The word “failure” is failing us.

So many times I think, and say to God, “I have failed You.”

Yet this doesn’t encapsulate the grace God gives!

HE HAS ALREADY FIXED OUR FAILURE THROUGH THE BLOOD OF HIS SON!

Yet we still constantly disobey, and sabotage our own pursuit towards God.

So what shall we say when we have these moments?

I think if we look deep enough, our sabotage is always a direct response to our pride. We either think we know better than God, think we can hide from God, or think we’re not ready for God and what He has called us to.

So we put up a road block.

So, next time you sabotage the pursuit, quit telling God you failed. That only tells Him you think you aren’t doing good enough. Instead, confess to Him that you have fled, repent for your constant attempts to run from His glory, and turn back towards Him, remembering that His glory is always chasing you.

Are you running towards it?

I AM A TEMPLE

 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”        

  – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

When you read this verse, what does it make you feel?

I know when I read this verse, up until probably a few months ago or so, it always made me feel like I wasn’t doing good enough. Like I wasn’t keeping my “temple” clean enough for God. I always read it and pictured a big, marble room with huge pillars that was spotlessly clean,and thought, “that’s not how my body is! I’m filthy! I need to do better!”

And then I realized that temple in my head was empty. And I realized God’s temple is never empty.

This post is a warning. It’s a challenge for you to ask yourself what these verses that we quote so often in Christianity (and often for the wrong reasons), make you feel. Do they make you feel shame? Guilt? Do they make you feel like you need to work harder to clean out your temple for God?

Or do they make you realize that the God who has created the earth and everything in it has taken up residence with YOU. Do you read these verses in the context with which you have likely heard them? Or do you read these verses and really READ them.

“Your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit” = God lives in you. And because He’s in you, you can do everything He asks of you through Him. One of the best parts of being a Christian is living with God in control. It should be comforting to know that the Designer is the one leading and guiding His design. Life before Christ is like getting into an Abrams tank because you drove one in Call of Duty. You might have some fun, and there might be some explosions, but in the end all you’re going to do is wreck stuff. He knows you better than you do. He knows what you’re capable of, and He wants to teach you how to use every part of His design. Listen to Him and let Him teach you.

“You were bought at a price.” = You’re worth something. And in this case, something is EVERYTHING. Something is a live lived in perfection. The Designer loves His design so much that He decided He’d pay with His own blood in order to get it back for eternity. He already knows you, and He wants you to get to know Him. He doesn’t want you to say, “He bought me, I better be a good person and follow the ten commandments and do stuff for Him like go on a short-term mission trip.” He wants you to say, “THAT’S what I’m worth?!” He wants you to realize how highly He thinks of you. He wants you to realize that He paid the ultimate price for something incredibly broken, and He wants you to realize that He sees what you can look like when you’re fixed. He didn’t buy you so He could have another worker. He bought you so He could work.

“You are not your own.” The context of this verse is Paul talking about sexual immorality. I think that’s why people tend to get legalistic with this verse. But look at verse 15. Paul calls our bodies “members of Christ.” He isn’t telling us to not sin. He’s telling us to let Christ have control, because there is no sin in Christ. With Christ in control, sexual immorality, or any other sin, isn’t even a consideration. Remember, condemnation says, “You lied, you’re a liar.” Conviction says, “You’re way too awesome to be doing that.” Condemnation calls out our brokenness. Conviction reminds us of His repair.

“But whoever is united in the Lord is one with Him in spirit.”   – 1 Corinthians 6:17

TRUST BEATS TALENT (and what that means)

“… Bring down Your warriors, O Lord!”

                                                         – Joel 3:11

This passage in context can tell us a lot. It serves as a rally cry to Judah to prepare for battle, telling the people to “beat your plowshares into swords and pruning hooks into spears,” and “the weakling to declare strength” in anticipation of battle. (Joel 3:10). Yet after telling the people and nations to assemble and prepare, he finishes by turning to God and declaring to God that it is time for Him to send His warriors.

Do you do all you can and come to God prepared and at the end of your strength when you cry out for His help? Or do you sit idly by and expect God to do all of the work?

I, personally, am mostly guilty of the second.

I’m a huge phrase nerd. A huge part of my walk with God is to take a passage, or a verse, and condense it down into a phrase. This is a practice that not only helps me dwell on what I read throughout the day, but also helps me memorize scripture and find encouragement later when I’m feeling discouraged or overwhelmed.

One of my favorite phrases I’ve come up with is “Trust Beats Talent.” In the bible it’s very clear that God prefers your trust over what you feel you’re talented in (Moses, for one, is a good example of this, as is 2 Corinthians 12:9, John 14:1, and basically the backstory of every major character in the Bible). But often we find ourselves either too afraid or too lazy to realize that trusting God often looks like work, and that in order for God to work through you, you must be working. One step at a time, despite how qualified or unqualified you feel, and when you have done all you can through God’s strength and allowance, then it’s time to declare that God brings His warriors.

I guess I can now say there’s a second part to my saying.

Trust beats talent, but trust usually involves movement.

God has made us capable. He has given us His strength (Ephesians 1:19). Are you willing to use it? What is God asking you to trust Him in? And what is He telling you to do in order to put that trust into action? Remember God loves to encourage His children, and He has filled us with His spirit and strength so we can be warriors for the things He has put on our hearts to accomplish. Are we really putting our strength in Him if we’re never willing to flex our muscles?

“Sacrifice and offering You do not desire, but You have given me an open ear.”    – Psalm 40:6

ON DECISION MAKING.

The older I get, and the better I start to know God, the more I believe He doesn’t really care about a lot of things.

Before you call me a heretic, calm down. I’m not saying God doesn’t care. I’m saying we care too much about the inconsequential. We find ourselves worrying about decisions throughout every step of life, praying, and hoping, that at no point we step off track of the decisions God wants us to make, believing He only has one direction for us to go at every opportunity we come across to decide.

We do this all in good ambition, but our good ambition, in reality, does nothing except shrink the greatness of our God.

At 26 years old, I’m old enough to know that I’m not brilliant. I know I have much more to learn about myself, God, and the world. I know many of the things I believe right now will probably change by the time I’m 30, and I know there are still a lot of things I want to do in this life. Many of these things, I’ll find success in, and in just as many, I’ll fail. Yet as it has been throughout my life, I believe each decision I’ve made in my life up to this point – each success and failure alike – has led me to where I am today, and I believe God has used each decision to bring me to the perfect place of capability for Him.

But I also know I could’ve made different decisions. I know I could’ve worked harder at certain things. I know I could’ve been a better person. I could’ve ended up in a different town, with a different career, and spent a much longer time running from the grace God offers than I did. I know I could’ve kept living my life in fear of what I could achieve, and in comfort of not achieving my true desires. And I know, no matter what other path I may have chosen, I would still be in the midst of God’s use.

Yet I didn’t always feel this way. I used to worry about every decision I made, hoping it was the one God wanted me to make, worried that if I made one wrong decision, I’d end up in a place I couldn’t be used. Worried that with one decision, my relationship with Christ might be destroyed, and I’d be left scrounging for whatever insignificant task He had left to trust me with; worried there was never more than one door open at a time, and I had to make sure I chose the right one or face a life of mediocrity and meaninglessness. I was a kid, praying the prayer of worry, asking God to tell me His purpose for my life, and believing that purpose was extremely specific.

Now I realize this prayer, while full of good intentions and a great attitude, is completely short changing not only our own potential, but God’s potential as well.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying quit praying for God’s purpose to be done in your life. I’m just saying God’s purpose isn’t based around which college or major you choose. I’m just saying God is much more flexible than you might think, so when you pray about a decision, don’t expect him to close every door but one.  Don’t expect Him to make decisions for you. Instead, be ready to make decisions with the confidence that as long as you are pursuing Him, He can use any decision you do make.  Our God is creative enough to do many things in our lives with many different decisions we might make, and through His creativity, I believe He lets much of our life happen in process. He lets many of our decisions happen based on whether or not we want to make them. I honestly don’t think He’s sitting up in heaven, looking down on our lives as if it’s a reality TV show, saying to himself, “No! Not that college! He was supposed to go to a Christian college and major in youth ministry! The rest of his life is ruined!”

Yet this is exactly how we pray. Sounds completely ridiculous, but it’s exactly how I went through that part of my life, and it’s exactly how people around me are going through theirs. We’re so intent on living our lives as if it’s a sitcom – as if every moment has already been written, and every applause has already been suggested to the audience around us, when life is more like improv comedy. There’s no practice. It’s unwritten. We’re simply given a topic, we decide how we want to approach it, and the rest is free form. One line won’t end the show, it will just define the approach taken in response. I think it’s time for us to take comfort in the fact that the response just happens to be coming from the One who created us, and time for us to trust the fact that He will deliver the best response possible.

Maybe I just happen to see God as unendingly creative and imaginative. Maybe I’m just not a big fan of pre-destination thinking because it seems to me like it limits God’s inordinate amount of creativity exhibited in our lives moment by moment to a map, written before our existence. I can see God drawing up a map for our lives, but I see him taking His time. I see him drawing it up one step at a time, knowing He can use each step – whether Godly or sinful – in giving us a story to bring Him ultimate glory and us ultimate joy. You might say I just don’t completely understand pre-destination, and you’d be right, but I honestly don’t believe it’s that important of an issue, because I know I could’ve made thousands of different decisions in my life, and God would still have me in His hand, leading me towards a life bringing Him glory.

There’s a story in the bible of a man who was eaten by a whale. You’ve probably heard of it. The man’s name is Jonah, and God told him to go to a city full of the most sinful people of the age (which would probably be the most sinful people of our age as well), but Jonah didn’t go because He was afraid of that city and it’s people. So instead, he, completely literally, ran the other direction. He got on a boat sailing into the sea, away from the inland “city of sin.” But God’s will was done. He sent a storm, the crew on the boat kicked him off and threw him into the sea, the storm died down, Jonah was eaten by a whale and taken closer to Ninevah, and eventually he went, told them God was going to destroy them if they didn’t repent and turn towards Him, and they all repented, while Jonah pouted outside the city walls because he wanted God to destroy them.

I know you’re probably reading this, thinking, “doesn’t this story mean we have to make the right decision immediately or we’ll get eaten by a whale?” No. It doesn’t. It means we should consult God in our decision making, and sometimes He’ll give us clear direction. When that happens, trust Him and go. But when it doesn’t, trust Him and go just the same, with the confidence that any door left open is a door leading towards His purpose for you.

Here is The Simple Guide to Christian decision making:

Pray, Read, Ask, Trust, and Go.

Pray about your decision, and lean on the bible to give you guidance. Ask Him (and wise people around you) which decision to make, trust God’s creativity, power, and in some cases redemption in that decision, and step forward.

The biggest step in making a decision in life is to quit making it the only one.

Jerimiah 1:5

-a pitiful masterpiece

(un)defined – (spoken word)

Hey friends! This is a spoken word poem I wrote about identity for a spoken word competition Propaganda is doing with I Am Second. The 5 videos with the most views move on to the finals, so WATCH IT, SHARE IT, and let me know what you think!