain you feel that you must kill yourself. Trust me, it does not have to go down that way. Committing suicide will not solve the problem. The only way to stop the pain is to go to Christ. He is the only fix to your situation. He is the only hope you can find in this dark place. I urge you to go to Him because He is the way to healing. Here is a poem I wrote just for you, Hope:

I know, you got voices in your head,

They be tellin you you’d be better off dead.

And you wonder how to make it quick.

Just make sure the blade doesn’t stick.

 

You honestly don’t know how to erase.

All these memories of pain swirlin in your brain.

It’s kinda crazy that people can hurt you so much.

That you’d rather off yourself than deal with them a bunch.

 

Suicide sometimes seems like the perfect option.

Just end the pain right there like a simple off switch.

But I’m telling you right now it’s really not a plan.

Even when the terror makes you want to die instead.

 

Guess what if you die, your life, will never have a chance to get better, ever.

Do you really want to get rid of that slim hope?

Cause something could come along like a rescue rope.

You could be saved from the madness.

But that’ll never happen if you die of sadness.

 

So please fight the voices in your head.

One day they’ll stop saying you’re better off dead.

Give it chance, this life, you can’t just die.

There’s hope set before you in the moment.

Don’t just scroll past this comment.

 

To the church: Look at the people sitting in the pews. They each struggle with something. Yet we just sit and focus on one person leading a service. This is not how the church is meant to function. The church is meant to function like a community, better yet a family. When we do not treat each other as brothers and sisters in Christ we are not exemplifying our risen Savior! Churches today often are more just a performance than a fellowship. Yes, having someone teach scripture is important. Yes, praising God in song is important. But what is also important and often neglected is the need for fellowship and discipleship in the church. If we change how our churches function then we can combat the lies of the devil telling people to kill themselves. If we do not change the focus of the church from performance to family then we will lose the souls of many who do not find the love they need to survive where they should.

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or harming yourself please find someone you trust and talk to them. My email is also always open to those who need encouragement. You can find it under Contact in the tab at the top of the screen.

If you have never accepted Christ as your savior and want more information check out the page How to Become a Believer in the tab at the top of the screen. Then please go talk to a pastor, friend, parent, or anyone who is a Christian. God wants you to join His family.

 

Imperfect but Saved

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NKJV

Pretty bleak prospects right? Does that passage make you feel inadequate? Like you will never measure up to God’s standards? Well guess what, you can’t. Every single person ever to live, with the exception of Jesus, has committed at least one of these sins. If you say no to all of them you are lying because it is natural for us to make idols in our lives. Therefore everyone is guilty of idolatry. No one is worthy of inheriting the kingdom of God! We are nasty, dirty, filthy, all the words that describe yucky because we are so tainted by sin. I cannot express how horrible we are, how horrible I am. I don’t deserve grace, not one bit! Yet we continue in the passage to the next verse and hope is given.

And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

Notice that key word there. Were. Such were some of you. Because of what Jesus did for us. He washed all the nasty filth away the day I gave my life to Him. And He will do the exact same for every single wretched soul that comes to Him pleading to be clean. He will take that sin and it will go from present to past tense in a snap. It is so amazing and I am so grateful for the free gift of salvation given to us. We only have to take it. It’s time to be imperfect but saved ya’ll!

If you have never accepted Christ’s free gift of salvation check out the How to Become a Believer page. Then go talk to a trusted Christian individual like a parent, pastor, or friend who can help you with salvation.

Be an Example

Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.

1 Timothy 4:12 NASB

Have you ever wondered, as a young person specifically, how God wants you to live your life? If you haven’t I am honestly surprised. That question should be one asked by us young people and the answer is found in the above passage. Paul wrote the letter of first Timothy to one of the young pastors he mentored, Timothy. Because of this there is so much we can glean from the book. I like to focus on this verse though because it is more or less a summary. I even made it the theme verse for We are Young Theologians!

1 Timothy 4:12 focuses on setting an example for other believers even though you are young. This is such a great reminder to us in the younger generations but also to those older than us. We need to set an example but those older also need to notice when we are doing that. So how are we to specifically set an example?

With our speech: The words that come out of our mouths can be such a turning point with how people see us. The Bible addresses this often when it speaks of the tongue and give loads of warnings about it. Our speech needs to reflect our relationship with Christ. It should be wholesome and uplift those around us. We definitely should not be the ones cussing or gossiping about others.

With our conduct: Conduct is mainly talking about how we interact with others. Our interactions should again be uplifting to those around us. We should be careful to make sure our actions shine the light of Christ. This builds greatly upon our speech.

With our love: Even when others are unkind to us we need to show love. Brotherly love to those we interact with is key to being a good example. Treating others with respect is included in this.

With our faith: Our ultimate faith in Christ is the biggest light we can shine to people. We need to live out what we speak. We need to be someone that others can look at and want to mimic spiritually.

With our purity: This part of the verse is not just talking about sexual purity. It is also focusing on purity of mind. We need to keep our mind and bodies pure so that they honor God consistently. People will see Christ when you refuse to listen to music with cussing, watch movies with explicit sex, or read books with questionable elements. Make sure that what you are putting into your mind is stuff that honors God.

Just because you’re young and immature doesn’t mean you have to act young and immature — Jarrid Wilson

If you have never accepted Christ’s free gift of salvation please read the information on the page How to Become a Believer. Afterwards go talk with a trusted friend, pastor, parent, or other Christian about what it means to be a child of God.

Fully God, Fully Man

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:15-16

Everyday we are tempted to sin and put through trials. That is simply how life is in a world tainted by sin. It is quite an unfortunate situation but true none the less. Often we forget though that Jesus lived under the circumstances. He was fully God but the fact that He was also fully man seems to slip our minds. The writer of Hebrews realized that this happened and gave us a reminder in his writing. He tells us that Christ can sympathize with our troubles, our weaknesses, because He experienced the same thing. The only difference being that He did not sin. So lets expand on this shall we?

Fully God: Jesus was fully God, meaning He contained the attributes of God: e.x. holy, loving, all knowing. Since He was holy He would not sin no matter what happened.

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21

Christ never sinned while He was on earth, even though He was tempted to a great extent which you can read about in Luke chapter 4.

Fully man: Jesus was fully man. He inhabited a human body and was prone to the same trials and temptations as you and me. In Luke 4 Christ is tempted by the devil after 40 days of no food or water. Even that would put a strain on the God become man. And added to that was temptation for food, power, and might. Yet Jesus endured it all without sinning once. Fully God and fully man.

Verse 16 reminds us that we can go to Christ for anything because He endured exactly what we do. We can go before Him with confidence that He understands. What a great comfort that should be to us as imperfect human beings.

If you have never accepted Christ’s gift of salvation please read the information on the page How to Become a Believer. Afterwards go talk with a trusted friend, pastor, parent, or any Christian about what it means to be a Child of God.

To Be Humble…

To be humble, also known as humility, is something we hear a lot about in churches, Christian circles, books, and is even mentioned in the Bible. Humility is not simply an outward action, it is a heart attitude. The Bible describes humility as meekness, lowliness, and absence of self. This does not mean that we should be silent, inferior, or self-degrading, but it is to live a life as someone who is gentle, submissive, and selfless. The ultimate humble person was of course Jesus himself, and we as Christians should strive everyday to become more like Him. There are many areas in our life that we can work on being more humble in, but here is just a few that can help us get started in being more selfless, caring, and humble people.

 

 

  1. Humility means to submit to others, but not to grovel. 1 Peter 5:5-6 says “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”. As young people it is very easy to think we have it all under control. Make our own way, and figure it out. Well, God has put people in our lives that have lived lives of humility, prayer, and have grown through constant study of God’s word. We should use the time spent with godly examples as not times of ridicule, or opposing their ways, but use it as a time to learn, grow, and encourage them. This doesn’t  mean we are to grovel, or worship people. Men are flawed even in areas of biblical teachings. Paul is very clear in Galatians 1:10 about how we are to worship God and not seek the favor of men. We are to learn from them, but we are to also learn more from God’s word through constant study and prayer ourselves.
  2. Having true humility means to humble oneself enough to see yourself as unworthy before the Lord. In 1 Peter 5:6 it says “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that at the proper time He may exalt you.” So many times, we see ourselves as competent and powerful individuals who think we can overcome issues and trials in our lives on our own. Having humility gives us a chance to see ourselves as needing a savior, and realizing that without Him, life would be hopeless and without meaning. Praise the Lord that He shows us how to handle trials and issues in our lives through His word and gives us strength through the Holy Spirit to overcome those trials.
  3. To be humble means to see oneself as being no better then another person, no matter the situation they are under. It is so easy to look at the talents, opportunities, or situations you are in and hold yourself higher then others. I know I have fallen in this area more than once. God has given us our talents and abilities to serve and help others and that needs to be our focus, not to be self-loving and prideful. We need to use the opportunities and talents in our life that God gives us as a tool to help and encourage others.
  4. Lastly, humility is to know “what’s right,” not to always “be right”. No one will be right all the time. Sometimes we will fail or make a mistake and that’s ok. True humility will see the situation as a learning opportunity, and looks to other’s godly advice as helpful, not criticism. Learning from others is a great way to practice humility. Asking for help or advice is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of courage and strength. Proverbs 17:15 says “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice”. Asking a fellow Christian’s advice, accountability, or even counsel is biblical, helping one’s sanctification in the process.

 

We should always strive as Christians to become more like Christ. Little by little we can further our sanctification and serve Christ better if we practice being humble in our everyday lives.

~ Cynthia Wisener

 

If you have never accepted Christ as your Savior and would like to check out the page How to Become a Believer. Or talk to a friend, pastor, parent, or teacher who already knows about the saving grace of Jesus.

Savior: a Piece of Free Verse

Blood runs down His brow.

Sweat pouring from His body.

Lips quiver with pain.

A spike in each hand and one through His feet.

This is my Savior, crucified for me.

Screams of agony release.

Throat raw, calling for water.

Bad wine only given.

Tears roll down His face.

This is my Counselor, abused for me.

Tormentors below Him.

Laughter at the crucified.

He calls for their forgiveness.

His blood also shed for them.

This is my Priest, sacrificed for me.

Lungs filling with water.

Drowning in air.

He pulls a shaky breath.

It is finished, He cries.

This is my Physician, broken for me.

Spear thrust, spurting liquid.

Body washed clean.

Buried in rock.

Dead as can be.

This is my Creator, destroyed for me.

Third day.

Stone rolled away.

He appears.

Arms stretched wide.

This is my King, risen for me.

Identity

Our culture nowadays seems to focus a lot on identity. As teens and sometimes even children we are introduced to the idea of finding out what makes us tick. What makes you, you? What makes me, me? It’s a question faced often by us young people. In a world where things like trans, straight, gay, and bi are normal it makes things much more confusing. We can get lost in all the aspects of identity and the terms that society uses. That is why we need to go back to the basics with figuring out what our identity is. Because ultimately, our identity is in Christ.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

2 Corinthians 5:17 NASB

When we accept Christ’s free gift of salvation we have a new identity. The whole of what we are is now in Christ. And our entire life, down to the smallest thing, should be lived for Him. Your identity and life no longer revolves around things like desires and the things you enjoy doing. For example…

  • My identity isn’t in whether I like Marvel or DC. My identity is in Christ.
  • My identity isn’t in whether I am a coffee addict or not. My identity is in Christ.
  • My identity isn’t in the fact that I am a victim of abuse. My identity is in Christ.
  • My identity isn’t in the sins that I have committed. My identity is in Christ.
  • My identity isn’t in the fact that I struggle with same sex attraction. My identity is in Christ.

Those are just a few common examples of what our identity is not in. Our identity is ultimately in Christ no matter who we are or what we have done or what sins we struggle with. We need to get out of the mindset that other things are what makes us who we are. We are Christians. We don’t need any other thing to identify us.

If you have not accepted Christ’s gift of salvation I strongly urge you to do so. Your identity should be in Christ not the things you’ve done. Go talk to someone who is a Christian whether it’s a teacher, relative, pastor, or friend. They can help you make Jesus the Lord of your life. You can also go check out the page right here on this blog called How to Become a Believer where I have outlined the Gospel in a couple different ways.

I love you all so much and I pray God blesses you as you live for Him. Until next time!

Humbling Your Heart

Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it.

Psalm 37:4-5

So often we get stuck on what we want in life and put that before God’s plans. We end up getting disappointed because things didn’t go our way and we wonder why they didn’t. “I worked so hard for this promotion and it got ripped from my hands!” “I thought we were going to get married and then he just leaves.” “I got all these good grades but this college that I’ve been dreaming of for years won’t accept me.” I’m sure you can think of several situations like these that you have been in. So what’s the problem?

David answers in the passage above. We have to delight ourselves in the Lord and commit our ways to Him. This means humbling our prideful and selfish hearts before Him. It means giving every aspect of our life to Him. When we do this our desires will line up with God’s and then He can grant us the desires of our heart.

What does humbling your heart look like though? First it is surrendering control over situations to God. Every situation, good or bad, knowing that God is in control and is watching over you. Jeremiah 29:11 states, ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not calamity to give you a future and a hope.’ God has a plan for every single situation He puts us in. And surrendering control and trusting in Him will make the process a whole lot easier.

Second is doing research before making a decision. Search the Bible and make sure you aren’t going against God. Pray about it. Talk to your pastor, mentor, or trusted friend and see what godly guidance they can give you. All this will help you make sure that you are keeping your life honoring to God. And finally, simply your life for Christ.

I challenge you to start practicing this in your daily life. When I realized that I needed to humble myself before my King, life changed. I began to have more peace about the crazy things I usually find myself in. Yes it’s hard since we humans love to have control, but once you surrender that control it’s totally worth it.

Psalm 139:7-12

So today I want to talk about depression. It’s a very common thing for us humans to deal with. I’ve personally battled with depression since I was about 8 years old. Those thoughts of loneliness, confusion, numbness and fear are some of the most difficult things to deal with. One person in the Bible is often recognized with dealing depression and that is King David.

The fact that David struggled with depression is evident throughout the psalms. He often talks of how far from God he felt but he also offers himself and us encouragement. There is a passage that has helped me often over the years and I thought I would share it with you.

(7)Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? (8)If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. (9)If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, (10)even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. (11)If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,” even the night shall be light about me; (12)indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You.

Psalm 139:7-12

Verses 7 through 10 talk about how God is everywhere. No matter where you go in life or what happens God is there. Whether heave, hell, the mountains, or the valleys God is there. So if you are dealing with depression just remember that God is never going to leave you, even if He does feel far away. I heard someone say once that its not about what you go through but who goes through it with you. That is so true!

Verses 11 through 12 are the ones that have helped me a lot personally. Often when we are depressed God can feel a million miles away. Like how can a God of light be in the darkness with me? But verse 12 says that the darkness ad light are the same to Him. He doesn’t care about how much darkness you are covered in when depressed. He is still there. It doesn’t bother our great God. He still cares for us.