rocks

Let's start off with a little story...

There once were two nations, the Israelites & the Philistines, that were constantly at war with one another. Our story begins when they both were preparing for battle. (Setting: two hills/mountains with a valley separating them) Everyday, a huge Philistine named Goliath would threaten the Israelites. The Israelites and their king, Saul, were terrified. This huge Goliath dude decided to cut them a deal: send one of your men to fight me...if y'all win, we become yall's slaves...BUT, if we win, y'all become our slaves. All seemed hopeless. Who could possibly defeat this giant!?! No Israelite soldier seemed prepared for the job. Saul was scared. And, the Israelites were scared. But, a little shepherd boy named David was ready. Strong in the Lord, David stepped up to the task. David knew that THE LORD WOULD ALWAYS BE BY HIS SIDE, so there was NO REASON TO FEAR. However, King Saul feared for David and tried to protect him with heavy armor. David wasn't very keen on the idea. Finally, David went out to a little stream in the valley and collected 5 smooth rocks. With God, a rock, and his sling, David defeated Goliath. The Israelites were free! (see 1 Samuel 17 for biblical version)

In this passage, we clearly are exposed to the main difference between King Saul & David. Saul was a worrier, but David was a warrior. These two characteristics are essential to how we live our own lives: you can be a worrier or a warrior. A worrier ultimately doesn't trust God's perfect plan & always looks to the future with fear of failure. On the other hand, A WARRIOR TRUSTS GOD'S PLANS & LOOKS TO THE FUTURE WITH BOLDNESS & HOPE. God uses Goliath to expose Saul & Davids character. Similarly, GOD USES "GOLIATH'S" (hardships) TO EXPOSE OUR HEARTS.

When I was in Israel recently, I had the opportunity of visiting the stream that David picked up his 5 stones from. This moment was very special because I too picked up 5 stones. I have 4 in my bedroom and 1 in my backpack. Each day, I see these rocks, and they always remind me to be a warrior for Christ. They are so little, but they speak so loud to me. I also encourage you to find something that reminds you to be a warrior for Christ! 

Comment below how you remind yourself of how to be a warrior for Christ !!!

// Questions //

Are you a worrier or a warrior?

Do you live by fear or by faith?

words

Words build worlds.

In Genesis 1, we see that God spoke things into existence & created this world. Similarly, when we speak, we either create beautiful worlds or we destroy them. Translation: The tongue has the power to build people up or tear people down. Also remember, the tongue is difficult to control, and I personally, as a talker, struggle with this. However, the more time I spend with the Lord definitely influences how I respond and talk to others (for the better). Know that the way you talk to others won't just change over night...it's a process, and it isn't that easy. I constantly have to rely on the Lord to filter how I want to respond from how I should respond, which should be in love. Responding in love to others is hard, especially when they have offended you, but be the bigger person & turn the other cheek. Remember, you are either reflecting Christ through your words, or you aren't. Choose to build worlds, not to destroy them.

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger...The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit." -Proverbs 15:1;4

"Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell." -James 3:5-6

"With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?" -James 3:9-11

" Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." -Ephesians 4:29

// Questions //

If your tongue were to be judged today, would you stand the test of faith? 

Before speaking ask yourself...

How would God want me to respond? Am I responding in love?

 

control

Coolest thing just happened! I was looking through old notes, and I found some that I had taken over a book called "Once Upon a Tandem". Anyways, I was reading them, and I realized God was definitely trying to point out that our relationship has not been going in the right direction lately. The past 3 weeks have been a complete blur, filled with late nights, tons of homework, and grumpy attitudes. God is definitely trying to steer me back on a course that is focused on Him, and I have finally caught sight of that. It's crazy how God uses little moments like these to send you messages! I would love to share the notes I found with y'all! Hopefully these might encourage you as much as they did for me :)

Where is God in your life? A) He is not present. B) He's there, but just riding in the backseat. C) He is still in backseat, but He is whispering direction (sometimes you go where He wants to go). D) He has taken complete control.

Isaiah 42:16 "I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.”

What would life D look like?

• You would be taken down paths you never would have imagined for yourself. God has a unique special plan for you! It's most likely something different than what you had in store for yourself.

• the places He takes you are SO unimaginably beautiful! God's plan (when He is in control) is 100% far more better than your own. You will be used for his glory, and amazing things will come out of it.

• Sometimes He will take you through quick sand, mud, or dark tunnels...but when you trust him He gets you out safe and sound. God sometimes takes us through some rough times/situations, but if you rely on Him, He will comfort your distress. You must go through ugly "tunnels" in order to get to the beautiful places. Similarly, we must preserver through hardships and persecution of our faith. These obstacles are in place to grow our faith and grow our trust in God. God will ultimately use our suffering for His glory! (as weird as that might sound...)

• Life is straight out prettier, more peaceful, and more meaningful with Him driving my life. Giving up control to God is the most rewarding decision.

fear

Living in fear is one of God's biggest no-no's. The Lord does not want us to fear this world because when your heart is full of fear, there is no room for love! God calls us to take courage & spread His love to EVERYONE....that is a daunting task! When I hear God's call, I agree willingly because I know this call. I have heard it every Sunday, every Wednesday, and every day of my life. I am surrounded by amazing lovers of the Lord who remind me of God's mission constantly. Don't get me wrong...it's such a blessing!! Without the reminder, I would not know my true purpose on earth. But, because I have grown up constantly learning about God's call for my life, I don't really take the time to pause and reflect its full meaning. Today I realized that many Christians choose to love and be a light to all. But, do they really mean "to all"? That's a hard one. Let's look at a few words from Tom Doyle, writer of Standing in the Fire...

"Terror-ism. The very word is rooted in fear - mind numbing, blood chilling, heart stopping fear. What could be worse than facing a person dedicated to indiscriminately destroying human life of any kind - men, women, and children? The target of terror can be anybody. The influences around us - whether news reporters, politicians, or commentators - seem to want nothing more than to deepen our fear of the violent forces in a world that appears to be coming apart at the seams just a bit more each day. In today's world, if we're not careful, we can easily succumb to fear, and when we do, we can become a slave to it. The problem with living in fear is that - besides flying in the face of more than two hundred biblical admonitions to not fear - it can cause us to do the very thing we should not do." As Tom puts it, we should "refuse to run away, and run to the" problem that is causing fear. "We have let fear set us running in the wrong direction." (see John 16:33 & 1 Peter 5:8-9 below)

"But, as followers of Christ, the message of love He has given us to take to the world should never be daunted by fear. If it is, we're running instead of standing. I believe it's time for Christ followers to stand firm and no longer run away, because our enemy is the one who wants us to run." (see Daniel 3:17 below)

Jesus is with us. He gives us reason and courage to stand. Go and love everyone.

"In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" -John 16:33

"Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world" -1 Peter 5:8-9

"the God we serve is able to deliver us" -Daniel 3:17

// Questions //

Are there certain people in your life that you fear to love and share Christ with? (they might even be close to you)

What are you afraid of?

Think...what is the best possible outcome of sharing Christ with them!?!

unfathomable

What is your favorite verse? People ask me this question all the time, and normally, I answer with my "go to" favorite verse, Galatians 1:10. But, recently, I have reflected on what verse really means the most to me. A verse that captures all of God's power, glory, and love. A verse that inspires me every time I hear it.

My absolute favorite verse is ECCLESIASTES 3:11, "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end." WOW !!! This verse gives me the chills every time I hear it !!

The thing about me is that I have this insane love for traveling, and this verse correlates hand and hand with everything God has revealed to me through the spectacular places I have visited. Every time I get to take a moment in God's creation, I am in complete awe. I just can't wrap my head around the fact that God alone thought of each minuscule detail about this world & then created all of it in just 6 days !!! It is literally insane. Think about it...

He created different individual species with drastically different working bodies. He created plants & all of their intricate details. He created thousands upon thousands of beautiful fish in the sea. He created the ability for creatures to become camouflage, so they can survive in the wild. He created the sun, planets, universe, etc. etc. etc. And, he created us. Just take a moment and realize how miraculous we are. The intricacy of everything God created BLOWS MY MIND & makes me realize how amazing God truly is !!

"He has also set eternity in the human heart". My interpretation of this part of Ecclesiastes 3:11 is that all humans have an understanding & longing for eternity. God has placed a strong desire of forever in every single one of us, and it cannot be filled by things of this world. This desire is what compels humans to place their hope in unfulfilling human made gods. But, the almighty creator, God, is the ONLY one who truly satisfies. God cares and loves for each and every person & desires a relationship with His children...what or who else can give you a never ending, fulfilling love like this? That's right! No one. Humans will always make mistakes, and they will never learn to love perfectly. We let people down, and our love sometimes fails. On the other hand, the things of this world always leave us empty and unfulfilled. And, lastly, man made gods do not love like our God. Our God is the one true God. Because He wants us to be with Him forever, He offers us eternity with Him. WOAHHHHH !!! Who wouldn't want to accept that crazy amazing love!?

"No one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end". For me, this claims that man cannot completely understand all of what God has done. God's power is baffling to the human mind & is SO AMAZING !! He is outside your window, and he is also in you !! Take a walk outside and notice God's glory and power. His creation speaks...all you have to do is listen.

blessed

Blessed. A simple word that means so much. For me, I am blessed by a heavenly Father through things that might seem so small but yet are so incredibly life changing. For example, I don't have to worry if my water isn't filtered or if I will have food for my next meal. It's insane to think that other people in this world, whether they are from your home town or a third world country, have to worry about the bare necessities of survival. While, on the other hand, I am in one of the most prosperous countries in the world, worrying about whether I am getting a fancy camera for Christmas. We all have a hard time of being content right where we are, but taking the time to reflect on how stinking blessed we are makes us appreciate everything we already have - a home, a family, friends, etc.

A few years ago one of my camp counselors told my cabin to "count EVERYTHING as a blessing". Huh? Count EVERYTHING as a blessing? I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Any bad thing life could throw you started rushing through my mind - poverty, divorce, disability, etc. Then I took a step back and thought...How can I count everything as a blessing? How can I find the positive in every situation? And most importantly...How can I find God & his perfect plan in everything? This "saying" has stuck with me, and it is a great reminder that everything (even the hardest trials) I go through on earth is part of God's perfect plan for me. God uses each situation to personally mature us in strange ways...remember everything you go through on earth is happening for a reason! In these hard moments, we each have the choice to either abide in the Lord and grow in Him OR to reject Him. Which will you choose? I choose to count everything as a blessing! Even the trials.

I want to give yall a few examples: As many of yall know, I am a cheerleader. One of the leadership position you can have on our team is Chaplain. For these past two years, I really tried pursuing the role of Chaplain, but each year I was not chosen. This was a door shut in my face, and each year I was very disappointed. I used to wonder why I wasn't qualified enough for this position, but through some reflection time with the Lord, I came to realize that it wasn't that I wasn't qualified. God ultimately had another use/plan for me on the team...to be a follower. Ewwwww! I hated that word because I always wanted to lead (and sometimes I still do...still working on it). But, God is constantly teaching me how to submit to authority, and His lessons are the blessings I counted in this situation. Also! Thanks to God's AWESOME plan...I probably would not have created a blog in the first place. God knows exactly where He wants to use me, and this blog is definitely a great platform! Another example came from this past week. My close friend and I were discussing her struggles in school from her dyslexia. She explained how she studies so unbelievably hard but does not get her desired grades. When she said this, I remembered she was one of the hardest workers I've ever met. I then told her my favorite saying (count everything as a blessing) and explained that by God placing this huge obstacle in her life, she has become an extremely hard worker that inspires SO many girls around her! 

Be thankful for EVERYTHING in your life because they are all blessings from the Lord. He cares greatly for you & for everyone else on earth. Use your blessings well & bring glory the God's kingdom. Have a great Thanksgiving!

stress

Exam week. Need I say more? Here are a few verses and quotes to encourage you in times of stress & complete weakness! 

"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you." - Isaiah 43:2

"You might not be able to see where you're headed, but I assure you, The Lord can. And He's holding your hand. He's breathing life into every aspect of your present and future. He's shining His light even in the darkest corners of your mind. So hold tight to Him. Hold tight to His love, knowing that He will never leave you or forsake you, and because of Jesus, you are in His grip forever. No uncertainty, no broken dreams, and no fear of the future can keep you from Him. He is with You always, in all of this. Trust Him. Believe. And let Him gracefully lead you where you need to be." - Morgan Harper Nichols

"Practice the pause. When in doubt, pause. When angry, pause. When tired, pause. When stressed, pause. And when you pause, pray." - Unknown

Don't let the stress be the cause of your negativity. Realize in the midst of stressful situations you can be the sunshine in the chaos!

"Ships don't sink because of the water round them; ships sink because of the water that gets in them. Don't let what's happening around you get inside you and weigh you down." - Unknown

"A negative mind will never give you a positive life." - Unknown

WHEN YOU CAN'T FIND THE LIGHT, BE THE LIGHT !!! 

 

 

encouragement

Recently, I have been reminded of how much we broken humans need to be encouraged. I have personally have not received or given much encouragement in the past week, and that needs to change. It seems silly, but encouragement is an essential part of a humans daily life. Without positive words, our days can go spiraling down the toilet, and we are left feeling bad about ourselves.

How can we change this? Simple! Get into God's word. This is the most life changing source of encouragement available to human kind. Reading a little bit of his word in the morning can totally change your perspective on the oncoming day....you are ready to take it on. Let His word fill you and encourage you. "Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ, and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in." C.S. Lewis simply puts things into perspective: Without Christ & being filled by Him, we are lost, broken people. But when we open our hearts to His word, we will become transformed & uplifted.

How can we encourage others? Easy! Just through the simplest acts of kindness. Here are a few examples...(1) Send someone a verse in the morning and let them know you are praying for them. (2) Actually pray for the person. Sometimes we emptily say, "I'm praying for you!"...well what good is saying it if we actually don't pray for them? (3) Compliment them. You automatically make someone feel special when you compliment them (on literally anything). (4) If someone is anxious about something, pray over them. For me, I also tell them to breathe, so they can calm themselves. Ask my friends...I do it a lot haha. (5) Talk to them about their day. 

These are just a few ideas on how you can encourage someone around you today, tomorrow, and for the rest of your life. Make these simple things become a habit for you. Be the person who changes someones day just by simply loving and encouraging them. 

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." -1 Thessalonians 5:11

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." -2 Corinthians 1:3-4

// Questions //

How can you make someones day tomorrow just by encouraging them?

Who is someone you rarely hang out with? How can you go out of your way to talk to them?

How are you going to be filled with encouragement from the Holy Spirit? Do you have a time, place, and plan?

dating

Dating. A touchy subject. I want to share with yall what I believe a Christ centered relationship should really look like. **HEADS UP I want you to know I personally have never been in a relationship, but I want to share what I have learned and taken to heart in preparation if I ever do decide to pursue one. (pretty sure that was a run on sentence)**  We might not see eye to eye on the subject, but try to be open minded to what I have to say:) You never know! You could potentially be inspired! Here we go...

How we date NOW ultimately becomes how we treat our marriages in the future, so we need to begin learning how to date in a God glorifying manner. There are four key steps to take before a relationship takes off:

(1) Talk to your parents. If you don't feel comfortable discussing dating with your parents, you are not ready to date. This is harsh, but it's the truth. You need to be able to openly talk about your relationships with your parents because they will be able to help and GUIDE YOU. Hey! Guess what! They have done this whole dating thing before, and I guarantee they know way more than you do! If you want some advice on the do's and don'ts of dating, your parents are the key, not your friends.

(2) Have godly mentors. I can not stress this enough!!! It is muyyyy importante! Yes yes yes your parents are some of the best people to go to for dating advice, but I definitely recommend having other godly mentors to help point you in Christ's direction with their advice. Make sure this is an older mentor! Not some friend around your age, but someone who is older than you and knows how to properly respond to the world of dating. (i.e. small group leaders, camp counselors, church leaders).

(3) Don't always listen to your friends. I have already mentioned this a few times, but lemme re-emphasize this point:) Friends are great. Trust me I know...I have some pretty terrific friends myself. They love the Lord and always seem to know how to encourage and point me back to Christ. Yes, I admit that I go to them for some answers, but I try not to rely completely on them. Because we have barely experienced this world, sometimes our answers to a situation can be slightly narrow-minded. It's hard for us because we rely on our friends for mostly everything. In the moment, their advice seems 100% the best, but sometimes it can lead us down some sketchy paths. We can be blinded by the consequences of following foolish "words of wisdom" from our friends. They might have some answers, but they definitely don't have all. Our parents & godly mentors (and of course God) are more reliable sources when it comes to advice. 

(4) Pray. You guessed it! God wants to hear from you...especially about your dating relationships! He wants you to talk to him and seek guidance from him! Write it down or say it out loud. Whatever you want! I just know that talking to the Lord will give you peace and comfort if you are stressing a situation. God will help you, so lean on him!!!! He loves you and will guide you down the right path, so if you are ever in doubt, talk to the Lord!

Now for the three P's of dating:

Pull = the attraction phase. This is the first step to a relationship...getting to know the person. The best tip I can give you about the "pull" phase is to just be yourself!! You definitely don't want someone liking a person you are not. Remember your faith develops your character which in turn develops your personality. (See 1 Peter 3: 3-4 & Proverbs 31:30 below) Lastly, before starting to date a someone, make sure to do a "background check". What I mean by this is to check if this person has good healthy relationships with friends because how they treat their friendships is how they are going to treat their relationship with you.

Pursuit (this is for the guys) = pursuing a healthy relationship with someone you have gotten to know and enjoy. My first words of advise are to NOT lead a girl on, especially by giving her empty compliments. (GIRLS...our value is in Christ not in temporary compliments we receive!) Next, talk to the girls dad. I might seem old school, and a ton of my friends make fun of me for encouraging this...but who cares! I think asking the dad is a key component of showing not only the father but the girl that you care and respect her. This action takes a lot of courage (in my opinion) because a conversation with a girls dad can be somewhat "scary"...what if he says no??? Well that's okay. He is trying to protect and do what's best for his daughter. Now comes the hard part. Asking the girl out. I have two simple tips...ask face to face & have a plan (don't be spontaneously asking a girl out just cuz). These our four things I encourage a guy to do while pursuing a girl.

Purity. Seriously Danielle do we have to go there....**rolls eyes**. This will be short and sweet. I promise! (Not exactly my cup of tea either, but it needs to be said.) Satan wants to do everything possible in order to bring you "together" before marriage and everything possible to tear you apart during marriage. So with that in mind...dating is NOT for personal pleasure. Remember we are trying to honor God every step of the way! Even the slightest temptations should be avoided...for example, movies might seem super innocent and okay, but they can be a real temptation. Dark room + all alone = NO THANK YOU! Btw side note: A guy should take a girl out to do something that involves CONVERSATION and getting to know each other better. The harsh truth is that he probably does not care that much to get to know the girl if he only takes her to movies. Every once and a while movies are okay, but don't let it be the only thing yall do together. GIRLS I want you to remember to be modest with the clothes you wear! "What type of bait you use, determines what type of fish you catch". And BOYS makes sure you set the boundaries for the relationship, and if the girl has stronger boundaries than you, RESPECT THEM.

I want to end with this: "You will always want love to fill the emptiness of your soul, when love is all that you seek; But, you will never fill that hole, because love is not something that we fill, it is SOMETHING THAT WE POUR OUT. Only JESUS can fill that empty void in your life, only Christ can fill that cup so that it may be spilled into the lives of those who thirst for something eternal. Drink deeply, beloved, drink deeply from the well that Jesus offers us, so that you may never thirst again." (T.B. LaBerge). This quote hits home! Because of what Christ did, we can share his love with others. Makes sure you stay on mission for Christ while you are pursuing a relationship. Christ centered relationships are always the strongest! Find someone who loves you for you and points you back to Christ daily!

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight." -1 Peter 3:3-4

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." -Proverbs 31:30

will

What's God's will for you life? This question seems to frighten many. Why? Because we know that God's will is a mystery to us. By entrusting God with our futures, we walk along an unknown path. We know exactly where this path leads to, but we have no clue as to how it's made. There may be bumps, cracks, hills, or winding roads. By giving Christ control over our lives, we accept the fact that what lies ahead might be difficult (persecuted for our faith, made an outcast, etc.). Yes...that is scary. But, for me, the scariest part about the journey is not knowing what to expect. Christ, just like a lantern, only lights up and reveals what is exactly in front of us. We don't know exactly what our future holds, but we do know who holds our future. This means we must depend on God for guidance in our lives.

Why is it hard to make decisions? Whether it's choosing your friends, college, job, etc., we constantly get caught up in the decision making. We say, "there are TOO MANY CHOICES", and we try to choose what brings the "most fulfillment". We want perfect fulfillment from our choices. What we need to realize is that "God's will is in the HOW & WHY rather than who, what, when, and where" (one of my favorite quotes from a Pine Cove counselor!). How do we decide? First things first, seek guidance in God's word! The next thing we need to realize is that WE CAN'T MESS UP GOD'S WILL. We are called to abide in Christ, and as long as we do that, God will continue to work through us and use us for the glorification of his kingdom. God's will might seem like a frightening term, but the fact that we are called to just trust the Lord (not be anxious about the future) should be freeing and give us peace in our moments of worry! One thing is for certain: we can choose to worship God every single day. So why don't we? 

Surrender your life to him, so HE CAN TRANSFORM YOU! I know we can't choose the situation we are handed, but WE CAN CHOOSE HOW WE RESPOND. I want to end with this ROCKING AWESOME quote (from Watermark Student Ministries): "God's will is not a code to be cracked, but a savior to be cherished!" Thanks for reading:) Praying for you and how God will use you!

"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." -Micah 6:8

"Then Moses said to him, 'If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.'" -Exodus 33:15

"So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good." -1 Peter 4:19

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." -Romans 12:1-2

// Questions //

How can God use you?

Who are you walking with? Do they point you to Christ (daily)?

We tend to hold tight to what we think is best for ourselves, but how can you completely surrender your will to the Lord? 

light

According to Merriam-Webster's dictionary, light is "something that makes vision possible." On the other hand, darkness is the absence of light. Darkness is scary. Darkness is comfortable. Comfortable? Yes. Once our eyes adjust, we enjoy darkness. For example, when a teacher turns off the lights in class, we secretly rejoice, but the moment the teacher turns the lights back on, we complain. Similarly, we love to live in sin, and we find (temporary) enjoyment in the life that sin has to offer. Living in sin is like us living in darkness. We have no direct path ahead of us, and all we do is stumble around with no purpose (and most times we get hurt along the way). Personally, that does not sound appealing to me.

How do we get rid of the darkness? Easy! Light is the solution. Only light is powerful enough to make darkness disappear. What is this so called "light"? Jesus! (Jesus is always the answer...am I right???) Christ is the light in our lives, and God is the source of this light (check out 2 Corinthians 4:6 below). Even since the beginning, God has brought light into our lives (check out Genesis 1:2-3 below).

Analogy time! Okay, consider a light bulb. This light bulb cannot shine on its own no matter how hard it tries....it must be placed in a fixture! The key was not to try harder but to PLUG INTO THE SOURCE. Similarly, we cannot expect ourselves to "shine" for Christ on our own! We must "plug into our source"; we must take time each day to stop, reflect, and dig into God's word! One of my favorite quotes sums it all up perfectly! It says, "Trying to shine on our own can be exhausting. Instead, we're simply called to be closely connected to God and REMAIN IN HIM. When we do, His light pours forth through us in powerful, brilliant ways that change the world. The ways we shine might not make the news, but they make even more of a difference than we can see."

"For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ." -2 Corinthians 4:6

"Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light." -Genesis 1:2-3

"This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: GOD IS LIGHT; in him there is NO DARKNESS at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth." -1 John 1:5-7

"You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." -Matthew 5:14-16

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light IN THE LORD. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them." -Ephesians 5:8-11

// Questions //

What can you do NOW to abide with the Lord more deeply and consistently?

Why are Christians scared to bring forth "light"?

We live in fear of judgement, how can we change that?

identity

If someone where to ask you "who are you", what would you say? Think about it. Hmmmm...hard question! This question is practically asking, "where do you find your identity".

Identity...the most talked about topic in student ministries...thanks Danielle...totally haven't heard this one before. But hang with me people because God has some crazy things to say through this topic! Most of us know that as believers we are called to place our identity in God, but this world has coerced us to put our ID (do you mind if I "nickname" identity?) into everything other than Him. Here's the thing, we all try to ACHIEVE our ID through actions, looks, words, abilities, etc., but once you become a believer in Christ Jesus, you automatically RECEIVE a new ID. This new ID is found in God and what Christ did for us! Can I hear an "amen"?!? (mixed emotion about talking to a blog...that's okay. just say it in you head.) Okay, now that we all are on the same basis on the fact that our ID is found in God, we can move onto how this should encourage our daily lives! (read Galatians 1:10 below) Trying to live according to the world's standard is far from satisfying compared to living for the Lord. No matter how the world views us or what we believe in, we need to STAND STRONG in Christ because we believe in the unconditional love and grace of God. Pleasing people should not be our ultimate goal, but being a light for the Lord within this dark world is what we should strive for! I want to end with encouraging words from Kristen Clark & Bethany Baird (writers of Girl Defined): "God is looking for women [and men] like you to courageously go against the grain of modern culture. He needs women [and men] who are brave...He needs women [and men] who REFUSE to live for the applause of this world and instead live for the applause of their King." If you know someone who is living well for the Lord, send them a text and encourage them to keep up the good work! Remember: it's not about what you didn't do, it's about what you CAN DO! And if who you are is found in things that are changeable, it's NOT who you are.

"Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ." -Galatians 1:10

"For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." -Ephesians 2:10

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" -2 Corinthians 5:17

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." -Colossians 3:1-2

// Questions //

Where have you recently been placing your identity?

How would someone else define you?

How can you STAND OUT for the Lord this week?

savior

If I am going to start a blog about an AMAZING savior, then I probably should start off explaining who this savior is! Hold on tight because I am about to tell you the most life changing story!

Let's start from the beginning...

Creation? Evolution? There is a lot of debate about HOW this spectacular earth came to be. Personally, I believe every stinking thing on this earth points to a God. (I could go on and on about why, but I don't think you want to read a thousand page blog...) Anyways, this God created humans to take care of and enjoy His outstanding creation, but mankind messed up this perfect world because they believed their way was better than God's (see Genesis 3). This is when sin comes into the picture...Every single human on this earth has sinned (except for one). It's a fact. We are not perfect. And, this imperfection creates a HUGE divide between us and God. Now comes the crazy part! Remember like 3 sentences earlier how I mentioned there was one individual who has never sinned? Well, that would be Jesus, who was fully man AND fully God. WOW! Now you are probably wondering why was He here on earth? Well, because of our sinful nature, we are condemned to an eternity of death and pain (in Hell). But God the perfect creator NEVER STOPPED LOVING US, and because of this love, He gave up His only son, Jesus Christ, to come and rescue us from an eternity in Hell! Jesus saved us by dying on a cross and raising back to life (!!!!) 3 days later. That is the ultimate sacrifice: being painfully tortured and hung on the cross for a bunch of sinful humans. Because of this sacrifice, we are able to accept God's free gift of eternal life! Did you notice how I said "free gift"? That's because we don't have to work for eternal life at all!!! All we need to do is understand, believe, and accept Christ's sacrifice for us.

God created the universe and us.  We messed up.  All humans sin.  We can't reach God because we are no longer perfect.  God sent us a savior.  You can choose to accept God's gift = ETERNAL LIFE !!!!!!!!