Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Seeking Validation: from God or Man?

    Humans aren't all the same in every aspect, but if we relate in a specific area I think one major one would be looking to the world for significance and self worth.  Have you ever thought to yourself: "I wish my family would notice all that I do around here," or "I wish someone would say something nice about me for a change."  Maybe you wanted to be complimented for your physical or mental attributes . . .?

    Ever been there?  Me too. 

    I've struggled many times, feeling like I wasn't worth enough, or like I wasn't being appreciated for the work and qualities I contributed to those around me . . . family, friends, co-workers . . .  
    When others didn’t say what I hoped they would, it bothered me. But the reality is, I can’t always depend on others to make me feel appreciated or significant.
    It's no mystery that man's natural inclination is to look to the world for approval.  In fact, our society teaches that we need to strive to "fit-in" with the world, rather than focusing on being enigmatic.  High schools and even the work environment are notorious for ranking individuals based upon cliques, looks, extracurricular involvement, and wits.  Much of life is based upon rank.  In Ecclesiastes, Solomon writes, “I have seen that every labor and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a man and his neighbor.  This too is vanity and striving after wind” 

    Trying to find our worth based upon human rank, performance, or others’ acceptance is never going to satisfy or fulfill the void that rejection and hurt has left in our hearts.  It is 'striving after wind.'  What is more important, the pleasures of sin in this life or the riches of eternal life in Christ?  If we live our lives according to God's standards, ignoring what man might think, say, or do to us, we will be well-off in heaven.  But if we choose to compromise and compete with man here on worldly terms for worldly things, we will lose out in eternal rewards.
    The perspective that we need to have is found in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, which says, "For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."

    Suffering is one of the best things to remind us that we don’t want to put all of our investments into the here and now.  We need to fixate our eyes on the eternal, viewing this life as a journey into eternity.  Why chase the approval of man?  Why look to earthly things to fill a void that only Jesus can fill?  Why constantly compete to look better than someone else?  Someone will always be better at something, more beautiful, or more successful than we are.  Rather, we ought to enjoy what God has blessed us with and use it to the best of our ability to the glory of God.
    Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.”  

    When we come to the point where we view everything as an act of worship to God, we will finally ignore the approval of man.  When what God says is the only verdict that matters, man’s opinions won’t matter any longer. 

    Friends, I struggled in this area for years, and those experiences left me with a low self esteem that still sneaks in and shows its ugly face every now and then.  When that happens, I have to start admitting my feelings to God and asking for His help.  I know that if I am going to change and repair my lack of self-worth I need to continually read the word of God and look to Him for His guidance in that area.

    Our self-worth is too often based on what other people tell us about ourselves, even though the One, true Authority on our self-worth is Jesus Christ.  He gave His own life for us by dying on a cross!  That, my friends, should tell us just how valuable we really are.


                       

Saturday, March 21, 2015

1 John 4:4

Whatever you are facing today might feel like it's stronger than you 
but it's never stronger than Jesus. 
Nicki Koziarz



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"Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: 
because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world."
- 1 John 4:4

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Bookshelf Tag


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I found this tag on Natalie's blog.  It seemed rather fun and since I had a few moments to spare I decided . . . why not?  After all, tags are splendidly delightful, don't you agree? ;-)

Anyway . . . here we go . . .

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Describe your bookshelf (or wherever it is you keep your books-it doesn't actually have to be a shelf!) and where you got it from:

I currently have a "built-in" bookshelf that's in my bedroom in my parent's cabin.  It's long and horizontal with just enough room to fit all of my precious books.  Oh, and I also have a second shelf that's quite a bit smaller but holds at least 30 books.


Do you have any special or different way of organizing your books?

I usually organize my novels in order from tallest to shortest.  Also, I keep most of my period drama novels close together.


What's the thickest (most amount of pages) book on your shelf?


{this actually isn't my copy of "Jane Eyre", although I wish it was!}
"Jane Eyre" with 558 pages.


What's the thinnest (least amount of pages) book on your shelf?

"As a Man Thinketh" with a total of 50 pages.


Is there a book you received as a birthday gift?

Yes, my One Year Bible.  It was a gift from my grandma.


What's the smallest (height and width wise) book on your shelf?

"A Pocket Guide to Amish Life"


What's the biggest (height and width wise) book on your shelf?

"Familiar Garden Birds of America"


Is there a book from a friend on your shelf?

I don't think so, actually.


Most expensive book?

The last "Daughters of the Promise" book in the series by Beth Wiseman.  I bought it when it first got released on paperback.


The last book you read on your shelf?

"The Best of Me" by Nicholas Sparks.


Of all the books on your shelf, which was the first you read?

My Bible.


Do you have more than one copy of a book?

Yes, more than one copy of my bible.


Do you have the complete series of any book series?

I have the complete Little House on the Prairie series from when I was little.


What's the newest addition to your shelf?

"The Best of Me"


What book has been on your shelf FOREVER?

The books I've had since I was little . . . such as my bibles, the LHOTP series, and a few selective novels by Janette Oke.


What's the most recently published book on your shelf?

"Plain Peace" by Beth Wiseman.


The oldest book on your shelf (as in, the actual copy is old)?

Again, my Bible.


A book you won?

I can't recall winning any of the books that I own currently.


A book you'd hate to let out of your sight (aka a book you never let someone borrow)?

Hmm, that's a tough one.  I'd probably loan any one of my books to someone if I knew that they would take care of it.


Most beat up book?

My Bible.



Most pristine book?

"The Best of Me" (I just purchased it recently).


A book from your childhood?

The LHOTP series.


A book that's not actually your book?

 None.


A book with a special/different cover (e.g. leather bound, soft fuzzy cover etc.)?

Unfortunately, none.  Although I wish all of my books looked like these:

{I wish we still produced books with character like this!}

A book that is your favorite color?

"Once Upon a Summer" by Janette Oke.  Although it's not quite the right shade of green . . .


Book that's been on your shelf the longest that you STILL haven't read?

A book that was given to me by an elderly lady . . . it's a very old copy, but I still haven't had the chance to read it.  I'm actually unsure of the title of the book at the moment. '~'


Any signed books?

 No.

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Thanks for the fun tag, Natalie!  I dearly enjoyed it.  And for those of my friends who'd enjoy doing it as well, feel free to tag yourselves!

Have a blessed day!



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(all photos - courtesy of pinterest)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Love Defined

Love.  The primary essence of the word "love" is revealed to us with a powerful definition that means 'a purposeful commitment to sacrificial action for another'.  In the Bible, it is a fact that loving God is equated with obeying His Word.  The two are inseparable.

  In our day, most define love as some type of feeling. We "fall in love". . . or two people meet and it is "love at first sight".  But the world's love is a selfish kind of love: 'If you are attractive to me, be nice to me, meet my needs and love me, and I, in return will "love" you.'  
  The world's love is based on getting something from someone else.  The world does not give love where it does not benefit themselves.  'If you do not please me, then I have no love for you.'  Thus for the world, love must be earned by making someone else feel good.

  Powerful emotions may accompany love, but it is the commitment of the will that holds true biblical love steadfast and unchanging.  Emotions may change, but a commitment to love in a biblical manner endures and is the hallmark of a disciple of Christ.  Sadly, the opposite is also true.
  Emotions will vary, but a commitment which has its basis in biblical love will not be affected by the whelm of emotion or of one's circumstances.

  Our example of true love is shown in God's love for the sinner.  Romans 5:8 says "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." 

  The lost sinner living in rebellion and sin is still loved by the Lord.  He loved us enough to die for us and pay our sin debt while we were sinning against Him.  This shows that true biblical love is a matter of will, not of emotion.  God chose to love us and His love was not based on our meriting it in any way.

 1 Corinthians 13:1-7 is called the love discourse.  It is a comparison of love vs. the selfishness of seeking "gifts."  Many miss the context of this passage.  Paul was addressing the selfishness of the Corinthians in their seeking to obtain gifts of the Spirit that would draw attention to themselves.  These misguided individuals were seeking to be "seen" rather than to serve God.  Paul was saying that their seeking gifts from God was not motivated by love of God, or, of love of others.

  By the way dear friend, nothing has changed in that area. . . it is still going on today in spite of Paul's strong explanation of the matter.

What is Love?

LOVE is patient. (long suffering)  Love bears pain or trails without complaint, shows forbearance under provocation or strain, and is steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity.

LOVE is kind.  Even when you want to retaliate physically or tear down another with your words.  Love is sympathetic, considerate, gentle and agreeable.

LOVE is not jealous. (envieth not)  Especially when you are aware that others are being noticed more than you.  Love does not participate in rivalry, is not hostile toward one believed to enjoy an advantage, and is not suspicious.  Love works for the welfare and good of the other.

LOVE does not brag. (vaunteth not itself)  Even when you want to tell the world about your accomplishments.  Love does not flaunt itself boastfully and does not engage in self-glorification.  Instead, love lifts and builds up others.

LOVE is not arrogant. (is not puffed up)  Even when you think you are right and others are wrong.  Love does not assert itself or become overbearing in dealing with others.

LOVE does not act unbecomingly. (does not behave seemly)  Even when being boastful, rude or overbearing will get you attention and allow you to get your own way.  Love conforms to what is right, fitting and appropriate to the situation in order to honor the Lord.

LOVE does not seek its own.  Biblical love is not selfish and self seeking.  True love does not try to fulfill its own desires, does not ask for its own way, and does not try to acquire gain for itself.  Love, is an act of the will, which seeks to serve and not be served.

LOVE is not provoked.  Even when others attempt to provoke you or you are tempted to strike out at something or someone.  Love is not aroused or incited to outbursts of anger.  Love continues faithfully and gently to train others in righteousness, even when they fail.

LOVE does not take into account a wrong suffered. (thinketh no evil)  Even when everyone seems to be against you or when people openly attack you.  Love does not hold a grudge against someone.  Love forgives, chooses not to bring up past wrongs in accusation or retaliation, does not return evil for evil, and does not indulge in self pity.  Love covers a multitude of sins.

LOVE does not rejoice in unrighteousness. (rejoiceth not in iniquity)  Even when it seems like a misfortune was exactly what the other person deserved.  Love mourns over sin, its effects and the pain which results from living in a fallen world.  Love seeks to reconcile others with the Lord.

LOVE rejoices with the truth.  Even when it is easier and more profitable materially to lie.  Love is joyful when truth is known, even when it may lead to adverse circumstances, reviling and persecution.

LOVE bears all things.  Even when disappointments seem overwhelming.  Love is tolerant, endures with others who are difficult to understand or deal with, and has an eternal perspective in difficulties.  Love remembers that God develops spiritual maturity through difficult circumstances.

LOVE believes all things.  Even when other's actions are ambiguous and you feel like not trusting anyone.  Love accepts trustfully, does not judge people's motives, and believes others until facts prove otherwise.  Even when facts prove that the other person is untrustworthy, love seeks to help restore the other to trustworthiness.

LOVE hopes all things.  Even when nothing appears to be going right.  Love expects fulfillment of God's plan and anticipates the best for the other person.  Love confidently entrusts others to the Lord to do His sovereign and perfect will in their lives.

LOVE endures all things. This is one of the hardest to practice.  Especially when you think you just can't endure the people or circumstances in your life.  Love remains steadfast under suffering or hardship without yielding and returns good while undergoing trials.

LOVE never fails.  Even when you feel overwhelmed and the situation seems hopeless.  Love will not crumble under pressure or difficulties.  Love remains selflessly faithful even to the point of death.


 "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; 
and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God."
1 John 4:7

Friday, March 13, 2015

"A Desensitized World"

"So, we ask, how can I be on fire for the Lord in this day and age? 
How can I have afire faith in a desensitized culture that is immune to any kind of spiritual or moral growth? In a place so deep in the sin of compromise? 
Please listen, only Jesus can quench the thirst of the famine that has plagued our world."

BEING ON FIRE FOR GOD IN A DESENSITIZED WORLD

I stumbled across this thought-provoking article this afternoon and opted to share it with ya'll.  It's contents are very gripping and uplifting.  I highly recommend for you to read it if you have ever pondered on these questions . . .

-Am I seeking Jesus with my whole heart?
-Am I tired of living in a desensitized culture?

-Am I willing to stand out against the crowd?

So check out this link.  I assure you, you won't regret it. :)


"O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee." 
- Psalm 63:1-3

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Blessings & Ramblings

photo via google
I've always been prepared when it comes to my blog posts.  I usually have the outline of my post jotted down, with every word and idea thought out down to the very last, minuscule detail...
But not lately.
Now, whenever I feel like posting something, I just sit in front of my computer, stretch out my legs and start typing away.  Anything.
Sometimes it makes me feel better if I can get the words and stories out of my head and onto something that can absorb my ramblings, even if I don't find myself publishing my posts very often anymore.
And believe me, I miss it.  Truly I do.  But as I live every day with an abundance of things to do and places to go, I don't find the time to post like I used to.  And even though I'd say that it's for a good reason, I still miss it.

For some nonsensical reason I find blogging to be a rather calming and rejuvenating past-time.  And when it comes to helping or encouraging others, I enjoy it all the more.

These new points of my life are very exciting for me, and I'm spending all the time I can relishing in them while they are happening.
I am getting married in just under a month . . . so my days have been spent preparing myself for being a wife.

The thought of getting married still makes me giddy with happy excitement, and to know that I am spending my happily ever after with the man I love brings me exceeding joy. 

God has been so faithful this past year, and even more so, He has opened doors and given me more opportunities than I thought could have ever been possible in the year of 2014.  New experiences and adventures have shown me that when you focus your attention on God, He never leaves you doubting. 
I have so much to be thankful for.  So much to learn and grow from . . . and these awaited future moments will prepare me for something even greater than I can imagine. 
I am thrilled to be starting my life as a wife to my future husband (and if the Lord wills, a mother to our children someday).

Often times, while I am at home alone, I begin to venture to imagine what my life is going to be like in only a few short weeks from now.  Never once would I have imagined that the Lord would bring me to this point in life.  Being a wife and mother has been my ultimate dream since I was a juvenile at heart.  And now, that dream is beginning to unfold right before my eyes.  Everything is official now.  Down to the last tiny detail of wedding planning... everything is really happening, and I couldn't be happier. :)


"Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour."
- Ecclesiastes 4:9