Know Your Worth

In today’s world, we are constantly in a state of competition. Competing for a job opening. Competing for a grad school spot. Competing for a starting position on a team. Competing for someone’s attention. Competing for best this and best that. In today’s society, we are even competing for likes and followers in the realm of social media! I’m all for some competition, believe me, but with competition comes something very dangerous that I think many, many, people struggle with every day: comparison.

How else are we judged by employers, coaches, admissions staff, etc. other than being compared to others? Always being compared to someone. Always being compared to another person. Always having our abilities, appearances, and characters compared to someone else’s. We are always in a state of asking ourselves, “What makes me better/worse than so and so? Why am I not as good as so and so? Why can’t I do what so and so can? Why did so and so get 127 more likes on their Instagram post than mine? (Yes I know this is a thing, trust me.)” These thoughts begin to grow and grow into more dangerous thoughts such as, “Well so and so isn’t interested in dating me, what’s wrong with me? There must be something wrong with me.” “Why didn’t I get this job I wanted? I thought I was talented in this field….I guess I’m not talented at all.” “I’m just not as good as so and so…..am I good at anything?” “Why would anyone ever want to hire/date/talk to me?”

Eventually, we find ourselves comparing ourselves to others to the point where we begin to degrade ourselves, doubt who we are, and even get to a point where we begin to settle for less than what we deserve in every aspect of our life. We forget our true worth. We forget who we really are.

Up until this point, I’ve focused on physical things, but I want to also focus on the spiritual aspect of this. The spiritual side of this is the thing I think I have struggled with the most. I’m sure many of you can relate to this chain of events: You’re on fire for God. You’re in a great place spiritually. You’re right where you want to be. Then, like every human ever to live on this earth, you stumble. You fall short. You sin. If this doesn’t upset you, then that’s another conversation for another day. If it does upset you, you begin to be really hard on yourself. You begin to compare yourself to others. You begin to question if you can serve God the way you should. You begin to doubt your own ability to be the Christian you were created to be. This state of mind grows and grows and eventually you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom. There’s no way out from here. I can’t be who God wants me to be……

This is where I’ve been wrong so many times in my life. This is where so many of us are wrong. See, the problem with this mindset is that you’re right: YOU can’t save yourself. YOU don’t have that power.

This is where the power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ comes into play.

See, as a Christian, one who is truly in Christ, we aren’t fighting FOR victory….but FROM victory!

Christ has already won that war. Christ has given us the opportunity to turn from our sinful ways and be who the Lord created us to be! See….our sinful past does not define us. It is a part of our story, but it is not the entire story! It is not who we are! Our sin is not our identity….Jesus Christ is.

So how does this connect to knowing your worth? Because, if you are more than your sins through Christ….then you are more than: not getting that job, not getting that starting spot, not catching the attention of that person you’re crushing on, not getting into your dream school, not being known as the “Most Attractive Person on Instagram 2K17”, and the list could go on and on and on. If you are more than your sins in Christ, then you are more than anything that you will encounter in this life.

Sometime, I want you to read all of Isaiah 61 and 62. If you ever begin to doubt your worth for any reason at all, come here. Read this. In these chapters, people of God are described as “oaks of righteousness”, ones who will “build up ancient ruins, raise up former devastations, repair ruined cities”, and even “priests of the Lord.” In chapter 62, people of God are even described as a bride. We all know the scenes at weddings, and how the bride is viewed as she walks down the aisle. In verse 5, it says: “so as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” Wow….what a feeling. I mean that much to God? It changes your perspective, doesn’t it? Which leads me to my last point.

If you haven’t read closely this whole time….. please please please do now.

Here’s the thing you need to understand: YOU were created in God’s image! The One, True, Holy, Almighty, All-Powerful God! YOU were created in the image of the Creator. YOU were created in the image of the One who can move the mountains, calm the storms, and raise the dead. YOU meant so much to God that despite your flaws, mistakes, and sin that He knew you would have before you even existed, He sent His only Son to come to this earth and to die for who? YOU! 

You are unique. You are special. You are flawed, yes, but if you are a child of God, you are redeemed in Christ Jesus. This changes literally EVERYTHING! This changes how you should view yourself. This changes how you live. This changes what you think you deserve. This changes how you let others treat you. This changes the type of person you seek to marry one day. This changes your work ethic. This changes your service in His kingdom. This changes your entire outlook on life!

Why?

Because…..when we realize how the One, True God values us…..we will realize that what He thinks of us transcends anything on this earth. When we have that kind of power that is found in Christ….

We will truly know our worth.

Know your worth and never let anyone or anything ever convince you otherwise.

If you haven’t found your worth in Jesus, I would love to talk to you about that and what He has to offer. Until you truly know Christ, you can’t live this life to its full potential. Until you truly know Christ, you can’t know the freedom that is found in Christ.

 

Thank you all for reading, and God bless.

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Five Things That Will Improve Your Prayer Life

I want to start this off by asking a few questions:

I don’t want you to just skim through these questions. I want you to really think about it…. How is your prayer life? Do you pray enough? Where is your heart when you pray? Is a prayer just another thing to mark off the “Christian’s checklist” every day? What does prayer mean to you?

I’m not sure what your answers are, because I don’t know your heart. However, the last question I can answer as far as what it should be….. everything. Prayer should mean everything to you. Why? I’m getting there…..

But…let me be the first to admit that for the majority of my life, my prayer life really, really suffered. All of these questions had negative responses. These five things I’m going to share with you are not my way of saying, “Look at how great my prayer life is.” These five things I’m going to share with you is my way of saying, “I have struggled with praying the way I should for most of my life, but I’ve found some ways that have really helped me and want to help you if I can.”

So here are five things that will improve your prayer life:

1. Understanding the Importance and Purpose of Prayer

I’m going to go ahead and tell you…if you don’t see why prayer is so important and the reason to pray, then nothing else on this list matters. This is the driving force of our prayers! I think anyone that took the time to click on this article and start reading would say that they love the Lord (or maybe you were just curious, and if that’s the case, this is for you, too!) So if you’re someone that says, “Well, of course I love God…I mean, duh.” Okay, so you understand that God is the Creator of everything in existence, the Almighty, the One that has always been and always will be, and our Father who loved us enough that He sent His one and only Son to die for every single one of us that has ever existed on this Earth? Yes? Awesome. Well then I ask, do you truly understand what prayer is?

Prayer is the opportunity that children of God have been blessed with to approach the Creator, All-Powerful, Sovereign King, and Father as lowly and sinful human-beings and praise Him, thank Him, lay our burdens on Him, and ask Him for anything that we truly need. Praying is conversing with God through Jesus Christ. Prayer is another one of those spiritual blessings God has granted us that we in no way deserve. We are not pure, because we are humans. We are sinners. We should not be able to come before the holy, pure, and perfect God and talk to Him…..but we can. At the core of prayer is everything that being a Christian is all about: grace, mercy, and love.

That is why prayer is important. So why do we pray? What is its purpose?

The purpose of every single prayer that we pray should be to seek to glorify God’s sovereignty! The purpose of every prayer should be to seek God and His will! The purpose of every prayer should not be to get what YOU want and get what YOU think you need……the purpose of prayer should be to glorify God and what HE wants through your life!

The sooner we understand why prayer is important and what its purpose is, the sooner we can take measures to improve our prayer life. Because without understanding these two things, your prayer life will never be what it should be, regardless of measures you may take to improve it.

2. Understand that Every One of Your Prayers Should Have the Same Request…

I already touched on this a little bit, but I feel like this needs to be focused on as its own point. Every time you go to God in prayer, no matter what you ask of Him, there is one thing you should always ask….something that most of you will recognize as something our Savior, Jesus, prayed…..

Father…..not My will, but Yours, be done.“- Luke 22:42

If there is anyone at all that we should pattern our prayers after, it should be Jesus, shouldn’t it? (I really encourage you to read John 17 as far as that goes) When He prayed this, He was in the Garden just waiting to be betrayed and in the end, crucified. He knew what was coming. He knew the pain, agony, and suffering He was about to endure. He had the power to flee. He didn’t have to go through this….but He did. Why? First of all, love, but second of all, “not My will, but Yours, be done.” If Jesus had this attitude under those circumstances, so should we with ours. 

Every prayer and every request that we have of God, we should understand that when it’s all said and done, His will will be done. You just have to trust that. When you reach a point where you trust that God’s will is for the best for not only you, but His Kingdom, and it is what you TRULY desire to happen, then you have reached a point where your prayer life is achieving the purpose it should: to seek to glorify God’s sovereignty!

That is where we need to all strive to be.

3. No Matter What Your Day Consists of….Make Time for Prayer!

I think this is what a lot of people struggle with, including myself. Making time for prayer. When you put it that way, it sounds kind of sad. However, that is just human nature. That is how it is. So how do you fix this problem? Find. The. Time. Make. The. Time.

You have time to pray, I promise you. I made this excuse for so long in my life and still do to this day at times. There’s an easy solution to this and it’s provided for us by God…..you can literally pray any time you want, wherever you want, for as long as you want. Just keep in mind the purpose of your prayer. Prayer is a serious thing and shouldn’t be taken lightly. It also shouldn’t be something that becomes another check on a list of things you have to do that day. It should be something we desire to do! It all goes back to point #1. If you really understand what prayer is, it’s something you will want to do and make time to do!

Here is a list of places/times that I have gotten in a habit of praying: in the car on the way to work, while I’m cooking dinner, quiet times in the day such as a break in a class or shift, as soon as I wake up in the morning before I roll out of bed, when I lay down to sleep at night, before I eat a meal, and even in the shower!

Remember: every prayer does not have to be 30 minutes to an hour! Sometimes, just thanking God for another day and praying that I glorify Him through it is my first prayer. 30 seconds, tops. There are times when longer prayers are necessary (and I think you’ll find the stronger your prayer life becomes the more you’ll appreciate and value long prayers), but sometimes all you may have time for is a short one here and there throughout an extremely busy day. God values obedience. God values your willingness to serve Him. God values when your heart is where it should be…..not whether your prayer was long or short.

The more you pray….the more you realize how valuable it is….the more you realize its value, the easier it becomes to make time.

The time is there, you just have to choose whether to find it.

4. Pray Out Loud

This one took me awhile. At first, this is extremely uncomfortable, I’ll admit. It didn’t come naturally to me at all. I heard this in a sermon one Sunday and decided it was worth a shot….and wow. It has really changed my prayer life for the better.

There’s just something about finding a quiet time and place during the day  (whether it be on a long car-ride home by yourself at midnight or early in the morning on your couch) and verbally lifting God up, recognizing Him as the Father and Almighty God, thanking Him for all He’s done for you, and asking Him for what you need within His will.

One of the hardest parts about prayer is that we can’t see God. He isn’t tangible. He isn’t physical. So it’s much easier for us to talk to actual people who are in front of our face. When you have a faith that truly believes that God hears your prayers, praying out loud makes it more personal and meaningful. I’m not the best at explaining this aspect, but I can promise you that it has helped me. I really urge you to try this. Give it time…it will grow on you, I promise, and you’ll be amazed at what praying out loud does for all of your prayers.

5. Love the Lord

Okay, so I’m kind of cheating. I know I’ve already talked about this some.

And I know you’re thinking to yourself, “Wow, Carson, that is so profound of you to go out on a limb like that.”

But this is so incredibly important, I feel like it needs to be hammered home one more time.

If you truly love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind, then you will understand the importance of prayer. If you truly love God and desire to seek His Kingdom, you will pray with the purpose of glorifying Him. If you truly love Him, you will make time, you will do the things that may seem uncomfortable such as praying aloud, praying for a meal in public, and maybe even getting on your knees to pray. If you love God…and I mean truly love God….you will have a deep, meaningful, purposeful, and strong prayer life. Praying will become second nature. Praying will become something you do to guide you through every decision, every day. You will look forward to prayer so much you won’t have to “make time.” You will value your time with God the Father through Jesus Christ.

So I ask again… How is your prayer life? Do you pray enough? Where is your heart when you pray? Is a prayer just another thing to mark off the “Christian’s checklist” every day? What does prayer mean to you?

My prayer is that you and I will be able to answer those questions positively and confidently, and especially the last one….with a resounding “EVERYTHING!

 

I hope these words have been encouraging to you, and like every time I write an article, I want you to feel free to reach out if you need anything spiritually, or anything at all.

Thank you for reading, and God bless.

 

 

 

 

Three Things the Lord Taught Me through My College Years

This is an absolutely surreal moment, and I’m not sure when it will truly sink in…

I’m about to graduate from college…

Yeah, that still doesn’t sound right. At all. It seems like a couple of weeks ago I was moving in to my freshman dorm. It seems like not that long ago I was walking into my first college class (Biology 111 if you cared to know). It seems like just the other day I was beginning this journey, but here we are. Four years have passed. I am soon to be an alum graduating with his Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing and moving on to the next phase of my life a.k.a the real world. Man…time flies.

I could spend hours and hours sharing with you memories that I have created at my university and the many hardships I encountered academically. However, what I truly desire to do is share with you something way more important.

I want to share what the Lord taught me through these four years of college.

This list could be forever long and a day, but I’ll just keep it to three that pretty much sum up the lessons the Lord taught me through the past four years of my life. Who knows. Perhaps these are lessons the Lord has taught you….or maybe He’s teaching you as we speak.

1. Everything happens when it should, how it should, and as it should: by His will and in His time.

This is the lesson I am still having an extremely difficult time grasping. The past four years presented what I felt like were hundreds upon hundreds of challenges. However, the past year of my life has been what I’ve explained to my friends and family as “the worst” or “the hardest” year of my life. I have endured so many trials, tribulations, and storms of life that ultimately reached a climax with the passing of my Grandpa. Many other things happened before and after this event that beat me to my knees, but that’s the event that hit the hardest. Over the past six months, I’ve asked myself, “Why in the world do these things keep happening? Over and over and over again.” I have never doubted God’s existence, but let me tell you, I have questioned His plan.

“O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”- Matthew 14:31

Wow….straight from the mouth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I always wondered how Peter could ever doubt Jesus. I always wondered why ANYONE would not trust the Almighty God. Then I realized that I do it almost daily. That is a convicting thought. Why would I not trust His plan…the One who calmed the winds and the waves….the One who walked on the water….the One who arose from the dead….the One who defeated Satan and sin to give me hope of eternal life….why?

Well, we’re human. That’s why. It’s in our nature to not understand. It’s in our nature to demand answers. It’s in our nature to question why things happen and when they happen. It’s in our nature to question anything outside of OUR plans and OUR “schedule” we have in our lives. That’s what makes us, man and God, God.

I know it’s easy to ask why things happen. I know it’s easy to ask why things happen at the worst times. I know it’s easy to question why in the world God would allow you to go through so much when it all seems so unfair and so wrong. That is normal. That’s okay. Just know…

“My brethren count it all JOY when you fail into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces PATIENCE. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be PERFECT and COMPLETE, lacking nothing.”- James 1:2-4

It’s okay to ask why things happen and why they happen when they do, but the answer is simple: the Lord has a plan. His will is perfect. His timing is perfect. And He is trying to make you perfect….in His time.

Trust God. He’s worth trusting.

2. Build your own faith

From the time I was born, I was in a home where God and His Son were the focus. I was raised in a family where every time the doors were open at church, we were there. I grew up as a preacher’s grandson and a deacon’s (and now an elder’s) son. Even the people in my family not under my roof were Christians. This was both a blessing and a curse. Now don’t get me wrong, I am so incredibly thankful for the family I was raised in, and there is not a day that goes by where I don’t thank God for that.

On the flip side, it was too easy.

I went my whole life with the faith of my grandparents, parents, preacher, bible class teachers, etc. In hindsight, 99% of the things they always taught me were the truth, but still, I had made a mistake….I never developed my own faith.

I came into college on fire for God. This was a new opportunity. This was a new life. This was a time I could “reset” my life and “restart” my faith. I was out on my own. This was the time in my life I could work in the Lord’s Kingdom with my own faith. Did anyone else feel this way? Because I’m completely serious. This was going to be the “new me.”

But…there was a problem. When life and the temptations of it hit me between the eyes, I really didn’t have an answer. Why? My faith wasn’t TRULY built upon what it should be build upon. My faith was built on my parents. My faith was built on what I had heard in a pulpit. My faith was built on what I heard in a bible classroom. My faith was built upon myself. My faith was built on man. It was during this time I realized what I needed to do….

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

It was time to build on the Rock that is higher than I.

I began to spend so much time in God’s Word and truly search out things for myself. I began to form my own conclusions. I began to dig deep. I began to build a faith upon the one true foundation that is Jesus.

What I found is that, yes, the people who shared so much with me about God’s Word and the faith I should have were correct. However, how could I stand on my own if I never searched and dug into the Word for myself. I truly felt and knew what it was like to sing the words:

On Christ the Solid Rock, I stand. All other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.

Out of the sand. Onto the Rock.

During this time….I learned the final lesson I want to share with you all…

3. Every single thing you do in your life should have one sole purpose: Glorify God and give Him everything you’ve got

I want to make a statement. This is something you may not agree with, but perhaps you will. This is how I see it: Being a Christian does you absolutely no good until you discover why you are a Christian.

Why do you do what you do? Why do you go to church services every time the doors are open? Why do you worship God? Why do you spend time studying the Bible? Why do you teach others about Jesus? Why do you live a different lifestyle than others? Why are you a Christian? WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO?

Is it because that’s what you’ve always done? Is it because that’s just the way you were raised? Is it because you know if you did any differently your friends and family would be breathing down your neck? Is it to appeal to other people? Is it to get social media fame? Is it to achieve YOUR goals?

Or is it because you love Jesus and the Good, Good Father who sent Him to this earth to die for you?

Wow. Conviction.

I’m speaking to myself, because I did all of those things. I was living this life for all of the wrong reasons. I was wearing the name Christian for all of the wrong reasons. This wasn’t living for Christ, this was living for Carson.

It was in one of my weakest moments when I read this passage, my favorite in Scripture.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”- Romans 5:8

Out of this verse I learned why I do what I do. I learned why I wear the name Christian. I learned why I worship Him. I learned why I pray to Him. I learned why I study His Word. I learned why I lived this life. I learned my purpose.

GOD LOVED ME SO MUCH THAT HE SENT HIS SON JESUS TO DIE FOR ME AT MY WORST SO THAT I COULD LIVE FOR HIM AT MY BEST.

Wow. That’s it. That’s why I’m here. That’s my purpose. Live for God and His Son at my best. Give Them everything I have. Every exam I’ve taken over the past four years was to glorify Him. Every paper I’ve written was to glorify Him. Every hardship I’ve endured was to glorify Him. Every Bible class lesson, devotional, and sermon I’ve delivered was to glorify Him. Every conversation was to glorify Him. The degree I’m receiving on Saturday was to glorify Him. The nursing career I’ll be working diligently in is to glorify Him. The marriage I will have one day will be to glorify Him. The way I will raise my children will be to glorify Him. The life I live until my last moment on this earth should glorify Him.

This is being a Christian. This is living for Christ.

Let me wrap this up by saying, I failed miserably to glorify the Lord through my entire college career. I pray that I will glorify Him in all I do in the future, but I do recognize the mistakes I’ve made. I recognize the fact that the vast majority of my college experience was not lived for the right reasons. Most of the time, all I had in mind were my desires and my feelings. However, I hope that in the future, as I begin this new chapter of my life, that I will take these lessons the Lord has taught me through these four years at UNA and apply them through the rest of my life.

Just remember, we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), but Jesus died for you at your worst so you can live for Him at your best.

I am so thankful to God for the past four years and all of the trials and blessings that came with them. We serve such a great God. We serve such a forgiving God. We serve such a loving God.

I hope that this message has been an encouragement to you in some shape, form, or fashion. Thank you so much for taking the time to read, and may we all strive to serve the Lord and work diligently for the Kingdom.

May the grace of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be with you all. God bless.

 

True Thanksgiving

First of all, happy Thanksgiving to all! Hopefully as you’re reading this, you’ve either already stuffed yourself full of turkey and dressing or you’ll be there in the near future. So, maybe this quick message will catch you at a good time, right before your food coma takes over as you “watch a football game” (aka sleep for 3 hours).

This is a day that we all take the time to pause the craziness of life (and for college students a time to forget about the impending doom that is finals on the horizon) and consider everything that we are thankful for. I’m not going to deliver the cliché speech about how we should be thankful every day and not just on the last Thursday in November. I’m not going to give you the lecture about how if today is the only day you truly count your blessings then there’s something wrong with you.

I just want you to consider what thanksgiving truly is.

Yes, today, I am thankful. Extremely thankful. I’m thankful to have another day of life. I’m thankful for a loving family and equally loving friends. I’m thankful for all the material blessings and necessities I have. I’m thankful for the opportunity to pursue an education (yes even with finals approaching). Even in a time where all we seem to talk about is the negatives of this country, I am thankful for the United States of America and the freedoms we have here such as the freedom to worship as we please. I am thankful for my dachshunds, and yes I did feel it was necessary to specifically mention them because hey what can I say I’m obsessed. I am thankful for this day that I can stop and forget about nursing school for a moment and enjoy the three F’s: family, football, and food. But most of allI am thankful for God’s grace, mercy, and love. I am thankful for His willingness to send His only Son, Jesus Christ, away from a perfect home in Heaven only to be brutally murdered to offer hope to a sinner like myself. I am thankful for the hope of something beyond this life. I am thankful for a Father that I can go to with every care I’ll ever have in prayer. I’m thankful for a Savior that loved me so much, even when I was at my darkest. Today, and every day, I am thankful for Jesus Christ.

Now, I want you to consider all the things you are thankful for. Make a list. Count your blessings. Some things may be different on your list than mine. Hopefully some are the same… Okay, now I want you to consider what it truly means to be thankful for these things. What does it mean to truly give thanks.

Here’s something to consider: what if I told you that everything that you are thankful for would be taken away from you? How would you react? How would you respond? You would probably fight for those things, right? You would do whatever it took to keep them. You would act!

True thanksgiving is not just saying, “thank you.” TRUE THANKSGIVING IS LIVING A LIFE THAT RADIATES “THANK YOU!” 

Where does every single blessing you have come from? God! In James 1:17, he states that “Every good and perfect gift is from above…” So if everything comes from God then who should you thank for everything you have every single day? God! And yes, God appreciates you expressing your thankfulness to Him through words, but if you are truly thankful for everything that He has blessed you with, then show Him you are thankful by your life! If you live a life where you are disobeying God left and right, then are you really thankful for what He’s done for you? If you are living a life where you say you’re thankful, but you turn around and live a lifestyle that is the opposite of what God wants from you, then are you truly thankful? The biggest sign of gratitude and thankfulness is not empty words, but ACTION!

So I encourage you, if you are thankful for your family, friends, education, freedoms, possessions, necessities, and most importantly God’s grace, mercy, love, and Son, then live that way. Live a life that radiates “Thank You, Lord!” That…is true thanksgiving.

Yet again, I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving, and God bless!

Five Goals Every Christian College Student Should Have This Semester

Welp….the time has come.

Time to stop sleeping in and start setting the 6:30 AM alarms. Time to say goodbye to my social life. Time to come to the realization that I can’t sit in bed and watch Netflix for half the day. Time to pick up the books. Time to pack up my things, leave my hometown, and head back to UNA. Time to leave summer behind and say hello to another school year (although this will be my last of undergrad…so weird). Another school year full of stress, studying, and lack of sleep… and the list goes on and on and on.

Okay, enough of the depressing stuff.

I also believe this new semester is a new start for all of us. This is a new semester to have different goals with different outcomes. This is a clean slate (yes I know your GPA doesn’t reset but we’re not going to think about that right now because this is a positive blog okay) and a new opportunity to be better than you were last semester. This semester, the Fall of 2016, is a fresh start. I mean this in every aspect of your life: in academics, relationships, friendships, and just being a better person in general. But I want this post to be about something that holds a higher value than all of those things: your relationship with the Lord.

In my opinion, one of the best things you can do before this semester starts is set goals for yourself. I’ll leave the goals you set academically to you, but I want to give you five goals that every Christian in college should be striving for this semester that I feel will bring you closer than you’ve ever been to God, while hitting the books and working for that degree. Here we go:

1. Organize Your Priorities

For those of you who know anything about the Myers-Briggs personality test, you probably can define yourself as a “P” or a “J”. Long story short, “P” people tend to be less organized while “J” people tend to be more organized. I happen to be a “J” person, proven by the fact that my planner is basically another part of my body. That being said, I don’t think being a “P” or a “J” is a do-or-die matter academically, because we all find our different comfort zones of making it through the semester. However, I think we all need to have a “J” mindset when it comes to our walk with the Lord. We need to organize our priorities before we start the semester. In fact, this is a goal that we need to set and accomplish in our hearts right now, because without doing this, our hearts won’t be in the right place and without that, our other spiritual goals will never be reached. This is the easiest to-do list you’ll ever make, and Jesus gave it to us, Himself:

“But seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” – Matthew 6:33

  1. Seek the Lord and His kingdom
  2. Everything else

I want you to realize how easy of a priority list this is to MAKE, but to actually ORGANIZE it to where it reflects this order in your life, you must LIVE it. That is up to you. But before we can set any other goal, you have to accomplish this one. Organize your priorities in your heart to where God’s kingdom is the most important thing in your life. And we’ll go from there.

2. Give God the Glory for EVERYTHING You Encounter, Whether It’s a Win or a Loss

Here’s some questions for you:

How often do we go to God when things are bad or we need something? Pretty often. How often do we go to God when things are great just to thank Him and give Him the glory for having success? Probably still pretty often but maybe not as much as we should. Okay, well how often do we give God the glory and thank Him for struggles? …..yupp, this is the tough one.

Let me illustrate this in a way that every college student can relate to: a grade on an exam.

Let’s say you’re logging onto the website that your grade is posted on and you’re literally sweating and shaking from the nerves (yes, I have been there). You open up your grade to see that you absolutely killed that exam and made an A. What’s your first reaction? Tell people how you did awesome on the test and how you studied so hard and how you had success? I’m the guilty party here. The reaction should be to thank God and give Him the glory! Why? I’ll get to that in a second.

Another scenario: You’re opening up the website where your grade is. You studied 50 hours for this exam. You cried, became an insomniac, and literally lost your mind preparing for it. The grade pops up and….you bombed it. Absolutely flunked it. What’s your first reaction? To cry? To get angry at the professor? To blame it on everything in existence including your dog/cat/fish/hedgehog/whatever pet they’ll let you have in an apartment/dorm these days? I’ve been there. When in reality, yes even in this scenario, our response should be to thank God for this failure and give glory to Him! That sounds crazy doesn’t it? Well, it’s not. Here’s why.

GOD gave you the ability to study for the exam. GOD gave you the opportunity to attend a school like the one you attend. GOD blessed you with means to pay for this school in some sort of fashion. GOD either gave you the wisdom, strength, and ability to do great on the exam or the experience of failing! Any way you look at it, GOD blessed you with what you received. Win or lose. Pass or fail. God should be given glory when we succeed because He gave us everything we needed to succeed. God should also be given the glory when we fail because “…count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” (James 1:2) This applies to way more in life than just a test. Anything you encounter this next semester, whether you win or lose, give God the glory, because either way, He has blessed you.

3. Study, Study, Study (God’s Word)

In my first post I wrote about being a Christian in college, I already put a lot of thought into this (I encourage you to give that one a read, too!), so I’ll keep it brief. Yes, God wants you to study and work hard to graduate with that degree. In fact, God wants to see you succeed in all you do as long as it’s in His plan. However, studying God’s Word should hold a higher priority (see the priority list again) than any nursing textbook I own. I’m not saying to never open a textbook again. I’m not saying that it is even possible to put more study time into God’s Word than your schoolwork if you want to pass. What I am saying is that God’s Word is our road map, our guide, and our motivational tool that we need as a Christian to make it through this life so full of ways to get lost and discouraged. That is why it is important, and that is why it deserves our time. The Bible is more than a book, it is God speaking to us. Words directly from our Father. We should treat it like such.

(In Psalm 119, David describes God’s Word as a light to his path. Don’t live life without that light, or you’ll always be stumbling around in the dark. Food for thought.)

4. Don’t Stress (Too Much), Just Give It All to God, and Learn to Be Content

This is the really really tough one for me personally.

Part of the college lifestyle is stress. Stress about the next exam. Stress about a grade. Stress about getting a paper written in time. Stress about finances. Stress about your future. I’m convinced that college and stress are just interchangeable terms at this point. But there comes a point where we have to face everything we’re stressed about. The good news is, we don’t have to do it alone. That’s one of the many things the Lord has to offer to His children. In 1 Peter 5:7, Peter writes to “cast all your anxieties on Him, for He cares for you.” Take your stress and give it to the Lord. He will care for you. He will do what is best in His plan. You just have to trust that. You have to trust that no matter what horrible things you face in your life that the Lord has a plan and that He will provide.

We should all strive to be like Paul in this area of our lives. In Philipians 4:11, he writes “for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” Why? Because he believed in the Lord, trusted His plan, and truly believed (as he would write a couple verses afterwards) that he could do all things through Christ.

When you reach a point where you’re content with whatever happens in life because you trust God’s plan and believe that He will provide, you will truly feel the peace that passes understanding through Jesus. Because no matter what comes, you know that you can rest in the Lord, His love, His grace, His mercy, and His promises. I know it’s easier said than done, but once you achieve this mindset, those huge exams seem all that more conquerable, and even when you fail, you know that you can rest in the Lord.

“What a friend we have in Jesus.

All our sins and griefs to bear

all because we do not carry

everything to God in prayer.”

5. Imitate Christ- Be Like Jesus

This should be a goal every Christian should have. The very name Christian describes someone who is a follower of Christ. We should all be like Jesus. We’ll never be perfect. We’ll never be able to comprehend the love that he showed. We’ll never be Jesus. But we can strive to be like Him in everything we do.

While you’re in class, imitate Christ. While you’re alone in your room at night, imitate Christ. When you’re at work, imitate Christ. Ask yourself when you’re making any decision: would Jesus do this? Is this something Jesus would do? These are all things we need to consider. There will be days where we fall short. That happens. Make it your goal to put those things behind and live the next semester, the next month, the next day, or even the next hour more like Jesus Christ.

Each one of us should have this goal: at the end of every day can we say that we lived as Christ would. That should be our goal. Every day. This is a goal that goes beyond college. This is a goal that will go with us to the day we die. Did others see Jesus in you? Did you imitate Christ?

Make that your goal. BE MORE LIKE JESUS!

 

I want to say that the reason these five goals came to mind is because they are five personal goals for myself. These are things I need to strive towards. Hopefully, they’ll be five goals that you take with you through this semester and into the next, and the next, and the next, and all the way through college and into your career. If you organize your priorities to have the Lord first, give Him the glory, study His Word, give your cares to Him, and imitate His Son Jesus Christ, I promise that you will be a better Christian than you were last semester. These are goals I’m striving to achieve, and hopefully others will join me this semester as we look to make our campuses a better place in the Lord’s Kingdom.

Thank you all for reading my articles this summer. I hope to do more as the school year progresses when I have time. May we all strive to be better for the One who gave it all for us.

God bless.

 

 

 

 

How to Save a Life

Here’s something to think about:

If you knew someone (whether it be an enemy, a friend, a family member, a significant other, or just some random person on the street) had a serious disease such as cancer and would die by the end of the day, and you had the cure, the antidote, what would you do? I am almost 100% certain that you would give it to them, regardless of your connection to them. You would save their life, wouldn’t you?

Quick fact about myself: I’m going into my last year of nursing school. My dream is to become a nurse. My dream is to touch people’s lives. My dream is to save lives. And let me tell you, there are lives to be saved. If estimations I’ve read are correct, over 150,000 people will die today. That’s 150,000 people who had lives like you and I. 150,000 people who woke up likely not knowing that today would be their last day. But most importantly, 150,000 people with souls died today.

How many of them knew Jesus? How many of them were followers of Christ?

I don’t have a statistic on that, but my guess would probably be that there were more who didn’t than those that did. More who weren’t than those that were. But here is the real (and sad) question:

How many of them did you reach out to? How many of them did you talk to about Jesus?

Ouch. That hurts.

I know I’m guilty. And more than likely, we all are.

I think it’s important to realize that no, it is physically impossible to reach every single person who will die in your life time. You can’t teach every single person in this world about Jesus. It’s impossible. But I also think it’s important to realize that you will encounter thousands upon thousands of people in your every day life that you can. Those are the people who you can impact. Jesus provides the means to do the saving, don’t get me wrong. But YOU can be the person to reach someone with the gospel and offer them a gift that has eternal value: Jesus and a hope a heaven.

Now back to the point I made at the beginning. If you had an antidote to save someone’s life, you would give it to them… And at this moment you probably know what I’m about to say… WHY DON’T WE SHARE THE GOSPEL?!

The gospel is the ETERNAL ANTIDOTE with an ETERNAL IMPACT! And yet, do we share it with others like we would a physical antidote for a physical disease? I know I don’t.

If you are a Christian, you have all the knowledge needed in God’s Word to reach a lost soul. You have all the tools necessary to save a life. You have what it takes to save a soul.

Hopefully, next year I’ll be a nurse saving lives. But I know that today I can help save a life, a soul. And you can, too.

I want to end this message by saying that if you are someone who has questions about the gospel and Jesus Christ’s message, please don’t hesitate to reach out to someone. In fact, I ask that if you have any questions about God’s Word and His plan for you, please feel free to contact me via social media and send me a message. Jesus’ message is a message of love. We are supposed to value and love all souls of all people. Therefore, I care about every single one of you who read this and your soul. So, if you have any questions I would love to talk to you.

Thank you and God bless.

 

To the “Stuck in the Rut” Christian

I’m going to ask a question, and I want you to be honest with yourself. 

Are you better than you were yesterday?

Are you better than you were last year?

A better teacher. A better servant. A better student. A better person. A better Christian.

Are you?

Just to make sure you don’t feel like this is a finger-pointing lecture, I’ll admit that the main reason these thoughts came to my mind was because I knew I needed them. I’ll go ahead and admit that at different points of this past year I could answer yes, and other times I could answer no. It hurts to say that, but it’s the honest truth. Is that okay? No. Do I need to be better? Yes. But the first thing I needed to get you (and myself) to do is be honest. Before you can improve, you must be honest with yourself about the things that need to be improved. Okay, now that we’re clear: Are you better than you were yesterday? Are you better than you were last year? Are you a better servant of Christ? Are you improving?

If yes, awesome. You’re probably doing better than I have the past year, and I applaud your example to people like myself. But there’s always room for improvement, right?

If no, the next question to ask is why? Why aren’t you better? Keep that in mind.

Now that we have the answer to that question, I want to share ONE SINGLE WORD with you that I hope will be the motivation you need to be the best Christian you can be.

But first… Let me explain one more thing, and it’s pretty important. IF YOU’RE NOT GETTING BETTER, YOU’RE GETTING WORSE. Let me explain this with an illustration. You know how tug-of-war works, right? Two sides pulling in their own direction. The side that pulls the other across the line first wins. Here’s my comparison to our walk with Christ:

You’re on the right side of the rope. Satan is on the left. You’re both pulling against each other. Let’s say you’re serving Christ with everything you’ve got. You’re giving Him your all. Everything you do, you do your best for Jesus. With the Lord to back you up, you’ve got the win guaranteed, in the bag, game over. Now let’s say you are going through the motions. Yeah, you go to church most Sundays. Yeah, you kind of do most of the right things in life. Yeah, you might mention Jesus to someone occasionally. Yeah, I guess you could say you’re doing alright. Not great, but pretty good. You lose. You know why? Because, if you think Satan is going to quit pulling his direction, you’re lying to yourself. Satan never stops pulling at you. Ever. In fact, his one purpose is to make sure you fail and take the L (and that’s not a loss you want to take, I promise you). If Satan is constantly pulling, and you’re standing idle, you’re going to get pulled in like a 90-pound boy would get pulled in by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Bottom line: If you don’t give everything you’ve got for the Lord, you’re standing still. If you’re standing still while the enemy (Satan) isn’t, you’re giving in to his pull. If that happens, you’re losing to Satan. Being idle is losing. That is the importance of giving your all. That is the importance of not going through the motions. That is the importance of giving Christ 100% in all that you do.

“But I know the importance of giving my all for the Lord. I always have. My problem is how do I STOP going through the motions? How do I wake up? How do I take action? What is my motivation to be better?”

One word:

LOVE

To be clear, Jesus Christ’s love. The Lord’s love. But simply, love.

There’s passage from the Word of God that comes to my mind time and time again when I struggle with going through the motions and not being the best I can possibly be. And if you haven’t read anything I’ve typed this whole time, PLEASE, read this:

“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” -Romans 5:6-9

I am left speechless and in awe every time I read that passage. 73 words with an infinite impact. At times, I have a difficult time grasping exactly what it says… Wait a second, so you’re telling me that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, left the perfect place of Heaven?  A place with no pain, no sadness, no darkness, and no death? He left that? He left that place to come to this world that is filled with so much pain, hate, and evil? He left His Father? God allowed Him to leave? His one Son? A Son He loved more than anything? Christ left all of that to not only come to this awful place, but to come here to be beaten, spat upon, ridiculed, have a crown of thorns twisted on His head, have nails driven through his hands and feet, and die a cruel death on a cross? Why? Why would anyone do that?

Yet again, one word.

Love.

He loved us while we were without strength. He loved us when we were sinful. He loved us while we were ungodly. He loved us while were were at our darkest. He loved those people who ridiculed Him. He loved the people who nailed Him to the cross. He loved the very people who wanted Him to die. He loved you. He loved me.

And yet, I fail Him daily. And yet, I choose to sin. And yet, I don’t give 100%. And yet, I go through the motions.

There’s your motivation.

Grace is the giving of something we don’t deserve. Mercy is withholding something that we do deserve. I don’t deserve salvation. I don’t deserve what Jesus did for me. I do deserve to be lost. I do deserve that. Because of that, I am forever thankful for the grace and mercy shown to me by my Lord and Savior. That’s my motivation. All driven by the love He had and will forever have for you and me.

In closing, I hope these words are to you what they are for me: a wake up call to be better. Motivation to be give everything to the Savior who gave it all for you and me. Don’t feel sorry for yourself, which is something I do when I think about these things. Take what Christ did for you, and have that same attitude toward others. Have that love. Take that love and not only go to church, but worship the Lord with your whole heart. Don’t just talk to others about Jesus every now and then. Spread the good news of Jesus like it’s the best thing that ever happened to you (because it is). Don’t go through life continuing to partake in the sins of this world because “Jesus has me covered.” Really? He gave it all for you, and you have that attitude? Don’t just go through the motions and be “good enough.” Be the best you can be. Why? Because Jesus was the best He could be for you. 

I challenge you to go and be the servant of Jesus Christ you were called to be. Be passionate. Be active. Be motivated. But most importantly, be loving like Christ loved you.

Thank you all, and God bless.