1 Timothy 4:12

What would it look like to see a teenager on fire for God? What if we lived our lives as a living sacrifice for Jesus? What if we valued our Bibles as greater than our phones? What if we viewed God’s opinion as more valuable than others’? What if we treated following God’s commandments and being like Jesus as critical? What if God came before social media, clothing, sports, and even personal safety in our lives?

Does such a teenager exist? Please introduce me to them!!

Many stereotypes are placed on millennials and especially teenagers. People tell us we are lazy, ignorant, act entitled, easily sidetracked, and technology obsessed. And although we are looked down upon, we are not expected to ever do anything more than fulfill those stereotypes.

Constantly, I’m being bombarded with people saying how terrible and worthless millennials and teenagers are, but I’m never told how to become valuable and people never ask me to help serve with anything. Instead of taking the time to teach me a work ethic and show me the wonders of non-technology, they just complain that we aren’t learning these things ourselves.

Even in the church teenagers are treated differently than adults. You’ll never see an “adult group” where older members of the church get together to play games, eat pizza, and hang out with friends. They go to Bible studies where they intensely study the Bible.

But, in many churches, teenagers can never just get together to study the Bible or learn about God, instead, there is always a game, meal, or a fun trip attached to it. I’ve never understood this. Are teenagers only capable of having fun? And we wonder why this generation feels entitled!

As teenagers, we need to take a stand against these stereotypes. We’ve come to a point in our lives where the spiritual baby food is no longer filling. We have become restless because we are unable to study the Bible for ourselves because we have never been taught how to. I long for someone to come along and challenge me spiritually, but instead, I am looked upon as weird for wanting more than is being given at youth group.

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity. – 1 Timothy 4:12

Many times we are told the first part of the verse: don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young. Every Christian, even the teenagers, has something that God has taught them, a lesson they have learned, or a story to tell. We should be learning from each other, old as well as young.

But don’t miss the second half of the verse: set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity. How do you get people to listen to what you are saying and take you seriously as a teenager? Act like you should be listened to! Use your speech not to tear others down, but build them up and encourage them; conduct yourself in a way pleasing to the Lord; love God, but also love others as yourself; have faith in God and trust him to lead you and teach you; stay pure and don’t corrupt yourself with bad influences, in person or on the internet.

If we, as teenagers, start acting mature and studying God’s word for ourselves, we are not only going to grow in God, but people are going to see our example and learn from us.

Don’t continue to accept spiritual baby food, but begin tasting and savoring the goodness and greatness of our awesome God. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you aren’t good enough because of your age. God can use anyone as long as they are willing to be used and live their lives open to God’s presence. I pray that God will open our hearts so that we can offer our lives to him to be used for his glory. I also pray that God will open the eyes of the people around us so that they come to realize that the teenage years aren’t a waste, but that there are teens willing to honor and glorify God with their lives.


Joy (Fruit of the Spirit)

I’m so happy that “joy” is going to be posted today! The most joyful day of the year: Easter! My Savior arose from the dead and is alive! Hallelujah!

I love talking about joy! One of my favorite verses talks about joy:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! – Philippians 4:4

How often does that verse say we are to rejoice (be joyful)? ALWAYS. Not just when you’re having a good day, but on the bad days as well.

The thing about joyfulness is that it doesn’t depend on circumstance, like happiness. Joyfulness is not an emotion, it’s a choice. You can’t choose to be happy, what happens does that. But joyfulness is choosing to say, “God, you are on the throne and no matter what happens, you will stay on that throne. And I know that you are in control so I will choose to be joyful today.

But choosing joy isn’t a one-time thing. It’s constant and takes practice, but it’s worth it.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. – Proverbs 17:22

I like to imagine joyful pill salesmen: “Joyful pills for sale! Get your joyful pills! Pills reduce stress, cause gratitude, and stop self-pity. Side effects include good moods, clear thinking, and love of life.”

One song I learned as a preschooler goes:

This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!

God took the time to paint the sunrise and open the flowers, just for your enjoyment. He is sprinkling mercies everywhere around you. When you open your eyes to see them, you can’t help but be joyful.

As Christians, joyfulness should be constant. God sent Jesus to die on a tree for you and me; the only response to such amazing love is joy. Joy isn’t the absence of suffering, it’s the acknowledgment of the presence of God. Enjoy the present of God’s presence.

Choose JOY!

Love (Fruit of the Spirit)

Part 2 of my Fruit of the Spirit series…

Love. If you think about it, you would expect love to be the first fruit of the spirit. As I said in my first post (you can find it here), the fruit of the spirit is the evidence of the Holy Spirit. And since God is love (1 John 4:8), you would expect to see love in a Christian’s life proving that Jesus is inside their heart. 1 John 3:10 even says that those who don’t love their brother, aren’t children of God.

Love is the biggest part of the Gospel because it is a part of God’s nature. If you flip to the concordance in your Bible and turn to “love,” you will find many verses (old testament and new). In fact, love is said 542 times in the NIV.

Here are some key verses in the Bible about love:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ – Matthew 22:37-39

Do everything in love. – 1 Corinthians 16:14

In John 3:16, we see that God was willing to sacrifice his own son because he loved us so much. And in Matthew, Jesus tells us that the most important commandments are to love God and people. 1 Corinthians takes this even further by saying that we are to do everything in love.

I encourage you to join with me and have a mindset of love this week. When you see someone being left out, include them; if someone is lonely, talk to them.

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. – 1 John 4:11

God loves you, a dirty, rotten sinner, therefore, you should be filled with love for him and others. There is no excuse.

Does anyone else know any more great verses about love? Please post them in the comments bellow!

Fruit of the Spirit

I’ve been looking into and researching the fruit of the Spirit lately and the more I learn, the more I am intrigued and want to know more!

So, I’ve decided to do a series on the fruit of the Spirit here on my blog. In the upcoming weeks, I will be going in order (starting with love) and looking deeply into each “fruit.” I’m not sure how often I am going to post (I’m hoping every other day) but it shouldn’t be longer than a few weeks.

This post is an overview of the fruit of the Spirit and what I’ve learned about them:

Galatians 5:22-23 talks about the fruit of the Spirit:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

The first word of this verse should raise a red flag in our minds: but. If we see a but, we know that something came before it that the author is alluding to and we need to go back and read it!

Verses 19-21 tell us the backstory:

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

So now we know the context behind the verse: Paul is telling us what the fruit of the flesh are, and then contrasting them with the fruit of the Spirit. So the fruit of the Spirit is really just a test of whether the Holy Spirit is living inside of us, or if we are living driven by the flesh. When we examine our hearts, we should see evidence of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, and so on…), not the works of the flesh (sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, and so on…). This doesn’t mean that we need to be perfect (no one but God is) but that we should see the holy Spirit working in our lives and molding us more into the image of God. We should see a hate for our fleshly desires and a want (and effort) to have all of the fruit of the Spirit.

When I was reading these verses this week, grammar nerd me immediately noticed a change in verbs as an “are” is used for the fleshly desires (the works of the flesh are evident) and an “is” is used for the fruit of the Spirit (the fruit of the Spirit is). Fleshly desires are used with a plural verb because we don’t have to do every single one to be a sinner. Even one thought of jealousy or one idol is wrong and sinful. However, the fruit of the Spirit is used singularly because we should strive to bloom all of the fruit, not just some. Just like we are to “put on the whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11), we should want to possess all the fruit of the Spirit.

I hope you will enjoy my thoughts on the fruit of the Spirit and will strive with me to grow and bloom in the Holy Spirit and display his fruit.

Late Night Conversations with a 4 y.o.

Me: *singing Moana* I wish I could be the perfect daughter, but I…

Jonah (my adorable, 4 y.o. brother): What is a daughter?

Me: *thinking quickly* Um, a daughter is a girl who has (or had) a mom and dad. I’m a daughter because I am a girl and I have a mom and dad. You are a son because you are a boy with a mom and dad.

Jonah: Oh. Why does Moana want to be a daughter if she already is?

Me: No, she wants to be a perfect daughter. She wants to be perfect but only God and Jesus are perfect so she can’t be perfect anyway.

Jonah: OK. Sing Shiny!

Just a little something I wrote today…

So, today at my co-op when I was supposed to be paying attention, I totally wasn’t writing… Anyway, It’s not very good and it doesn’t make much sense (way to sell it!) but I figured I might as well post it. So, without further ado, for your reading pleasure:

I glanced at the clock. 15 whole minutes left. Darn. That is like 3 hours in school time. In video game time it is a blink of an eye. Why couldn’t school time be like that?

“Mr. Johnson?”

My head snapped up. “Yes, Ms. Norman?”

My teacher sighed. The frustrated teacher sigh. How come all of the teachers have exactly the same exasperated sigh? Is there a college class for teachers to learn dumb teacher habits like groaning, rolling eyes, and sighing?

“… what does x equal?”

My eyes grew almost as big as basketballs as I realized that my teacher had repeated the question and I hadn’t paid attention. I glanced around the classroom and saw all eyes on me. Ms. Norman sighed again warning me that I had a few seconds to answer before she started lecturing and talking to me like a toddler.

“Ummm… x equals… uh… 3… ?” Here comes the lecture…

“Correct.” Wait, what? Wow, I barely escaped that one! I should pay more attentio...

“And what does y equal?

The Power of the Cross

I love songs; I love singing and I love listening to songs. I love everything about songs.

But, sometimes, when we are listening to Christian music, we get caught up in the singer, the melody, or the instruments. We start singing to be heard by men rather than by the God we are singing to.

So, I am going to post the lyrics to The Power of the Cross and I want you to read the words and think about their impact. After you read them carefully with lots of thought, you should definitely listen to the song, but for now, just read:

Oh, to see the dawn
Of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
Torn and beaten, then
Nailed to a cross of wood.

[This always confused me. Why would anyone want to see Christ suffer on the cross? But as I was reading these words and thinking about my Savior, I realized that even in the midst of beatings and suffering, Jesus on the cross is a picture of unconditional love. Wouldn’t you want to see his face as he bears our sins and does it for love?]

This, the power of the cross:
Christ became sin for us;
Took the blame, bore the wrath—
We stand forgiven at the cross.

[The cross is the picture of forgiveness. Christ took all of our sins upon himself while we were mocking and whipping him just so that we could love him and come into a relationship with him.]

Oh, to see the pain
Written on Your face,
Bearing the awesome weight of sin.
Every bitter thought,
Every evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow.

Now the daylight flees;
Now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two,
Dead are raised to life;
”Finished!” the victory cry.

[Jesus paid it all and tore the curtain in two for us. Now death has no victory; it is finished!]

Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death;
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.

[We are now free to live not as prisoners of death but as children of God. Jesus bought us with the selfless love he displayed on the cross.]

This, the pow’r of the cross:
Son of God—slain for us.
What a love! What a cost! [I love this line!]
We stand forgiven at the cross.