How do We Ignite Faith in the Next Generation and Keep Them From Leaving the Church?

I have seen a number of news stories and articles lately about how the Christian church is losing the younger generation. And I will admit, as a Christian mom to two teenagers, this is alarming!

Young people, even those raised in church, are apparently leaving. Kids, active in their youth group, are growing up, graduating high school, and, as they enter into adulthood, many are leaving the church building behind. They have no desire to attend services or “fellowship” with other church members. They want nothing to do with organized religion, and they have no intention of calling themselves “Christian”.

And we say the church has lost our youth. Have we? Can you lose something that was never truly yours? I can’t help but wonder…

Have we lost them or have we failed them?

Are they leaving Jesus, or just our out-of-date, gossip-filled, judgmental congregations? If our youth have had true encounters with the living, life-changing Jesus, could they really just walk away?

And, if after years of fun-filled youth group events, they haven’t met Jesus, we have a much bigger problem than diminishing membership numbers. We’ve missed the point, we’ve lost their hearts…and they are missing Jesus!

Not all churches are “losing” the next generation. Some churches are actually growing with large groups of college-age, early 20-somethings and beyond. Some believers are actually leading new people to Christ! What is the difference?

The difference is Jesus!

Jesus says,"My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, they follow Me."   (John 10:27).

So how do we ensure our youth meet Jesus? How do we keep them active in a Body of believers?

John 10:27 is the key! Believers know the voice of Jesus, know that He loves them, and they follow Him! This is what we must teach the next generation–but first, we have to evaluate our own relationship with God!

Who do We Belong To?

As believers, we belong to Jesus. We have confessed that we believe Him and we trust Him for our salvation.  But do we know His voice? Are we listening?

If we aren’t listening to Jesus, how can we ever hope to teach our kids to hear Him? When our words and actions don’t match, the discrepancy is deafening! If we confess to know Jesus, but don’t trust Him, don’t believe Him, don’t live our faith in every moment, we have no reason to expect our kids would want to join the charade!

Kids who see genuine faith and have met the Risen Lord Jesus don’t leave the Body of Christ. They develop a relationship with Him and begin to grow in their faith.

Have we taught our youth to listen and follow Him?

The Shepherd Knows His Sheep!

He knows every detail, every sin, every thought of our lives…and He loves us with an intense, unconditional love. Our relationship with Jesus is the most important relationship we will ever have. It is one that affects every other relationship in our lives. So, it is worth our time to evaluate how well we know Him!

Prayer is open, direct communication with God. If we neglect to spend time in His presence, sharing our heart and listening for His voice, we miss out on the divine knowledge and wisdom that can be ours. We miss out on His presence!

Believers who have genuine conversation with God, know Him, they know His voice. If we want our youth to know God intimately and follow Him courageously…we must teach them how to pray! Genuine, heartfelt prayer from the innermost secret heart. Not memorized, not automatic, but dialogue with our Creator, Provider, Protector, and Friend.

Sheep Follow Their Shepherd

We can’t lead our children somewhere we aren’t going ourselves. We can’t expect them to follow Jesus, be active members in their church, if we aren’t leading and guiding them by example.

Jesus will lead us on the right path. It will not always be the easy path. In fact, it usually isn’t! But it will always be the best path, the safest path, and the one that brings Him glory!

 ~*~

Finally, if we want to keep younger people involved in church, we must understand what church is…and what it isn’t. And, as always, the real issue, the deeper issue, is a heart issue.

We have to decide, “What is our goal?” What is our hope for the next generation? Do we want church members, or do we want Christ followers? Because those can be two very different things.

If church is the building, the service, the fellowship, then it can be easy to leave. “I don’t like it”, “It’s not for me”, and “I’m not comfortable” become valid reasons to avoid it.

But, if the church is alive, the living, breathing, Body of Christ, … ordinary people striving to live holy lives, honoring Christ, and sharing His love, then through His followers, people meet Jesus and experience His life-changing power, and they are transformed into believers. His power, love, and peace are undeniable and He changes everything!

When Jesus changes you, you know it, you feel it, and you want more of Jesus!

~*~

So, as Christian parents, leaders, youth pastors, as believers who are part of the Body of Christ, it’s time to evaluate…

~ Are we leading our kids to Jesus or just taking them to church?

 ~ Are we teaching our youth to love their youth group, or are we teaching them to love Jesus?

~ Are we taking them to a weekly performance, or are we showing them how to worship?

~ Are we hoping they have fun, or are we discipling them into a growing, passionate relationship with Christ?

~ Have we taught with our words, but failed them with our attitudes and our actions?

~ Are we reaching out to the hurting, the scared, the lost? Are we effectively changing lives and changing the world?

~ Are we Jesus to our world, or have we become an exclusive social club with restrictive rules, “secret handshakes”, and membership guidelines that our kids can’t wait to escape from?

The answers matter!

~*~

As a mom, and as a believer, I want nothing more than to see those I love find Jesus, to know they have discovered their purpose in life, and secured their hope for eternity. There is truly “no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth!” (3 John 1:4).

Our family has been incredibly blessed with dedicated youth pastors that have taken the time to invest in our boys. We are part of a life-giving church that exists to bring others to Jesus and is reaching the next generation. Pastors have taken time to get to know our kids and are teaching them how to follow Jesus. And for them I am eternally grateful! At home, and at church, our kids are learning that there is nothing more important than Jesus. And I pray that they will follow Jesus every day of their lives!

I know there are no guarantees. God brings the increase and every person must decide about Jesus for themselves. But, clinging to the Word of God, I pray my kids have a firm foundation and solid understanding of what it means to truly be a Christ follower, a member of the Body of Christ.

I believe there is incredible hope for our youth and for the next generation. I believe God is about to do some incredible, amazing things through them. They have exciting possibilities of being used by God in ways that we, their parents and grandparents could never have even imagined. They can reach around the world in a second. When this generation gets hold of God’s power, they absolutely change the world! The fire and passion in their young hearts is powerful. They are not window shopping. They want genuine, transforming faith in a living Savior.

It’s time the church wakes up and starts acting like the Body of Christ for the sake of the next generation!

I think it is beginning to change. I think lifeless, monotonous, empty traditions are being replaced with meaningful, genuine, life-altering transformation.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with church events and youth groups. There is nothing wrong with fun, laughter, and friends. These are good and important things. We love ours and will continue to be involved. But they can never eclipse the power of God’s Word, the love of Jesus Christ, and the need for salvation.

It’s time for the Body of Christ to stand up, stand out, and stand on the Word of God. We must live boldly as Christ followers. We must believe God’s Word, every word, and be who He has called us to be. It’s time to be real, genuine, humble servants of Christ and let His love, His power, and His glory shine through us!

As believers, we must believe. As followers, we must follow. And as redeemed, we must say so! And leave the results to God.

Jesus Changes Everything!

Follow Jesus, and bring someone with you! Lives depend on it!

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Lord, I want to follow You so closely, there is no room for anything in between! Transform me, strengthen me, and equip me to share Your love with others. Help me never be a stumbling block, but use me to point others to Your Son, Jesus. Those that are leaving the church, grab hold of their hearts, and help them see You, hear You, and know You, in a deep, powerful way that can never be denied. Change their hearts and empower them to change the world for You. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

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I would love to connect with you on facebook or through my website! Please visit www.micheleellison.net  or  www.facebook.com/faithtosoar

I would also love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below or leave a prayer request– and I pray you are abundantly blessed in the fullness of Christ!

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This post is linked up at these encouraging blogs: Weekly Linkups including Grace and Truth @A Divine Encounter, Faith and Fellowship @Simple Moments Stick, Christian Fellowship Friday @Holy Splendor, From to House to Home @I Choose Joy

 

photo credit: Sheep High On Blencathra via photopin (license) (edited)

Heavenly Confidence

Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; 
though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. (Psalm 27:3)


Confidence, true soul-deep, unshakeable confidence, comes from God.  We can create a sense of earthly confidence, smugness, put on a confident air, but genuine, stand-strong, no matter what, confidence is a gift from our Father when we stand in His protection.

Many of us aren’t often surrounded by armies we can see.  But, the Bible tells us in Ephesians 6, our true battle is not against flesh and blood.  Our enemy is unseen, but his attacks are felt.

Thankfully, our weapons are not of this world and we do not need to live in fear.  We can “Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.” (Eph. 6:10).  

In the ever-shifting, growing turmoil in the world around us, we can yet live in peace; we can share the love of Christ with those around us because in Him, we are confident of His great protection and love and we need not fear. 

So today, if worry or fear begin to creep in, raise up your Shield of faith and start swinging your Sword of the Spirit (God’s Word) and remember Who you belong to.  Stand strong and confident in the knowledge that our God is stronger than he who is in the world!

Father, strengthen me to stand strong today in You. Give me a new and deeper understanding of Your Word and help me see Your protection surrounding me.  Widen my view beyond myself and help me share Your love with those around me today.  In the name of Jesus, amen!



The Untamed Tongue

Every sea creature, reptile, bird, or animal is tamed and has been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue.  It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.  (James 3:7-8, HCSB). But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head–Christ.  (Ephesians 4:15)

Christ followers are… followers of Christ–we are not Christ Himself.  We are imperfect and can be just as sinful, misguided, misinformed, and cruel as the next person BUT we are called to a higher standard and are to be ambassadors to the world, representing Christ Himself.  The world, who cannot know God because they are separate and blinded to Him, (John 14:17) will therefore decide their opinion of God based on us–thus, our words and actions must be filled with the love of Christ and we must let God tame our tongues!

When Christians speak out in the name of Christ, we all run the risk of leading someone astray.  The Holy Bible, the inspired Word of God, is the ONLY perfect source of truth and when words comes filtered through a Christian, they must be compared to God’s words to ensure accuracy and our hearts and intentions must be based out of love.

I desperately wish non-Christians and a secular world would not judge Jesus based on the words and actions of the lump sum of His followers, but the sad fact is they do.  We must be more careful with our words in this media-driven, social media society!

Even the most devoted and devout follower of Jesus will say the wrong thing at times.  We are still human.

If you are a follower of Christ— pray that God would filter your thoughts and take them captive before they come out.  Only God can help us speak the truth in love- we must ask Him for help more often and allow Him to tame our tongue!

If you are not a follower of Christ–please remember that we are humans just like you- we are not Christ Himself and we are not perfect.  There are many people-the Bible even warns us about them- they will try and deceive people into thinking incorrect thoughts about Jesus. These false prophets do not point to Jesus and they do not act according to His will.  I beg you, please read the Bible for yourself and find some true, Bible-believing, humble, loving Christians to discuss it with.  If someone is speaking to you in the name of Christ but they have no love, there is a problem!  The number one rule for Christians is to love God and #2… is to love others!!

Heavenly Father,  as Your children, we desperately need you to take our thoughts captive and and teach us to only speak the truth in love.  Lord, I surrender every thought to You and ask for wisdom before I speak.  Guard my heart and my mind and teach me to love others as You love me.  May nothing I ever say or do lead someone astray, but rather, use me to bring others closer to You.  May Your love be evident and radiate through Your people into a hurting, dying world–in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Our Words Matter

I have been thinking a lot about the current uproar with Duck Dynasty star Phil Roberts and the controversy over his suspension with A&E.  Our family loves the show and we love the biblical principles the family lives out for the world to see.  While I do believe the Bible and agree with the stance behind what he said, the way it was said was certainly unfortunate in my opinion–but I understand others may have a different view. 

Regardless of our opinions of what he said and how he said it though, we as followers of Christ have a great opportunity before us to come together and show the world what it really means to love and follow Christ.  Society is looking at a Christian man, his beliefs, his words, and his actions.  What a powerful reminder to every believer to prayerfully consider our words–what we say and how we say it– and the importance of our message to a hurt, lost, and dying world. 

We are called to be salt and light.  We are the light of the world and the messengers of hope- real, eternal hope.  But if we can’t get the world to even listen, how effective can we be?  How do we spread the message and good news of Jesus- the real, biblical Jesus- not the Jesus the world thinks they know but don’t- how do we get them to listen?

We are called to speak in love, with grace and mercy and compassion.  We are called to BE in this world and be part of this world, but we are not to be OF this world.  We must be relevant but we must be different.  We must be involved, but we must remain holy.  We must love others as Christ loves us! 

The only way we can do this is with the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in us.  The world must see Jesus in us and must hear Jesus in our words.  We must flavor our world with love and joy and hope and compassion.  We must illuminate our world with hope and peace and point them to the only true source of everything good- Jesus!  The only name with the power to save!

At this time, right now, with the words of a popular Christian man in the limelight of society so in the forefront and in the minds of so many, we as Christians can all use this time to consider our words and our attitudes behind them.  We must stand firm on the Word of God and live according to it, but we must also remember that Jesus came to heal the sinners and free the captives.  He came that we could have life eternal.  If our message alienates and prevents those from listening who are the very ones we are trying to reach, how effective can we be? 

I don’t have the perfect answer, just the perfect God who has offered His Holy Spirit to fill us and equip us in powerful ways we could never understand.  I know that the current controversy has made me think and I pray that we all as followers of Christ would ask God to show us how to use our words to reach others and not push them farther away. 

Father, help us live as a holy priesthood, pure and blameless in Your sight while also loving the people in this world who don’t yet know You.  Help us show them through our actions and through our words how much You love us all and want us to know You.  Help us lead people toward You and may nothing I ever say or do cause someone to go further from You.  Use this time in our culture to draw people to You in amazing numbers and set Your people on fire, full of Your Holy Spirit to do Your Will!! In the name of Jesus we pray-Amen!

A Life Surrendered

“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:38)

Mary was a young girl who received the most amazing message of all time. She asked but one question and then accepted her role in God’s plan with trust. The angel of the Lord! We read this phrase with familiarity and take it lightly, but this was life-changing for Mary, and for us too! 


I am struck with Mary’s willingness and quickness to obey and trust the Lord. This was an exciting message for her but also one that would bring trials and hardships. The angel did not stay to share the news with her family, her friends, or her community. Only when Joseph decided to leave her did the angel share the news with him. She had to face everyone seemingly alone. God was with her and her faith carried her in obedience, but her assignment was not an easy one. Nevertheless, she accepted it willingly, immediately, and joyfully. 

How do we react like Mary and be people who are completely surrendered to God’s plan for our lives? How do we become, and remain, as living sacrifices and live a life of obedience to God- even when its hard?We can’t do it alone apart from God’s strength and leading, but we do have a major choice and role to play. It is a choice we must make every moment of the day!



We must choose….
*Choose God
First and most importantly, I must give Him my heart, my desires, my very life! I must choose that I want to be surrendered to Him and call on Jesus as my Savior. This is the single most important decision every person will ever make. If you are reading this and do not know Him, please stop right now and ask Him to be your savior. He is with you and will never leave you. Then, tell someone about your decision and then hang on… the most exciting adventure you could ever imagine has begun- one that will last for eternity with peace, love and joy!
*Choose His Presence
Each day, before the day even begins, I must put God first. I must spend time in His Word before I let the world in. I must spend time talking with Him in prayer and listening. I must let Him speak to my heart and direct my steps for the day. It is at this point, before the day begins, I must choose to obey so that when God does give me direction, I am ready. 
*Choose Trust
Just as God is in charge of the big plan for my life, He is in charge of every detail of every moment. I must choose to stay close to Him throughout the day, listening for His still small voice. If I have already chosen to fully surrender to Him, I don’t have to decide again. When I hear from Him, I can obey fearlessly because I can trust Him. He is my rock and my fortress. He is faithful and loving. I must choose to believe Him that He not only has a plan for me, but that it is good. 
*Choose Obedience
Daily, moment to moment, before He speaks, I must choose to obey. Once I have spent time in His Presence and been filled with His power, peace, strength, and His love, I am ready to move and act- wherever He leads. I do not need to be filled with fear or worry. I can move forward with excitement and joy, but I can only do this in His strength! God will often ask us to do something that is bigger and harder than anything we could do on our own- then when He uses us, we know it was Him!
*Choose Thankfulness
In all things, give thanks! This can be the most difficult choice, especially when life hurts and our choice of obedience is hard. But this is where we can also receive the biggest blessings! Our Father in Heaven will work all things out for good- we must trust this and then thank Him! This frees us to worship and be filled with His peace in all circumstances, even the most painful!
Mary lived a life surrendered to God. She chose ahead of time that she loved Him and trusted Him enough to obey Him. Then her faith continued to grow as she lived her life daily surrendered to God. God has a different plan for each of our lives and like Mary, our choice of obedience will affect the lives of others. It might be one person or it could be far-reaching, but we can be used by God to bless others, if we surrender to Him. May we all choose to live a life completely surrendered and prepared to obey! 
Father, thank You for the gift of forgiveness and salvation through Your perfect son Jesus! Thank You for equipping Mary with faith and trust to obey You. Please fill me with this same faith and trust that I can live my life for You, completely surrendered to You. And as You work in my life, may others be blessed by what You do through me! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Staying Afloat

We recently drove to the beach at the beginning of a tropical storm. Having recently moved to coastal Georgia from the Gulf of Mexico, we wanted to see the big waves rolling in before it became too dangerous to be on the beach. We weren’t the only crazy ones out there, but the beach was fairly empty. Just a few others, like us, watching the power of the waves and enjoying just a glimpse of God’s might and power. The wind was howling and swirling so we didn’t stay long, but we walked up and down the shoreline in awe of the power of nature, and the glory of its creator.

The past 2 years have been something of a whirlwind and at times it seemed the winds of life were howling around us and we couldn’t get a solid footing on stable ground. There were days where I knew I could stand on God, my solid rock, but I felt like I was on my tiptoes trying to stay balanced on the edge of a cliff. God never left me though and there are countless life-changing blessings that never could have happened apart from the trials.

During the darkest times, my dear friend, Cyndi, an amazing blessing herself, reminded me what a Great big God we serve with a beautiful illustration that God had given her. She had me imagine being on a raft in the ocean and just relax, knowing my raft was safe and would go wherever the current would flow. Many times we have jokingly talked about our rafts and how it is such a relief to know we don’t have to always steer or navigate. We can just sit back and trust God, who is in complete control anyway.

God is my rock in times of trouble- and He is my raft on the seas. He will lead and guide me on the perfect course. Sometimes He will direct me safely away from the turbulent seas, but sometimes I have to go through them. It is in these rough seas that I can learn the most about myself and my God. My job isn’t to control every detail or even understand. I am called to trust and let God lead. So, I float on my raft in complete safety, trusting in my God.

Some days are harder than others. Thankfully, God is always in control and never leaves His throne. Nothing, nothing, takes Him by surprise. I can rest peacefully even in the most turbulent storms because I can trust my God! He is faithful and will keep my raft afloat. I can lay back and bask in the sunshine on the clear days, and I can hold on and trust Him through the most violent waves as they crash all around me. I know my God will never leave me nor forsake me- all I have to do is trust! And then when those perfect times of calm waters, clear skies and gorgeous sunshine come, they are all the more sweeter and I can appreciate them all the more!

Thank You LORD for loving me enough to keep me afloat and for never letting me go. Thank You for carrying me through the storms of life and for blessing me with so much more than I could ever deserve. You are my rock and my fortress-my raft- carrying me through safely to my destination of eternity with You. Strengthen me to remain steadfast in the storms so that I can remain true in the calm. Thank You for Your reassuring Presence, Your perfect peace, and Your unending love.

Christmas Reflections 2012

We are getting ready to celebrate Christ’s birth this year. The cookie recipes are out and the tree is up. The lights are up and the wreaths are hung. The poinsettas are on the porch and the neighborhood is twinkling. Everywhere we look, it’s definitely beginning to look like CHRISTmas! It is the perfect time to sit by the tree and reflect on Christmas’ past.

Christmas 2010 brought many blessings including a new sister-in-law and a new home. After celebrating the joyful season in our home of Weaverville, NC, we headed south to begin our new adventure in Panama City, FL. We rang in the New Year of 2011 in Panama City Beach watching the fireworks over the beautiful Gulf of Mexico, excited for what the year would hold. We had no idea the ups and downs and trials and struggles that soon awaited us, nor the blessings, new friends, and miraculous healings that would accompany them, but all the while surrounded by God’s comforting presence, provision and protection.

Christmas 2011 was a celebration of life and miracles. With deeper faith and renewed strength, we celebrated the most important life ever to live, the Lord Jesus, and also were so very grateful that our family was all together and all healthy! All things are in God’s hands and He definitely knows what’s best, and we are so grateful that His will was to let us keep Connor here with us! Christmas 2011 was truly a joyous celebration of life!

Christmas 2012 is almost here and we are now in Savannah, GA. God has blessed us with a beautiful new home and a new exciting adventure. We are having a wonderful time decorating and beginning this Christmas season ever mindful the real reason for the lights and garland- Jesus!

We picked out our tree last week and it is decorated with lights and ornaments and its beautiful! Garrett made our first batch of cookies today and made snowmen, trees, ornaments, and gingerbread men- we had a very sweet time together. We also went shopping today for someone we will probably never meet this side of heaven, but pray he is blessed and feels loved this Christmas season. Most importantly, we pray he knows Jesus and will spend eternity learning to worship Him!

I will post Christmas pictures soon. For now, I’m just enjoying looking back and remembering all that has happened in the last few years, the good, the tough, and the amazing! We have no promise or guarantee of our next breath. It is so important to cherish our time with our loved ones and enjoy every moment. Then, one day this world will fade and we will stand face to face with the Savior whose birth and death we celebrate, and we will stand before God to give an account of our life. I am so thankful for the birth and death of Christ for it is only through Him that I am not condemnded. Only in Him will I spend eternity in the presence of God in peace and love. Thank You Jesus for Christmas!

Daily Decluttering

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried<sup class="crossreference" value="(E)”> and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”  (Luke 10:41-42)

The boxes are almost gone from our recent move to a new town and our new home. A few pictures have been hung on the walls and it is beginning to look and feel like home. Our first few months brought a flurry of activity of unpacking, organizing, decorating, and settling in. Everything was exciting and new.  Then, somewhere between emptying boxes and learning our way around town, we stopped moving in and started living. Amid daily life, the mess and clutter began to settle in with us.  The dreaded clutter has already begun its sinister spread, quietly going unnoticed until it is too big to ignore. We have been in our new home for 5 months now and it is already time to declutter. Time to sort through the piles of paper and stacks of unused stuff; to get rid of the useless and make more room for the necessary. To clean out the distractions so we can more easily and readily find whats necessary and needed. It would be so much easier if I would just do a little every day.  As the old saying goes, it is easier to keep up than to catch up!

The ever-growing piles of papers and “magically” appearing clutter is a dramatic picture of what can happen in our daily lives if we aren’t intentional about our focus and our time.  We can easily and quickly fill up our “junk drawer” with projects and activities that keep us busy, but do little to grow our relationships or improve our lives. We can easily get lost in the clutter of life and lose sight of what matters.

If I am not intentional about how I spend my time, my time will quickly be used up by unimportant time takers. I will get the same 24 hours in a day whether I use them wisely or not. So how do I make sure I am focusing on the important details in my life and not the clutter? I must begin each and every day at the feet of Jesus.  The usefulness and quality of my day can be determined before I even get out of bed! I must be intentional to seek His guidance and be filled with His Spirit. Then, and only then, can I begin to see the important tasks ahead of me and focus on what really mattters.

As I go about my day, I must continually be a living sacrifice and allow God to direct and re-direct me, showing me my priorities. I must also be intentional to focus and give undivided attention to my family and friends. Laundry, dishes, and daily chores will always be a necessary part of life, but multi-tasking can deteriorate my relationships and cause me to be distracted. There are times to work, but there are also times to be still, make eye contact with my loved ones and give them my complete attention and focus. This is my goal for this week and I am excited to see how this grows and helps all my relationships with family and friends as well as developing a stronger relationship with Christ through deeper prayer.

Father, help me and teach me to declutter my life. Help me take better care of my home by decreasing and preventing physical clutter and help me to be a better listener and more connected with my family by decluttering my time as well. I desire to know the difference between what is unimportant and what is necessary- help me distinguish between the two and always focus on the latter.

Light in the Darkness

My family explored a cave today. We bought our tickets and followed the tour guide deep into the earth to see beautiful formations of limestone and rock, stalactytes and stalagmytes, and feel the cool damp air as we walked through the channels of rock.  It was thrilling to watch my children admire the beauty and savor the adventure of this fun excursion. The path we walked on was dimly lit but we could easily see where we were heading and were aware of curves in the path or low-lying rocks we would have to duck under. Others had gone before us and strategically placed lights, discreetly hidden among the rocks, to light our way and keep us safe.

God does the exact same thing for us on the path of our life. He brings light into our dark world and that light shines brightly. The dark cannot resist or hide from it. Whenever and whereve the light shines, the way is brighter and the darkess cannot overtake it. God has gone before us and has placed His light in our path to illuminate and guide us. He has given us His Holy Word to give us clear direction. He tells us when to watch our step, where to run ahead and when to stop and wait on Him. He tells us exactly which path to take and which to avoid. We do not have to try and feel our way through the darkness. If we will open our eyes and haerts to Him and choose to obey, the path is well-lit and safe. Yes, there will be times that the path is rocky and difficult, maybe even scary. But we never have to be afraid. Our tourguide not only knows the way, He created every detail of our journey and is shining a light on our every step- we simply need to trust Him and follow.

Thank You Lord God for Your amazing light that completely overtakes the darkness. Thank You for guiding me through this life and never leaving me. I trust You in every step and choose to follow You even when it doesn’t make sense to me or I can’t see the path ahead. I know You love me and have all things in Your control. I choose to follow You and I can’t wait to see the beauty and the adventure You have planned for me. Help me to be steadfast in following You and may I always stand firmly on the rock of Your truth. In the mighty name of Jesus, Amen.

My Identity

My identity is in Christ!  It’s easy to forget this, but God is reminding me and teaching me in a very deep way that who I am is not about what I do, where I am, or even how I serve. Even when I am doing the things He has called me to do, those things do not define me and they are not who I am.

I’m not sure why I have had such a hard time with this lesson lately. I know I am a new creation. I know I am forgiven of every sin I’ve ever committed or ever will. I know that works are not what saves me. Yet, this past year of looking for a church home and not knowing exactly where I fit into the body of Christ has been incredibly difficult. God has brought me to a place where I must rely on Him and His presence and nothing else- and while it has taken me some time to appreciate it, oh what a sweet place to be!  

I have spent time in prayer asking God why this has been so hard and why He hasn’t shown us where we should be quicker- but His timing is perfect and now I’m beginning to understand the lesson. I must put Him first above all else, even church and serving Him.  Even the very act of serving Him or finding the perfect place to worship Him can become an idol if it is placed above Him. He must be first and then He will take care of the rest. 

No matter what changes are going on in my life, He never changes and I belong to Him. My identity is in Him and Him alone. That’s it. I am more than the things I do. I am a daughter of the King and I was created to glorify and praise Him. He will use me to the extent I am surrendered to Him. But I am His no matter what. He loves me no matter what. I have known this for a long time, but this has really reached a deeper place within me recently and I am very grateful for the lesson!

My faith is not in my family or my church family. It’s not in my church or my pastor.  My faith and my trust are in my Creator and my King. My place in the body of Christ will be determined by Him and I don’t have to worry about anything (even this!) He will take care of the details- I just have to rely on Him and trust Him. If I am surrendered to His will and trust in Him with all my heart, He will direct my path. He will lead me to the desires of my heart. My God will fulfill every need including my purpose. He will lay out a clear path before me and all I have to  do is follow Him.

Right now, I lay down every concern, every worry, every plan and surrender them to You LORD. Direct my steps and lead me closer to You! Thank You for Your perfect unconditional love!