Christianity’s Got Talent!

Sometimes we may feel useless,

but God has blessed every one of us with a talent.

 

One thing I’ve noticed while growing up in church is that we as Christians often rank one another by our abilities or talents. For example, if someone has a phenomenal singing voice, they are often held with high regard. On the other hand, you may have been blessed with the gift of patience or working with people (which often implies the same thing, let’s be real XD ), and feel like your gift isn’t as great. Sometimes we may feel that our abilities aren’t as useful for serving God as those that are used in praise and worship services, but God has blessed every one of us with a talent that will help us serve Him in our own unique way!

“As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”
-1 Peter 4:10-11

What the verse above is saying is that we have to choose to serve God according to the gift He has bestowed upon us, and be thankful for the gifts we have. Some of us may very well be phenomenal singers and choose to serve God through choir, praise and worship teams, etc. Some of us may have the gift of public speaking, where God will lead you to speak for crowds and spread His Word to the masses. Some of us may be writers *cough* perhaps people like me *cough*, where God has called us to spread His Love through the written word. Some of us may be good caretakers, allowing us to take care of the needs of others who are less fortunate. Some of us may be historians and lawyers who actively stand up for Christian beliefs. Some of us may be something as simple as a good friend to anyone who needs one. Whatever your gift-and there are far more out there than what I’ve listed-God gave it to you for a reason. I challenge you to discover that reason.

 

Don’t Dismiss Your Gift!

 “Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.” -1 Timothy 4:14

We’re not called to gripe and complain about our gifts; we’re called to honor God with them! You may feel that your gift will amount to nothing at all, but you’re wrong! Remember Philippians 4:13 (shoutout to my boyfriend’s favorite verse, y’all! XD ):  “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” God provided you with this ability, and He will provide you with an outlet in order to use your ability to honor Him if you’ll allow Him.

I used to think that writing was a pretty useless gift. I mean, when I was growing up, I never found a way to honor God through writing at the church I attended. But during the past few years, I’ve discovered that it wasn’t my ability getting in the way-it was my attitude about my ability.

Personally, I feel that God has blessed me with the gift of writing in order to spread His word on this blog, and through my fiction works (P.S. Go check out my new author site if you’d like: Authoring Arrowheads!).  Feel free to comment with how you’re using your gifts to spread the Word of God!

 

Goodnight and God bless!

-Allyson 😀

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Featured Image Attribute To: Proverbs 31 Ministries | http://proverbs31.org/

No copyright infrigement intended.

 

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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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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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Photo Credit Attributed to: David Platt, christianbook.com

Comparison: The Ultimate Killjoy

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt, my second favorite former President of the United States, is attributed for the six words above that put into perspective for me how vile it can be when we compare ourselves to others.  Stemming off from my post from last week, this week’s focus is how to combat that disgusting desire of comparing ourselves to those around us.

“She’s skinnier than me.”

“He’s better at a sport than me.”

“I can’t do anything as good as them.”

We’re all guilty of saying these things to ourselves.  There’s always going to be one person who does something better than you, or seemingly does everything better than you, or who you think looks better than you.  There are going to be things you want in life that are going to be rewarded to other people rather than you, and it’ll spark your jealousy.  You’ll start to think, “why did they get that promotion over me?” or “why does he like her and not me?” The questions will flood your mind to the point that you’ll drown out every good thought you’ve ever had about yourself, replacing them with toxic thoughts of comparison.  Comparison is a bully, a bully that has been pounding my mind, and the minds of many, for years.

 “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”
-2 Corinthians 10:12

Comparison is a product overthinking, and overthinking, (though at first glance of the word, you would think it would produce intelligent thoughts), more often than not produces nothing but absolutely detestable filth that will rot your mind to the core.  Overthinking takes place when we try to take the wheel for our lives rather than allowing God to steer us clear of the pitfalls we will inevitably fall into if we choose to ignore Him.  Comparison, overthinking’s spawn, is a deeper version that tells us that we can’t succeed in our lives because we aren’t as amazing as other people.  In actuality, comparison is one of the stupidest things we can use our minds for, as Paul points out in the verse above when he says, “but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise”.  Overthinking a situation usually does not improve the circumstances, but making false comparisons will lead you to become insecure, anxious, and will virtually ruin the said situation with all of the negative thoughts that have been compiled.  Overthinking is bad, comparison is worse, yet we still continue to feed those demons.  Why?

What we aspire to be like is what we aspire to please.

“For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”
-Galatians 1:10

When we dig in deeper at the root of comparison, we find that it’s not merely a mind problem, but a heart problem.  Society manifests in the minds of millions daily that we should aspire to keep up with the Joneses if we want to fit in, and I’ve heard that it only takes around twenty-one days to form a habit.  Multiply the twenty-one days that made constant comparison a habit by the average lifespan of a person, and that perspective is no longer the product of a habit, but the product of a deeply-rooted belief.  The belief that we should compare ourselves to others, model their behavior, and chastise ourselves for not living up to their standards is not how God calls us to live.  In Galatians 1:10 Paul tells us that if we strive to please others, we are not serving Christ as we should.  When we compare ourselves to others, we are basically marking a set rubric created by society up with red marks in ways that we pale in comparison to those who have set the bar; however, socialites and bigwigs didn’t set the highest bar.  That, my friends, was Jesus Christ.

Conform Renew Your Mind!

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
-Romans 12:2

That Paul guy was a pretty smart dude, but not because he compared himself to other apostles.  Paul was a pretty smart dude only because he constantly strove to perform the will of God in all that he did in order to please Him… not the Corinthians, the Galatians, the Romans, or the world for that matter.  Paul didn’t conform to this world full of empty aspirations, but was steadfast in the word of God and His teachings.  Paul was transformed, literally from Saul to Paul, by the grace of God.  When has society ever transformed someone for the better, especially when comparison is involved?

One last thought…

 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” -Psalm 139:14

You is fearful. You is wonderful. You is marvelous.
God made you *YOU* for a reason.
Stop comparing yourself to the devil’s lies.

 

Goodnight, and God bless!

-Allyson 😀

 

 

 

 

 

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Be Slow to Anger

For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. -James 1:20

Imagine an experience in your life where you reached the boiling point of your anger.  Someone may have provoked your anger by saying something that you didn’t agree with, or by doing something that you didn’t like.  Someone may have purposely acted in a way that would elicit a negative reaction from you, or you may have been mad at yourself for not performing an action to a certain caliber.  Whatever the reason, you were ticked off to the extreme.  You may have expressed your anger by saying hateful things, cursing, resorting to physical violence or kicking/hitting objects around you.  Whatever method of expression you chose, ask yourself the question:  Did my actions during that moment honor God?

As the verse above states, the wrath, or anger, of man does not present the righteousness of our Heavenly Father.  Therefore, when we are prompted to show our tempers, we should contemplate on how we should handle the situation in a way that honors God.

How Should Christians Handle Their Anger?

“A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.”
-Proverbs 29:11

The book of Proverbs provides us with a fantastic piece of advice when it comes to the subject of anger with the verse above.  According to God’s Word, people who are wise in the ways of the Lord will work to maintain their composure when they are angry in order to not cause a scene, while foolish people will be quick to throw a temper tantrum for all to see.  Conversely, it is easier to preach this verse than it is to put it into practice.  Sometimes people or circumstances will cause you to become furious beyond control, and your emotions will get the best of you; however, we should remember to focus on God and let Him handle the situation, for our anger will not make the matter better.  A great method that can help us focus on God while we are angry is to immediately turn to Him in prayer.  You don’t even have to bow your head or close your eyes; simply allow yourself a few minutes alone to utter a prayer, or even think of the prayer within your head.  Either way, as long as you seek God’s guidance, He will hear you, and will be pleased that you turned to Him instead of wrath.

How Should Christians Practice Holding Back Their Anger?

“The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.”
-Proverbs 19:11

The key to extinguishing our hate fire so to speak is to practice discretion whenever we become angry.  Discretion can be defined as choosing what to do in a certain situation, or behaving in such a way that will not offend anyone or reveal personal information.  For Christians, practicing discretion can mean that we choose to approach our anger with a method that reflects the righteousness of God rather than making a public display of ourselves.  For example, one may use prayer as a first resort when anger strikes. Whenever we react to a situation in a way that honors God, bystanders will notice that we have acquired a peaceful spirit due to our love for Christ.  For all you know, anytime that you remain calm during a situation where your anger has been kindled, you may be witnessing to a non-Christian about the peace of mind that comes with following Jesus.  To expand further upon the chance of a witnessing opportunity, consider Ephesians 4:26-27, “‘Be angry, and do not sin’: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” Yes, we can be angry, but we must deal with it in a way that does not honor Satan.

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”
-James 1:19

So, fellow Christians, let’s work to abide by God’s advisement in James 1:19.  When we take the time to listen to all sides of an argument or perceive options from all angles of a situation, we are able to consider the rationale of those who may have offended us or discover alternative methods of solving the problem.  When we consider our words before we speak, we are able to monitor our words so that we do not let vile or hateful words spew out and further contaminate our situation.  Lastly, when we are slow to wrath, we will have a peaceful mindset overall.  When we are slow to anger, we demonstrate our love for Jesus to others.  When we hold back temper tantrums, we will be happier in the long run.

Good day and God bless!

-Allyson 😀

 

 

 

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Featured image attributed to: Sobriety By The Grace of God ©