Thursday, November 15, 2012

7 Ways to Keep Femininity On When It's Cold


   People usually view summer as the biggest enemy for femininity in how we girls dress, due to the warmer temperature and the temptation to show more skin (and living in Texas, I know what they mean!). But winter poses a threat that is just as dangerous, although very different: sloppiness. The temptation in winter is to dress in "comfortable clothes"; otherwise known as wearing sweatpants and sweatshirts everywhere, with messy hair and looking as though you didn't get dressed this morning. Or maybe there's the temptation to bundle up in sweaters that are anything but attractive, just because they're warm. But I'm going to tell you about 7 items that can help you keep the femininity in your clothing this winter.

1. Hats
   Hats are one of the most useful accessories for cold weather. No, I don't mean the baseball caps, fedoras, or bulky snow hats. I mean the feminine, attractive hats (they were the fashion last year). They can make an outfit both warm and incredibly feminine.
   Beanies, like these, and other hats are cheap and you can even make some yourself (then you can pick the color, style, and size you want, as well as personalize your own outfit!). Hats really do make your body warmer, removing some of the need for extra layers.









2. Scarves 

















   Scarves are not only adorable but also fashionable. They come in every color, texture, and pattern you could ever want. They really do keep you warm, and they can be that one accent that makes the outfit. Also, they're one of the most feminine things you can do to an outfit! Why, you might ask? Well, I'm no fashion expert, but I'll guess that it has something to do with the grace that comes with it. You don't wear scarves with ripped up shorts and tank tops. Also, girls wear scarves much more often than guys do. But I would definitely encourage you to go get some scarves (you can find them anywhere too. Seriously, almost anywhere) because they're incredibly useful!

3. Long Tank Tops/Camis
   No, I don't mean to go with only a tank top on. But long tank tops add an extra layer of insulation and protect you from shirts that show skin when you raise your arms or bend over (HPA people...these were my saviors during my years there!). They come in different materials and colors, but it mainly matters that they are long. They add a cute spunk to an outfit, and you don't have to worry about what happens when you pick something up off the ground or reach for something on a high shelf. Some have wide straps and some have spaghetti straps, but it doesn't really matter as long as they're not visible. Plus, they come in every color of the rainbow.






4. Long Sleeve Undershirts

   I couldn't really find a picture for what I mean, but simple, long-sleeve undershirts are even better than tank tops for the cold weather. All you basically need is a tank top with long sleeves-and they shouldn't be too hard to find. (I realize the picture looks really awful. I was trying to find something at least similar to what I was describing.) They can also keep you from having to buy more clothes-you can put them under a short sleeve shirt if you have to. They come in any color you can imagine as well.


5. Sweaters


 





"Wait! I thought you said not to dress like this! You said no sweatshirts, no sweatpants...how are these different?" Well actually, they're very different. Sweaters are very feminine, and they're really warm. They come in every style and color, every fabric and thickness. Dressing warmly and bulkily isn't wrong, but dressing down because it's cold is ridiculous. Sweaters are amazing. Take my word for it.
   Cardigans are great too, if it's not too cold.

6. Leggings


   Anyone who's lived near any college campus has seen the recent trend in "leggings only." I don't find the ability to see every line of a person's legs attractive. But leggings are beautiful with skirts, and even some pants. Leggings can help if a skirt is just a little too short, but only to a point. If the skirt goes an inch or two above your knee, leggings should fix it. But leggings with a skirt that ends at mid-thigh just make a bad outfit worse. I wouldn't recommend "Jeggings" either, the jeans that are just as tight as leggings. Sorry people, but it's not attractive.






7. Leg Warmers

   Perhaps even better than leggings, because there's no temptation to wearing them alone-leg warmers. They can go over tights or leggings, or by themselves. They can go with a skirt, or pants. They come in every color, and some come in patterns.
   I realize that most people only have seen leggings on dancers and people from the 80s music videos, but they really are adorable and feminine! But the same thing with leggings; don't be tempted to use them to cover up an already inappropriate outfit. It won't work.
   But you can wear them with leggings, tights, a skirt, and with pants-over the pant legs or just under them to stay warm.


   I hope that these are helpful in getting your closets set for winter! Adios! <3











Sunday, August 26, 2012

Faith, Hope, Love, and...Doubt?

   I follow the blog of one of my favorite Christian singers, because I find her perspectives interesting-usually because I don't agree with them. As much as her songs are inspiring, uplifting, and true, when it comes down to her blog posts we just don't unify in our opinions. But one of her posts inspired me to actually speak out. (Actually, more than one: upcoming posts on this blog are geared off some of her other posts.) 
   In her article, she explained her view that faith naturally contains doubt; that the unknowability of God and His mystery and how He is unknowable in our teeny-tiny minds, that doubt is a natural overflow of our spiritual lives because we just can't handle it. I do agree with the fact that God is unknowable; we can't understand His ways. His thoughts are so much higher than ours! But what bothered me the most was the quote supplied at the bottom: "Faith which does not doubt, is dead faith." -Miguel de Unamuno.
   Unfortunately, the Bible seems to defy this concept. Do you remember the story when the disciples encounter Jesus walking on water, and Peter joins Jesus on the water? The reason that Peter sank is that he lost faith in Jesus' power to save him from the storms around him. "Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” "(Matthew 14:30-33). It's recorded that faith (without doubt) is the key to prayer: "And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen." (Matthew 21:21), and, "Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him." (Mark 11:23). One of my favorite verses just about sums it all up: "If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.’” (Isaiah 7:9). 
   Faith which does not take itself seriously is dead faith. Faith that never asks questions about itself is dead faith. Faith that does not show is dead faith. Faith that does not love is dead faith. Faith that is not put into action is dead faith.
   Faith that doubts is not faith at all.
   Because faith and doubt are not opposite sides of the same coin; they're opposite spectrums, they're opposite sides of a deep chasm and you can never be on both sides at once.
   Faith is a gift; it is a gift of God that we can even come to faith-it's not be works. It's also a spiritual gift-included in Paul's list of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 14. Faith doesn't come naturally. Everything God says contradicts what we see-but that is where faith steps in.
   If you doubt, pray. Study His word. Read faith-building stories. And pray. One of the best ways to build faith is to pray in faith, and pray specifically. It won't crush your faith; rather, it'll build it up. This is one of the most important things you'll ever do; fight for it! Talk to those who are strong in faith, ask God in faith, live in faith.
   Faith.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Thoughts:)

After I sent a random poem I spontaneously wrote to a friend. he suggested I share it on my blog. Since I have barely touched my blog recently, I decided that I'd do it. So here is my extremely informal, just-get-my-thoughts-out poem.

Get up.
Wake up.
Stop.

What are you doing?
Life's not long.
It's short.

And every moment
You only get to live
One time.

Once.

If your life is to
Be for His glory
Isn't it?

When we surrender,
We can't take it back.
It's not ours.
And yet we do.

We only get one chance.
We can't live tomorrow for God.

We never get tomorrow.
We only get today.
Just one day.

You can do that, right?

Jesus never said,
Follow me after Facebook.
After this movie.

He said take up your cross.
And follow me.
NOW.

This world is not eternal.
You are not eternal.
Nothing is.

Except God.

You only get one life.
One day at a time to sow.
And you reap it in eternity.

So get UP!
Break the average barrier.
The world has enough of average Christians.

Follow Him wholeheartedly.

Don't follow other Christians.
Don't follow Christian songs.
Or books.

They're tools to help you.
Follow God.
And His word.

Leave the half-baked Christian life.
Become a prayer warrior.
A conqueror or sin.

Be.Different.

Matthew 16:24.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

To My Dear and Faithful Subscribers...

To those of you who bother to read my little blog, thank you! I realize its been awhile since I've posted anything, due to the fact that I've started many and finished none. But for the next two days its packing, packing, packing for my move to TX next week. The three days after are also full, and on the third day I depart for the Student Statesmanship Institute, where I will spend a week before leaving for vacation in Wisconsin, and we will go directly from there to Waco, Texas. I am planning to blog this summer, but I won't be in our new house until July 13th, and it might still be awhile before I blog! Thank you all so much for your patience. God bless!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Where Do You Run?

I stepped outside, my chest heaving. It was a sunny, but windy day, and constantly being passed by various people...some whom I did know and others I did not, I struggled to keep back tears. "Lord," I whispered into the air. I could feel His presence closely. "Lord...I need your help." I turned and saw my friend looking at me deeply. She knew what was wrong, and she was there to encourage me. Two other friends were close behind. But despite their amazing friendship and help, what I needed at that moment was God. I was happy because I knew that He was upholding and uplifting me...even though I felt so shocked that I could barely breathe. But He knew that His plan was perfect. *(This is recent, and that plan has not yet been shown to me. But I know that He does, for certain, have a plan.)*
While I'm not going to go into the details of that story, I'm going to take the moral out of it. That afternoon, sitting on the grass with friends, I received an unexpected shock when something was revealed to me that I hadn't noticed...and this wasn't the first time this had happened. Surprised and upset, and with no where to go to be alone at the time, I turned to the only place I could go-God.
It hasn't always been that way. Sure, when I was in trouble I might pray about it, but I wouldn't delve into His presence to find comfort and fulfillment. I would just let the waves of trouble wash over me until I nearly drowned, and then when I finally took a breath it would be a cry. But now, I fall into His arms.
Before, the solution would have been to stay with my friends for awhile. And ask their opinions. And I did do that-after I had stood up, gotten a drink, and walked back into the sunshine with my knees shaking and my head spinning. After my broken prayers, I felt so much comfort. When I asked my friends opinions, I got different answers than I wanted. If I had gone to my friends first, my confusion would have just grown and I would have been unable to handle it. But God's comforting voice saying "I'm here, I know the entire situation, and I have a plan for this," was so much more than anyone ever could.
Friends are amazing, and such a blessing from the Lord. But if we run to them first, then we lose much. Even parents can be at fault. It is a mistake to seek your parents opinion, and act on it, without first seeking God's viewpoint. Now, asking your parents, siblings, or friends first isn't unwise, but it is when you take their advice without looking for God's. He knows best. He knows the entire situation in and out, forwards and backwards, and everything from the farthest edges to the centerpieces of the hardest times. One of the ways to cultivate a close relationship with Christ is to run to Him when you need help. Isaiah 51:12 says "I, I am he who comforts you." God is there with open arms, and if you go to Him you will have the assurance that He knows and He desires to help you. It will help you gain faith, trust, and dependence on the Lord. He knows the way out, and unless you ask Him it's almost impossible to get out of the maze you're in. He is ready to help you.
So after my shock wore off and I finally returned home, I walked around for the rest of the day with questions in my head. The particular questions weren't answered by a voice in my head, but they were all put to rest by one thought. That He knows what He is doing, and that it is working for my good. Praise Him. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

No Compromise...?



It was just a regular, quick Facebook check. Or that's what it was supposed to be. But as I quickly fulfilled my reason for getting on Facebook and typed a quick note on a family member's status update, my eye caught an ad on the side of the page.
It was not an unfamiliar ad, or even a disgusting or disturbing one (though I have seen my fill of those!), but it was an ad that I had seen before, many times, until once I had clicked on it out of interest. After that I had visited it once more because it popped up again, and recently I decided to delve into it to see what it said. The ad has several different forms, but always mentioned the former model who started it and promising a place where tough issues like boys and faith would be tackled-and it's Christian site for girls. I was both excited and wary when I first saw this add, and when I came onto the site both of them were confirmed.
The website did have many articles that I would call very well done. One, for example, listed 10 reasons to worship God. One talked about the reason for church. Another talked about worship and its benefits. As I smiled at these posts though, I noticed that something was wrong.
One of the articles was about Taylor Swift's donation and how it reminded the author to give things up for someone else. I do agree that it is a good example and a good lesson she learned from it. But Taylor Swift, however "innocent" she may be, not only wears less than Christ-honoring outfits in her shows, but also speaks of inappropriate content in some of her songs.
Another article was about makeup, and what they thought the appropriate age to be wearing it was. Although they did stress in the article that makeup was not necessary and we don't need it to be beautiful, the amount of makeup they were encouraging (even if they recommended it for around 16-18) included foundation, eye makeup, bronzer, the whole package. Unfortunately, I find that it's not very easy to use any amount of makeup without becoming dependent on it. I have nothing against makeup, but I feel as though it's often a stumbling block for girls.
A third article was about a recent decision made by Vogue magazine, who decided not to hire any models under 16 or those who looked too skinny. Although I definitely agree with these guidelines for the magazine, the website encouraged the magazine a lot, even adding some pictures of some magazine covers to the post-despite the fact that the model's clothes were a little...revealing.
Rather than personally attacking this particular website (which, as I said, had many articles that were helpful and encouraging), I mean to attack the view of modern Christianity-that kicks out the "no compromise" agenda.
The common view is that "if it's better than the normal 'bad', it's good." You would hardly find a Christian website advocating Lady Gaga (actually, there was an article describing her Satanic influences on the site) but Taylor Swift is okay...she hasn't had any nude pictures on the cover of magazines and the sexual hints in her songs are subtle. Makeup is okay, as long as you don't wear too much before you're 15, and of course you're only using it to accentuate your appearance and not for any dark reasons. And Vogue is applauded because it changed its rules for models.
I'd say we have to agree to disagree.
What if, instead of holding Taylor Swift up as an example, we encouraged people to no longer listen to her (or any non-Christian singer's) music and devote this part of their lives to God? Even if the non-Christian music doesn't have any swearing, drugs, drinking, or immorality in it, can't we strive for something better? *Note: I know that it's very hard to find "good" Christian music now...it's very true. But I'd encourage you to try, because there are Christian music artists of all genres and styles. You're bound to find something you like. Discouraged? Comment on the post, and I can recommend artists to you.*
What if, instead of encouraging makeup, we challenged girls to try a month without it to discover that God really does think of them as beautiful with-and without-makeup? Even, we challenged them to throw out all their makeup and pray that God would show them their true beauty comes from within, and that "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised." (Proverbs 31:30)
What if we, rather than applauding magazines like Vogue, we advised girls to steer clear of those magazines that focus on nothing but the outer appearance and worldly pleasures? What if we told them, that instead of reading the magazines, to read their Bibles? Instead of paying for a subscription, maybe using the money for something worthwhile?
I'm just saying that too often in the Christian world we settle for less than we could be giving. Rather than truly devoting ourselves to God, we are caught between ourselves, trying to serve God and other things. But the Bible says that this doesn't work. "No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Luke 16:13). Psalm 86:11 says. "Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name." These show that our heart can be divided. And we need to follow God with all our hearts!  "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’" (Mark 12:30 ESV) [Emphasis added]. Not with half, or part, or even most of our souls-we need to give God all of us and be uncompromisingly righteous.
Of course, we won't be perfect all the time. We won't always serve God with all of our hearts. But does that mean we don't try? No! If we lose some of our treasure-which is our life and our time, it's not time to throw the rest out! We are promised an eternal reward if we are believers-but the only way to live a joyful, radiant, and fulfilled life here on earth is when we run to God, letting Him take control of us and give us the strength to follow Him.
Oh yes, we can't follow Him on our own. We aren't able to, we aren't wired the right way to do that. Even when God changes us, you could say He reprograms us, we're used to going the wrong way. So it takes time, effort, and patience...with a large dosage of God's grace, strength, and love to get us through. And if you persevere, I can promise you from experience that it is worth it.
The title of this post was inspired by a book that I'm about to read, called No Compromise: The Life Story of Keith Green. It's written by his wife, Melody Green, about this inspiring Christian singer who lived life to its fullest for the Lord before dying at a young age in a plane crash with two of his children. The title comes from a song that Melody herself wrote, and it begins like this:

Make my life a prayer to You
I wanna do what you want me to
No empty words and no white lies
No token prayers no compromise


No compromise. Are we willing to push that, even though others (Christians included) will think we're crazy? Are we willing to follow God no matter what it costs? Are we willing to stand-alone?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Cross Is the Attraction

Amy Carmichael is one of the most well known and revered missionaries of all time. she literally gave her entire life following her heavenly Prince all the way to India, where she poured out her life to stop the child prostitution in the local Hindu temples. She is often mentioned and often spoken well of, and looked up to by many leaders in the moder Christian movement, like Leslie Ludy and Elisabeth Elliot. But the odd thing is that during her time as a missionary, though her institution had many supportive friends, it also had enemies-among other missionaries.
You see, Amy was unethical-unorthodox in the way she directed her ministry. She had no nominal Christians participate, even when she was very short staffed for the huge task God had given to her. There were plenty of nominal Christians in her area, for the gospel had reached there hundreds of years before her time. Most other missionaries gladly took the assistance of these Christians, but not Amy. She held on, even when she was scorned and ridiculed. The missionaries who opposed her even tried to remove her from India! But she persevered, insisting that the helpers she wanted were the ones who knew the cry of a true Christian's heart: the cross is the attraction.
Nowadays, we stand up and applaud for her, smiling and saying that she did the right thing-but would re react the same way now?
Imagine the pastor of a huge megachurch planning for a missions trip. Even though he has over 200 volunteers, he selects only 10, even though the job clearly requires many more people. When his judgement is questioned, imagine that he says this: "I only want those for whom the cross is the attraction."
We all know what would happen-there would be a riot. People would be upset, offended, and many would leave the church in scorn. Whether or not the pastor keeps his commitment we can only know in our imaginations.
But let's imagine; if the pastor's judgement was right, what were the other 190 people coming for?
We know the answers. Popularity. Bragging rights. Friends, girl/boy friends, or crushes going. Maybe to get your parents off your back. Or maybe it's actually good things! Looking for a better spiritual life. Trying to become more happy. Those are both worthy goals.
But what are we promised?
The way Christendom is sold today, we are promised many things. Happiness, security, peace-many even go as far as to say wealth and status too. But we are not promised the last two, and the first three we are only promised on the spiritual level.
People seem to expect (and encourage the expectation) that your life will just straighten out. Maybe get a little easier. Which is very true on some level. You will have intense peace and no anxiety when you are surrendered to him. You will be joyful and fulfilled, and you will be secure in His arms. You also can have all those things while you are in a prison cell, or being torn down by the media, co-workers, or even your friends and family.
The point is, we have nothing to vie for in Christianity except the cross. Yes, we are going to be happy and peaceful, yes, we will have a loving relationship with Christ! But it's more than that!
The cross is more than something we wear around our necks or talk about all the time. The cross-as in, Christ, His death for us, His forgiveness, and His ability to free us from sin is the ONLY attraction, the ONLY thing that we are truly promised! There is no verse in the Bible that says "You will always have a great life and nothing wrong will happen." It says that everything on the physical side of things could not be so great. You could be starving or in prison for Christ! You could be so many things...and if you just look for happiness it's not going to cut it. You need Christ-you need the cross!
When we sin, happiness can't take it away. We won't have security or peace as long as it is on our shoulders. The only thing that can remove that is the cross of Jesus Christ, and I promise you that when you let that weight be taken off your shoulders by Jesus, that's when the added benefits come in.
So look to the cross. Remember, the attraction to Christianity is not anything but the cross.

The cross is the attraction. -Amy Carmichael

Monday, May 7, 2012

Of Kamikazes, Guns, and Atoms

If you've ever taken history, you've probably heard of Kamikazes. They were Japanese planes on suicide missions that would fly their planes across the ocean and into enemy ships. Although the pilots would be sacrificed, the ships often sank or sustained terrible damage. Damage on these multi-million dollar warships was devastating to the government and the economy. The funny thing is that the Kamikaze planes were actually very small-and yet a well placed hit would be enough to sink an entire warcraft! How small a craft is needed.

If you've ever seen action movies, you've probably heard of guns. Guns (as you should know), are weapons that can be used to save and protect or to destroy. The force of the bullet is dangerous, no matter large or small-but some bullets penetrate or explode on impact. But all you have to do to obtain that powerful force is to pull the small trigger. But once you've done that small action, lots of big things happen at once. There is a huge crack, the gun kicks back, and there is a speeding bullet launched into the air-from one little movement. How small a trigger is needed.

If you've ever taken science, you've probably heard of atoms. Atoms, some of the tiniest objects that we know of, are so tiny we can't even see them with our magnifying equipment. But these atoms are the building blocks for life-for everything. Everything you can see or touch is made out of atoms. Despite their size, if some types form a simple formation, it can be deadly. For example, sometimes carbon and oxygen form CO, the deadly carbon monoxide gas, which is odorless and invisible and can kill in minutes. Yet it only comes from several atoms bonding together. How small an atom is needed.

You may understand where I'm going now. Small things can cause big things to happen. Actually, big things are always a combination of very little things. In James 3:5, it says "How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!" And it's true. A forest fire doesn't usually begin with someone running through the woods with a flame thrower, but a group of innocent campers who forget to douse the campfire. There is a pattern of big things coming out of the little things. And that doesn't seem important, but it is.

I am currently reading "The Power of Prayer" by R.A. Torrey. He makes the point that, excepting the study of the Bible, that prayer influences our world like nothing else. He says "Your growth and mine into the likeness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be in exact proportion to the time and to the heart we put into prayer." We think we know prayer. But in essence, we don't. Prayer is somewhat more than "saying grace", or praying once a week for Grandma who's in the hospital.  It's more than kneeling down for 15 minutes every day. It's more than scrunching your face, hoping God will answer your prayers.

A little more of R.A. Torrey's book, who speaks of John Welsh, the son-in-law of famous reformer John Knox. John Welsh counted his day a waste if he did not spend at least seven or eight hours of the day in prayer. "Hold it!" You cry. "Don't tell me I have to pray for seven hours every day! I have school! I have sports! And chores! There's no way!" Yes, I agree. And Torrey makes a point of that. But what he said after that astonished me. "I do not suppose that God has called many of us, if any of us, to put seven or eight hours a day into prayer, but I am confident God has called most of us, if not every one of us, to put more time into prayer than we do now."


The only reason that a rational person would decide that prayer wasn't important enough to devote a considerable amount of time to it is a person who doesn't know what it does. It's like a person who decides they'll walk from their home in Oregon to their vacation in Florida-not because they can't afford a plane, or because they don't know about planes, not even because they haven't been in a plane, but because they have no idea that airplanes go to Florida. Let me share with you some verses on the power of prayer. Please read them carefully and digest their meanings.


And I tell you, 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 the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:9-13 ESV)

   Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, (Ephesians 3:20 ESV)

   Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 ESV)

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (James 1:5 ESV)

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:13-16 ESV)

Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. (1 John 3:21-22 ESV)

And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. (1 John 5:15 ESV)

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” (Matthew 21:22 ESV)

You do not have, because you do not ask. (James 4:2 ESV)





Prayer is beautiful, and it works with great power, if it is used well. Although there are many passages in Scripture that outline many different things for accomplished prayer, there are several main ones:

1. Ask
You do not have, because you do not ask. (James 4:2 ESV)

It seems too simple, but in truth it is such a problem. We see prayer, we like prayer, but we don't even bother! Our problem is not that we don't pray the right way, but that we don't pray at all! I'd recommend the first thing to do is to set-apart time for prayer. Not enough time? Get up an hour earlier. Drop FaceBook or phone calls or texting. Put away the video games. Don't go gossip with your friends. Prayer is so much more important than almost anything else in this world-and we have to act like it. And He will answer! What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:9-13 ESV).

2. Ask for the Right Things

   You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. (James 4:3 ESV)

As I said, the verse preceding this one presents the dilemma of most Christians: "You do not have, because you do not ask." But then it goes on to this verse, which explains why asking still won't work. You won't receive if your prayers are either for you, your own glory, your selfish ambition, your desires, your goals, your agenda, your wants, or for someone else's glory, selfish ambition, self centered desires, goals, agenda, or wants. But only things that are for God's glory, ambition, desires, and agenda. Now, if your friend is planning on going to college and needs the money, you can pray for that! As long as you are not praying for a pursuit that is against God's plans and commands.

3. Ask in Faith
And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” (Matthew 21:22 ESV)
Wow! What an uplifting verse! "Whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive!" And then comes the hard part. If you have faith.

It's easy-really easy, to have faith that God can answer your prayer. (Although at times, we even doubt that!) We know that nothing is out of His control. But we rarely believe that He will answer our prayers. I'd recommend searching the Scriptures for stories about God's answering the prayers and cries of His people, as well as just taking time to dwell on His loving nature. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. (1 John 5:15 ESV)  This shows that God will answer our prayers, if they are in His agenda and we believe.

4. Follow the Righteous Way

Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. (1 John 3:21-22 ESV)

"If our heart does not condemn us..." The statement is hard to understand out of context with the short book of 1 John. 1 John's message is entirely about sin. Overcoming sin, Christ's forgiveness of our sins, and most importantly, freedom from our sins. I don't believe that it's impossible to be righteous-neither do I believe that complete perfection is attainable, or that we can eliminate all sin from our lives. But we can eliminate habitual sins from our lives. 1 John says very clearly that Christians who know of their habitual sins and continue to let them linger and gain control are not really followers of Christ! But that's another blog post. Often what is hindering our prayer lives are sin. Whether it's a sin that we know of and aren't taking care of, or perhaps one that we have hidden inside and have not yet brought to God. Whatever it is, I'd recommend doing some soul searching-sitting down with a pen and paper, and asking God to bring up all the sins to mind you can think of, writing them down and asking God to clear them out one by one. ((GIRLS: I would highly recommend Leslie Ludy's "Cleaning the Sanctuary" material available HERE: http://www.setapartgirl.com/innersanctuary_files/Cleaning-the-Sanctuary.pdf)

5. Continue to Ask
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 ESV)

If we have confidence, we can know He will answer us. Too often, however, we pray only once-or maybe twice, maybe we pray for a month, or a year, or several years, and no answer comes. However, even then it is not time to give up. We must press on, until either our prayer is answered (or not answered) or we die. We must press on.

**Sometimes things we ask for, even if they are not out of a self-centered heart, or asked many times in faith out of a pure heart, are not His will. Therefore, not every prayer may be answered. But He is faithful to assure us that if a prayer goes unanswered, it just means that He has something better planned.**

And here is the verse that just about sums all of these up:

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:13-16 ESV).


I'd recommend committing it to memory.


God bless you in this area of your life.







Thursday, May 3, 2012

Show No Partiality

I am currently memorizing the book of James, and the beginning of chapter 2 caught my notice. It's a rather long passage, but bear with me. It says this:

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?
If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
(James 2:1-9 ESV)


James is reminding the church to treat all people as equals as they are in God's eyes-not to judge by personal status, wealth, or appearance. It's so easy to say that we don't have this problem, but can we truly say that?

Imagine that next Sunday you're standing in your church's sanctuary waiting for church to start, when there is a stir near the door. Pressing on through the crowd of excited people, you get to the front to see Taylor Swift. Or Chuck Norris. Or TobyMac. Or someone else famous who you know. Imagine this. What would you naturally do? Maybe get a picture with this person, or ask for their autograph...and make sure the picture was on your FaceBook profile.

Now let's add to our imagination Ben. Ben really isn't a good Christian, but recently he had a tract handed to him on the street. Ben lives in a dilapidated house on the other side of town, his clothes aren't so great, and he has a faint smell around him that is less than pleasant. He's never been interested in "religion," but the person who had given him the tract was so kind, and they had such a happy face that he decided he'd try the church down the street-which happens to be your church. Unfortunately, he picked the wrong day to come. He was entirely overshadowed by the famous person who drew the whole church as a crowd around him. Almost no one noticed him, and the ones who did only gave him a sideways glance while hurriedly shuffling in the other direction. An opportunity where soul could have been saved was lost that day, and Ben went back to his old lifestyle.

Okay, you can breathe-it's not very likely that that will happen. But it might. Now, there's a temptation to say "Look at how bad the modern church is! I'm not like that." Well, the church isn't some odd entity that works independently. The church is made up of people-including you. Now the problem may not be that a celebrity attends your church. Maybe it's that you only hang out with your friends while leaving out that one girl who's kind of shy. Maybe it's ignoring everyone around you! Or perhaps it's just never taking time to ask Mr. Smith how Mrs. Smith is doing since she's been in the hospital. We are all guilty of not caring. Can we change ourselves? Can we really show no partiality?

It says here that the ones we often show partiality to are the ones who least deserve it-how ironic! Often we only hang out with our friends-but maybe they're the "Christians" at church who are steeped in compromise. Maybe the girl in the jean jumper with the long braid down her back who serves Jesus Christ with her life is better than the friends in skinny jeans and Aeropostale shirts who drop less than subtle dirty jokes and flirt with anyone they can. Maybe we idolize the talented worship crew (or are one of them!) but we conveniently overlook that many of them only do it for social status rather than to honor God. And none of these may be true-perhaps your worship crew is devoted to Christ and your friends are all in the set-apart fellowship. But still, don't forget to extend your reach to the 4 year old boy with autism who gets no attention, the 95 year old woman who just sits with her walker next to her, or the man whose daughter has cancer. Out of your comfort zone? Good. God is probably calling you to extend your comfort zone-or leave it behind all together. You have no idea how much of a blessing it is to yourself and others when you follow God's path to treating all others as equals. Sure, it doesn't mean you have to spend as much time talking to your best friend as you do a complete stranger, it does mean that you have to learn to prioritize others besides yourself.

Monday, April 30, 2012

When You Meet the one Who's Not the One

Anyone who's heard even a small part of "Christian dating" philosophy has heard of "the One." And even in non-Christian places, belief in "The One"-that one special person who matches you so well-seems to still live in people's hearts. I know that many people reading this have a deep desire to honor God and their future spouse by how they live their lives when it comes to romantic feelings and relationships. But often the hardest part is not avoiding the mediocre people and relationships, but withstanding the temptation to love the "perfect" ones-the people who seem to be exactly what you are looking for. Although it may seem impossible, it can be done-with God's grace.

The Impossible Ones
I am moving to Texas in just two months-prohibiting any romantic possibilities (if I desired them!), but this probably is not your situation. But sometimes it just doesn't work out. Maybe it's long-distance. Maybe there are just some small (or not so small) things about the person that you don't like. Maybe you're only 13! But for some reason, you still feel yourself becoming attracted to them! It doesn't mean that in the future you're not destined for each other, but it just means that it's not going to work right now. I'd recommend doing several things to impede these feelings from penetrating deeply.

1. Pray
It's not an uncommon prayer; "Lord, please take these feelings from me!" Some people prefer to say "Unless it's your will Lord, etc..." it's of course not wrong to pray this, but it puts us in the dangerous position of assuming that if we continue to have feelings for this person, then it's God's will that they are meant for us. If we are sincere, and press on, God will do what we ask.

2. Guard Your Thought Life
Paul tells us to "Take every thought captive." Our thoughts often fuel romantic attachments, and although it's not wrong to let the person cross our minds, it's dangerous to let thoughts of them linger. We have to make sure that we are no fantasizing or even letting them stay in our thoughts for too long.

3. Press Yourself Deeper Into God
Every time you feel yourself thinking about the person romantically (or just too much), or feeling a wave of longing (for the person or just for romance), let that longing enhance your relationship with God. Pray. Read the Bible. Dwell on His love, His majesty, His power. Delight in Him! He is the most beautiful thing, not any other person.


Those Already Taken
Satan sometimes attracts us to those who are already in a relationship (courtship). This is a dangerous lie, and even though it seems as if it won't happen to us, I warn that it may. I'd recommend taking the three steps above and steering yourself as far away from these feelings as you can.


The One?
Even though this post is about if you find the one who's not the One, there may sometimes be a possibility of the one you find yourself being pulled towards being the one. But still, I would recommend working through the three steps and waiting for God to show you if your feelings are pointing you in the right direction. God bless you in this area of your life!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

AVOIDABLE Time-Consumers, and How to Get Rid of Them

I've already addressed two of the biggest UN-Avoidable time-consumers, but what about the things that ARE avoidable? The things that we CAN take out of our schedule? Here's some practical steps to avoiding the avoidable. Psalm 16:11 says "In your presence is fullness of joy, at your right hand pleasures forevermore." We don't need those things; we need God. So let's do some life-cleaning, shall we?

Media

a. (Social) Internet

The internet has become one of the largest problems for Christians recently, who become quickly reeled in to be glued to the screen. While the internet is not bad-it can be useful and even productive, overuse, unproductiveness or even evil sites have been crawling onto the desktops of Christians. The biggest problem lies, I think, in the social networking, which consumes thousands of hours from Christians that could be used for God. But there are ways to monitor (or get rid of it) fully.

1. Set up hours/limits for your online use.
It really helps me if I just decide that I'm not going to use Facebook every day. All it is is telling your temptation to get online "I'm sorry, but let's just wait until tomorrow. We don't need to do it today." Satan will tell you that you do need to do it now, and sometimes there is a real reason that you need to check your social pages. But oftentimes it is just a way to burn time. The price is too high to waste on this! We pay attention to burning as little fuel as possible because of its five dollar price: your time and spiritual life are priceless!

2. Use it for edifying purposes.
If you find yourself just scrolling randomly around the internet, that's when it's time to get off. Rather than looking down your "news feed", following random friend's pages, or just posting a status about your recent escapade of eating a bagel (which really interests everyone else, I'm sure), why not post a Bible verse? Send a note to a friend who's having a hard time? Or better yet, blog?

3. If it is in your power, get rid of it.
If the only people on your social internet are either mostly strangers or people who you already see three times a week, it might be time to get rid of your Facebook. Sometimes that may not be possible; but if it is, it may be time to reconsider your priorities.

b. Television
Recent movies, like Fireproof, Courageous, and Amazing Grace have brought great Christian films to many. But the television is one of the worst for consuming time that could be used well. The average American watches 4 hours of TV every day-which will amount to 9 years of television by the time they are 65. Even if you don't watch 4 hours of TV every day (or week, even), it may be time to think about why you watch it.

1. Spend Your Time Well
As I said before, setting a time limit for yourself is a great way to keep track. You can set yourself to maybe a limit of time or on how many movies you watch. A TV fast is also a great way to improve your walk with God-every time you want to watch TV, you go spend time with God instead. I'd recommend trying it!
2. Watch God-Glorifying Movies
Not every movie that is good necessarily has a "Christian" message-some very good movies aren't "Christian." But many Christians have become hardened to swearing, bad jokes, and other things in movies. We justify it by saying "Well, that movie is great! The one swear word can't bother God, can it?" Well in truth, the smallest sin and compromise brothers God, and if we take one step down we'll just want to take one lower.

3. If You Can, Remove the Distraction
It may not be possible to throw out your family's TV, but if you can it could cause a wave of difference in your spiritual walk. If you get rid of your TV and find a good movie, you can always watch it with your computer or watch it with a friend.

UnChrisitian Music, Books

The UnChristian music and book genre is a touchy place, one of those gray areas in Christianity. But I'm not on a position on whether secular things are actually wrong (assuming that they don't contradict any Biblical precepts). I think that we need to stop asking, How far can I go before it's not in God's boundary lines?-but we should be asking How far can I go to honor God in this area of my life? This is what the Bible says we should do-"Do ALL for the glory of God." is what the apostle Paul says. So here are some tips in the area of secular music and books.

1. Let Yourself Be Open
The first step is always to be willing to give it up. This willingness may not come over night, but with a firm prayer that He would help you to let it go and a real try, He will bring you through.

2. Obey His Commands
This is harder, even if you have allowed yourself to be open. There will be excuses from your flesh. Maybe you don't listen to the non-Christian radio station, but you have a couple of Taylor Swift songs on your iPod. "That can't be bad, right? Or really, Eragon? That book is totally fine! The Hunger Games? Really? God, you're getting into the extreme." Well...news flash, Christianity is the extreme. And if you're going to go under its banner, you'd better be prepared to live like it.

I highly recommend taking a break (or removing) distractions from your schedule. And believe me, I am anything but a finished piece in this part of life. But with work-and prayer-all things are possible.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Top Unavoidable Time Consumers-and What to Do About Them (Part 2)

If you've ever gardened, you know how beautiful and enjoyable it can be to watch your flowers and plants grow-especially if you can taste the outcome! But you also probably know how much work it is. Flower gardens are a lot like our lives. One of the biggest problems are the weeds, which choke out the beautiful blossoms and food and make the garden downright ugly. But some flowers have the tendency to become overgrown and take over the entire garden-and even the yard! We have to learn to keep the things we need in our lives under control so that God can have full, unhindered control of our lives.

Sleep

I can imagine the teenagers who read this groaning and rolling their eyes. Sleep. We can't go without sleep! And that's true. We need sleep. And even if you're not sleeping in until noon, sleep can have unhealthy control over your life.

Night Owls

This is the wider, more popular category, made up of people who stay up late to do school (check out my last post), work, or just watch movies or spend time on Facebook. But what does this lead to? A rushed 10 minutes of Bible reading and 2 minutes of prayer while you scramble around at 9 to finish your school. But I've found it necessary to get up early to serve my King, and that has to be an option to you as well. You may not have to get up at 5, seven may work just fine. But whatever you choose, you have to choose a time to get to it.

1. Make a Determined Effort to Get to Bed Earlier
Whether it means finishing school at 4 rather than 9, deliberately turning off the computer at 8, or any other change to keep yourself from staying up late, the best thing to do is make a focused effort and decide to keep it. The first night (or several nights) it will probably be hard to fall asleep early, but keep at it and eventually your body will adjust to the earlier schedule. Not only will your spiritual life be furthered, but you will probably feel more awake during the day.

2. Make a Determined Effort to Wake Up Earlier
The first step is to set your alarm for the time you have decided to get up in the morning, and measure when you get to sleep depending on what time that is. If you're not used to getting up earlier, the first week will be torture. But as you adjust, it will become easier and easier. I've found it helps me to put my alarm on the other side of the room so I'm forced to get up and walk across the room to turn it off-which wakes me up. I've also put it under things before, so I don't half sleepwalk if I'm really tired. Remember, you won't be able to get up early if you don't get to sleep early too.

Early Birds

Believe it or not, early birds (I am one of them) can have problems with sleep too-even we have trouble getting up early some times! We too often fall into a schedule as well where our school and our sleep are almost back to back. My family has suggested to me multiple times that I begin school at 5:30 after my 5:00 alarm goes off, rather than 9:00, but the first two hours of my day are sacred to me, reserved only for the precious time with just myself and my King. If you've already mastered getting your sleep habits under control, then you may have other things to worry about ;)

1. Reserve Your Early Morning Hours for Him
Rather than doing school at 6:30, why not start at 8:00, and save that hour and a half for Him? If that isn't possible, then maybe it's time to consider pushing your wake up time back, removing an outside activity or school subject, or cutting down on Facebook or other similar distractions. Nothing is more important than God.

2. Reserve Your Evening for Him
My evening devotions aren't nearly as long as my morning devotions, but some people prefer to do then at night. With early morning risers, the need to get to sleep early presses-and sometimes God is forgotten in the rush to get to bed on time. Set something down to do before you get to sleep-a journal, one Bible reading plan or part of it, etc, that you do in the evening rather than the morning. Even if it only takes you two minutes, it's always better to end the day with God than without Him.

I'm not someone who can tell you how to get better sleep or how to fall asleep easier. My job is just to give what advice I've found helpful in my own life. I pray God blesses you in your efforts. :)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Top Unavoidable Time Consumers-and What to Do About Them (Part 1)

"Look, I want to spend time with God, I really do, but I just don't have time!" This seems to be the cry of many Christians. The bookstores are filled with "Devotions in 3 minutes!" types, for in a hurry and on-the-go Christians. But as A.W. Tozer said, "It is well that we accept the hard truth now: the man who would know God must give time to Him." But we are stuck with a chapter of the Bible crammed into the corners and prayer is something that we wish we had time for. Even if we are setting aside a focused time, we still find ourselves rushing throughout the day. Some of this is our own laziness and unnecessary activities (we'll get to that later) but what about the things that we can't cut out of out schedule? Those are what we have to keep the tightest control over if our relationship with God is to flourish.

[Home]School
In the old times, school was not nearly as rigorous as it is today, and a higher education (high school, not college) was anything but mandatory-but that is not the view of today. It's so easy to say that the Bible was written in times when people didn't have to do school and that its principals don't work here. But God knows our time and our situation-and the Bible's ethics do work. It's just that ours don't. School is not something you can skip out on anymore, but we have to find a way to work around it so we can give our lives to God. Here are some practical ways to glorify God in this area of your life:

1. Clear Out Your Schedule
Now, as a homeschooler, life rarely caters to my schedule exactly. But school needs to actually have a certain time for it. Forty-five minutes of Wii Fit or a long jog may not be wrong in your schedule, but doing so at one in the afternoon and pushing your school back until six isn't a solution either. School needs to be able to work without distraction and with planning. When your day is planned out, it runs much more efficiently.

2. Set Boundaries
School doesn't have to go from nine to three, but it needs to have a set time. Staying up until midnight does not help your case. When your boundaries are not set, school can push essentials like family time and especially God out of the way in your pursuit. Even though school is important, it's not the most important thing in life. And with a clean schedule, it's as simple as stopping chemistry at three rather than ten.

3. Prioritize
If you find that your school is not fitting inside your boundaries, then you need to prioritize what school you are doing. A required math course, the Latin class your mom says you have to take, and science may all be stuck in your life. But do you really need that extra history class? Do you actually need to get two math books done this year? Do you really need to get ahead? It's not just the dropping of subjects though, but overdoing them as well. Yes, studying for the SAT is a worthy pursuit, but adding three hours to your daily schedule-even to your weekly schedule may not be the right thing to do. Do you have the lesson? Then do you need to do every optional problem? As homeschoolers (overachievers) the temptation is huge. Even if it means doing school during the summer, the eternal benefits are endless.

There isn't really a "how to" on exactly working with any area of your life, so prayerfully consider any additional changes that God may be pressing on you in the area of your education. The point is not to get more free time, but open your life up so that God may work in you even more.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

To Surrender

"I don't want to go to the INCH conference!" I whined out sulkily to my patient parent. I knew I was being rude and disagreeable, and I did truly want to go-but I didn't want to miss my friend's Nutcracker performance during the second day of the conference, and I was simply giving mother a hard time. After several more grumpy and cross words, I tumbled into my bed, upset and angry. The next day-the day of the INCH conference itself-would be an absolute failure, I had decided.
That is a small taste of me. Or what I used to be. I was the definition of "nominal Christian." Unfortunately...I was built from the exact blueprint of the modern "Christian" teenager, believe it or not. There were few things in my life that I actually deemed wrong-modern Christian messages said it was okay to listen to non-Christian music, flirt, waste time on the TV and internet, and many other seemingly "harmless" things. That is the person that went into the doors of the Lansing Center for the INCH conference that day-but a different person came out. Not a widely different person, no outward major changes had occurred. But inwardly, something had altered. It was to alter even more over the next few months-but this was a start. That night, on May 20th, 2011, I sat outside on my front porch and did something that I had never done before-I put down one of the parts of my life at God's feet. And I have continued to do so since-piece by piece. (And I did get to attend the Nutcracker performance.) The next month I was more radient than I have ever been, "radient with the joy of the Lord."
I can't give this story without being honest-I developed a "crush" on someone I met at my summer camp. It let nowhere, and although I attempted to give my feelings over to God, slowly but surely it drew me away. And after only a month, I was unfortunately not far from where I had started. Disheartened, I worked my way back-slowly this time, due to the added weight of school and activities beginning again. For some reason, I couldn't seem to attain that unhindered relationship again for almost two months. Then, I pulled out some of the notebooks that I had used before-and as I opened one little green one, it hit me. With a start, I remembered what I had forgotten, the key to my relationship with Christ: surrender.
Surrender is absolutely crucial to the Christian life. It is the invitation to Jesus to come inside and take control, and to hand over to Him pieces of your life with shaking hands and crying out for Him to take it and use it as He wills, not as you will. It is the kicking out of the flesh and the refusal to let it back inside. It is the abandoning of self for Christ, of flesh for the spirit. And once you find it, TRULY find it, you can never go back-for your life is completely altered, forever changed. When you truly see the power of Jesus, you can never go back.
It is all about the cross. When you see the power, when you see the love, when you see the sacrifice, when you see the grace, the truth, the perfection, and the breaking of the chains you can no longer bear yourself and your sins, you fall on your face in tears and say "I need you, Lord! And I give you all of myself, every little piece of it!" When you see that the almighty God of everything who made everything and who is over everything, who is enthroned in majesty and all the angels worship before him, and you see that He came down as a little baby born to an unmarried teenage girl in a tiny town-and that He died a horrible death on a bloody cross so that you could be free, and when you see that you are not living free from sin in spite of that sacrifice you can no longer stand before God-and you offer yourself and say "Everything I have is yours Lord! Take me! Use me for Your glory!" And that's when true fulfillment and joy and hope and radiance-pure radiance-is found, when you give your life to Him and say that it is no longer yours. And you fall at His feet, totally knowing that you do not deserve what was done for you, He looks you in the eyes and says "I do not condemn you. Now go, and sin no more." And then the only thing you can do is turn around and thank Him wash His feet with your tears and then go out and serve Him and proclaim the most important thing in history, in the world, in our loves-the cross.
I might just say, if you didn't read that as a rant-go back and read it as so.
May I now say that I am not a perfect being in my spiritual life. I am not yet free from sin. But I am working for it, on the platform of prayer and the study of His word and His character. I am gaining eternal life and glory-at the expense of simply me. And I am not much, I'll tell you that. But His grace is sufficient for me, and His power is made perfect in my weakness.

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
(Jude 1:24-25 ESV)