Syllabus Week Stress

I don’t know about y’all, but just reading the syllabus for a class stresses me out.

Assignments. Pop quizzes. Articles. Exams.  Online work.  Internships.  Family.  Social life.
Oh, and driving for us commuters out there.  Just about every time my professors are explaining the outline for our coursework during the first week of each semester, I can’t help but worry about how I’m going to have time to get everything done without neglecting another area of my life.  Wednesday was only my second day of senior year at the University I attend, and after having a rough morning, I texted my boyfriend about it because I needed to vent to someone.  I told him that I feel like I’m going to fail in one or more areas of my life if I take too much stuff on this semester.  The pressures of graduating in May have been weighing on me all summer, and I just want to get everything right.  He told me to pray about it, and I said that I’ve tried to, but it feels like I can’t find the right answer to what I’m supposed to do.  That’s when he replied with the slap-to-reality I needed:

When was the last time God made a mistake?

Yep… he shut me up right there.  Every time I get worried about how I’m going to get through this semester, get a job after graduation, or whatever else… I have to remember that God put me in this position for a reason, and He didn’t do it to leave me here to figure it out on my own.  God didn’t give me something I can’t handle, and I’m not stressing out because of a mistake He’s made, because He makes NO mistakes.  Oh, and that doesn’t only apply to me.  God has never made a mistake with any of us.

The only mistake here was caused by me.

“Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counselors they are established.” -Proverbs 15:22

Stress is caused by overthinking.  Overthinking occurs when we have something on our mind, over-analyze what could go wrong in the situation, and practically kill ourselves to find a solution.  Therefore, the bad day I had Wednesday was not due to the fact that God placed me in a situation that I won’t be able to handle; it was due to the fact that I was not relinquishing the burden to Him.  Yes, as I stated before, I had prayed about it.  Nevertheless, my prayer was, “please help me make the right decision”, when it should have been, “Lord, I place this situation in Your hands, and pray that you’ll have Your will with my life.  Guide me to make the right decision according to Your purpose for me.” At first glance those prayers don’t seem that different, but the one I was hurriedly spitting out before falling asleep at night was said out of frustration in myself for not being able to conjure up an answer on my own, not out of true reliance on God.  I was relying on my own counsel, not God’s, therefore causing myself disappointment when I kept letting the stress get to me.

Then I remembered a verse…

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” -Jeremiah 29:11

When I graduated from community college a couple of years ago, one of my favorite instructors gave me a bracelet with the scripture reference for this verse inscribed on a charm.  I didn’t think much of the verse then, but I wore the bracelet around a lot until part of it broke one day.  I don’t wear the bracelet anymore, but every time I think of graduating, my instructor and that verse come back to mind.

The first time I ever had a class with this particular instructor, it was for a programming class called Microsoft Visual Basic.  This was my first time learning how to write computer programs, so I (and many of my classmates) struggled throughout the semester.  Over time, I began do dislike my instructor because she wouldn’t help us when we ran into a problem; she made us take the time to figure it out the best we could before she would come take a look at it herself.  For the longest time, I thought she was just being lazy or hateful; however, by the end of the semester I had grasped a good understanding of the programming language and had figured out that the instructor didn’t ignore our requests for help out of rudeness, but out of preparation.  You see, she wasn’t trying to be hateful to me and my classmates so she wouldn’t have to do any extra work.  Instead, she axed our lifeline so to speak to teach us how to solve the problems that occurred on our own.  Just like Jeremiah 29:11, she had good intentions for us, despite the fact that I thought she was plotting my failure in her course.

God works in a similar way.

Whenever you’re wondering why God has placed you in a situation where it seems as if you have to do a million different, difficult tasks, think back to Jeremiah 29:11.  During times like that, we may question God as to why He’s allowing us to be stressed out or worried about our future.  I certainly have this week, but that’s not how we should react.  Satan wants us to blame God for our circumstances, when in reality Satan’s handiwork (overthinking, self-doubt, insomnia) that causes our stress in the beginning.  The key thing to know in times such as this is that God is trying to teach us how to rely on Him when our lives become overwhelming.  Nowhere in the Bible does it say, “figure it out thyself”.  Nah, actually it says pretty clearly:

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”
-Proverbs 3:5

You may not understand why you’ve been swamped with loads of responsibilities all at once.  You may not understand why you’ve suddenly become sick and have had to take extended time away from your duties.  You may not understand why someone left you to deal with life on your own.  Nevertheless, know this:  you may not understand it now, but if you trust in God to get you through it, He will reveal the trial’s purpose to you sooner or later.  God’s not trying to hurt you by leading you through difficulties; He’s trying to teach you the most valuable lesson of all.

Goodnight and God bless!

-Allyson 😀

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Relationships: Don’t Look for Perfection

Calling all Christian singles, or Christians who may be dating (or courting) someone at the moment… I have to let you in on a little secret:

“Mister/Miss perfect for you” won’t be perfect.

I know, this may be a devastating blow to some of you readers out there.  You may be thinking, “there’s a guy/girl out there for me who truly makes God their top priority, and they will have minimal sinful baggage to bring to our relationship”.  And yes, that may be true for some of you; however, that won’t be the case for all of us.  Some of us are going to fall for people with troubled pasts.  Some of us are going to have to practice patience and forgiveness whenever we find out about our significant other’s past.  Some of us are going to have to nudge them back to Christ.  Some of us are going to end up with an imperfect person.

But guess what?  We’re all imperfect.

Oh yeah… remember that lie you told?  Remember that time you disobeyed your parents?  Remember that time you had lustful thoughts about someone, even if you didn’t put those thoughts into action?  You, me, he, she, we… we’re all imperfect sinners who are given grace by a perfect God.  We as humans tend to think that there are different ranks of sins, meaning that some are worse than others.  Honestly, that’s not the case at all.  God’s word tells us that all sins are of equal measure:

“For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” -James 2:10

So, if you’ve committed one sin, you’ve basically committed them all.  No sin is better or worse than any other… they’re all bad.  It’s bad to lie.  It’s bad to steal.  It’s bad to sin against our bodies through using drugs, alcohol, or having sexual relationships outside of marriage.  Going back to what I said in Forgive and Forget, we as Christians know that God will forgive us every time we fall short of His commandments, but we’re quick to cast shameful looks on others when they sin.

Parable time! 😀

There are two Christians, Jim and Kim.  Jim murdered someone before he got saved, and Kim is a compulsive liar who is a sort-of Christian.  As you can see, both Jim and Kim have sinned in their past.  Both Jim and Kim will die, and will appear before God to be judged.  When God looks upon Jim, the reformed murderer, He will not say, “well Jim, you killed a man.  That’s a terrible sin that isn’t worthy of salvation, even though you’ve lived for Me for the past 30 years.  You’re going to Hell.”  Likewise, He’s not going to approach Kim and say, “well Kim, you lie like a penny in the parking lot at a grocery store, but it’s just a minor offense.  I know you haven’t really tried to live according to my commandments, but you’ve done some Christiany things.  Welcome to Heaven!”

That’s not how it works.  That’s not how any of this works. XD

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one…”
-Romans 3:10

Alas, none of us are perfect, so don’t think that your future boyfriend/girlfriend should have a pristine past.

Now you’re gonna ask me,

“How do we deal with their past sins?”

Okay, so you’re dating/thinking about dating a Christian who has struggled with sin in the past.  Maybe they did jail time, maybe they’ve been promiscuous in past relationships.  Upon learning that information, it’s going to hurt you.  You’re going to want to ask them a million questions as to why they acted in that manner when God’s word clearly states that it’s a sin.  You’re going to wonder if they’re worth pursuing a relationship with, and if they’ll return to their former ways.  It’s going to take a toll on you to find out that your potential mate isn’t all sunshine and sweetness like you initially thought they would be.  Nevertheless, remember that their past is going to be even harder on them.

Before you verbally attack this person with questions and doubt their potential, I beg of you, reconsider and take the following steps:

  1. Talk to them about your concerns, but don’t ask them for all the details.  If you ask someone to go into the gory details of their past, you’re going to receive a whopping dosage of TMI, and your over-analyzing may make you think less of the person.  Instead, just tell them how you’re feeling after hearing about what happened.
  2. Ask them if they’ve talked to God about the issue.  If you’re a Christian, this is especially important, considering you’re thinking about pursuing a long-term relationship with this person.  If they have asked God to cleanse them from their sin and are actively working to live according to His commandments now, then you have absolutely nothing to worry about, darling.  Conversely, if they don’t think what they’ve done is wrong and refuse to ask God for forgiveness well… here’s your sign.
  3. Forgive and Forget.  They’ve already asked God for forgiveness, and He’s shed His grace upon them.  We should be willing to do the same.  If you truly care for this person, a sinful past shouldn’t be the end-all of the relationship.  Remind yourself of all of the amazing things about this person, why you took a liking to them in the first place.  Don’t let the past, especially if they’re trying their best to change, skew your perception of them.

Let the past remain in the past.

Don’t let past offenses overshadow tomorrow’s miracles.

“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” -Romans 6:14

Besides, maybe this is your person.

I know this post is getting long-winded, but here’s the main reason I wanted to relay this message to the Christian dating scene:  maybe this imperfect person is YOUR person.  Maybe that guy/girl who used to drink and sleep around needs you to be a Hosea-like person and lead them to Christ.  Maybe God placed you in each other’s lives because you both need rescuing… by inspiring one another to work through the sins of their past and to actively make God the center of their relationship.

Perfect couples don’t exist, because neither part of the couple is perfect.

Nevertheless, a couple that builds each other up to follow Christ is perfect in God’s eyes.

Don’t throw away a beautiful future because of an ugly past.

 

Good day, and God bless!

-Allyson 😀

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Featured image attributed to: Eddie Cortes

The Appeal of Unpopularity

Last night, I had a dream that I received 1,500+ views on a blog post…

Yeah, so I had a rather nerdy dream last night about this blog.  I had completed another post like usual, and within seconds, both the view count and the like count went through the roof.  I was ecstatic, and was relaying the news to anyone that would listen.  When I awoke this morning, I smiled to myself, wondering how awesome it would be if that ever became a reality.  Then I realized that I was being entirely selfish.

This blog isn’t about me.  This blog is about God.

Popularity shouldn’t be my intention.

I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”
-John 17:14

In fact, popularity shouldn’t even be an expectation.  If I am aiming to make the word of God and the gift of salvation through Jesus known to the world by writing this blog, then I should not expect the world to indulge in reading it.  The above verse states clearly that the world will hate Christians if we broadcast the word of God.  In fact, I know this to be true, because I have received ugly comments about this blog from nonbelievers.  The thing is, we shouldn’t care that people of the world are shunning us for our beliefs, simply because they are not hating us… they’re hating God, and everything He stands for.  Therefore, when I felt a nudge from God to start this blog back in February, I came into it knowing that I wasn’t going to please everyone.  I’m fine with that.  I didn’t start writing this blog to make me known, just God.

“For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?” -Luke 9:25

Luke 9:25 is one of my all-time favorite Bible verses, because it put into perspective for me why we as Christians should seek to be unpopular in this world.  The only way for a Christian to become popular in this world is to tolerate and actively encourage others that choosing to live in sin is fine and dandy.  The world doesn’t want to hear the truth, that we need to repent our sins, turn away from them, and accept salvation from Jesus Christ.  People of the world do not want to hear that they can’t save themselves.  People of the world don’t want to be told that they’re living down a futile road unless they ask God to take over.  If we tell them the truth about God, we’ll be mocked and questioned; however, that’s a risk I’m willing to take if I can reach one person and help them to find the love of God.  Jesus: Be My Escape is not a blog that preaches the toleration of sin.  I’m sure that if it was, I’d have the 1,500+ views I dreamed about last night and then some (Note:  I’m not saying that true Christian blogs can’t have large view counts.  I’m simply saying that, like Christian movies, books, etc., we’re inclined to have less views than media outlets that produce worldly media).  Why do I choose not to spread a thick layer of sin toleration on the sandwiches of the masses?  The answer is simple:  I have read the Bible, and I know what it says.  Because of that fact, I am not going to supply a feast of false teachings onto the plates of the world.  My goal, as I wrote earlier, is to reach that one soul who is hungering for the real truth of salvation through Jesus Christ.  If I were to supply a feast of false teachings, I wouldn’t gain a soul for God; I’d just lose myself in the process.

Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.”
-1 John 3:13

If you’re a Christian and you’ve been wondering why the world seems to hate us, refer back to the verse above.  The world doesn’t hate you because of anything you’ve created on your own, but because you believe in a Heavenly Father who has your best intentions at heart.  In this day and time, Christians can’t escape persecution.  As the world is falling farther and farther away from the teachings of God, Christians are going to receive more backlash than ever before.  Well, what are we going to do about it?

“And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”
-1 John 2:17

In the words of my favorite filmmaker, Walt Disney, “keep moving forward.”  If we don’t succumb to the lusts of the world, then we’ll spend eternity with God.  I’m going to let you in on a little secret if you haven’t read the book of Revelation:  the world, sin, nonbelievers, Satan… they’re not going to make it to Heaven.  We’re on this earth for a sliver of time, but life in Heaven lasts for an eternity.  Therefore, don’t let them bother you here on earth and make you feel like you’re an outcast.  You’re not an outcast if you belong to God; you have believers, a Heaven full of people, the Holy Spirit, Jesus, and an almighty God rooting for you!

Have a good day, and God bless!

-Allyson 😀

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Backsliding

Backsliding: Don’t Fall off the Cliff Just Yet

Whether you’ve been a Christian your entire life, or only for a few months, you’re going to experience a period of backsliding at some point.  Despite your best intentions to live a pristine life, actively pursue Christ and abide by God’s word, Satan will do his best to break your habit by interfering.  Satan will try his best to lure you away from God by tempting you with the lusts of the world, and will attempt to convince you that you’re a horrible person and not worthy of God’s love.

But Satan’s a liar.

You can get back on track.

 

Analyze What Happened:

“Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?”
-Galatians 5:7

Did you stop going to church?  Did you fall into the wrong crowd?  Did Satan attack you individually with lies and deceit?  Think back to when you first felt like you were straying away from God.  What was the reason you stopped going to church?  Is the crowd you’re hanging out with causing you to stumble?  Where did the bad thoughts/actions first stem from?  Once you ask yourself these questions, it is easier to pinpoint the origin of the problem.

Consider Your Guilt:

“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”
-2 Corinthians 13:5

If you’re backsliding in your walk with God, you won’t have to have someone notify you, for that is the purpose of the Holy Spirit.  When you ask Jesus to come into your heart, the Holy Spirit will abide in you and will help you stay on a path that is pleasing to God.  The condition is we have to be willing to listen to the Holy Spirit; it’s unfortunate that we can’t set it on autopilot, but that’s why God allows us to have free will.  If you have accepted salvation through Jesus Christ, you will develop a weird feeling whenever you begin to backslide.  While you’re partaking in the sin, you’ll feel a pang of guilt and think, “this goes against what the Bible says.”  From here, you have two options:  continue, or quit and repent.

Option 1: Continue in Sin

“For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins…”
Hebrews 10:26

To quote Once Upon a Time, “magic always comes with a price, dearie.”  Magic, in this case, is sin. Jesus paid the price for everyone’s sins on the cross.  If we accept the gift of salvation and turn away from our sinful ways, we will not have to pay the cost of our sin.  Conversely, if we continue to dwell in sin, we are ignoring God’s commandments.  Therefore, if we are ignoring God and are more willing to feed our hunger for contentment in sin rather than in a relationship with our Heavenly father, we’re not really accepting the terms and conditions of salvation, are we?  Please consider that fate if you choose this option.

Option 2:  Quit and Repent

 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
-1 John 1:9

No matter where you are in life, no matter what you have done in the past, God is willing to forgive you of your sins if you accept Jesus’s gift of eternal salvation.  The thing is, if we want to hold fast to our salvation, we can’t choose Option 1 (see above) any time we please and still expect God to give us a clean bill of health.  God knows everything, including our individual hearts, meaning He can tell where our loyalty lies.  If our loyalty lies with Him, He will know it because we will turn away from sin.  Sure, we may still slip up now and then, but He will know that we are trying our best to rid our lives of sinful behavior.  Therefore, repentance and turning away from our sin is the first step to getting back on track with God.

Remember There’s Always a Rope to Hold on to!

“It is of the Lord‘s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.” -Lamentations 3:22

Just because we backslide, it doesn’t mean that we’ve fallen off the cliff completely.  Jesus welcomes us back every time we stumble, and always offers a helping hand if we are willing to accept it.  We don’t have to be consumed by guilt if we fall off of the straight and narrow path God has set out for us, for Jesus will always have compassion on us if we turn to him with a loyal heart.  Hold on tight to the rope Jesus has thrown you every time you stumble.

 

Goodnight, and God bless!

-Allyson 😀

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