Anna's Alcove

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Category: God (page 1 of 4)

Be Radiant

Have you ever read or heard a verse that leaves you puzzling for days? Whether you’re a new Christian or have been a believer for a while, God’s Word always has something new to offer. There are so many levels to the letter that He’s written us in the Bible that there’s no way that we could know and understand everything about our heavenly Father. It’s  a constant learning process.

A couple weeks ago, I encountered this verse in two completely different setting. The first one was an online speaker I was listening to (Katie Souza) and she was talking about how God is light and how we’re able to speak light because His Holy Spirit dwells within us. The second instance was after a powerful prayer time at church, where a majority of my church family (including me) received prayer for freedom in Christ.

The verse was Isaiah 60:1 (AMP), and it reads like this:

“Arise [from the depression and prostration
in which circumstances have kept you – rise to a new life]!
Shine (be radiant with the glory of the Lord),
for your light has come,

and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you!”

At first, I didn’t take much notice of it. I acknowledged it as a good verse to think about and probably posted it as my Facebook status for that day. Then I heard it repeated by my pastor on Sunday and he expounded on the fact that we’re not called to just sit back during this thing called life. We’re called to freedom in Christ and the power that comes with that is too great for us to not act upon.

That caught my attention.

So, throughout the last two weeks, I’ve been puzzling over what this verse could mean for my own individual walk with Christ. I came to the obvious conclusions – yes, the old me is dead and I am made completely new, the glory of the Lord is mine and I am the light of the world. But I knew there had to be more to it than that.

I kept pondering… and then it hit me.

The only way I can truly shine for Christ and become that light is to hunger after His word! If I’m continuously thinking about His Word, meditating on what it could mean for my life and diving into the Word for more, I won’t be able to contain the fire that will ignite in me. God doesn’t want lukewarm Christians; He wants us to be on fire for Him, to be a light that attracts the lost, to reveal the truth that is within us…

to “be radiant with the glory of the Lord”!

Don’t settle for less. Make an effort to spend time in the Word every day. Ask for a spiritual hunger and revelation if you find yourself struggling. God wants nothing more than to reveal Himself to you and when you ask, He will most certainly follow through. 🙂

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Re-Igniting the Fire of Passionate Worship

What would you do if you caught a glimpse of the throne room of God? Dance for joy? Gawk in awe? Fall flat on your face out of respect and fear? Sadly, these aren’t the responses of many Christians who participate in worship. Whether it’s singing in church on Sunday morning or gathered with a group of believers on a week night, worship is supposed to bring you into the presence of the Most High God. Yet most times our “worship” can seem like just another song that happens to be on the agenda. If our focus and our heart aren’t in the right place, what was meant to be a special time in the throne room of our Heavenly Father can easily turn into a less-than-meaningful experience.

Worship requires a certain level of intentionality, passion and focus. So, how do you achieve this? Spend time in His Word! No, I don’t mean just anywhere in the Scriptures. Seek out passages that talk directly about His glory. For example, this past week, my small group read through Ezekiel 1, where he describes the vision he had of the glory of God:

“… a whirlwind… a great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself;
and brightness was all around it and radiating out of its midst like the color of amber.”
(1:4)

“… within it came the likeness of four creatures…
Each one had four faces and each one had four wings…

each had the face of a man; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side,
each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had a face of an eagle.”
(1:5-6, 10)

“The likeness of the firmament above the heads of the living creatures
was the color of an awesome crystal,

stretched out over their heads… and above the firmament over their heads
was the likeness of a throne,

in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the throne was a likeness
with the appearance of a man high above it.”
(1:22, 26)

“…and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were,
the appearance of fire with brightness all around.
Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day,
so was the appearance of the brightness all around it.
This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of God.”
(1:27-28)

Just take a moment to picture all of that. Read through those portions again if you have to. It’s pretty amazing, right?

DSCN1310-2Once you obtain a revelation of how awesome our God is, the intentionality, passion and focus of worship should happen naturally. I find that reading and picturing passages like the one in Ezekiel help me to focus on God’s glory during a time of worship. I mean, it’s super difficult to be nonchalant in worship while picturing something as wonderful as the throne room and majesty of God.

Worship was meant to be a tangible experience for every believer. It shouldn’t become a routine. It shouldn’t be obligatory. Worship should be a time of expressing your love and awe of who God is. It’s an intimate time with your Creator who loved you enough to give up His own Son in order to secure your redemption. Don’t waste a moment of it.

“To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood,
and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father,
to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
(Rev. 1:6)

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Bask in the Presence

“He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane, I am a tree, bending beneath the weigh of His wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden, I am unaware of this afflictions eclipsed by glory and I realize just how beautiful
You are and how great Your affections are for me.” 

“How He Loves Us” is one of my absolute favorite worship songs and it’s recently become my life goal… to realize just how much God loves me! Have you ever taken a moment to just meditate on how vast and how deep that love must be?

Let me tell you, it’s something worth contemplating 🙂

Ever since marriage, God has been opening my eyes and heart to the meaning of pursuing a love that never fails and what is actually possible when we live our lives in complete dependence on Him.

 

DSCN7908I recently joined the worship team at my church as a second female vocalist. Over the last few months, we have done two outreach events at different parks (one in Easton, PA, and the other in Quakertown, PA) and He has shown up every time. We just did the outreach in Quakertown this evening and I was told before we started that God was going to speak to me during our worship time. Of course that got me all excited and, sure enough, about halfway through singing I hear this voice in my head that said, “I love you, My child.”

Woah.

I grinned and kept right on singing, just losing myself in the worship and not worrying about the people who might be watching (which is a new thing for me, because a few months back, I would be super nervous about singing in front of people).

Then I heard this: “Just bask in My presence. Pursue me and I will do things that are beyond your wildest dreams.”

Imagine the tears of joy that welled up when the next song was “How He Loves Us:”

“And we are His portion and He is our prize, drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
if His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking. And heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss
and my heart turns violently inside of my chest.”

When God speaks, it’s not always a clear voice. He’s spoken to me in so many different ways – creation, His Word, a thought, books, photos, people – and this was just a crystal clear thought that came outta nowhere and stuck in my mind. I’ve been asking God to reveal Himself to me in new ways each day and He has! In Matthew 7:7-8 it says:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks receives and him who seeks finds and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

It’s that simple. All we have to do is ask.

God loves us. We are His special, chosen people who He wants to bless (1 Peter 2:9). During the short time that I’ve been on the worship team, He has opened my eyes to the true meaning of worship and how freeing it can be. It doesn’t have to be a routine, gotta-get-it right-every-time type of thing. Yes, you have to be good stewards of your talents and practice, but don’t get so caught up on the technicalities that you lose sight of the reason you’re up there.

As the author of Hebrews said in chapter 13:

“Therefore, by Him, let us continuously offer the sacrifice of praise to God,
that is, the fruit of your lips, giving thanks to His name.” (vs. 15)

Make it a daily practice to bask in His presence and in His Word. Pursue your Heavenly Father and He will come running to meet you! Once you realize or remember the joy and wonder of being in constant praise and adoration of our Savior, you’ll never want to stop 🙂

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But first… praise!

God has a knack for blowing me away with how awesome He is!

Ok, so a couple weeks ago, I was reading the story of Jehoshaphat, which can be found in 2 Chronicles 20.

Jerusalem was surrounded by a mass of enemies – the Moabites, Ammonites and others – and the situation was looking pretty grim. It seemed like there was no way the Israelite army could win this battle. So their king, Jehoshaphat, did the most logical thing… he stood in the house of the Lord before the entire assembly of Jerusalem and declared:

“O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations,
and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You?
… If disaster comes upon us – sword, judgement, pestilence or famine – we will stand before this temple
and in Your presence… and cry out to You in our affliction and You will hear and save.” (vs. 6, 9)

Uhh, what? Even if they starve, are tortured or killed, they would still stand before their God, assured that He would save them? Why did the king say this?

“For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us;
nor do we know what to do,
but our eyes are upon You.” (vs. 12)

Ah, there it is.

King Jehoshaphat realized there was no way they could defeat the enemy on their own power. The only thing that could possibly save them in some way was their God – our God of today – who is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) and never forsakes His people or His promises (Deuteronomy 31:6).

So how did they prepare for this impossible battle?

The king’s pep talk can be found in verse 17: “You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem! Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them for the Lord is with you.”

Wait a minute. They won’t need to fight? How can the king be certain of this?

Ohh, just you wait. It gets better 🙂

Ok, so far we know where Jehoshaphat stood and that he was completely depending on God for this victory, but how in the world was He going to carry out this amazing rescue without losing a single Israelite?

Well, the king’s next move was to bow before the Lord and worship Him, with the Levites and others standing “to praise the Lord God of Israel with voices loud and high” (vs. 19). Then he encouraged them to “believe in the Lord your God and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper” (vs. 20b)…

… and then appointed more singers to praise the Lord.

Hold on. More singing? Uhh, didn’t they have at least three massive armies outside their gates waiting to completely destroy them?

“Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon,
Moab and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated…
so when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude;
and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped” (vs. 22, 24).

DSCN1805Salvation happened immediately! See? Right when they BEGAN to sing – not during, not an hour or two after, but when they first started! – God swept in and ambushed the enemy.

Yikes! I can’t even begin to imagine what it must’ve been like for the armies outside the walls. Maybe they could hear the praises and singing coming from the city and were scoffing at the people inside. Maybe they were partying and drinking, celebrating their coming victory a little early. Who knows?

All we do know is that when Judah came out of the city the next day, they saw fields filled with dead bodies, possibly the embers of multiple fires still burning and ragged tents and flags blowing in the gentle breeze.

And get this: it took them 3 days to cart away the loot from all the camps.

Three days!! Talk about abundant blessings from God 🙂

“Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, with Jehoshaphat in front  of them,
to go back to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord had made them rejoice over their enemies…
Then the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around” (vs. 27, 30).

Why do we fear? Seriously, if our God can take care of multitudes of soldiers whose end goal was to take out Judah completely, then why do we fear in today’s society? We already know where we’re going when we leave this earth and we have the assurance of God’s promises and faithfulness during our life here.

And did you catch that last part?

“God gave him rest all around”

That is the epitome of Matthew 11:28: “Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

Don’t stress about what’s coming up in life. Praise Him first. In all things, praise! And He will give you rest 🙂

(didn’t I tell you my God is pretty awesome?)

 

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We have the mind of Christ! (1 Corinthians 2:16)

Whether you’re new to Christianity or believed in Christ at a young age, you’re bound to hear that fact more than once.

But what does it mean?

Granted, it will be different for everyone. I’ve struggled with this verse off and on throughout my walk with Christ and still have yet to come to a full conclusion of what it means for me.

How can we, as humans, have the mind capacity of the Creator? There’s so much about God that we don’t completely understand yet, so how can we understand or comprehend the mysteries and knowledge of Him?

In 2 Peter 1:2-4, it says “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature…”

The first part of that verse is easy to grasp. Peter is blessing the people receiving the letter in the knowledge of God and of Jesus (which is kind of like blessing them in the name of God). But then it goes on to say that through the knowledge of Him, we may be partakers of the divine nature.

What all does that encompass? When you think about your “nature,” what comes to mind?

Your soul, thoughts, feelings, personality, creativity… the very essence that makes you you, right?

Take a moment and realize what that means for us as believers.

Mind blowing, I know… and it gets better:

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we also have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1)

It is by faith, and faith alone, that we have a part in God’s nature. There’s nothing that we can do to earn it. We were made in His image (Genesis 1:26-27), so He pretty much imprinted Himself on our souls and being “partakers of the divine nature” and “having the mind of Christ” is a part of following Jesus.

DSCN2500

Getting access to all that knowledge doesn’t happen automatically when we believe, but we’re given a key. Once we realize that we have the key to the mind and knowledge of God and claim it for ourselves (fully believe it), that’s when things start happening:

Colossians 2:2-3 gives us a glimpse of what we could experience once we start seeking to know to mind of God and take ownership of our right to the divine nature: “… that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

Wow…

I mean, as believers, this passage says that we have the right to seek after the mysteries and knowledge of God! Too many of us don’t take advantage of it and miss an entire aspect of our faith. God wants to reveal more of Himself to us, His beloved creation, and He’s waiting for His followers to actively start seeking after the divine nature that is rightfully ours.

Like I said, I’m still trying to wrap my mind around this and figure out what it means for me. But I’m working on talking with God more frequently and asking Him direct questions instead of wondering quietly to myself. Diving into His Word and discovering new meanings behind well-known passages has been one of the immediate benefits.

The Holy Spirit will be faithful and will open your mind to more of who God is. Strive toward Him. Claim your divine inheritance. Don’t get stuck in the lie that God won’t reveal things to us because we’re mere human beings.

Remember:

We have the mind of Christ!

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The Most Beautiful Poem in the Bible

Last Sunday, our pastor challenged us to take some time to read through Song of Solomon, to get a feel for the passionate love within marriage that depicts God’s love for the church.

OK, that sounds easy enough: read through the passionate love poem written by Solomon for his new bride and see how it parallels the love that our Creator has for those who seek and follow Him.

So I started reading it out loud during my morning devotions… and I was completely caught off guard.

It took a couple minutes to get the feel of the New King James way of talking, but soon I was able to read at an easy, comfortable pace.

Tasting each word as it rolled off my tongue and speculating on the various phrases and stanzas, a wonderful, crazy thing happened: I found myself lost in the beauty of the Word of God.

Song of Solomon is one of the most beautifully written poems in the Bible. Seriously, have you ever read the entirety of the book or heard it read out loud? I’m not talking the PG-rated portions, but the entire thing, beginning to end. Have you ever experienced what it’s like to hear those words of love and passion so boldly proclaimed, without shame?

As a teenager and a young adult, before marriage, whenever I skimmed through this book, it almost always set me daydreaming about the man I would marry. Would he look at me the way this man looks at his bride? Will he tell me over and over again how beautiful I am?

Now, as a married woman, there’s a completely different perspective and a whole new appreciation for the words of love written out in this book. What seemed like overkill or complete nonsense back then now make a little more sense.

Love – true love – can be that passionate.

It can get to a point where you just have to keep repeating the same phrases over and over again because you’re too giddy to think of anything new to say that describes your love for the other person, the longing for your husband the minute he leaves the house is a real thing (yes, I enjoy having the house to myself at times, but it’s always nice to have him near by) and the way his eyes light up when I walk into the room makes me feel like a princess.

And then I came across these verses:

Set me as a seal upon your heart, 
As a seal upon your arm;
For love is as strong as death,
Jealousy as cruel as the grave;
Its flames are flames of fire,
A most vehement flame.
 
Many waters cannot quench love,
Nor can the floods drown it.
 
(8:6-7a)

Wow…

Just take a moment and read that again.

“Set me as a seal…”

When I think of a seal, I think of something permanent, of claiming ownership and saying, “This is mine, no one else can have it.” While that may sound very possessive, I like knowing that my husband has chosen me to be his and his alone. He wouldn’t like it if I started checking out other guys or if other guys started hitting on me whenever we’re out somewhere… and the same goes for me. He’s my man and that’s the way it’s supposed to be in a committed relationship 🙂

“For love is as strong as death,
Jealousy as cruel as the grave…
 
Many waters cannot quench love…”

It’s very hard to break up true love. Especially when it’s a cord of three strands (with God as the third strand).. then nothing will be able to touch it!

This all reminds me of the song “Oh, How He Loves Us” by the David Crowder Band, where it says:

“He is jealous for me, 
Love like a hurricane, I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy,
When all of a sudden, 
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful you are
And how great Your affections are for me.
 
Oh, how He loves us!”
If you asked me what I got from all this, I would tell you that God is love. He is the definition of love and the passion He has for His creation to draw near to him and to have a lasting, eternal relationship with us is more than our mere words can express.

It makes me want to soar through the air, bask in the sun, dance in the fields, sing at the top of my lungs, feel the rain on my face and just celebrate being alive and loved by my amazing, wonderful Savior.

So, my question for you is… what are you waiting for?

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On the brink of adventure!

All my life I have been dreaming of my prince charming – that dashing young man who, when our eyes meet across the room, falls madly in love with me, sweeps me off my feet and carries me off to his castle where we live happily ever after.

Crazy right?

But seriously, what girl doesn’t wonder what her future husband looks like, what he did that day, what he’s thinking about? Will he be handsome? Will his eyes be blue, brown or hazel? What will we do? How the heck will we find enough things to talk about?

And now, in just a few days, on Dec. 28, 2014, I’ll be walking down the aisle toward the man of my dreams. I still almost can’t quite believe it. He matches everything on my “Mr. Right” list and is so much more than I could ever imagine or ask for.

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Photo courtesy of Gina Meyers Photography

He’s a strong believer in Christ and is actively growing in his relationship with our heavenly Father, he is kind, caring, fun, has a sense of humor, puts my needs in front of his own, does whatever he can to make me smile, enjoys spending time with my family and friends, welcomed me into his entire life (work, friends, family – there isn’t an area in his life that I’m not privy to) and the list goes on!

You know all those Bible study books (such as “Every Young Woman’s Battle,” “Captivated” and “Lady in Waiting”) that have that chapter about waiting for Mr. Right? How we, as maturing women of God, shouldn’t have to go out and find ourselves a man, that he will come into our lives at the right time. No need to worry, right?

It took me until age 23 to figure out what that means.

At first, I thought it meant that if I lived each day in expectation that I might meet my future husband, putting a little extra work into my appearance and greeting everyone with a smile, the right guy would find me irresistible and ask me out on the spot.

Right?

Nope!

While that was all well and good, the joy wasn’t real.

Living in expectation of something that wasn’t fully guaranteed took a toll on my emotions, leaving me exhausted and grumpy. I started thinking I wasn’t pretty enough or that I wasn’t a good enough Christian to deserve “the right guy.” Thoughts were running through my head every day as I watched my friends enter into relationship, get married and start families of their own.

Why didn’t I have that special someone in my life? All I’ve ever wanted was to be married to a great Christian guy, grow in Christ and raise a family together. What’s so wrong with that and why the heck was it taking so long to find my future husband?

In reality, if we want to become all that God has planned for us to be, to live our lives as the women of God that we are, we can’t live each day wondering when and if we will ever meet our future husband. Like I said before, it gets tiring and disappointing.

To be naturally filled with the joy of the Lord each day, we have to shift our focus from us to God and actively invest in a relationship with our heavenly Father.

When you start focusing on Christ, your whole perspective changes. You start seeing people through Christ’s eyes and your heart begins to overflow with love for others. Your smile will be genuine and your life will begin to fill with joy.

Not the joy that comes from having a super cute guy glance your way, but the joy that comes from an awesome love relationship with the Lord of all!

The kind of joy that makes the little things (a cup of coffee, sunlight, the chirping of birds in the trees, a smile, a chocolate bar, etc.) seem like big things…

… that makes the fact that you’re single fade to the background…

… that makes the sun shine just a little brighter…

… because if you think about it, you’re in an amazing love relationship with the Creator of the universe! And He loves to shower you with blessings that bring a smile to your face…

… and that is more than enough to make your joy complete without too much effort or wear and tear on your emotions 🙂

Trust me – lay down your worry about never marrying and becoming a nun at the throne of grace and leave it there! Walk away from it with your head held high, a smile on your face and the joy of the Lord in your heart….

… and start running full speed toward Jesus Christ. He’ll welcome you with open arms!

And who knows? Your prince charming may be just waiting around the corner…

… mine was 😉

So, dear friends, this will be the last time that I sign off as Ms. Anna Tielmann… because the next time I post, I”ll be known as…

… Mrs. Charles Crossan!!!!!

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Angels watching over me

After spending a lovely evening of cooking dinner, writing thank-you notes, going for a walk and watching a movie with my fiance, something completely unexpected happened.”

I had been driving on I-78 for about 10 minutes, singing along to Hunter Hayes’ “Wanted,” when I rounded a corner and an unusual movement caught my eye. Next thing I know, my little Suzuki is right on top of the big momma deer that happened to be in my lane..

THUD

… my hood crumples and she goes flying straight up into the air, right over my car and the car behind me, smacking onto the pavement on the side of the road. I manage to steer off to the side of the highway, smoke swirling out of my now-exposed engine and windshield wipers going like crazy (in my shock, I smacked everything around the steering wheel trying to find the turn signal so I could safely exit my lane, thus turning on the wipers full blast).

20141111_081131The girl who was driving behind me didn’t have a scratch on her car and she stopped to make sure I was ok. She left and the realization of what had just happened began to set in, triggering a mini freakout. I called my fiance and he dropped what he was doing to meet me (did I mention how awesome he is?). The necessary calls were then made to the police, AAA and my Dad and we had my car towed away while my wonderful fiance gave me a ride home.

In hindsight, I believe that my car was surrounded by angels that night.

I mean, what else could’ve kept that deer from coming through the windshield (causing even more damage or even critically injuring me)? It had started to roll up my car’s hood and then suddenly shot high in the air; high enough to get over 2 cars and land way off on the side of the road (out of the way of oncoming traffic).

The only explanation I have is God’s angels! The Bible states:

“Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” 
Heb. 1:14
 
” For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.  
In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” 
Psalm 91:11-12
 
“The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them.” 
Psalm 34:7

While I haven’t personally seen a healing happen before my eyes or had one of those incredible visions from God, I have had angelic experiences throughout my entire life (angels kept me quiet and occupied while Mom dealt with a fish tank disaster – I was just under a year old; there have been car crashes that could’ve ended really badly; hiding my keys on me so I would be a couple minutes late, missing the multi-vehicle accident; and more).

All I can say is that God must have something big planned for my life, someone He wants me to impact personally, something He wants me to do to further His kingdom. It’s the same for all of us! He is faithful in His promises and will never leave us nor forsake us. When he says that He will send His angels to guard us, it’s not a lie. We are surrounded by His protection day in and day out.

Trust Him. He won’t let you down.

I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” 
Matthew 28: 20
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God-Dependent

“To become a [true] servant is to become radically strong spiritually”<
[Be] God-dependent rather than spouse-dependent”

During one of my mornings with God last week, reading from a book called “Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas, these phrases popped out at me and got me thinking…

What does it mean to be “God-dependent”? How does that come through in every day life?

I know that most of us, growing up in Christian homes and churches, have been taught at a young age to put our trust in Christ, to have our happiness depend on God rather than our family or friends. To a young girl, that seems easier said than done.

My happiness depends on a God I can’t even see? How does that work? He can’t make silly faces that get me to laugh, He can’t tell me a joke or take me somewhere fun or sit for hours to just talk and catch up.

But as I got older, I began to realize what being “God-dependent” really means.

Throughout high school I got excited whenever one of the older guys happened to smile at me or when one of my friends invited me out to a girls’ night. Then college came, I got a boyfriend and felt like I was on cloud nine because I finally had someone who seemed to value me for who I was and who I enjoyed spending time with.

And what happened?

I broke my heart multiple times because those high school boys were just being nice and had no interest in me whatsoever. Most of those girls’ nights ended up being gossip-fests that I couldn’t share in because I was homeschooled and didn’t know anyone outside of church. Half of the guys in college, including my then-boyfriend, weren’t interested in a long-term relationship and eventually started to push me away.

The bottom line is that people will let you down, whether intentionally or unintentionally. It’s just the way we are with the sin nature in our lives… and that’s why we’re encouraged to allow God to become the source of our joy and happiness.

David realized this when he wrote Psalm 28:7:

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him and I am helped;
therefore my heart greatly rejoices and with my song I will praise Him.”

What does he do in this verse?

David owns the truth by saying “my strength” and “my shield.”DSCN7730

By claiming that truth as his own and striving each day to place his dependence on God alone, David was able to “greatly rejoice” and “praise” the God of joy and peace!

So, how would that apply in real life?

The verse that popped in my head was Ephesians 5:21, which says:

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

As we start to turn our focus toward Christ and work to base our joy off of our relationship with Him, everything else will fall into place.

It’s just like Thomas says:

“If [you] are faithfully serving [your spouse] when [they’re] in a surely mood and [they’re] not exactly falling over [themselves] to show [their] appreciation, [you] still receive an inner affirmation and sense of fulfillment from God. [You] have that inner witness that tells [you] that [your] Creator is pleased with [you]…”

When we place our identity in the One who is the source of joy and happiness, it won’t matter so much what other people do to us, as long as we’re faithfully striving to serve our heavenly Father and do His will by loving on those He created…

… because He will be pleased with us.

“There is true joy when true service is offered up with a true heart”

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Happily Ever After

There comes a point in every girls’ life where she suddenly realizes that boys don’t have cooties, that it seems like the kid in her class may just be flirting with her or that her best friend that she’s grew up with is actually kind of good looking.

Most of us have watched all the Disney princess movies, can belt out “A Whole New World” with the best of them and sigh dreamily every time the prince rescues the princess, captures her heart and they ride off to his castle together, to live happily ever after.

Yes, I pretty much described myself and I was that hopeless romantic at a very young age. My first crush lasted a good 13 years (it started at age 4 or 5) and I started “planning” my wedding when I was about 16. I’ve always been a sucker for Christian romance novels and romantic comedies. Being married to a godly man and becoming a stay-at-home mom is really all I’ve ever wanted from life.

I’ve been praying for my future husband for several years now and for my happily ever after. God has been faithful and pretty much landed me a fairy tale of my own!

Some of my Bible study friends convinced my sister and me to go swing dancing one night, we got hooked and came back the next week. The minute I walked through the door, this guy across the room caught my eye. I can’t really explain it, but for some reason, I couldn’t stop glancing his way during the hour-long lesson and when the social dance came around, he asked me to dance, taught me a couple dances and we talked and danced the night away.

I’m not kidding 🙂

The next day, he asked me out on a date, we went biking along the river, talked some more over ice cream, he asked to meet my Dad (which was one of my “Hey, God, could you give me a sign if he’s the one?” things) and the rest is history.

Fast forward about 10 months.

We get back from a week at the beach with my family and everyone has finally unpacked and gone to bed. Charles and I are just hanging out and talking, when he suggests we take a walk outside to see the stars (there are some big corn fields near where I live, so it’s perfect for star-gazing). As we’re walking, we both catch sight of one of the brightest and longest shooting stars I’ve ever seen. We get to the field and, as we’re looking at the stars, he asks if I figured out why he hasn’t been able to stop smiling all day. I said that I thought he had enjoyed himself at the beach and was enjoying the moment.

Next thing I know, he’s down on one knee in front of me, holding out a box with a sparkly ring inside it and I hear him ask, “Will you marry me?”

Needless to say, I said yes!DSCN7439

But now with being engaged and the wedding date set for Dec. 28, 2014, I’m finding it hard to pull back on the reins on my wedding planning. I just wanna go, go, go and get every last detail figured out now instead of spacing it out over the next 5 months. But, in reality, that’s crazy.

My loving fiance has amazing patience for putting up with my random texts, messages and constant talking about the little details as they pop up in my head. When I started to get worried that a certain detail may not work out the way I think it should or that we wouldn’t get the venue we wanted, he will gently remind me of how much God has already provided for us and that He has everything taken care of. All we have to do is take a deep breath and trust him.

And it’s true. I mean, one of my favorite verses is Psalm 37:4,

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart”

I know this verse can be confusing to many people. Some take it to mean that when you follow after God wholeheartedly, He will bless you with everything you ever wanted. Others take it to mean that when you follow after God, He will bless you with the things He thinks are best for you, whether you desire it or not.

To me, it means that when you fully commit to following after God, diligently seeking Him in His Word and prayer, your desires begin to align with His. That part of you that was all about making yourself happy and getting what you want just falls away and is replaced by a heart after God’s own heart.

Yes, that original longing for love and happily ever afters will still be there, but it won’t be about you anymore. As you’re delighting in the Lord and chasing after Him for all your worth, your focus will shift. It will be more about how you can help another person to feel and experience the love of Christ through you.

Now, I’m not saying that the minute you start pursuing God, your Prince Charming will show up. It doesn’t happen that way. It takes time.

We may feel like we’re ready – and maybe we are – but what if God is still working on the other person? What if they’re not isn’t at the point where they can genuinely demonstrate the love of Christ to you?

I know I felt like I was ready for a committed relationship the last year and a half before I met my fiance, but a part of me hadn’t fully become content in Christ. I was still occasionally moaning to God, asking Him why I was still single at 23, why there seemed to be no husband-material on the horizon…

… then something changed.

I don’t know what it was exactly, but during a prayer, I was all of a sudden filled with peace and contentment. The days after that, I woke up each morning with joy in my heart and a genuine smile on my face. Life was good!

The whole time I was halfheartedly pursuing God in His Word and prayer, the Holy Spirit was working on me. As I got deeper and more committed in my pursuit of getting closer with God, praying that He would strengthen my faith and reveal Himself to me day after day, He was faithful in His promise and helped me to become fully content in Him.

And shortly after that was when I walked through the doors at Fearless Firehall and met my future.

God’s timing is perfect… trust me 🙂

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