I've already sort of talked about some of my goals over on our YouTube channel but, since today is #WorshipWednesday on the blog, I wanted to talk about some of my spiritual goals in particular. So, here we go:
READ THE ENTIRE BIBLE
Luckily, audio books have made a surge in recent years, and my app that I use at church can read the Bible out to me with a year-long reading plan. This makes it so easy to listen to it and absorb in the car. I just need to make it a priority of each day and morning!
SERVE MY COMMUNITY THROUGH MY CHURCH
From free Easter egg drops, monthly meals for the homeless, a food bank, feeding our first responders around the holidays, and much more, my church is super involved in helping our local community. With that being said, I haven't been the best at getting involved myself. So, I'm hoping to really make that effort this year!
LEARN MORE ABOUT APOLOGETICS
I learned about apologetics a few years after I graduated from college. I think it is the best and newest way to communicate with this generation and generations to come.
LISTEN TO MORE WORSHIP MUSIC
First of all, Merry Christmas! I'm thankful that you've chosen to check out my blog today. It is a special day today because it's our Worship Wednesday, so I'm going to be covering some Christian topics.
Mainly I want to explain how God and Jesus are symbols of giving.
GOD GAVE HIS SON JESUS
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." - John 3:16, KJV
JESUS GAVE AND GIVES BLESSINGS
Jesus was killed for basically causing too much of a ruckus. The Pharisees didn't like that Jesus questioned some of the things they did. They didn't like that he healed people and made miracles.
Jesus prayed in the garden before he was taken. He was so stressed out that he cried blood, which is a medical condition called Haemolacria.
JESUS GAVE US THE GIFT OF SALVATION
"Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began..." - II Timothy 1:8-9
If you don't know what happens next in the story of Jesus, I'll tell you. Jesus died but three days later, he rose from the grave. He conquered Hell and the grave.
Jesus' sacrifice gave us eternal life and forgiveness from our sins. One thing that has always sort have bothered me are those old hymns.
The thought is that people are made up of two parts: the body and the soul. The one that you feed most will be the one that becomes stronger. So, if you live a worldly life of greed, you're feeding your body. If you live a life where you connect with God through prayer and worship, you're living a soulful life.
Any Christian will tell you that Jesus gave his life so that we could be forgiven of the wrong that we’ve done. However, Jesus gave much more than his life while he was on Earth. Let’s talk about it:
1: HIS TIME
Jesus gave his time to the people who needed it most. Those included the sick, the people living in sin, and others. He even gave time to those who abused God’s word or some of the laws of the time that were extremely critical and harmful to his people.
Time is an important gift you can give to someone this season.
2: HIS GIFTS
Because he is the son of God, Jesus was able to do many wonderful and amazing works through the power of his father. He never held this back from anyone who needed it or asked for it. He even re-attached the guard’s ear after one of his disciples cut it off in the garden when the Pharisees were coming to take Jesus.
3: HIS WISDOM
Take some time to share some wisdom with someone this season. Teach them to do something they cannot do by themselves.
4: HIS HEART
Jesus put his heart into everything that he did. The scriptures tell us a story of Jesus’ passion and love for all people. He loved people who society didn’t love: adulterers, lepers, and tax collectors, among others.
He never denied them anything and always did his best to help them in their situation. We should all aspire to put our hearts into all that we do, especially in the Christmas season.
5: HIS EAR
Jesus is a listener. When on Earth, he always took time to hear from people and learn about them. He listened to their stories and helped them in their time of need.
What most people lack in their relationships is, sadly, communication. It is one thing to hear someone say something, but it is another to listen and really comprehend what they’re saying. This is a blessing, and more people need it.
Today, if you are a Christian who doesn't feel comfortable letting their children participate in traditional Halloween celebrations, I'm going to share with you a few things you can do with them so they don't miss out on all of the fun:
1: FIND A CHURCH-BASED TRUNK OR TREAT
Many churches and even colleges put on trunk or treat events to help children celebrate Halloween. I specifically suggested a church trunk or treat because the themes are usually less gruesome than the way some people dress their house for spooky season. Check your local visitor's bureau or your town's events calendar to see what trunk or treat offerings are available.
2: HAVE A CHILDREN'S MOVIE MARATHON AT HOME
Break out the popcorn and buy some sugary sweets to celebrate Halloween at home with your kids. Instead of trick or treating, they can enjoy kid-friendly Halloween movies like Coraline, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride, Monster House, and more.
Netflix and Prime Video usually have a whole section dedicated to kid-friendly Halloween movies!
3: THROW A HALLOWEEN PARTY FOR THEIR FRIENDS
There are so many ways to take the fright out of Halloween. Instead of going trick or treating or participating in more gruesome activities like haunted houses, you can simply throw a more whimsical Halloween party at your house for your children and their friends. There are a ton of fun activities they can do like a pumpkin carving contest, decorating Halloween cookies, and other whimsical games that can help them have fun without all of the blood and gore.
I recommend checking Pinterest for fun and cute party games for occasions like these. You'll be surprised by all of the great ideas you'll find!
BUT, THIS IS WHAT I RECOMMEND
My mom took another approach. If she wasn't sure how something would impact us, she would go experience it herself before taking us. I recommend that you don't shield your children from the world because, as someone who attended a southern Baptist church with a lot of very sheltered children, you're just setting them up for a scarier adulthood.
Instead, I think it would be great to let your children participate in traditional celebrations under the understanding that it is just a holiday and shouldn't be celebrated as anything but a day for kids to get candy or for people of appropriate ages to watch scary movies!
Today, I thought my “message” of sorts could be about harvesting. I know, weird. But I promise I’ll do my best to make my point.
“Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:37-38
WHAT IS HARVESTING TO FARMERS?
A lot of the times, when reading New Testament scripture, you will notice that Jesus likes to make a lot of comparisons and parables based on harvesting and farming. Undoubtedly, he does this because a lot of the people he ministered to were farmers. Think of it like a track runner explaining how long of a distance he ran to a football player by saying “I ran the length of five football fields.”
Harvest is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the season for gathering in agricultural crops.” A lot of people understand this time to be around autumn when the weather starts to get colder and some crops cannot grow very well. The idea was that the excess crops would be stored up and saved to be used later.
HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO OUR WALK AS CHRISTIANS?
Many of the people in this multitude likely knew the people Jesus healed for several years, as communities were even more closer-knit than they are today. After seeing someone suffer from an illness or handicap for that long only to see them healed by Jesus, they must have been a desperate crowd.
There are a lot of people in need, but very few people willing to help. When we aren’t in a bad situation, we tend to think of an issue as someone else’s problem and we have this attitude that they should just deal with it themselves.
However, when we land in the same boat, we expect help. So, if you expect help when you are down on your luck, why not give help to those who have no one in their lives who will help them?
So, this fall, become a labouror. I am not trying to preach because I myself need to be better about helping others.
It’s around this time that a lot of young Christians in college start turning away from Bible study, prayer, and going to church. It’s much easier to catch up on sleep or spend the evening hanging out with friends than doing something that can help cultivate your faith.
Cultivating your relationship with God is so important during this time in your life because you are likely starting to experience anxiety, depression, financial difficulty, and perhaps physical difficulty.
I sometimes find it hard to do these posts because I struggle to summarize the story for those who may not know what I’m talking about.
David defeats Goliath (a very well-known story) and actually becomes close to King Saul. However, Saul grows jealous of David and how the people adored him. Now, let’s talk about the differences between David and Saul:
DO YOU REMAIN FAITHFUL OR DO YOUR OWN THING?
If you know anything about David, you know that he indeed does make mistakes. But, as soon as he makes those mistakes (which is later on after the story of King Saul and David), he owns up to them and repents.
Throughout this story, David constantly remains faithful to God. He trusts God when he leaves his family as the smallest of several sons.
However, Saul goes against the will of God. Samuel the profit tells Saul to go and destroy the Amalekites and everything that they have. The reason for this is unknown (at least to me), but Samuel was instructed to do this by God.”
“And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.” – I Samuel 15:8-9
It is so easy to do the wrong thing and go against what you know God would want for you. Everyone is doing it and it seems like you’ll miss out if you don’t do it too. Trust me, I made a whole lot of mistakes when I was in college, some of which still effect my life today. It is worth it to remain faithful to God’s word. My life undoubtedly would have been much more victorious (thus far) had I maintained that relationship.
DO YOU REMAIN HUMBLE OR DO YOU BECOME ENVIOUS?
Without a doubt, David came from humble beginnings. He was the smallest of a group of brothers, but he was able to defeat Goliath and go on to make even more wartime accomplishments that had the people of Israel cheering his name. However, David still remained humble and did good when he was supposed to.
Even though David was put in charge of Saul’s army, he “behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the Lord was with him (I Samuel 18:14).”
I personally found that these things got to me more when my relationship with Christ was weak. That’s why it is important to keep your relationship strong.
DO YOU KEEP YOUR PROMISES OR DO YOU MAKE FALSE COVENANTS?
Saul seemingly promises several times that David would not be harmed. He swears to his son Jonathan, who is best friends with David, that he won’t harm him. In the next breath, he is conspiring with soldiers or servants to kill David.
David is given opportunities to kill Saul, but he doesn’t. Saul asks David to promise not to kill his seed, and David swears to it.
God is very clear about His opinions on promises. You are to keep your promises, according to the Bible. Promises in college may include doing a group assignment, being there for a friend in times of need, or committing to a community service project.
As I said earlier, it is easy to sleep in or turn your attention to more “pleasurable” things than to uphold your promise. Christianity is all about a relationship between an individual and God. God has several promises and He keeps every one of them. It is only fair that you uphold the charge you are given as a Christian in return.
ARE YOU FOR THE PEOPLE OR DO YOU BRING OTHERS DOWN WITH YOU?
David had a relationship with Jonathan, Saul’s son. He could have used that relationship against Saul to threaten him or otherwise cause harm. That’s what Saul would have done, after all. Instead, David remained a loyal warrior who fought to protect God’s people. He even stayed away from everyone else and traveled alone, undoubtedly because other people would have become targets had they been with David.
When you fall into doubt or decide to give in to “worldly” pleasures, you are effectively taking other Christians who know you and are in the same situation as you down, too.
If you see a Christian friend doing something not so Godly, and you too are losing grips on your faith, you might fall suite and do the same thing.
If you’re a Christian, you’ve likely heard plenty of sermons on the Book of Job. Basically, Job is a righteous man (in a good way) who has a ton of luxuries in life. He has a big family, a ton of land, riches, and cattle. You name it, Job had it.
After all of these trials, Job was blessed much more than he was blessed in the beginning. The story is often used as a way to tell Christians to keep the faith in hard times because God will bless them later.
There are so many reasons why this message needs to fall on the ears of millennials and younger people today. I want to share some of those reasons.
1: TIMES ARE TOUGH
I feel like every generation feels this way. It can seem as though you can’t catch a break. Specifically, millennials were always told to go to college to get a better job. However, jobs that pay a good enough wage to make you feel secure require a ton of experience that college grads simply don’t have.
But now, I truly appreciate the circumstances I live in now. Our lights might not work in one room, and one of our toilets might not be working. But it is so much better than it was, and I can only thank God for that.
2: THERE IS MORE OPPOSITION NOW THAN EVER
In times of hardship, we are always the first people questioned. “Where is your God, now?” “Why isn’t your God helping us through this?” It is the faith of Job that will get us through hard times. God always has a purpose for everything, but that doesn’t mean He caused everything. We are told explicitly in the scriptures that the devil is like a roaring lion, walking about seeking out who he can destroy.
3: TO HELP US SEE OUR SMALL BLESSINGS AS BIG
I will be the first to admit that I often take my blessings for granted. I don’t think I have ever been as thankful for everyday luxuries as I have now as a 25-year-old. When I say luxuries, I’m talking about having a home, power, water, food, and all of the other “basic” necessities. I’m thankful for this because so many people don’t have it.
I took that roach-infested apartment for granted, but at least I wasn’t sleeping in the rain. I might have taken my Ramen diet for granted, but at least I didn’t go hungry. We live in an “instant gratification” world, so we often neglect to see that those “little” blessings are actually pretty big ones.
4: TO SHOW US THAT BAD THINGS DON'T ALWAYS COME FROM EDIFICATION
In fact, we are told in a few places in the Bible that life won’t be easy just because we serve God. In fact, the enemy comes at us more so I think than he does at non-believers. You see, the devil already has those people. The real threat is Christian people coming to tell non-believers about God.
5: IT HELPS YOU PREPARE FOR THE REST OF LIFE
Reading Job at this age is so important. We comprehend it more when we experience it. While some of us may have lived in the grips of near or full poverty, most of us likely had parents who did their best to make life as good as possible. But now that it is our turn to do that for ourselves or for our own children, we may need some guidance.
Not only can we now understand a bit of what was going on with Job, we can also prepare for life’s future hardships (as they will always come) while we are young. Job was older when he experienced this. He didn’t learn this lesson as a young man. But we can!
Today, I want to reflect on a passage of scripture that I don't think I really took a lot of time to absorb and understand. It was sort of a footnote in the last message I heard at church (at the time of writing this), but I was amazed when I heard our pastor mention it.
GOD IS FAITHFUL TO US
"But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left." Exodus 14:29
In the above passage, God delivers the children of Israel from the Egyptians following several lifetimes of slavery.
Moses parts the Red Sea with the power of God and the Israelites were able to escape. It is a common Biblical story, I'm sure you already know it! But there was something interesting in the passage that our pastor drew our attention to: the words "dry land."
We all know how water works. Water that soaks an area of the ground will often turn muddy, making it harder to walk through. It can cause someone to slip or get stuck. But the Bible indicates that the children of Israel were able to walk across the area on "dry land."
This passage really struck me because God helped the children of Israel escape captivity in a unique and somewhat unconventional way.
And there are so many other examples in the Old and New Testament of God's faithfulness to provide for us, usually in a way we wouldn't think of. For a few examples:
- God gives Abraham a son in his old age while his wife is barren
- A woman is healed by touching the hem of Jesus' garment
- Jesus divides seven loaves of bread and a few small fish to feed 4,000 men and even more women and children
Personally, I can attest to having my prayers answered in a unique and unconventional way. I remember praying for finances for my family and getting a call a few days later from my grandmother asking if I had put some money in their account.
I've had other things happen, such as my journalism job being replaced by a better opportunity at the job I currently work. Both of these were super unconventional in the way they came to me.
What I feel led to say is this: Everyone experiences times when they feel as though their prayers are going unanswered. With our human hearts and minds, we yearn for an immediate answer to what is bothering us. In actuality, we should wait upon God because he often puts things into our lives when it will make the best impact for us.
And, just like he did for those Old and New Testament people of God, he will make the way clear for us.
This unfortunately keeps a lot of people away from the faith. I've heard many people ask why they should believe in a God who lets people have cancer or allows tragedy to happen. In fact, atheism experienced a noticeable growth after Sept. 11, 2001. What people fail to remember is that not all things are from God. A lot of things come from the enemy. This goes into a whole other debate about God's all-powerful nature. If you have questions, pop them in the comments!
Personally, I try to remind myself that God has always answered my prayers in the way it best impacts me. I remember praying about all three of the men I dated, and all of those relationships, except the one that resulted in my marriage, ended.
All I ask to non-believers or those who aren't sure is to be open-minded and learn more about God and the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. You would be hard-pressed to find a Christian who hasn't experienced a prayer being answered in an unconventional way.
But one thing I almost always speak up about is Jesus. I want everyone to have as much information as they can so they can make an educated and informed decision about their faith. When I see something that seems wrong, I try to correct it or provide more information.
I absolutely adore the church we're going to. It seems like something is always said that hits home for me in one way or another. Some may say that that can be found in any church. But, if you're a churchgoer who has had a negative experience in a church, you know how different the atmosphere can be. A few Sundays ago, I got the metaphor I needed to relate my faith to others.
DOCKING THE BOAT
Our lives are a lot like a journey across the sea. Our ultimate end will be to dock on solid ground.
If you're crossing the ocean in an old ship, it could take you months to get to your final destination. But, at times, the captain may want to drop the anchor. The anchor is a constant reminder that you can ground yourself at any point.
This series of sailing, anchoring, and taking up the tides again continues all of our life until we dock at our final destination: eternity.
WHEN THE ANCHOR DOESN'T HOLD
What people so desperately need to remember is that faith grounds us. But our faith can easily sink without something else. That something else can be different for everyone.
For me, that something else is the evidence I've found and have been taught. The clear evidence that Jesus lived, ministered, died, and rose again. Evidence that other people knew about Jesus. Evidence from eye witnesses and even hostile forces that wanted Jesus to disappear.
Here are some things others may tether to their faith:
- Blessings (home, food, AC, heat, a job)
- Supernatural experiences with God
- Your testimony
- Acts of kindness
All of these things are excellent ways to remind yourself that you can step out on faith knowing and reminding yourself that God did for you once and he will do for you again, but in HIS time. If you step out on faith without that tether of security and confidence and things don't happen how you want them to, your faith might sink and disappear from your life.
God's goodness is all around us. We can't just give up when the enemy throws his punches. Tether yourself to weather the storm.
As a Christian, this is why I like apologetics so much. It takes time to explore secondary knowledge found in the Bible that can aid in giving evidence for the existence of the Christian God. Today, I thought it would be fun to outline some of the scientific principles that are highlighted or hinted at in the Bible. Let's get started!
QUARANTINE AND PROTECTIVE MEASURES
"And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean. All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be." - Leviticus 13:45-46
According to the Encyclopedia of Medical History, "The idea of contagion was foreign to the classic medical tradition and found no place in the voluminous Hippocratic writings."
In the olden days, people believed that making someone bleed or driving a giant nail into their head would relieve pain and cure ailments. However, this Bible verse, from a book said to be written in 500 B.C., not only talks about quarantining someone who is infected with a disease, but also tearing their clothing, shaving their head, and making them to alert others to stay away from them, because they are sick!
THE WATER CYCLE
"Behold, God is great, and we know him not, neither can the number of his years be searched out. For he maketh small the drops of water: they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof: Which the clouds do drop and distil upon man abundantly." - Job 36:26-28
The water cycle is detailed in the Book of Job! Job talks about how God "draws up the water" (evaporation), turns them into "small drops of water" (condensation), then he "pour down rain" (perception).
Hebrews and Romans are credited with the idea of the water cycle, but it obviously wasn't scientifically discovered until much later (the 20th century, according to "Historical Development of the Global Water Cycle as a Science Framework").
"Thou shalt have a place also without the camp, whither thou shalt go forth abroad: And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee:" Dueteronomy 23:12-13
Cleanliness is next to Godliness, as the old saying goes. This might be a little gross, but the Bible actually talks about human waste and how to bury it away from a living site.
Deuteronomy was believed to be written around the 7th century B.C. Being around human waste was found to not only be stinky, but also bad for your health. Throughout the following years, people would die from prolonged exposure to human waste, which can make you sick!
THE STARS ARE INNUMERABLE
"As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites that minister unto me." - Jeremiah 33:22
- Admit to God that you are a sinner
(Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23).
- Repent, turning away from your sin
(Acts 3:19; 1 John 1:9).
- Believe that Jesus is God's Son and accept God's gift of forgiveness from sin
(Romans 5:8; Acts 4:12; John 3:16; John 14:6; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 1:11-13).
- Confess your faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord
HOW TO GET TO HEAVEN
God is a perfect being who designed each and every one of us. He is sinless, good, and perfect. However, after Eve ate that apple, sin was released into the world and, as a result, everyone was born into sin and everyone does wrong. Only those without sin can enter into Heaven. But don't worry, Jesus came down to Earth and paid your sin debt do you could go to Heaven. Jesus is our salvation and offers us a way to Heaven. A way to live with Him forever. Here is what you have to do:
Ann Marie Ruby
Give Me An Answer
J. Warner Wallace
Turn The Other Cheek