Posted in Crafts, Devotion

Flying with God

Sometimes life feels completely awesome, and that’s my life right now. I’m recently engaged to an amazing man, it’s summer break after a fun year, and everything I need I have. None of that even comes close to the relationship I have with God. My life is blessed, and I don’t think I’ve done anything to deserve it. That’s just how awesome God is.

I’m soaring!

There have been seasons in my life when things have felt impossible: those times when I thought finding a teaching job wouldn’t happen, the many lonely days of being single with no prospects, and the moments when I’ve let myself begin to worry about my financial future. I didn’t feel like I was soaring when I was worrying and trying to make my life myself.

I’m able to soar when I trust in God.

Isaiah 40: 31 says, “but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” That’s what I’ve learned to do. In order to fly, I have to trust God and his perfect plan. I have to wait for the moment in which he moves.

Right now I’m waiting on some other prayers for people in my life, and rather than worry and fret, I know I just need to wait for God. He’s got this.

By the way, those earrings I am wearing in the above pictures were custom-made by my good friend, Clare. She sells in-person locally and on Etsy. If you’re interested in her leatherwork or some of her other styles, check out her Etsy shop or her Instagram.

Posted in Devotion

God’s Faithfulness

In the book of Joshua, over and over God reminds the people not to fear, and then he completely obliterates their enemies.

God is powerful, and he’s faithful to his promises.

God has promised modern Christians that he’s with them and coming again (Matthew 28:20; John 14:3). He says he works all things for his good (Romans 8:28). He also says he can do far more than we could ever imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

There are situations I continually pray about: a friend who needs healing, family members who need to return to a relationship with God, students who are too angry to see God’s love, my future and relationship, and the list goes on.

Sometimes it feels as if God doesn’t hear or remains silent because I see nothing happening, but I have to remember his promises and his faithfulness. God is still working just like he did in the book of Joshua.

Posted in Devotion

I’m Going To Sing

It’s allergy season in Kentucky, which means I find myself clearing my throat and waking up with a stopped-up nose. As much as I hate to admit it, I probably am an allergy sufferer. Just a few weeks ago, I had a bout that kept me congested and coughing for a week or so. This was right around the time of Easter, a time when I especially enjoy singing worship songs to God. You know how hard it is to sing when you can’t breathe? I don’t say all of this to gripe or complain. Even though singing praises to God was difficult and I probably sounded like a whale, I opened my mouth and let it out.

I sang because I have a reason to sing.

When I was younger, I sang unabashedly and considered myself to have a decent voice. Then I hit high school, and while my voice might have changed a little, my perception of myself suffered more. I convinced myself that my voice was nothing special and sometimes even unpleasant to hear. I didn’t want a career in the music world, but I also stopped singing with my whole heart.

God tells us to praise him. There’s an entire book of the Bible dedicated to songs about God and his greatness. If his human creations don’t praise him, the rocks will begin to sing praises to God (Luke 19:40). I’ve never heard a rock sing, but I sure hope that my singing voice is better than a rock’s voice. This is my reason to sing: God’s very being demands our praise, and he alone is worthy of that ability to demand praise. He’s worthy of our praise because he created all of us and this earth and the universe. He put everything in order. We humans messed up, so He gave us his son so that we could even communicate with him.

God deserves my unashamed singing voice whether it’s flat, sharp, clear, stuffy, low, or high.

Now I realize that praise doesn’t only come in the form of singing songs, and I practice other forms of praise and worship in my life. There’s just something powerful about raising my voice in song. I’m not one to yell much, so singing is a way to get loud about something that matters. Next time you hear a worship song on the radio, in church, or in your head, open you mouth and let it out loud and unashamed. As David said, we can become “yet more contemptible” in the world’s eyes than singing at the top of our lungs (2 Samuel 6:22 ESV). God deserves our loud and proud praise.

Posted in Devotion

Weak

A few days ago I was helping move a staff member into her house. There was quite a bit of heavy furniture. While we had several adult and teenage males to help, I wanted to pull my weight because I hate feeling weak. Pride began to swell as I watched them carry the heavy stuff, and I was told I couldn’t carry that. I’d just get started carrying something when one of the boys would say, “Ms. Hughes let me get that.” At one point, I and one of the dorm boys were carrying the headboard. It wasn’t so much heavy as it was top-heavy. I knew a co-worker was right behind me, but by-golly I was going to carry this one thing all the way into the house. I was struggling with the height and weight combined, and eventually I had to admit I couldn’t carry it and hand it over to him. I had to admit I was weak.

Similarly, I often try to be strong with emotional and spiritual matters. Pride kicks in and I don’t want to let others see me cry or struggle. Sometimes I forget to even let God know I’m struggling. I put on my smile and persevere. It’ll go away eventually right?

If there’s one thing that stresses me out and makes me feel weak more than anything else, it’s car troubles. This is a problem that I can’t just smile through because it will only exacerbate if I don’t address the issue. For example, I came out one Sunday to an almost flat tire. Tears flowed, and the stress hit immediately because I live a mile from the maintenance building on campus and it was Sunday when no one would just be down there to help air my tire. Plus, I knew that there was probably something more wrong because tires shouldn’t just go flat. I felt weak. Thankfully I was thinking about God that morning, and he reminded me that I had a bike pump. It gave me quite a workout, and it caused me to be late for church, but I got it pumped up to a decent level and made it to church before the sermon. God provided because I didn’t pretend I was stronger than I was. (No worries, I got it plugged at the auto shop in town.)

The day after the moving incident, the song leader in chapel decided to read verses about love in between singing Jesus Loves Me. He was focused on the love of God, but my heart panged at the phrase, “when I am weak, you are strong”. How true is that? God is strong for me when I feel the most weak. Whether it’s physical weakness, emotional weakness, knowledge or situational weakness, or spiritual weakness, God is there to prop me up. He’s there to be strong for me.

 

Posted in Devotion

Falling In Love Part Two

It is so easy for me to spend time with my boyfriend and look forward to that time. I want to talk with him each day. Sometimes life is busy and our conversations are limited to text messages, but that’s not enough. I desire that focused conversation time whether in-person or over the phone. I want our friends and family to know us and to like us together, so we’ve spent time hanging out with other people. We do fun things like play games, mini-golf, or shoot pool, but I also relish the time we get to talk and do nothing else. Just like I started discussing in a previous post, our relationships with humans should reflect our relationship with God.

A married woman in my Bible study group compared her relationship with her husband to how she should treat her time with God. She talked about how sometimes her husband wants to be lovey-dovey, but she just wants to watch the TV show or do the dishes. She spoke of how sometimes it’s okay to talk with him while doing other things, but she recognizes that they need time in their marriage where it’s just the two of them being together. Likewise, it’s so easy to multitask while we pray and claim we are “praying without ceasing”. That’s fine, and God wants that constant communication, but He also wants the intentional time as well. Just as a spouse, or boyfriend in my case, wants and needs the focused alone time, God wants us to set aside everything and spend time with him.

These thoughts leave me with a few reflection questions for myself that maybe we should all be asking. Do I crave the time with God like I desire the time with my boyfriend? Do I long for opportunities to introduce God to my loved ones? Can I just sit and talk with God for hours? Do I set aside everything to have that daily time with God?

I’m thankful that God is loving and merciful because I can’t honestly answer yes to all of those questions every single day. I thank God for this metaphor, and pray that God would stir my passion for him every day. I pray that each of us would clear our minds and hearts for focused God time each day. I hope we all start falling in love with God just a little bit more.

Posted in Devotion

A Battle To Fight

On Sunday at church, my pastor made the statement that “when we worship God, we engage in warfare.”

Several times in the past month Ephesians 6 has come into my life: my daily devotional, a Wednesday night service at my boyfriend’s church, and the following Sunday at my church. If you’re not aware, Ephesians 6 cautions Christians to be ready for spiritual attack and gives practical advice about spiritual armor to don.

The Reality of Spiritual Warfare

Honestly, as many times as I’ve heard this passage or read it myself, I’ve never really thought about the battle going on spiritually. Yeah, I believed there was and I liked the metaphor of the armor, but I didn’t really take it seriously. Now, though, I realize it’s real. Not only is Satan, the world, and our flesh trying to keep people from knowing God at all, it’s also trying to keep us from following God’s will. Just based upon the negative thoughts in my head alone (see my previous post) I believe that spiritual warfare definitely exists. Satan and the world try to draw me away from God’s truths by convincing me that I am not enough in one aspect or another.

Another way we are attacked is through blinding to God’s work. Luke 24:32 says “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scripture?”.  How many times has God worked in my life or around me and I have been blinded? Maybe I attributed it to hard work or coincidence when really God was behind it. Maybe I was just so consumed by the work or negativity that I didn’t even notice the blessing.

We have be careful not to give Satan too much power though. Firstly, not all spiritual warfare comes from him; some of the attacks come from the world/society, and some of them come from our sinful fleshly nature created by the fall in the garden. Secondly, Satan is not equal with God. Satan was an angel who fell and was banished from God’s presence. That does not equal God. Satan really doesn’t have powers; he works mainly by manipulation and deceit. That’s why he’s called the “father of lies”. Ever read The Screwtape Letters? Notice that those demons can’t actually force anyone to do anything- they simply suggest to the humans that there is a different way than God’s way and make that darker way look more enticing.

The Effects of Spiritual Warfare

When there are spiritual battles taking place, no one is safe. My pastor gave a definition for war zone, “a combat area where the rights of neutrals are suspended”. This means that no one is safe during a battle. Think about an earthly war. In the war zone, innocent people get hurt or killed simply because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. I used to think that the spiritual warfare stuff was for more mature Christians, and I would just sit on the sidelines and pray for those fighting the battle. The truth is that we’re all in the battle, even those who don’t believe in God. That led to think about the question of why bad things happen to good people; the answer seems clear- there’s a war going on and innocent people get caught in the effects.

The Antidote to Spiritual Warfare

Both of the sermons I heard about this passage and topic, which were given at completely disconnected churches two hours away from one another, said the best way to fight against spiritual warfare is to love others. Sounds simple. Well try loving a teenager who consistently says no and is distracting the rest of the class from the lesson. That’s warfare, and in those moments I must figure out a way to still express love to that student.

Ultimately the antidote to the war is Jesus. We can’t fight without him, but the also the reality is that he has already won the war. Colossians 2:13 says that Jesus “disarmed principalities and powers”. In fact, Satan knows the war was won when Jesus died and rose again, but he runs around deceiving us that he still has a chance to succeed. He tries to distract us from praising, praying, and loving by causing bad things to happen.

Call to Action

It’s time we take off our blinders and stop succumbing to the distractions and noise. It’s time we look at God and realize the battle is already finished. It’s time we start praising God and telling Satan, the world, and our flesh who really is boss of this world. It’s time to kick some spiritual butt.

 

 

Posted in Devotion

Satisfaction

What makes you completely happy and content? Maybe it’s a good time with friends or a tall cup of coffee. Maybe you find happiness in a thrilling novel or feel complete when you’re with your special someone. When you were younger maybe you threw a tantrum in the store because you thought only the newest gizmo would satisfy you. Now that you’re older, you understand that the toy you wanted so badly didn’t make you happy for long, but you still long for the newest phone or a bigger house.

Whatever it is that you think will satisfy you, it won’t last.

Believe me, I’ve tried to satisfy my longing for love and security and happiness with a variety of things. None of those things were bad in and of themselves, but their satisfaction level only lasted a brief moment.

Truly nothing will satisfy us like God.

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Psalm 90:14

We all long acceptance, love, and contentment, but only God can fill that thirst. How does that happen? God fills us completely when we spend time with him, whether that’s through a church service, Bible reading, prayer time, or worship through song.

My prayer for myself is that I will seek God more when I’m feeling thirsty rather than seeking earthly things.

Satisfy me Lord, oh oh
Satisfy me Lord, oh oh
Yeah, I’m begging You, to help me see
You’re all I want, You’re all I need
Oh, satisfy me Lord

-Tenth Avenue North