King of My Heart

Alright, guys and gals! I’ve been at college for a few days now, and I’m definitely learning to adjust to a new sleep schedule. I’m trying to remember when I need to eat and when I need to do laundry. To say the least, this experience is a bit different. I’m trying to get into a routine of things, including this blog. I really feel like God has called me to share what He is doing in my life through this outlet, and I really appreciate you taking the time to read it. As usual, if you have any comments, reach me in whatever way possible to tell me! I love hearing from you guys!

Now, some of you may or may not have read the spoken word I wrote concerning this subject. If you have, this blog post is going to be along the same lines, so I hope you don’t get bored or anything. If you haven’t, then I will have the spoken word included at the end of this post.

Alright, so I want to start out by saying that I am going to be pretty vulnerable in this post. I’m going to be transparent about something I’ve been struggling with and how God brought me out of it. This is going to be centered around what God has shown me through a recent occurrence in my life. Now, I recently went to donate blood. At the blood drive, this woman tells me that they’re going to want my red blood cells. (To be honest, I had never given blood before, and I was terrified. Besides, I thought red blood cells was what they took anyway.) She then proceeds to point at a machine next to this woman that is turning and moving in the most sinister fashion I have ever seen. Needless to say, I was beyond terrified at this point. She then starts running a couple of tests on me to see if I can give blood, and long story short, she finds that I have an irregular heartbeat. Now, she did not tell me what this meant or that this is completely normal and tons of people have it. She did not tell me that it could be temporary. She basically just said “you should probably get that checked out” and let me go on my way. This was absolutely terrifying. I had no clue what this could mean for me or my health. For all I knew, I was dying (I’m not, by the way). So, I go to the doctor the following Monday morning, and they run a couple of tests on me and then tell me that I need to wear a 24-hour heart monitor. This was definitely an odd experience, and waiting for the results of all the tests was terrible. I still didn’t really know what was going on inside me. At this point, I had learned how to have faith knowing that I had something a little off with my heart. Then, I had to learn to have faith knowing that there was definitely and irregularity (permanent or temporary). Then the doctor calls and tells me that they want me to go see a cardiologist (heart doctor) because I have PACs and PVCs ( If you want to research it, you can, but that basically means that my heart beats an extra couple of times every now and then.) This can be caused by many things such as caffeine and stress, both of which I had had a lot of at the time. It was crazy to me to find out that there was something wrong with my heart to make them want to refer me to a cardiologist. ( Now, I want all of you to know that they did this to be on the safe side. There is nothing majorly wrong with me.) I was having a hard time. I had been growing so much in my faith, but now I was surrounded by doubt, fear, and uncertainty. I want all of you to know, though, that these doctors were only telling me what I already knew.

Now, what could I possibly mean by that? Trust me, I’ll explain. They told me that there was something wrong with my heart. I already knew that. There is obviously something wrong with my heart. There is something that causes me to sin against the God who loves me and created me. There is something wrong that causes me to lie and do all these other things against God who has saved me time and time again. I already knew there was something wrong. In fact, they didn’t know the half of how messed up my heart was. They had no idea how true that statement was! I am more messed up than anyone in my mind because I know everything that I’ve done! The thing about this is that God took all of these imperfections and made them perfect in His way! He used and still uses my messed up heart to glorify Him! For some reason, though, I thought that God had no control over my physical heart. For some reason, I acted like my physical imperfections were too much for God. This was absolutely foolish of me! If God can take my imperfect heart and make it perfect spiritually, then He can do the same physically! Remember that God can take anything and use it for His glory! Just give it over to Him, and He will perfect it!

They also told me that there were irregularities in my heart. Duh! I knew that! If you know me, then you know that there probably isn’t a regular bone in my body! I knew that my heart was different, but I only thought about it spiritually. Romans 12:2 says “Do not conform to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” I had already taken this and totally altered the way I act and live my life. I am definitely different. I stand out. I’m loud, crazy, and kind of a freak if we’re honest (hopefully in a good way, though). I had made my heart irregular on purpose, but for some reason, this diagnosis came as a surprise when the doctors told me. Now, I know that this is a bit different and that I need to continue to see doctors about whatever is going on, but an irregularity in my heart was what I had been striving for! I wanted to be different, and I was! All the way to the core of my being (literally)!

Now, like I said, I was scared. I was unsure. I was doubtful. But, last night, Mississippi College had a campus-wide worship. And, as I was standing there worshipping, they began to play the song “King of My Heart.” It was in this moment that I  realized all these things. It was in this moment that I realized that God could overcome my imperfections. It was in this moment that I remembered that He truly is the King of my heart! I remembered that He is a perfect King, and as a perfect King, He would use all of my imperfections (physical and spiritual) to glorify Him! He has taken all of my imperfections and made me perfect through the sacrifice of Christ Jesus! So, today, I am sharing this message with you: No matter the imperfections in your life, God is there. He is in control. He loves you. He can make you perfect. If you haven’t already, make Him the King of your heart. Make Him the source of your life, peace, joy, grace, and mercy. Lean on Him! Depend on His love! If you have made Him the King of your heart, then rest in Him! Don’t worry about your imperfections or what may happen tomorrow! Be confident in God just like Daniel was when he sang Psalm 23! God is in control no matter your circumstances! Your worry is nothing but a lack of faith! It doesn’t help or change anything when you worry, so just trust in Him and His power! I love you guys!

Just so everyone knows, I am ok. I will be fine. Odds are that I drank too much coffee too fast, and that is what caused this. Don’t worry about whatever is going on with my heart. I’ve learned to have confidence in God no matter what is going on in this situation! Do the same! My problem is incredibly minor, and I never should have been as scared or worried as I was, but I was. Don’t do what I did. It didn’t help. It didn’t change anything. I now have a peace beyond anything I could’ve had because I decided to trust in God. I hope you can do the same!

 

King of My Heart

They told me there’s a problem with my heart

Unaware of how much these words are true

The statement that they’ve made is just the start

Just a glimpse of how my soul has gone askew

My heart is messed up.

This I already knew

But I treated this knowledge

As if it were something new

I know my heart is messed up

It’s been preached for years and years

I guess I didn’t think

Before I started pouring tears

See, when I thought about my heart being messed up, I thought about my sinful nature

I thought about my rebellious tendencies against my heavenly Creator

I thought about my sin, my strife, my aching and my shame

I guess I never thought that my physical heart would be the same

So when they said that there’s a problem with my heart

I simply had no idea where to start

Instead of looking to Him to fix it like my spirit

I searched for ways to fix it on my own

As I filled with worry and my spirit groaned

Now, I realize that my physical problems are just like the spiritual ones

God took my sin, my guilt, my shame and made it perfect

He can take physical problems just the same and still think that I’m worth it

He uses imperfections to glorify His name

So come on and cast off your guilt and shame

Cast off your physical issues just the same

And use them all to add to Jesus’ fame

Now, on top of this, they say that my heart is irregular.

I knew this, too.

I knew this from my reaction to Romans 12:2

Where we are called stand out and be the select few.

Not the average joe

Conforming, changing what we know

To meet the status quo

No!

We are called to be transformed.

We are called to be different.

I can’t help that my heart is irregular.

When I began following Jesus and loving Him, it made me stand out

All the way to the core of my being

My source of life is what makes me irregular.

So this physical irregularity kind of makes sense

The thing I failed to remember is that even though this scary thing set me apart

My God was still with me, the King of my heart.

This means that my heart is His kingdom.

Just as a reminder, God is a good and perfect King.

A good king can bring good out of a good kingdom

The perfect King makes something amazing out of His kingdom, regardless of any irregularities or issues.

No matter how messed up His kingdom is, He can make something great out of it that will glorify Him for all of time.

Therefore, no matter how messed up your heart or my heart may be (spiritually or physically) God can make something amazing out of it!

So remember above all that us Christians are irregular and set apart,

And keep in mind that God is the great King of your heart!

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Talk to Yourself!

Hey, guys and gals! I know I haven’t posted anything in a long time, but I’m back!

There are a lot of times in my life where I get in this kind of slump. I get to the point where I’m just doing the same thing day in and day out, and there seems to be a cloud hanging over me. It feels like my soul is just weighed down by things like guilt and shame and pain. I feel like I’m going through trials and things far beyond my control. I’m sad and upset, and I either tell myself to act like I’m not or simply dwell in my depression. I listen to music and act in a way that encourages my sadness. Something I’ve recently learned from one of Ben Stuart’s sermons is that the best thing to do in this situation is to talk to yourself.

Now, I’m sure that if you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering what that means. The way Ben Stuart put it is that there are lots of times that our souls are downcast and depressed. Many times, we just accept the state our soul is in and decide that we will continue to be depressed. The advice he gave in his sermon was based on Psalm 42-43. In this passage, the Psalmist is crying out to God. The people have persecuted him and continue to mock him, asking where this God of his is. He says multiple times that his soul is downcast. Throughout this passage, the Psalmist shows us how to deal with our depression and sadness. In this passage, he questions God multiple times. If I’m totally honest, there are tons of times where I just want to ask God what He’s thinking. I want to ask Him why He has abandoned me and why I have to deal with some of the terrible things in my life. I think that a lot of times, we tend to pray fake prayers. We pray things like “God, thank You for Your amazing blessings in my life. Thank You for waking me up again today. Thank You for Your great love and mercy…” Now, there is nothing wrong with these prayers. In fact, praying like this is great, but if we’re honest, prayer sometimes becomes a checklist. Make sure you mention this, and make sure that you don’t say anything wrong. This mentality often leads to us praying in a way that doesn’t line up with the state of our souls. Who do we think we’re fooling?! We are literally talking to the God of the universe! He knows everything about us! He knows the state of our souls! Therefore, one thing this Psalmist does to deal with his depression is to be real with God. If we ask the questions we want to ask and say how we’re really feeling, then we don’t have to deal with the pressure of our bottled-up anger or sadness. Be real with God. He would prefer an honest prayer full of questions and hurt over a dishonest prayer that lines up with what a perfect prayer sounds like.

Now, if you’re really paying attention, then you’re probably wondering what any of this has to do with talking to yourself. Don’t worry, I’m getting to it. That was just something that needed to be said. So, if you look at the text, there are three occasions where the Psalmist talks to himself. He asks “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me?” (Psalm 42:5,11 ; 43:5) That’s great and all, but what does this have to do talking to yourself? The Psalmist is, instead of just accepting the fact that he is depressed, asking himself why he is depressed. The way Ben Stuart put it, and the way it often plays out in my life is that if you actually take the time to look at the reasons you are so weighed down by this life, you often find that the reasons are things like “I’m just so tired” or “What if I never get married” or “I don’t know if my friends really like me.” If you really take the time to pinpoint why you’re so upset, the voice inside that is telling you to be sad is simply not making any sense. Tiredness is no reason to be down. You can drink a cup of coffee or take a nap, and the problem is solved. And most of the people reading this post right now don’t need to worry about whether or not they are going to get married. Personally, there is a long period of time between now and the point that I will be ready to get married. I have too many things to work out in my own life before I join it with someone else’s. And, as far as whether or not your friends like you, this is just the devil telling you that you are not worth having a friendship with. The truth is that your friends probably wouldn’t be friends with you if they didn’t like you, or it would be blatantly obvious that they aren’t very fond of you. These are just a couple of examples, and if I didn’t list one that comes to mind for you, I’m sorry. But the fact of the matter is that the voice inside that tells us to be upset just doesn’t have any good reasons for us to be downcast! Think about it! Why should we let temporary things like tiredness and worry influence us when we are attempting to do the eternal work of sharing the Gospel? Why should we let petty things bring us down when we have the peace and the love and the joy of Jesus? We should rejoice like the Psalmist did after asking himself why he was supposed to be so upset! He told himself to hope in God because, regardless of these insignificant things, he was still going to praise Him as his Savior and his God!

Another form of talking to yourself that needs to take place is when a voice inside you tells you how ashamed you should be of something you have or have not done. If that voice brings up this certain sin again and again and begins to drag you down into sadness or anger, talk back to it. This may seem odd, but tell the voice that it’s right. In fact, tell the voice that it actually missed a couple of things… and list them! Then, recite Romans 8:1 which says “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”! You have been saved from your sin! You have been redeemed! You don’t have to worry about confessed sin anymore! Jesus took the weight of all your sin and shame on the cross! Don’t try to cheapen His sacrifice by acting like you can carry this weight yourself! Know that this is no longer your burden to carry!

So, while talking to yourself is considered by many as a sign of insanity, it can often be the very thing you need to do! Question yourself, and don’t be afraid to be real with God and question Him! He longs to hear from you, and He longs for you to be real with Him! Prayer is a conversation, not a performance! You don’t have to do it a certain way! There is no right or wrong way to pray! Just talk to God!

Totally off topic here, but this is something I need to say. Your life is about choices. It isn’t about what happens. It is about how you choose to react to everything that happens. Now, joy is an absolutely wonderful thing, but it is not circumstantial. Joy is a choice that each one of us makes (or does not make) for ourselves. In each and every situation, you have to intentionally make the choice to be joyful, and it is ALWAYS an option! Regardless of what happens today or this week or this month or this year, remember that joy is always an option and that you have to choose it intentionally! I got this idea from the amazing girl who has her own blog at eternallyjoyfulinjesus.wordpress.com  (which you guys should definitely go check out)!

I hope you have an amazing day and remember to talk to yourself and choose joy! As always, I am more than open to any feedback you have! I want nothing more than to hear from you guys and gals what you think about my blog and if it has helped or hurt in any way! Love y’all!

Committed to God

Alright, guys (and girls). I haven’t posted on here in a long time. I’ve been busy with graduation, and I feel like I have been neglecting this outlet to express my faith to others, and for that, I am sorry.
So, today, I want to talk about living “Committed to God.” In today’s world, Christianity is seen as a joke. We (Christians) are seen as nothing but hypocritical, hateful people who want to suck every bit of joy out of life. Now, this is an absolute tragedy. We are supposed to go into the world and represent God, but the words used to stereotypically describe Christians seem to be a direct contrast of Him.
I know what you may be thinking “that isn’t how all Christians are. Not all Christians fall into that stereotype.” On that point, I would have to agree with you. Not all Christians act the way the stereotypical Christian acts. Not all Christians are hateful. Not all Christians are spiteful. But why is it that we only hear of those who are? The reason is simple: Today’s culture is vehemently opposed to Christianity. The morals and values of today’s culture directly opposed what the Bible says to be right and true.
Now, I believe that the reason that we, today, hear so many cases of hateful, hypocritical Christians is that those who are trying to combat the evil in this world and spread the truth are doing so without love. Many of those who are actually stepping up against the tragedies that have occurred in America– from legalized same-sex marriage to abortion– are not doing so in love. They are acting in anger and hatefulness towards the people, rather than towards the sin. This is a big problem for the rest of us. Because if these people are the only ones who are going to act out against the sin that has permeated our culture, then they are going to be the ones who represent Christianity.
Therefore, the reason so many people view Christians as hateful and hypocritical is that the “Christians” who are speaking out are doing so in hateful, hypocritical ways. This means that there are not enough people proclaiming the truth in love. Many of us Christians, today, sit idle in our faith. We stand on the sidelines and watch as the world moves toward sin and embraces it wholeheartedly. The song “What if His People Prayed” by Casting Crowns captures what has happened to Christians, today. It has the image of dusty swords, showing that Christians have ceased fighting against the demons and the sin of this world. What has happened is that Christians all over the world have realized that their beliefs go against what society wants. This realization has led many Christians to live out their faith in a very subdued manner. They may speak against the tragedies that have befallen our country, but they will only do it when surrounded by others who believe the same as them. They refuse to go against what is normal. They want to fit in, and be liked by those of the world, but Romans 12:2 says “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Here we see that Romans 12:2 tells us to stand out and to be different. Too many Christians, today, have taken on a watered-down faith. They have moved away from the idea that the Bible is truly God’s Word. They have moved away from the idea that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. They have moved away from the idea that someone who is born a man is meant to be a man. They call many of the central ideas of Christianity “outdated” and “archaic.” This is a huge problem. Because, if Christians are not willing to stand up against the demons and sin of this world, then who will? If Christians aren’t loving, then how can the truth be effectively spread? If we, as Christians, have totally given up on standing up against the evil of this world, then what is the point of our faith? If we, as children of God, are just going to let the world walk all over us, then why should we even call ourselves Christians? What does it even mean?
I just want to give all of you a little reminder. I want all of you to think back on the moment you were saved. The moment God rescued you from yourself. What did you feel in that moment? I’ll tell you how I felt. I felt like I could move mountains! I was so overwhelmingly in love with the God who saved me that I couldn’t help but tell everyone I came in contact with! Today, I wonder what happened to that person. What happened to the one who was so in love with God that he would stand up for his Creator without any fear? The truth is, my faith got put on the back burner. I let life get in the way. I let other people’s opinions of me get in the way, so today, I want to give you, along with myself, a little reminder. God LOVES you. He CREATED you. He SAVED you. Think back on your salvation. Think back on the moment that you realized just how committed Jesus was to you. Jesus DIED for you. He was CRUCIFIED for you. He made the ultimate sacrifice and DEFEATED DEATH for you. Christ lived committed to His church. He loved us, His bride.
Now, I want to call you to look at your commitment to
Christ. Speaking for myself, I totally lack commitment in comparison to Christ. In fact, I totally lack commitment in comparison to myself three years ago, but this should not be a reason for me to abandon all hope. What if we all made a real effort to grow closer to Christ? What if we stood up for Christ whenever the world talked down on Him? What if we defended our faith when it was being attacked? Today, I want to encourage anyone who is reading this to stand up and dust off your swords. Let us be the generation who fights the evil in this world. Let us be the generation who rises from our complacency. Only you can make this change in your life, just like only I can make it in my own. So let’s choose today to live “committed to God.” Let’s choose to stand up for Him. Let’s choose to fight in His name. Let’s choose to love others in His name. Let’s choose to totally go against what this society believes in the name of Jesus! Let’s choose to live in the way described in 1 Thessalonians 4, which says “Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you. Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need. Those Who Died in Christ But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read this blog post! It really means a lot to me! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me in any way! I love to hear feedback so that I can better my writing and my speaking! I hope that you have an absolutely blessed day, and I hope that you choose to live committed!!

Philippians: Christ Is Preached

Ok, guys. This is my second post in the Philippians series. I want to start off by apologizing for the lack of posts recently. I allowed myself to get distracted by business, and for that, I apologize. My request from my last post still stands. Whatever way you have of contacting me, I would still love to hear any feedback you have. I am open to any suggestions that could help me to better my posts and more effectively spread Christ’s Word.
In this post, we’re going to be looking at Philippians 1:12-18a. In the last post, we looked at Paul’s greeting to the church in Philippi. We found out that Paul is writing this letter from jail, and he really loves the Philippians. Now, in verse twelve, Paul addresses his imprisonment. He says that his imprisonment has turned out for the better and that it has actually helped the spreading of the gospel, rather than hinder it. He says in verse thirteen that people know that he has not done anything wrong. These people include everyone from the common people to those who are guarding Paul day and night. They have realized that he was only imprisoned because he was preaching the word of Christ. In verse fourteen, he goes on to say that his strength throughout his imprisonment has shown people that God is faithful, even through tough times. This encourages others to share the good news without fear. In verse fifteen, Paul talks of some people who are preaching Christ because they are jealous of Paul and want to discredit him, but he says that there are also some people who are preaching Christ from goodwill. In verse sixteen, Paul talks about the ones who have preached from goodwill. He says they do it because they truly have affection towards Paul, and they are confident in his ability to preach the truth. He also talks about his appointment for the defense of the gospel. In this, he implies that he is in jail so as to have a strategic position from which to preach God’s Word. In verse seventeen, he continues talking about the people who are preaching Christ out of spite. He says they preached to advance themselves. These people used Paul’s imprisonment against him, saying that God must have seen Paul as so evil that he needed to be imprisoned immediately. In the first part of verse eighteen, Paul addresses the main point of this section of scripture. He says that, to him, it only matters that Christ is proclaimed. He doesn’t care if the intentions behind it are good or bad. The simple fact that the gospel is being preached and proclaimed gives him joy.
Alright. Again, that was a lot, and I totally understand if you’re a little lost right now. Throughout this whole passage of scripture, the main focus is Christ being preached. This is what we need to look at and learn from. Paul is in jail, and he is rejoicing! He is being persecuted, but he’s happy! The reason he is happy is that he knows that the situation he has found himself in has helped to increase the spread of the gospel. He is being punished for sharing what he believes to be true, and, rather than sulk about sitting in jail, Paul is able to continue to effect the spread of the gospel from inside a jail cell. Now, THAT is an example to look to. Maybe we, as Christians, need to take some notes from Paul on how we should act while we are being persecuted. For starters, Paul is able to look at the good in his seemingly terrible situation. Where most people would only see reason for sadness or anger, Paul finds reason to rejoice. This is note number one. As Christians, we should all strive to find God’s will in each situation. Often, we will just sulk in our situations. We will look so much at how bad our current situation is that we can’t even begin to see how God could ever use it in a good way. We wonder why God would put us through so much, but if you’ve ever been in that situation and come out of it, then you know that there is always a reason for our trials. God lets us go through trials to help us grow and/or put us in positions to better spread His Word. God doesn’t make you suffer just for the sake of making you suffer. He doesn’t cause you pain just to see you hurt. As a Christian, I, too, need to look past my circumstances to see how God’s will plays out through it. I need to look at how I can best use my current position to most effectively accomplish the things of God’s will, and I want to encourage you to do the same. Now, the thing that causes Paul joy in this dark situation is that Christ is being preached. Some of this preaching is being done against him, and some is being done in favor of him. The only thing that matters to him, though, is that the preaching is occurring. He realizes that some people are out to get him. He knows that he could be put to death at any time. The important thing to him, though, is that the message of Christ is reaching new ears. This should be our own goal in life. We need to try to spread the Word of God, regardless of our circumstances. We need to focus on the good in our dark situations. We need to rejoice in the pain. We need to truly come to terms with how bad things may seem so that we can reach the blessings that God has in store for us through those things. The focus of our lives should be that “Christ is proclaimed” and, in this we should rejoice.
If you aren’t a Christian, then I want to encourage you to talk to someone who you know is a Christian. Ask them to tell you about the God of the world. Ask them what it’s like to know Him and what He can do through you. The truth of the matter is that the only way for you to find joy in your current situation, no matter how dark it may seem, is to ask Christ to come into your heart. He is the light in the darkness. He is the hope on the horizon, and He is madly in love with you. He loves you so much that He came to earth and suffered and died for your sake. He has radically changed my life, and He wants to do the same for you.
Thanks once again for taking time out of your day to read another of my blog posts. I am looking forward to any feedback you might have, and I hope that you have an amazing remainder of your day! God bless!

“What’s in a Name?”

There are millions of adjectives to describe things today. Countless meanings given by certain words. Although we have such an enormity of descriptive words, we still do not have words that describe our lives effectively. We don’t have a single word to describe the very essence of who we are in its entirety. The closest we come to reaching a word that fits this description is our name. When those of you who know me think of “Dillon”, many different things may come into your mind, half of them I probably don’t even want to know, but the most effective way of describing me seems to quite simply be “Dillon”. Names are our best way of differentiating ourselves. That said, God seemed to have a way with names. You most likely know of the apostle Peter. Well, what if I told you he wasn’t always called Peter? In fact, up until Jesus came into his life, he was known as Simon, but Jesus just changes his name to Peter. Now, of course, there is meaning behind the name and the reasoning for Jesus changing it, but I just want to look at the fact that Jesus changed his name. Up until this point, Simon had been building a reputation on this name. He had been ‘making a name for himself’ as today’s society would put it. When people heard “Simon”, a few things probably went through their mind. They probably already had a description of Simon, if they knew him, but Jesus calls him Peter. When we come into contact with Christ, we are a new creation. Old things have passed away, and new things have come. Who we used to be doesn’t matter. It didn’t matter that Simon used to be the son of John. It didn’t matter that he used to be a fisherman. It didn’t matter that he had been a lowly sinner. Because Jesus had come into his life, he had become the “Rock” that Christ’s church would be built upon. Another situation where a name goes through a bit of a change is the apostle Paul. Many of you have probably heard of Him. Wrote a bunch of books in the Bible. Devoted His life to God. Major part in the development of the early church. This Paul guy seems pretty awesome, huh? Well, before he was Paul, he was Saul. Now, Saul went around, persecuting Christians and fighting the Christian faith. He was a liar. As far as sinners go, he was as bad as they come (considering that all sin is equal, even yours). One day, he came into contact with God. God revealed Himself to Saul. Once again, it didn’t matter who Saul used to be. Because, now, he was Paul. He was the man who would play a huge role in the development of the early church. He was the man who would write many books of the Bible. God came and radically changed Saul, making him a new creation. Hence, we have Paul. Now, as you hopefully know, I was not always the guy I am. I wasn’t always in the church. I didn’t always try my hardest to refrain from sin. 3 or 4 years ago, “Dillon” meant something a lot different than it does now. When people thought “Dillon”, there weren’t many good thing to think of. As much as I regret that time now, it doesn’t matter. That isn’t who I am anymore. I am a new creation in Jesus Christ. Old things have passed away. When you accept Jesus into your heart, you can’t help but change. You can’t help but speak differently, think differently, walk differently, or even stand differently. It’s as if a weight has been lifted from your shoulders. If you don’t know Jesus, feel free to ask me about Him. Regardless of what may be going on in your life now, He can make you an entirely new creation! You probably won’t get your name changed, but the concept will remain the same. Although your name stays the same, the way people think of it will change radically. In the two examples from Scripture, the changing of these men’s names are symbolic of the changing of their souls, in my opinion. Their roles have changed. They have become entirely new. This is what happens when you accept Christ. If you do know Jesus, maybe you’re reading this and thinking to yourself,” Man, I really like what he’s saying, but I’ve done some bad things.. I used to be a pretty bad person. I don’t know if I can really be forgiven.” If that’s you, let me just suggest that you look a little deeper into the Saul->Paul transformation. God takes the most broken people and does the most beautiful things with them. You don’t have to be held back by who you used to be! That isn’t who you are anymore! Regardless of what people say, God can and WILL use YOU! No matter what you’ve done and no matter where you’ve been! You just simply have to lay yourself down to Him! Just give your life over to Him and watch Him work around you! Whoever you are, I hope you have a blessed day and let God make you into the new creation that you are!

Philippians: Paul’s Greeting

Alright. I’m going to try to start doing these blog posts as series with a few interjections here and there. If it works, it works, and if it doesn’t it doesn’t. Whatever way you are able to contact me, I would love any feedback you have on my blog posts and what you think does or does not work. My goal is to use this blog to help fellow believers grow in their walk with Christ while also trying to help others become followers of Christ.

In this post, we are going to be looking at Philippians 1:1-11, but first, I want to start with an introduction to the book of Philippians. The name of this book comes from the name of the city that the church it was written to was located in. If that was confusing, it basically means that Paul was writing to a church in a city called Philippi. This is how the book got its name.The reason he is writing this letter to the church of Philippi is that this church is the first church he started in eastern Europe. In Philippi, there were many retired Roman soldiers, and there was a great dedication to the Roman Empire, including the king. This means that Paul definitely suffered some persecution in starting a church that was based on the idea that Jesus was the true king. When Paul continued on from Philippi, the members of the church faced the same persecution that Paul had faced when starting it. Regardless of this, though, the Philippians remained faithful to Jesus. Now, a very important thing to know going into Philippians is that Paul is writing this letter from a prison cell. The Philippians have sent someone to bring Paul a gift to support him while he is imprisoned. The book of Philippians is meant to be a thank-you note and a reminder to the Philippians to try to make their lives parallel to Jesus’ life on earth.

Verses one and two are Paul’s greeting to the Philippians. In his greeting, he introduces himself and Timothy as bond-servants or slaves of Christ Jesus. Here, Paul is using a word that means two things. Slave, in one sense means to belong to a master. In another sense, it means to be dependent upon God. Here, Paul is saying that he and Timothy belong to and depend on God. He then states who he is writing this letter to. He says that he is writing to all those who are saved, including those who are leading, in the church. He then begins thanking the Philippians and stating his prayers for them. He first states that he thanks God whenever he thinks of the Philippians. He goes on to say that he always asks God to give them joy because they have been faithful from the beginning of the church in Philippi until the time in which Paul is writing this letter. Paul then says, in verse six, that he is confident that God will perfect the salvation of the believers until the day they receive final glorification in Christ. In this verse, Paul assures the eternal security of the believer by saying that God will perfect their salvation. The salvation is where God “began the good work,” but He is going to complete it, helping those who are save to grow closer and closer to Him. Paul defends this statement by saying that he has the Philippians in his heart due to their partaking of grace both in Paul’s imprisonment and the defense of the gospel. Here, he is saying that the Philippians have shared in God’s blessings on his ministry, giving him confidence that their salvation and faith will one day be perfected. He goes even further to say that he loves the Philippians from the core of his being and that God is his witness to this. He then states another of his petitions to God on behalf of the Philippians. He says that he prays that their love will grow due to their increased knowledge of the Scripture and the application of this knowledge. He prays this so that the Philippians will be able to discern true priorities and live lives of integrity that do not cause others to fall into sin until the day of Christ. In verse eleven, Paul wraps up his prayer for the Philippians by saying that he hopes they are filled with the fruits of righteousness that begin at salvation. His ultimate hope is that the Philippians glorify God.

Now, if you’re like me, I know what you’re thinking. “He just wrote a lot… What does any of this have to do with me?” The truth of the matter is that this has everything to do with you! If you are a believer, then Paul’s prayers hold true for you! He is writing to all who are saved, including the leaders! If nothing else, we should use this passage of scripture as an example of how we should live and pray for others. I’ll start with Paul’s first prayer for the Philippians (which holds true for all of those who are believers in Christ Jesus). In his first prayer, Paul asks God to give joy to all believers. We should ask God for joy in our own lives and be loving enough to ask God to bestow joy upon others. Many people have probably heard verse six of this passage before, but I’m going to cover it just in case. In verse six, Paul says that he is confident that God will carry out the work of salvation to completion in the lives of believers. This should encourage us! This shows us that we are secure in salvation and God is working in our lives to help us grow in our relationship with Him! We don’t have to depend upon ourselves after we are saved because the One who started it WILL finish it! In verse eight, Paul talks about how much he loves his fellow believers. This should be an example to us about how we should love other believers. We are called to love others as Christ loved us, and Paul serves as an example of someone who loves others with an unselfish love. He ends this portion of his letter with another prayer on behalf of the Philippians (and any believers of Christ). He says that he hopes that love will abound in their lives due to them studying Scripture, gaining knowledge of it, and applying it to their lives. Here, we see what Paul’s hope was for the early church and for today’s church. He wants us to dive into God’s Word and learn from it. He wants us to apply God’s Word to our lives. He wants us to make God our priority and use our lives to glorify Him.

So, take a look at your own life. Are you getting into God’s Word every day? For the longest time, it was hard for me to set aside time each day to try to dig deep into God’s Word, but I want to encourage you that it is more than worth it. Scripture can give you strength to resist temptation, and it acts as nutrition to the soul. Just like you don’t go without eating for long periods of time, you shouldn’t go without reading God’s Word for too long. If  Jesus needed to get into Scripture, how much more do we need the same thing? Have you been trying to complete what God started when He saved you by yourself? It won’t work. If we need God to save us, then we need Him to sustain us. Turn to Him today and ask Him to help you to grow closer to Him. We can’t do it on our own. Do you spread joy? If not, I want to encourage you to ask God to give you joy. God gives in an abundance, so take the abundance of joy that God gives you and let it overflow and spread to others.

If none of this really applied to you because you’ve never accepted Christ into your heart, I want to encourage you to go to someone you know, whether it be me or someone else who you know is a Christian and ask them about Christianity. Ask them what you need to do to be saved. Salvation changed my life. Before I got saved, I was struggling to try to fill this void in my soul with things of this world. I want to encourage you to turn to Christ today. Nothing else will fill the empty hole inside. Nothing else will fulfill you. And nothing else will give you joy so abundantly that you can share it.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Like I said, I am open to any feedback on what I should or should not do. If you have any suggestions or comments, I would be delighted to hear them. God bless and have an amazing remainder of your day!