Holy Over Happy

Holy Over Happy

You’ve seen it. I’ve seen it. We’ve all seen them. The memes and advertisements. The tshirts and coffee mugs. The you-do-you mantra. Do what makes you happy. Is that the life that we should be living? Are we striving for happiness? 

 

Spoiler alert! We were not put on this earth in search of happiness. Our purpose is to bring glory God. 

 

So how do we break the mold? How do we use our time on earth to bring glory to God? We need to start searching for holiness instead of happiness.

 

Holy can sound like a such a BIG word. Yes, a four-lettered word, but the concept can seem grand. Holy is defined as dedicated to God. Jesus teaches honestly about the trials that we will have. He never tells us that living a life of holiness will be one of ease. In John 16:33 he states, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” 

 

Jesus plainly states that we’re not going to be happy all of the time. He lived a holy life and we’re called to be Christ-like. Yes, we’re imperfect people that cannot be just like Jesus, God knows this already. But that doesn’t mean that we’re not called to try. 

 

Wait one minute though. Let’s set the record straight. Nowhere are you supposed to run yourself into the ground striving for perfection. Jesus is, was, and will always be perfect. We were created in the images of God. But God created us with free will. He created us even though He knew that we would be imperfect people. The point is not perfection. Holiness is not perfection. Perfection is a worldly character that is unattainable by sinful people. The cycle of striving for perfection is bondage and prevents us from living in the freedom that Christ gives us. Amen? Amen.

 

Another slippery slope with living a holy life is legalism. If only faith was as easy as a to-do list, a box to check, and life would be much easier. There is no checklist to a relationship with Jesus. It takes time and practice. It takes learning more and more about His character. It’s not an overnight accomplishment. Living a life of holiness is something that will be a daily struggle, sometimes hourly. It is, however, a struggle that will be totally worth it. 

 

If you sat here and asked me for practical ways to become more holy, I’d direct you straight to Galatians 5. In verses 22-24, Paul writes, “ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:22-24 English Standard Version)

 

If you simply look at those words that Paul instructs us to be, we all probably think we can do that; we can live by the fruit of the Spirit. But it’s harder than we’d all like to admit. 

The bible talks of three types of love; phileo, eros, and agape. Phileo is brotherly love. Eros is a romantic or sexual love. Agape is a spiritual or godly love. The fruit of the Spirit is talking about agape love. So right off the bat, we sinful humans probably aren’t living out love the way the Holy Spirit intends for us. It’s hard! That’s why we need the Holy Spirit to grow in holiness.  

 

Along with directing you to the fruit of the Spirit, I’d also suggest prayer. It’s easy to take for granted the freedoms of prayer. At any moment you can stop and speak to our heavenly father. What a gift! Prayer gives us quality time and an intimate relationship with God. Your prayer time doesn’t need to be Pinterest-worthy, it needs to be you and God. For more information about prayer, check out Lindsay’s devotional or our favorite prayer journal from Val Marie Paper!

 

Living a life of holiness isn’t about our own happiness. We are called to be servants and if we’re only worried about our own happiness, we’re definitely not serving anyone besides ourselves. Holiness isn’t perfect. We’re all going to slip up, that’s where the precious gift of grace comes in. God is merciful, forgiving, and loving. A holy relationship with Him isn’t going to be an easy one, but it will be a worthy one. And a holy relationship with Him leads us to living holy lives.

Find more about Lacey on her blog!

When God Answers Prayer

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When God Answers Prayer

Ever since I started really diving into prayer and asking God for some big and bold things, I have noticed a STRONG trend.

He rarely answers in the way I expect.

Now, on the one hand this is incredible because it testifies to the vastness and inexplicable ways of our God. What is a God that I can predict? That doesn’t seem like a God at all. I am grateful that He continues to surprise, amaze and overwhelm me with His creativity.

But on the other hand, that means that I am often faced with what seems like a trial, obstacle, or flat out no before I really understand what He’s up to.

Recently, I prayed that God would help me to be a better communicator in my personal relationships. While this may have been naive of me, I sort of just expected to suddenly be gifted with excellent communication skills that dazzled those around me. As you can imagine, that is not what happened.

I noticed first that I felt convicted on all the many things I had a desire to “communicate” about. I really was just looking to complain, correct, and chastise those around me and tell them what they were doing wrong. I did not anticipate that the first part of God answering this prayer would be swift conviction. As God began to tackle my motives, I was presented a beautifully painful opportunity to die to myself. It seemed to me that God was asking me to keep silent when I had asked him to restore my voice. 

God and I worked out the kinks and I was able to surrender some things to Him and discern what actually needed to be communicated about and then came the wait. It often felt like I wasn’t going to get to speak for EVER. I whined in my prayer time asking God when I would get to say my peace. I wrestled feeling like my thoughts didn’t matter and weren’t important enough to share. And God gently showed me that the right word at the wrong time isn’t the right word at all. Patience was another layer to this answered prayer I had not planned for. Everyone, and I mean everyone, we know is going through something. 

So I waited. Somedays I waited well and other days I didn’t. Then I finally decided, He was going to do it in His own way and His own time and all I had to do was be ready. I had to believe that God knew my desires and would orchestrate the conversations that needed to be had exactly at the right time. He would prepare the heart of the listeners and He would give me words to speak. And He was faithful.

Conversations have flowed since then and I have seen the fruit of this prayer come about in a real tangible way. I am so grateful that God taught me the what, when, and how of communication. I am so grateful He took the time to let me wrestle with my motives and taught me to wait for the right time. 

It did not look like my prayer was being answered. It looked like I was being silenced at some points and forgotten at others. But he was working in me the whole time, preparing me to be the very thing I asked.

Maybe God didn’t say no to your request. Maybe God just said yes but this way first. Trust the process my friend. It is ALWAYS for your Good.

If you are looking to study prayers of the Bible that God answered. I created a study for you called ANSWERED. 

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3 Ways to be a Doer of the Word

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3 Ways to be a Doer of the Word

I received this question recently: how do I become a doer of the word?

 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.  But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. - James 1:22-25



1. Store up the word in your heart. (Psalm 119:11)

I don’t just mean memorizing scripture, I mean internalizing it. Because once it’s really in you, it’s what comes out. I meditated I’m Ephesians 4:32 for the better part of 2016 and every single time I’m upset all I hear is “be kind and compassionate, bearing with one another in forgiveness”. When we let scripture take up root in our hearts, we end up letting it rule our lives. So as a man thinks in his heart so is He! (Proverbs 23:7)

2. Go to the Bible for counsel. (James 3:17)

I was recently faced with someone else’s sin and I truly asked the Lord what to do. I felt led to go read a passage and when I opened my bible, the scripture was about that exact sin and the proper way to deal with it. Sometimes l will even just go on google and search for scriptures about xyz. Let the Bible and prayer be your first stop for wisdom! It won’t steer you wrong. 

3. Try. (John 5:8)

It seems simple, but you only get there by doing. Commit to trying. If you do this, God will be faithful to place you in situations where you will have to lean not on your own understanding. And when the time comes, lean into the Holy Spirit and let him guide your decisions. This requires patience, discernment, and the strength to be obedient. Pray and ask God to HELP you cultivate those traits so that you can be a doer!

I hope this helps you become a DOER of Gods word. If you are looking for helpful resources to grow in your prayer life check my shop page or my recent post on resources!

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Why You Need Community

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Why You Need Community

 

I believe I have a post that will absolutely bless each one of you whether you’re reading it the day it goes live or ten years from now. I’m praying that God’s Word would stand out far above and beyond any clever things I think I have to say. I also pray for everyone reading, that the Spirit of God would be cultivating your heart even now to receive what He wants to speak to you!

 

If you’re around me for any length of time, you’ll realize I’m big on community. I mean like really doing lifewith people. Now I love (looooooooove) my alone time, and I’m sure many of you do, too. But living planted in community doesn’t mean that you have to be the most outgoing extrovert who’s constantly on the go and surrounded by people 99% of the time (that 1% only being the time it takes to shower). If that were the case, you’d literally never hear me talk about community. 

 

Around my church, we hear the phrase “doing life together” a whole lot. I used to wonder why we used such a corny phrase all the time, but as I got more involved, I realized how disconnected people live. Chicago is a big city, and people are constantly on the go. I understood why it was so important to emphasize the fact that we do life together. People really out here doing life alone! Well, that’s no fun, it’s not healthy, and it’s not the way God designed us. 

 

Having good relationships with our own family and friends outside of church may cause some to dismiss the need to form deep relationships with people in church community. Others may be fiercely independent, and just don’t see the importance of community. While it’s easy to keep “church friends” in their own box while you do the rest of your life, you’re not doing the best thing for yourself or for the Kingdom of God. 

 

Why Community?

 

We are one body

When we decided to become a Christian, we became part of thebody of Christ. (maybe nobody warned you, but now ya know! Hey fam!) The body is connected and functions and moves as one because it’s all attached. Once something is detached or even slightly detached from the body, it’s not right; in fact, it’s dead. And the rest of the body suffers when one part is suffering. We’re not at our best without each other. 

 

“Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” Romans 12:4-5

 

God has not created us to do anything alone. “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but ... members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). The Christian walk isn’t you and God or me and God, it’s usand God. Even the God we worship shows himself as community (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), and he brings us together to be one. 

 

Safety in community

1 Peter 5:8 cautions us: “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 

 

Who exactly can the enemy devour? Not anyone and everyone; he’s looking for those who he candevour. Lions are not necessarily as fast or active or even as smart as some of the animals they hunt and devour. But lions watch long enough to know when they can strike. They don’t strike at animals that are in the center or at the head of the pack. They look for a moment when an animal is slightly separated from the pack. That’s an easy target. Our safety is jeopardized when we stray from the pack (our church community), making us a target for the enemy. 

 

Don’t stray. Don’t hang around the edges. Stay at the center of what God is doing in your community of believers. Be fully present and fully engaged, willing to be brave enough to open yourself to others, both in joining with others and by being one who actively opens up and draws people in.

 

 

 

Tips on building community

 

 

Build real community 

Those closest to us need to have God as their closest, too. We need people who are going to be chasing God as much as we are or more, and we need people who are going to be able to guard us and hold us up in our times of weakness. You’ll never find the same richness, connectedness, grace, love and depth that you will find in healthy, Christian relationships. 

 

“In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” Ephesians 2:22

 

A unified church community will see the hand of God in incredible ways that cannot be replicated without the Spirit of Him, who established the Church.

 

People aren’t the real problem

Nothing worthwhile comes without challenges. Folks are challenging! Let’s not pretend we’re not (I have my days). But remember: PEOPLE ARE NOT OUR ENEMY. Being hurt hurts, but honestly it’s not those people who are after us. It’s a distraction of the actual enemy, Satan our adversary. Let’s be aware of the real enemy who is after our faith and peace and joy. Let’s stop being distracted by fighting the wrong fights. Focus on seeking God and cultivating relationships others, our actual focus is to build His kingdom and make His Name known. 

 

Grow

“That’s just how I am” is not a legitimate excuse to keep your walls high up. 

Change. There’s a whole million-dollar industry out there on change, yet Christians should be the number one example of change and transformation. That’s part of what the Holy Spirit gives us! The fruit of the spirit should be increasingly obvious in our lives. “Just how I am” doesn’t stand against the transforming power of His Word and Spirit. 

 

Just as God brought the Hebrews out of Egyptian bondage to be a community of people to show the world who the true God is, so He also has called us out to be His special people. Let’s recognize that in each other. Those other believers you are surrounded by are the people God pulled out of bondage and brought into a community of His people. Look at their stories and your own and marvel at how God put these all together for His purpose to be done. We’re not just like all other people on earth. We’re His and we’re a family. 

TFF community! My name is Eboné (yup, sounds like Ebony + Beyoncé. I know. I’m great.) and I blog over at keepitsimpleeb.com where I like to share ways I’m learning to keep life simple as a Jesus-lovin’, coffee-powered, city-dwelling millennial. Check it out if you have time!

 

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CLEAN AS YOU GO

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CLEAN AS YOU GO

Winter has officially arrived in Chicago in the form of snow, freezing temps, and cravings for everything warm.

I decided I would make beef stew today. Beef stew isn’t too difficult to make but it does involve quite a bit of preparation. Lots of chopping: celery, onion, potatoes, carrots, beef. It can get a little bit messy if you aren’t careful As I was preparing the stew today, I couldn’t help but hear my mom’s voice saying “clean as you go, Lindsay”.


I am sure you have heard similar advice before too. Clean up is way easier if you toss stuff as you are cooking rather than waiting until the end. I actually used to hate that she would tell me to do that because I hate cleaning— during or after. For some reason, taking two seconds to throw away the ends of the carrot or tossing the onion I didn’t use felt like such a heavy lift. But today, I heeded the wise words of my mom. And I was amazed at how by the time I put the lid on the crock pot and set it on high to start cooking, my kitchen was no less messy than it was when I started. Everything was still in order.


Then I had the thought…

What if I lived my life like that? What if I took the “clean as you go” principle and applied it to my every day? 


Checking my sin and repenting. 

Checking my motives and adjusting.

Checking my relationships and growing. 

Checking my heart and healing.

 

Checking in before it gets to that point. You know the point- when the dishes are taking over the kitchen and you would rather just MOVE and get a new place than clean them? Checking in before the sin becomes a lifestyle, the motives become the norm, or the relationship...fails. 

Cleaning up my messes as I go, before they become monumental. Seems like my mom was on to something…


ALL throughout the Old Testament we see the people of Israel WARNED that their behavior was surely going to lead to their own ruin. All throughout the Bible there are countless stories of people having an opportunity to make a change or repent or go a different route. They had chance after chance to reel it back in before things went too far. Thankfully, God’s grace and mercy are deeper than we could ever imagine. But I can’t help but wonder…what would it look like if we paused, cleaned up, and went another way before things blew up in our face?

Every day His mercy is new. Every day we get a fresh shot at becoming more like Christ. Let’s not take it for granted. Let’s not coast. Let’s be diligent and intentional people who “clean as they go”.


If you want to try out this amazing beef stew recipe you can right here… just make sure you clean as you go.


If they obey and serve him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity and their years in contentment. - Job 36:11

Xo


Lindsay

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