Faith Over Fear, Part 3: The Joy of the Lord is Our Strength!

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I hope you all are doing well, brothers and sisters in the Lord! I pray you all are seeking Christ every day and are preparing your hearts for His coming. Jesus could really come back any day, and we always need to be prepared for that! Now today let’s talk about a beautiful fruit of the Holy Spirit that we probably all desire more of in our lives: joy.

“How can I have joy, Lord?”

I asked this to the Lord earlier this year as I was journaling and spending time with Him. His reply? Well, He told me to go inside. So I went inside and shared with my dad about some things God had been speaking to me during that time with Him. Soon my dad and I had a good refreshing laugh, and I was overflowing with joy!

God cares about His children and wants for us to have joy. He created joy, and He created us with a desire for joy!

Not only that, but He wants us to have joy even in the midst of great trials. This is because having joy isn’t about having a feeling, it’s about having Jesus. Even in the midst of trials, if we can cling to Jesus and rejoice in Him, the trials will seem so much less in comparison with God’s goodness. It really is possible to have joy in the midst of great difficulty! 

In fact, James urges us to make the choice to be joyful in these times: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:1-3)

Consider it pure joy? What!? I used to look at that verse in awe, but never did anything about it. It just amazed me. I didn’t know if I could truly put such a thing into practice.

Well, James wasn’t just saying something! He meant it, and he knew it could be true because of our connection with the Holy Spirit, who has an unlimited supply of joy!

How can we feel joy when fear seems overwhelming? The other day I was experiencing a lot of fear. Fear may indeed be an easy thing to give into, but if we are children of the light, we must–and I repeat, MUST–learn how to conquer the fear in our lives through faith in Jesus Christ. As I was reminded the other day, we must stand firm in the Lord and in the power of his might (Eph. 6:10).

Yes, God can meet you in your weakness. But, if we never fight against the fear with the authority of Christ we have been given, we will understandably be overwhelmed by it and be very far from joy.

In spite of our weakness, we have been given the authority of Christ and we must use it! Jesus is with us wanting to strengthen us, and it’s our job to choose to be firm and to choose to fight in the name of Jesus! We must do our part, being instilled with faith, and He will meet us with His strength! And what is His strength?

Nehemiah 8:10b gives an example of people who found that in God, they could find strength, and that strength was in fact joy: “…the joy of the Lord is our strength.”

This is exactly the words the Holy Spirit gave me to fight the fear last night: The joy of the Lord is my strength! As I said those words against the enemy and stood against fear, I experienced so much joy in the Lord! Praise God!!!

Listen up, folks. Joy is not just a good feeling, it is a weapon God has give us. Joy is a weapon we have been given through the Holy Spirit to counteract the fear in our lives!

It’s OK if you have to fight again and again… and again. Do NOT let the enemy make you feel stupid. PERSEVERE in the power of the Holy Spirit, standing strong against the enemy and praising God with the joy He has given you. Hallelujah! Wishy-washy words aren’t going to give you victory over fear. Only a spirit standing firm, rejecting fear, and praising God can bring you victory–all in the name of Jesus!

Let me tell you, I haven’t always been a “strong” person. In fact I hesitate to call myself strong now, because I still have so many moments of weakness, and I know I am completely weak and helpless without Jesus.

But ever since I have discovered how necessary it is to fight against fear, doubt, and unbelief, that come at me, I have learned to be a fighter. And learning to be a fighter has taught me how to be a joyful person.

A year ago, I would probably have said something like: “Oh, that’s not my thing.” I am so against hurting things, guys, really! The thought of going to a shooting range to shoot even just targets does not appeal to me.

Still, when you are a child of God, you must learn to fight against the spiritual forces of evil. (These are the only things God calls us to fight in Scripture–people themselves we are called to love.) You must admit that these dark forces will ALWAYS be dark and they deserve NO compassion. God is calling you to rise up and drive them out of your life in the name of Jesus! Give up on fear. Get on your knees. Get sanctified in the blood of Jesus. He will strengthen you!

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:12-13

Even in the midst of your pain, your struggle, your devastating circumstances, your everyday job, your finals during school, your family relationships–whatever you are going through, put on the full armor of God! Stand your ground. Stop letting these circumstances drown you and rise above them in the victory you have in Jesus.

Bring your hurts to God. Every hurt. Bring your burdens to God. Every burden. Bring everything to God in prayer and rejoice in His love! He is good! He is kind! He is faithful!

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21

This verse encourages me many times. Don’t let fear overwhelm you. Don’t let your emotions overwhelm you. Don’t let your circumstances overwhelm. Rise up and trust in the Lord! Rise up and praise Him!

Today, my challenge to you is to rejoice, as Philippians 4:4 talks about: “Rejoice always! Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

Paul doesn’t just tell us to rejoice one time, he repeats himself, and he says to rejoice all the time! Don’t be defeated by lies or circumstances, but rise up and praise the Lord! Sing praises to God to combat fear and worry.

Choose to believe that He is in control and He is so, so good. Choose to believe that He is better and more satisfying than your circumstances, and that eternity in heaven with Him is something worth rejoicing about. Hallelujah!

He has saved you and bought you at a great price with the precious blood of Jesus. You can put to death fear because Jesus died and you can rise up with joy because Jesus came to life again. Praise the Lord! Praise Him forevermore!!! (I am extremely happy writing this post, if you can’t tell. These exclamation points aren’t just here, they are trying to express what is going on inside me. 😀 😀 😀 YAY! Thank You, Jesus!!!)

Choose joy today, Beloved!

Choose a joy that fights and believes and remains steady and strong no matter what tries to diminish it. Choose a joy that strengthens you and nourishes you with the holy presence of God. Choose a joy that is totally worshipful and in awe of our precious Savior who bled and died for us so we might live in unity with Him now and forever!

I used to have trouble believing that God wanted me to enjoy Him, but one time at a conference my new friend (who later became one of my dearest friends) said to me: “I am going to pray for you to have fullness of joy in God’s presence.” I was thinking something like: “Ok… That’s nice, I guess?” I didn’t really believe such joy was possible.

But guess what? By the end of the conference I was bursting with joy in God’s presence. I was worshiping my heart out to Him! I was discovering how truly satisfying He was and always is, far more satisfying than anything this earth can supply. I had never experienced such unfathomable joy before. I had never before realized how much God delights in filling His people with joy. He wants to fill your cup today, till it overflows, like in Psalm 23!

God is good, friends! He is so, so good. I pray you all experience boundless joy, energy, and life from the Holy Spirit today. I pray you all learn to stand firm in the Lord, fight against fear by the power of the Holy Spirit, and praise God in the middle of the storm! Joy overcomes fear! Light overcomes darkness. Good overcomes evil. Jesus overcomes your weakness with His strength!

Jesus is with you always, and I personally believe Jesus is coming very soon, so be prepared! Endure and persevere through the end, considering it pure joy as the Lord refines you through these times. No matter how bad things get, you will end up a more beautiful masterpiece on the other side, with a closer intimacy with our precious Savior.

Fix your eyes on Him, each and every day. Live each day to the fullest for Him. And please, by all means, share about the incredible joy and life God has given you with every person possible–stranger, friend, or family! You have a story worth sharing. And there’s people out there who need to hear it.

Remember, Beloved: You are so precious to God, far more than you can imagine. ❤

Have a blessed night, brothers and sisters!

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11

 

 

 

Faith Over Fear, Part 2: Love Drives Out Fear

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Have you ever seen a young couple in love? Or a mother who really loves her child? It may be easy to love a person when we are “in love” or to love a child when he or she is behaving well. But what is true love?

How can we love ALL people—old people, young people, children, parents, siblings, friends, coworkers, spouses, strangers, our enemies—at ALL times, deeply and genuinely, the way the Lord loves us?

As you may know from my last post about being filled with the Holy Spirit, I am going through a series about the fruits of the Spirit and how those overcome and banish the fear in our lives. We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit–filled with purity, love, and a clean heart–to be able to truly love others in the ways God loves us—sacrificially, unconditionally, unreservedly.

The topic of loving others and being loved by God go hand in hand. Through experiencing the love of God, we learn to love others. Through loving others, we experience the love of God.

Honestly, when my eyes aren’t fixed on Jesus, I have absolutely no idea how to truly love others in a genuine way. Without Him, I am going to fail. I am going to be self-seeking. I am going to not care for others. But with Him filling me up to overflowing, His love naturally flows out of me into others lives.

To be totally honest I am REALLY new to learning how to love others. I am so prone to failing, and I am still just beginning to learn what it means to love others without reserve.

Lord Jesus, teach us how to love. Fill us with the love of Your Holy Spirit. We need to know the depths of Your love for us that is right now so beyond our comprehension. We have so much more to learn of Your love. Speak to us tonight. Speak to us, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

You and I need to be filled with God Himself in order to know how to love people. This filling of the Holy Spirit is in contrast to following the ways of our fleshly desires.

“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” – Galatians 5:19-26

Have you crucified your flesh with its passions and desires? Right here it says that if you belong to Christ Jesus you have. Plain and straight. In Christ Jesus, your passions and desires are dead.

Do you believe that? Or do you still live by your passions and desires? I know I do. I mess up. And it’s not because my passions and desires aren’t dead, it’s because I don’t believe that they are. It’s because I don’t believe that Jesus paid the price for those passions and desires to be put to death. I don’t believe that Jesus’ finished work on the cross is enough, because I don’t desire holiness enough. When I don’t desire Him, I don’t trust Him. When I don’t trust Him, I don’t know what love is.

The truth is we need Him–we desperately need Him! We desperately need to desire Him in order to get to know His love. We need to desire God in order to experience His love and in turn love others.

Lord Jesus, teach us how to be holy. Right now fill us with the holiness that is in the very name of your Holy Spirit. Holy, holy, holy, are You, Lord. Uproot everything within us that isn’t of You. Completely uproot it and destroy it. Make us clean in Your Spirit. Sanctify us, Lord. Purge every impurities and sanctify us in You. Burn a fire in our hearts to desire holiness, through and through. Nothing else but You, Lord Jesus. Nothing else but You. Burn away every fear, doubt, and unbelief, and fill us with faith, Lord. You are all we want and all we need, Jesus. Help us, Lord.

In order to love well we need to be holy. In order to love well need your holiness inside us, Jesus. Make us holy, in Jesus’ name. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.

In order to love well we need to be holy. God says in 1 Peter 1: 15-16, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”

I bet you never expected a post about “love” to talk about holiness. Well, that goes to show how little we know about God’s love. The world’s version of love is perverse, lustful, self-seeking, out of control, spontaneous, short-lasting, and leads to ruin. God’s version of love is patient, humble, pure, kind, self-controlled, powerful, sacrificial, eternal, and leads to life and peace.

The only way to be rid of fear in our lives is to cast it out with the perfect love as describe above: God Himself.

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4: 16-18

God is Love. God wants us to know and rely on His love, to live in His love, and so have Him live in us. He makes us like Jesus in order to make us complete in perfect Love, which in turn drives out fear from our lives. His perfect Love drives out fear from our lives!

Wow! I want some of Your perfect Love, Lord. So what exactly is it? Perfect Love…

…fights for our holiness, fights for our purity, fights for our sanctity.

…drives out every impurity in our hearts with a jealousy and passion for us to be intimate with God.

…banishes all condemnation, guilt, shame, and every lie from the devil that says we aren’t worthy of Him.

…fills us with the truth that we are worthy, valuable, and precious to God.

…protects and covers us with the blood of Jesus.

…comforts us when we are sad, heals us when we are broken, and encourages us when we feel discouraged.

…speaks tenderly to us in the wilderness of hard times and speaks boldly to us when we turn our face away from God.

…leads us onto paths of righteousness of His name’s sake.

…cherishes, guards, and keeps us

…delights in us passionately, intensely, and unreservedly

….accepts us for who we are and doesn’t let us stay the same

…makes us like Jesus.

…makes us holy.

Have you been made perfect in God’s love? Do you have any fear inside you—even an ounce of it in your being? Seek God today for purity and holiness. Seek Him for the fire that will purge you of impurities and make you clean. Seek Him for confidence, for boldness, for strength. Ask Him to uproot every fear in you and replace every area of fear with faith—full faith in His perfect love.

Do you believe that God loves you? Do you deep down, in your soul, have a peace in the Father’s tender regard for you?

If not, what is holding you back? Fear? Doubt? Guilt? One of the most helpful things I have heard about trusting in the Lord’s love for you is something like this: You feeling like God doesn’t love you doesn’t determine that He doesn’t love you.

Your feelings of condemnation don’t determine the truth. Go straight to His Word to discover His enormous love for you! There is NO condemnation in the Father’s eyes for those who are in Christ Jesus! (Rom. 8:1). Christ’s love is wide and long and high and deep for you (Eph. 3:18)! His love will NEVER let you go (Rom. 8:35-39). Check out what His Word says and then believe it, no matter what you feel!

God the Father is looking at you right now with the deepest love for you and you are sitting there believing that He doesn’t actually care that much. (Ouch.) Well, open your eyes, Beloved! Open your heart. This love isn’t like any love you’ve ever experienced from people before! God’s love knows no limits. He never stops loving you. He never stops delighting in you! He has pure, unrestrained delight in who you are: His Beloved son or daughter.

I pray that you would truly discover the infinite measure of love which God is pouring in your heart tonight. Because you hope in Him, He pours His love out in your heart through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). Because you trust in Him, His love fights off the impurities and fills you with holiness.

God loves you and so He demands your whole heart. He gives His whole heart to you, now will you give your whole heart to Him?

Lord Jesus, set us free. Set us free. Set us free to love in a radical way. Make known Your love for us in Christ Jesus who bled and died for us on the cross to restore us back into a relationship with You. You give and give and give and NEVER hold anything back from us! Let us receive the depths of Your love tonight and let it fill our beings so completely that nothing else has a place to stay. Nothing else! Has! A! Place! To! Stay! Lord Jesus, draw us close to You. Captivate us with Your love! Make us so in love with You that there’s nothing else we’d rather do but be with You. Pour out Your love in our hearts, Lord. Pour out Your love, over and over, until rivers of living water flow out from us and spill over into the lives of those around us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The truth is, without total surrender, we can never be totally set free from fear. Without complete abandon to the will of God, we can never be made complete in the love of God that is deep, genuine, and sacrificial. Surrender. Let go everything but the One who is holding on to you and will never let you go.

Give your whole heart to Him tonight. Start afresh and experience God’s love more deeply than you ever have before! He loves you SO dearly and holds you close to His heart.

I hope and pray you are blessed, refreshed, and encouraged tonight, Beloved!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7d_oYr-P16M

My Childhood Best Friend

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Don’t be bitter.
Even if your friend walked away
As you stood with your hand reaching out
And your voice about to shout,
Don’t be bitter.

These words I tell myself
Whenever I think of her.
I’ve mourned for her as I mourned for my dog when he went away,
But it’s even worse.
I can’t be bitter.

We planned to be best friends forever,
Because as children we couldn’t imagine being without each other.
We shared laughs, we shared dreams;
There wasn’t much of a thing she didn’t know about me.

She won my heart from the start with her wild game plans;
She knew how to have fun like no one else I’ve ever met.
And when the day was over, and our laughter died,
We talked of deep things, the kind that make you cry.

I’d always ask her what she wanted to do,
She’d say, “How about this?”
And I’d let her choose.
We poured out our hearts like cement,
And I don’t know about hers,
But mine’s been stuck since.
Our sisterly love was like nothing I’d ever known;
She was my hero, she was my home.

When she drifted away, I felt rejected;
I felt like a worm being dissected,
Unworthy and small.
I guessed our personalities weren’t right for each other at all.

I blamed her for things that weren’t really her fault;
I opened my wounds and poured out the salt.
And when I finally gave up trying to make her be my friend again,
That’s really when I looked up from the ground,
And God got my attention.

He told me I was clinging to a plant that would die;
He told me I was missing out on His Son who was crucified.
He grabbed hold of my shoulders and looked me in the face, said: “Now you’re done with your best friend being your idol in My place.”

The Gospel, The Light: 6 Things God Has Done For Humanity

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(Photo by Samantha Lynch on Unsplash)

I blind myself to the truth, do you? Am I the only one who runs from the Light, preferring the safety of darkness? 

When the Light pierces through the darkness, it hurts. It hurts when I see I’ve been trying to fill the void inside me with my passions, dreams, ego, or self-pity. It hurts to see that me, you, and the whole human race sin every day without realizing it.

Or maybe we do realize our weakness, but we’re too afraid to do anything about it.

Woe to those who go to great depths
to hide their plans from the Lord,
who do their work in darkness and think,
“Who sees us? Who will know?” – Isaiah 29:15

Without this Light, I feel so empty. I’m in constant pain, letting insecurity rule and darkness overshadow any good that’s left in me.

I’m blind to my own weakness.

Why are we like this? It’s my fault. It’s yours. It’s Adam and Eve’s fault for eating that fruit in the garden. Their sin began a chain reaction that spread to every generation of humans who have lived since.

Doubts come: Come on, I’m good enough. God wouldn’t send a nice person like me to hell. I’ve done enough good things to outweigh the bad.

But God doesn’t weigh the good versus the bad; no, He measures us up to a stick, and we have to reach the top to enter heaven—He requires us to be 100 % perfect.

And we’re not.

And God is truly sad about that: “[God] wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4)

So, how did God provide a way for us to escape hell and to enter His heavenly presence, now and forever?

1. He sent a perfect man.

God sent His Son, Jesus, to live on this earth perfectly following God’s laws, like no human ever had before. He was the one person in history’s existence who actually deserved heaven.

Only God is 100% perfect all the time. And that’s exactly who Jesus was, and still is to this very day.

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” – Hebrews 1:3

Jesus is the one perfect Light, the one true fulfiller of our souls. He spoke out against lies and injustice; He uplifted the outsiders in society. He was filled with deep compassion for people, healing the sick and preaching about the Kingdom of God, a place where hearts are free, a place their souls had been longing to hear about.

2. He sacrificed this man, His Only Son, for us.

What’s terribly ironic, is that the One person who deserved heaven went to hell in place of everyone else who deserved hell. Jesus was nailed to a cross to purify us from our sins, dying in our place so we wouldn’t have to eternally bleed.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” – John 3:16-21

3. He, in the form of a man, came back to life.

But it doesn’t end at the cross. Three days later, Jesus Christ rose from the tomb, alive and well, and witnessed by hundreds of astonished people. He went up to heaven where He now sits at the right hand of the throne of God.

4. He saves us not by any goodness in ourselves, but by His amazing grace.

This is the most crucial point I have, even though it’s number four (number 4 is a good number, right? ;)) So pay attention here.

The thing is, Jesus did NOT die so we would follow rules, He died so we would place our faith in Him and come to know Him. It is only by faith in Christ that we are saved.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9

Christianity is NOT a religion. It is a beautiful, everlasting, soul-fulfilling relationship with Jesus Christ.

5. He shines His Light into our everyday lives.

Today, in the 21st century, Jesus offers this hope as we battle against anxiety, depression, temptations, grief, and feelings of emptiness: He is the Light.

Let those words sink in for a minute.

After Jesus left this earth, His Holy Spirit came to convict this world of sin.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9

Wow! What an amazing truth that is. Throughout our Christian lives, we must bring our dark deeds into God’s glorious light, so that He may completely and totally outshine this darkness within us. His forgiveness is real, and He is waiting for you to simply cry out to Him with a repentant heart.

Once we believe in Jesus’ power to overcome death and sin on the cross, the Holy Spirit illuminates through our pitch black souls and guides us into more and more victories over our sin and failures, and more and more into the love and peace of walking in His ways.

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” – John 14:16

6. He fills us with joy—now and forever.

With God’s Light inside of me, I’ve found the absolute freedom of His grace. I am no longer empty. I am truly, definitely, totally forgiven, as far as the east is from the west. When I place my surrendered trust in Jesus, my heart bursts with this Light.

As Christians, we face hardship. But through it all, our joy is made complete through Christ.

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” – Psalm 16:11

I am free.

I am not floundering in darkness, but I am running out into the open arms of my Father, whose eyes ignite with unspeakable joy when He sees me. Without Jesus, I don’t know where I’d be. I don’t know how I’d bear the fires of this raw, miserable life.

But with Him, the sword of truth has attacked my old self. Now I am new like a polished ring, waiting like a Bride for her Groom, until the day He returns.

Please, when He comes back, don’t let it be your first time to bow.

“[Jesus], being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:6-11

(All Scripture taken from NIV.)

 

Through Prayer Comes Life

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(Photo by Diana Simumpande on Unsplash)

A thousand voices echo in the night:

“I feel like I’m the only one trying.”

A girl falls to her knees at dawn.

Through praying she fights

for the people she loves.

 

Everything is intentional–

Walk the walk, don’t just talk.

She finds every corner of brokenness

and tries to fix it

but no one knows it.

 

Her tears breathe life

in the mother’s womb,

her prayers

move the heart of God

when all hope is lost.

 

She wrestles through the night

and fights the fight every day,

Smiling to the people she cares for.

She gives away the kindness stored up within her,

the Holy Spirit’s earnest, searching concern.

 

When she comes home,

she cries out to God in the silence:

“I feel like I’m the only one trying.”

But one whisper fills her with faith in the night:

“Your prayers have resurrected the dying.”

 

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” —  James 5:16

 

 

J14: 3 Tips on How to Write Powerful Fiction

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I’m far from being a bestselling author, but I have been working on a book for three years, along with writing stories, poetry, and articles on this blog during that time span. Through those things, I’ve gathered some ideas about how to write well. When it comes down to it, if you want to write well, you probably want to write powerfully, making an impact on your readers’ life long after they’ve read your words. I could write on and on about how to write in general, but I thought these were the most important tips I have learned for how to write the most inspiring, long-lasting writing that fills both a reader’s mind and heart.

1. Write for a purpose. Writing with a purpose in mind is so needed in this age of useless, even harmful stories, that eagerly step in time with the culture of depravity. The most meaningful pieces I’ve written have not only meant the most to me, but have meant the most to those who read them. When you write for a Reason other than applause, a Purpose other than man’s approval, that’s when God steps in and moves people’s hearts. It’s not what you write that changes people, it’s how you write. If you only write beautiful sentences without any meaning, your reader may enjoy your writing, but they won’t learn from it—it will just go in one ear and out the other. If you want to impact people with your writing, you not only need to write beautifully, you need to write purposefully.

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” — 1 Corinthians 10:31

2. Write from your heart. Along with writing for a higher purpose than simply pleasure, most writers long to draw their readers into their story, feeling the same way they do. Unfortunately, this emotional method if gone to far can have dire consequences, such as exciting sinful thoughts, so this aspect of writing must be carefully balanced. This might seem odd for me to say this, but I really think if you want to write for the glory of God, you must write as both His child and as a human being—as a Christian actually living out their faith, yet also as a human who has emotions they have to deal with. Because in order to create meaningful writing, there must be deep emotions that readers can relate with. If you express your emotions on paper, you’re drawing the reader into very real emotions that you yourself have experienced. Yet after shedding light on this darkness, if you reveal the Light of lights, the Lord of Lords, who overcomes all the fear, anguish, and despair we’ve ever felt, we allow the reader to hopefully experience true confidence in the gospel of Christ. Without darkness, the light seems normal, but with it, its anything but normal—its your last chance, your forever love, your absolute desire. So don’t write blandly. Pour out your heart on paper your crippling feelings, but balance it out by passionately writing about the gospel that pulls us through trials, allowing the reader to both relate and learn from your writing, especially helping them if they ever go through a similar hardship.

“Lessons of wisdom have the most power over us when they capture the heart through the groundwork of a story, which engages the passions.” — Laurence Sterne

3. Create dynamics in characters, scenes, and plots. Although this one’s a bit more on the practical side of things, I think it fits in well with this article because it is, I believe, a main part of how to write powerfully. So, what do I mean by dynamics? You need to create opposing forces, such as an extravert versus an introvert, a mouse blinking up at a lion, a bad guy dangling a little girl off a cliff. Simple, right? Now think further. Irony, the presentation of something that is the opposite of what we’d expect, is also a huge part of creating dynamics. For creating dynamic characters, think of the character Reepacheep in Narnia who thinks of himself as an honorable fighter, which catches us by surprise, because it’s the opposite of what we expect from a mouse (Usually when I think mouse, I think timid, weak, and afraid.)

When it comes to creating dynamics in scenes, think contrast. You don’t want the same thing happening, or the same feelings going on all the time. This one’s hard to explain, so here’s an example from a book I’m writing:

“Early the next morning, I awoke with a feeling of peacefulness, until the sharp odor of death filled my nostrils. Suddenly, I was hit by the horrific memories of the day before.”

Instead of the character waking up immediately terrified, she wakes up feeling at peace, only moments later to remember everything and grow afraid. This contrast in feelings within a scene creates dynamics and tension, making the reader much more in tune with the characters’ emotions.

For fun, here’s a picture of what I imagine the main character, Sigrid, to look like in my book, The Thrall’s Sword, which you can read about here.

chelsea-ferenando-203544.jpgPhoto by Chelsea Ferenando on Unsplash

Finally, you can create dynamics within the plot by having both moments of success and failures, both happiness and despair. You especially want to create that high climax, truly putting your characters at their wits’ end, so the grand beautiful happy ending (if you choose to have one) is much more realistic and satisfying.

jared-sluyter-342881.jpgPhoto by Jared Sluyter on Unsplash

Overall, I’ve learned that writing powerfully has to do not with what you write, but with how you write. Are you writing for yourself or for something Higher than yourself? Are you writing mere words or are you writing from your heart? And are you simply writing a mild story with hardly any contrasting elements, or are you creating dynamics through characters, scenes, and the plot?

These are the questions I think every fiction writer needs to think about, and they can be applied to nonfiction, too. I hope you benefit from what I’ve learned. Now, fellow writer, the pages are waiting for you to shake things up a bit!

Do you have any writing advice you’ve learned? Feel free to share in the comments!

 

CW8: Insecurity vs. Security

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(Photo by Larm Rmah on Unsplash)

Insecurity
Trapped in an endless position of fear,
I don’t know what to say.

My mind blanks as I stare at the questioner,
and I cry in my heart, “Someone do this for me!”

Because I want this curse of insecurity to end,
but I don’t know how to stop it—

this embarrassment,
gripping my throat and telling me
who I am—
a somebody that no one understands.

Help me, help me,
but there’s no one who hears me;
everyone’s stricken in panic,
groping for a rock
in their own little worlds.

In the same room
we all cry for somebody who will understand.

In the same room
we’re all standing alone,
wishing we could lay down and die.

Security

Struggling free from my endless position of fear,
I try to think of what to say.

My mind blanks as I stare at the questioner,
and I cry in my heart, “Jesus, do this for me!”

Because I want this curse of insecurity to end,
and He’s the only one who can stop it—
this embarrassment
gripping my throat and lying
about who I am—
when the Author of me can only understand.

Help me, help me,
and I’m sure He hears me;
everyone looks up in awe,
seeking the Savior
in their own little worlds.

In the same room
we cry for the only Somebody who will understand.

In the same room,
we’re all lying down together,
getting the courage to stand up and live.

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”
Psalm 27:14 (ESV)

J4: His Power Made Perfect in my Shyness

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(Photo by Ravi Roshan on Unsplash)

When you’re born an introvert, everyday conversations with people can be extremely difficult. Today I’m going to share with you what God has taught me through my struggles. 

It all started in the shaky, red-faced years of middle school. When I looked at people, I thought of what was going inside their minds. When I tried to think of what to say, my mind blanked. When I decided to talk to someone, I suddenly shrank back in fear I wouldn’t know what to say or that they wouldn’t want to talk to me. For the first time in my life, I realized like a blow to my face, that I had been born with a crippling shyness that tucked me inside a safe shell, which, unbeknownst to me, was a scarier place than outside of it.
Even today, trying to shine through the real me is a constant struggle (though to a lesser extent). If people didn’t label me as shy, maybe it would be easier for me to open myself up to them. But I don’t expect people to view me differently than what I appear to them; I can’t change how they view me, but I can change how I view me.
And, what I’ve honestly discovered, is that there’s no precise way to view yourself, because truly “being yourself” involves a total losing of yourself. A total surrender to God, a total desire for Him to take over. I will always be labeled as an introvert, but I must often remind myself that though God has created me to be more on the quiet side, my silence is not what defines me. He defines me.
Now before I meet people in social situations, I’ll often remind myself that my purpose is simply to glorify God. I’ll ask Jesus to give me strength to fulfill that purpose, rather than focusing on myself so much that I tuck back in my shell again. Time and time again, He has given me that strength.
I’m still quiet compared to most people, but that’s okay. It doesn’t really matter how many words I speak. My focus is not quantity, but quality; my focus is on loving people as Christ would love them, not trying to say as many words as I can.
But yes, that simple decision to center my heart on Jesus can be one of the most difficult decisions an introverted Christian must make in their everyday lives. I’ve failed too many times, squandering the social hour away with my petty doubts and fears. Thank God for His grace that constantly fills me up again, whispering to me to keep on going and to never give up. He has pointed me to opportunities to love people and shine His light, and I try to take them; I try to not hide away when there’s so many beautiful friendships to make and meaningful conversations to have.
And even if I can’t find the words to speak to the person in front of me, I can always cry out to Jesus with the silent language of my heart. He’s right here with me as I go through this. He knows exactly what I need to say, and He will give me the courage to say it. I’m thankful now for my introversion, because God has taught me to rely on Him through it. Without Him, I honestly don’t know how I’d survive the dreaded social life introverts must face. With Him, He is emboldening me with more and more confidence every day, strengthening me in the area of life I most feel weak.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Cor. 12:9
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2b (emphasis added)

A Whisper from God

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Have you ever heard a whisper from God? Have you ever paused to consider that the God of the Universe sent His Son Jesus to die for our sins, in order that we might have His Spirit living in us? The Eternal God gave us His own Spirit to live and breathe and work intimately within the deepest canyons of our hearts, but so many times, as Christians, we fail to see the wonder of God’s gift to us.

Unfortunately, some Christians try to put God in a box, and they don’t believe that the Holy Spirit can speak to us through anything but the Bible. (But yes, God also uses the Bible to speak to us in this present day, and that is one very powerful tool we should use to seek Him!)

Just last week, I was listening to a biblical counseling podcast about God speaking to us solely through His written Word. Basically, they believed you couldn’t find Him in the silence of a whisper, in songs, in conversations, or in nature. They believed that God couldn’t speak to us through anything but the Bible because of an absence of anything in the Bible saying He could speak in those ways.

That broke me, because a belief I had just assumed was true my whole life about how God can speak to us was in a few minutes shattered by “biblical truth.”

The whole day I felt depressed. I didn’t entirely believe what they’d said, and yet I didn’t entirely believe my previous assumptions either.

I knew what I had to do: talk to my amazingly wise Dad. He told me that the Bible does tell us other ways of hearing from God. The Holy Spirit lives inside of us, so that we can hear from God.

I was so unbelievably relieved. My Dad showed me John 14 and 16, as well as shared what else he knew the Bible said about God’s voice being active and personally involved in our lives even today. (But the Bible does tell us we must test the spirits always, to make sure they are from God.)

Now I understand more than ever: the Holy Spirit truly is our Advocate who teaches us all things! God is with us, inside us, empowering us, and speaking to us every day, through His Word, as well as His Voice.

It is not a one-way conversation with God–it’s two ways, because God is always with us.

He’s already showed me a million little times after Dad helped me–my King Jesus is right here. He knocked on my shoulder to get me to help someone, He encouraged me with friends, and He radically shifted my view from myself to the people around me.

God is so good! And He is with us today, just as much as He was with us when He lived in the flesh on this earth.

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” – John 14:26 (NIV)