Deflecting Death- The Breastplate of Righteousness

So this spring break, a few of my friends and I made it a goal to find the best place to watch the sunrise. We call ourselves the Sunrise Chasers. It’s crazy to think that this happens every day and the majority of us miss it and sleep through the beautiful emergence of a brand new day!

Continuing on with the Armor of God, the next piece of the armor is the Breastplate of Righteousness.

…with the breastplate of righteousness in place… 

Obviously, the breastplate was designed to protect the vital organs. The heart and lungs were guarded by this piece of armor; without the breastplate, a soldier would unquestionably meet their demise. With the utilization of a breastplate, attacks to the main sources of life would become ineffective and futile. The blows of the enemy would bounce back. The breastplate would deflect it, rendering the weapons and attempts of the opposing side virtually useless.

Without fitting ourselves with the breastplate, we leave ourselves susceptible to certain death.

…but righteousness delivers from death. -Proverbs 11:4

Often, when the word “righteousness” is mentioned, my mind wanders to the idea of self-righteousness. I tend to think of doing good things for others, for myself, for God. The concept of works is emphasized in my mind. If I don’t do X, then I will be considered “good” in the eyes of others and God, or if I do do X, then I will have a better reputation, I will feel better about myself. It is easy to slip into this mindset. Righteousness isn’t just doing good deeds, though! It lies at the heart, the very thing the breastplate defends.

As I mentioned in my previous post (and will probably keep mentioning), the breastplate is a gift from God. If this is something given to us, then how can it be our own? The righteousness that we put on is God’s, not ours. With this in mind, consider what Isaiah says regarding self-righteousness vs. godly righteousness.

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. -Isaiah 64:6

Not super encouraging at first glance, is it? Our own attempts at being good are like a filthy rag, we cannot do it on our own. Imagine readying for battle, enemy arrows are flying, blood is being shed, havoc is everywhere. Here you are, preparing for the war of your life. You look at yourself in the mirror, putting on the belt, the helmet, the shoes… the rag? On your chest, you confidently wrap around a dirty piece of flimsy fabric, and confidently run out into the battlefield, screaming a war-cry, inviting the enemy to attack. It would be insane to do this, in a matter of minutes, the soldier with the rag would be impaled. They were not guarding their heart and leaned on their own understanding of righteousness – on their own independent nature. Dependency on God’s gift is key. Only through His power can we gain the strength and durability of a well-crafted breastplate. Isaiah points out that God clothes himself with the breastplate of righteousness, too.

He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head… -Isaiah 59:17

This is the kind of stable and dependable armor that we should strive to clothe ourselves with. With this breastplate, the very one our Lord and Savior wears and graciously offers us, we are able to defend ourselves against the enemy’s attacks. This breastplate is crafted with love and protection, not pride and worldly standards.

Alright, so we’ve established that our own righteousness is not sufficient for battle, but how do we strive for godly righteousness? How do we fit ourselves with a pure and blameless breastplate?

In Romans 9:30, it is made clear that righteousness by faith is crucial. It is not by our own works that His breastplate safeguards us, but by an unadulterated confidence in the One who protects. In order to gain a better understanding for righteousness by faith, establishing what faith even is would be essential. (Side note: I will definitely delve into the idea of faith more when we get to the Shield of Faith!)

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. -Hebrews 11:1

So a true righteousness is by faith alone, confidence and hope. Faith in God compels us towards a righteous lifestyle, towards striving for sanctification. And the promise of the Lord is what establishes our faith – his promise of coming back, of being who he says he is, of loving us. Throughout Psalm 119, the author of this chapter continually declares their love for God’s just law, their trust and hope in God’s word, and their delight in God’s commands. The image of cherishing and treasuring God’s word and promises is evident in this passage. It is clear that adoring God and his ways is true faith that comes from a pure trust in the love God has. We only trust because of love, and we only love because God first loved us. Loving the Word of God and his law is the example we must follow if we desire to become faithfully righteous through God’s power. This may get a little confusing. I feel that I have just thrown everything at y’all and it has become redundant or messy in organization, so I have taken the liberty of including a chart to explain what I mean.


(God’s love, not ours, compels us to love back and trust) 1 Corinthians 13:7, 1 John 4:19


(Because trust and hope are what fuel faith) Hebrews 1:11


(Faith in who God is, in his character, in his coming back, promises, and ultimately his love for us result in a desire to be prepared and pure in the sight of such a loving and faithful God) Romans 9:30


(Preserves us from death, life given to us from God) Proverbs 11:4


(The ultimate gift given to us, only acquired through a love, faith, hope, trust, and righteous lifestyle that deflects death, ultimately bringing life)

Hopefully that helped a little more to understand the pattern and beauty of how righteousness works! In 1 Thessalonians 5:8, the breastplate is also compared to faith and love, proving the chart above to be accurate. It is only by faith and love that righteousness can even be attained!

But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. -1 Thessalonians 5:8

Ultimately, it is not just righteousness that act as a way to guard our heart and our source of life, it is more than a few nice acts or avoiding sin – it is a complete and total trust in God’s love and law.

1 Kings 22 provides a great example of what it is like to be bereft of a breastplate in the heat of battle. Though this is a long and super interesting story, I will just get to my main point. King Ahab, the main dude in the passage, had not completely secured his breastplate during the war. He actually left it open slightly, ultimately leading to his untimely death. A stray arrow, of all things, pierced King Ahab where the armor did not cover, thus killing him slowly and painfully. He wasn’t even targeted! A mere wandering arrow had led to his downfall. Don’t leave your armor half-way on, vulnerable to the projectiles of temptation and worldliness. Put the breastplate of righteousness fully in place, securing it to deflect the deadliest of arrows!



Gird Em’- The Belt of Truth


This here is a barn dance my campus ministry has attended a couple times, now. We’re do-si-do pros!

Happy March, everyone! I am aware that I posted nothing in February, but I assure you it was for a good cause! During the last month, I have been delving into Ephesians 6, studying more in depth the individual parts to the Armor of God. Lately, I feel like the spiritual battle has been evident in my life, and reading about the Armor of God really spoke to me in that sense. This begins a series of posts all about The Armor of God, so stay tuned for the rest to follow!

As a little preface before I dive right in, I feel it is necessary to keep in mind the verses that lead up to the Armor of God. I’ve noticed that many commentaries just look at the belt, the shield, the helmet, etc. and forget to address the context of the situation at hand. Paul says to stand against the devil’s schemes, but it is not in our own strength.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 

Ephesians 6:10 makes it clear that we are able to be strong because of the Lord and his might. He chooses to relent some of his power to us, in the form of truth, righteousness, readiness, faith, salvation, and the Spirit/God’s Word. By equipping us with these gifts, God makes us ready to “fight the good fight” (1 Tim. 6:12), and furthermore, stand against the Devil and his schemes. Another thing I would like to point out is that the day of evil is coming. According to Ephesians 6:13, we are preparing for a definite battle, not the probability of one.

13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground…

The Armor of God is made to deflect, protect, and combat the dark forces of this world, but it does not guarantee that evil will never bombard us. In fact, the Bible directly confirms that Satan will strike at some point in our life. The Armor is made to defend and fight back, so that we may stand our ground when the enemy attacks.

The Belt of Truth

Paul begins the list of the armor with the Belt of Truth. When I first read this, I was a bit underwhelmed. Come on, God, a belt? Really? That’ll intimidate Satan… but there is so much more to it than the surface definition! The Greek translation of this verse is, “Stand therefore having girded the loins of you with truth.” What the heck does gird mean? Why in the world are loins mentioned?

“Gird” in the English definition is to encircle with a belt, secure, surround the body. This is probably why we all know the first part of the Armor of God to be the belt. However, “gird” in the biblical times had other implications. The saying “gird up your loins” back in that time often referred to preparation and being ready for a service or endeavor. In fact, “gird up your loins” had a very similar meaning to our modern day phrase, “roll up your sleeves.” In both common sayings, there is an underlying meaning that implies action is about to happen, your hands are about to get dirty.

To really understand the depth that “gird” has, we have to understand how soldiers specifically girded their loins to prepare for battle. In biblical days, men and women both wore long tunics, therefore making it difficult to maneuver their legs with a full range of motion. The tunic hindered them from being prepared and left them susceptible to dangers of tripping and falling. So, in order to avoid falling flat on their faces, soldiers would gather the tunic, as shown below, so their legs would be free for hard labor or battle.

Image result for gird loins diagram

We are called, however, to gird our loins with truth, not our tunics. By (I’m going to say it again) girding our loins with the truth, God prepares us for spiritual warfare. The truth deflects the lies and deceit that the enemy hurls at us.

Truth itself is far more than the Word of God.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” -John 14:6

Jesus is the Word. Jesus is the Truth. Girding our loins and fastening the belt all goes back to following Him and His teachings, not our own version of truth. The belt that we take up is Jesus’, not ours. We cannot “lean on our own understanding” (Prov. 3:5); then we are vulnerable to attack.

Truth is the abstract concept of accordance with fact and reality, it is the foundation of The Bible itself. In fact, this correlates directly with the idea of truth as a belt. Without the belt, there is nothing to hold the sword, the Word of God. The Belt of Truth upholds the Sword of the Spirit. What would happen if a soldier did not secure their belt and it fell to their ankles? They would not have their weapon of offense. They would be left without a tool to fight back with. They would trip and fall over the belt that was supposed to be tightened to their waist. The soldier would be rendered helpless.

We must fit ourselves with the One Truth. The battle is real. The enemy is coming, but the armor is present. Gird up your loins and prepare for battle, soldier.




Distracted by the Wind

I just couldn’t pass up a chance to share this picture one of my friends captured when we took a spontaneous road trip to Chicago a week ago. The picture does not do it justice!

Over the past couple of weeks, I have felt a strong inclination to study out distractions more in depth. It is something that seems so minuscule and unworthy to address at times, after all, distractions seem to be temporary and fleeting most of the time, right? The new job that demands your attention, the difficult classes that require your full concentration, a relationship that commands devotion, and just figuring out what the future may hold can cause anxiety or apprehension. All of these examples seem to take our minds to a different place, seemingly for just a short amount of time. That’s the problem though; the word “short” is a very vague word. It is a word used to establish ambiguity, but create a sense of hope that the short affair will be over soon. It acknowledges an end, but not an end point. It is not a concrete word, it is a subjective connotation utilized to buy more time in order to continue doing what we’re doing while avoiding accountability. Think about when we were younger, and our parents or teachers would claim that something would be over “soon” or “in a bit.” These words mean various things to different people. “Short” can mean a minute, an hour, a few hours, days… The list goes on. So, my question is, how often do we tell ourselves that these meaningless distractions will be short lived, only so we can stop them at a time that we decide is more convenient for ourselves?

In Matthew 14:25-31, distractions among the disciples are present in this scripture. Peter, one of Jesus’ devoted followers, is in a boat along with other disciples, waiting for Jesus to finish praying on a nearby mountainside. It says in the passage that the boat that the disciples had boarded was a considerable distance from land, due to the winds and waves buffeting against it. In addition, this occurred during the night, so the fright factor was definitely there. At dawn, it all goes down. Jesus is seen walking on the lake, but the disciples don’t recognize Him. They immediately resort to fear, crying out that it is a ghost that’s before them, but Jesus immediately puts this fear to rest by explaining that it is him, and not a creepy apparition.

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on water and came toward Jesus.

-Matthew 14: 27-29

Jesus calls Peter, and Peter comes. He is focused on the calling, his eyes are solely on Jesus. He is walking on water, achieving the impossible! Everything is peaceful, despite the chaos in the background. His focus is on the Lord, so automatically everything around him seems so small. All is well until the next verse…

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

As soon as his focus went somewhere else, his thoughts became full of worry and fear. What happened? Peter became distracted by the wind. It’s interesting how of all things to become distracted by, it was the wind that caused his downfall. The wind – an inescapable force, surrounding Peter, entrapping him in worry and doubt. The wind – something that Jesus could easily control, yet Peter’s sights were set on the problem rather that the solution standing right in front of him. The wind – a part of nature that can be so much as a breeze or as damaging as a hurricane. Yet it never really says just how strong this wind was that distracted Peter; it is assumed that it was strong, but never fully explains the amount of strength that it really had. I think that’s how distractions in our life work, too. We become so consumed in how big the distraction is, we become so full of fear or anxiety that we forget that Jesus is standing right there, more than capable to speak the storm out of existence. When was the last time that you were distracted by the wind? When was the last time that you let it get the best of you and you started to sink?

The thing about sinking is that most people don’t go under right away and die. They usually put up a fight, try to float for a bit, tread water and exhaust themselves, or try to swim to the nearest safe place.  Sinking is not a passive thing, it’s a very active struggle, but how many times do we find ourselves slowly sinking and try to handle it on our own? In this moment, though, Peter looked to Jesus, he didn’t try to stay above water himself.

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

Did you notice that first word, though? IMMEDIATELY. I love that in the moment that Peter begins to sink, Jesus reaches out his hand with such a sense of urgency. He catches a sinking soul. That is the grace of our God! In our drowning moments, Jesus stoops down and rescues us. What Jesus says next, though, does not seem as encouraging, but Peter needed to hear it. That is also our God.

Peter let the distractions give birth to faithlessness. His identity in that moment was one of little faith. It says Peter became afraid, and that was the beginning of a crippling snowball effect. As soon as fear overtook him, he could no longer stand. His distractions progressed to fear, and soon enough, fear progressed to faithlessness. The one who has little faith doubts. The mere distraction of the wind had progressed to doubt in Jesus. How did it escalate so fast? The wind seemed short. It felt fleeting. Distractions lead to a path defined by lack of faith and full of doubt. But why did Peter doubt? I think it is evident why Peter felt the temptation to doubt Jesus’ power. The wind was the focus, it was too much to take in without a savior in the line of vision, too. Peter’s sights were set on the chaos around him, not the offering of peace in front of him. It is either black or white, set your sights on things above or the worries of this world, there cannot be a gray area here. Taking your eyes of Jesus is faithlessness, that’s what it boils down to.

There’s more to the story, though. Often times, Peter gets a bad rap here. He was full of fear, he lacked a lot of faith, but what about the other disciples in the boat? If Peter had “little faith,” then just how much did the other disciples have? They weren’t even willing to step out onto the water towards Jesus in the first place. Yes, Peter seemed to have failed, but look at “little faith” in a new light, it was more than the rest. He had the nerve to question Jesus, so in return, he got to experience a supernatural answer. The other disciples didn’t. Peter took a risk in order to get to God, but what did the other disciples in the boat do? They stayed comfortable. Peter was the only follower that even had the audacity to question and walk out to Jesus. The others were fearful, but Peter had faith, though it was small. So even though he failed to remain above the water, he had enough faith to approach Jesus despite his uneasiness. “Little faith” was all Jesus needed to reveal a divine encounter.

All in all, what are the “winds” in your life? How do you handle them? Do you try to remain comfortable like the other disciples in the boat or are you actively pursuing Jesus like Peter did? When the winds catch your attention, do you refocus on Jesus or are you worried about the mayhem around you?

The two examples I have presented before you tell the story of two different viewpoints. The disciples in the boat saw the winds and a ghost, and decided to praise Jesus after the storm had past. The distractions took the spotlight in their minds, and Jesus was only thought of after the winds had died down. Fear had won. Peter saw the opportunity to pursue Jesus, but fell when he magnified the distractions rather than the Lord. The winds were too much because that’s all he was focused on, but he persevered and cried out to Jesus when he recognized that he was sinking. Both examples are not ideal. The ideal story would be that Peter walked towards Jesus with no doubt, no fear, and no worry. How wonderful it would be if we could do that in our daily lives, but the truth is, sometimes the distractions, well, distract us for a while. Redirect your attention to the one who stands before you, ready to catch you when you fall, prepared to reach out when you begin to sink.

Just Shut Up (Part 2)

To continue on from my last post (though it’s been a hot minute since I last posted), I am just going to dive right in. My apologies for not writing as frequently as planned, life has been a little crazy with the holidays coming up!


I could write about so many other times that it is just simply not necessary to speak up, (and I would love to!) however there is one instance that stood out to me above all — if your words will be a poor reflection of the Lord. This instance surpasses all others. Yes, shut up if you don’t know the full story, if you will offend a weaker brother or sister, or if it becomes gossip or corrupt slander, but this would all be avoided if we simply just asked ourselves, “Is this what would come out of the lips of Jesus?”.  In 1 Peter 2:21-23, Peter urges “God’s elect” (1 Peter 1:1), and furthermore, us, who are God’s chosen people, to “follow in his [Jesus’] steps.” The verse continues to demonstrate Jesus’ extreme patience when it comes to holding the tongue, and even more, how he managed to do it.

He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 

Here, Peter brings us back to the scene of Jesus at the cross. He takes us back to the extreme humiliation, severe torment, and image of sinners spitting insults in a perfect man’s face. The level of injustice is inconceivable, yet Jesus did nothing. NOTHING. That blows my mind! Put yourself in his place for a second. How many times have you wanted to serve up your own form of justice to those who have persecuted you? Often times, my own form of justice included hurling insults back, getting even, and making sure that I had the last word. I wanted power in the argument by treating that person as they had treated me, but that is not the standard that we are called to live out. That is not love. Furthermore, that is definitely not how Jesus acted towards his oppressors. HE DID NOT RETALIATE. HE MADE NO THREATS. He did not become defensive, he did not see it as an opportunity to display wrath, he did not fight back. Jesus received this torment and loved anyway.

Quick story: The other day I was at work behind the cash register, and a rude woman approached me, calling me “stupid” and “a waste of her time.” You better believe that I wanted to fight back and argue the opposite, which I knew to be true, but I said nothing. I let her yell and take her aggression out on me, and as she continued to hold up the line with her anger mismanagement, I thought about how difficult it really is to avoid a sassy rebuttal. After the lady had worn herself out and exhausted all insults, she took a breath, looked at me standing there in silence, and apologized. She explained that she had realized her mistake, but the reason why may surprise you. She said (very briefly and slightly embarrassed) that seeing me stand there taking the heat had won her over. Moral of the story? This was nowhere close to the affliction that Jesus experienced, but it was SO difficult not to fight back, especially considering this woman’s blinding ignorance. Yet silence spoke louder than the words I wanted to scream back at her, and patience triumphed over anger.

But even later on verse 23, it explains HOW Jesus had the patience and self control to hold his tongue and take the beating. Instead of throwing out snarky remarks, performing a miracle, or rebuking everyone on the spot, which would seem to be justifiable, Jesus entrusted himself to “him who judges justly.” Jesus understood that even during a time of torture, he could not let other people’s unrighteousness affect his righteousness. He surrendered all tempting thoughts, actions, or words to God, knowing that his Father would take care of the battle. He acknowledged that God’s fair and perfect judgment supercedes human’s erroneous anger-motivated judgment. By keeping his mind on things above, understanding and having full faith that his oppressors would be justly judged, Jesus was able to keep his mouth shut and radiate love worthy to imitate.

People often say think before you speak, it is a common phrase used to promote reflection before words are just blurted out without a thought. I would like to take that phrase to the next level though, and get right to the heart of the issue. Think before you speak, but what are you thinking of? Is it how you can be the better person and promote self righteousness or is your mind on God and his role in the situation at hand? Being the better person is made out to seem like a healthy alternative to choosing not to fight back, however I find it is ironically prideful. By not speaking when provoked, even though you never got the last word verbally, you did in your head. Why? Because in your eyes, you are the superior by holding the tongue and the words that will consequently follow. It is righteousness for the wrong reasons. This is not an act of dependence on God, it is dependence on yourself and your own human capabilities. In order to truly follow Jesus and his example, the only option is to shut up because your eyes on God, who calls you to a higher standard.

Even Jesus had to rely on God for strength, so why would you be any different?


Just Shut Up

IA Sunset
JUST. LOOK. AT. THIS. BEAUTY. Side note: This was a sunset captured at our new sister’s baptism a few weeks ago. Couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful evening!

If you’re anything like me, speaking up is no problem for you. Whether you want to debate an issue, give advice, or simply just make your voice heard and recognized, words are the gateway to achieving that goal. It doesn’t matter – big group, small get together, or one-on-one conversation- I believe everyone wants to make their opinions heard at one time or another. The frequency of this may differ, however, it is just instilled in us to make our voices known and considered. I found myself wondering why that is, though. This week, I embarked on a super convicting journey in discovering why I find myself wanting to blurt out whatever pops into my mind without giving it a second thought. In addition, I found that my desire to “throw up” whatever is on my brain doesn’t always come from good intentions or God.

I think it is a recurring theme in our society today to speak up and speak out. With every rally, every protest, every philosophical or intellectual debate, every opinion- it is just instilled in the culture that we live in. It is praised and encouraged to speak out about a variety of different topics. The world sees these declarations as a bold and courageous thing. They see it as a sign of power or authority, a sign of knowledge. It is something to commend. For example, having the last word is perceived to have the power in the conversation or argument. Obviously, words have power. In fact, the tongue itself has the power of life and death, but when should we refrain from speaking? When should we just, well, shut up? Though the world may define declining to speak as a form of weakness, it is anything but that in the eyes of God. Sometimes, more often times than not, it is just simply not necessary to talk. There are many specific times that the Bible orders us to shut up, and I am currently in the process of studying out twenty different reasons and times why and when she should hold our tongue, however, I will only touch on a few for now.

Answering Before Listening

In Proverbs 18:13, it is pretty straightforward about how God views a hasty tongue.

To answer before listening – that is folly and shame.”

But what is He getting at? Well, the main thing happening in this scenario is a person speaking before they understand what they are answering. Has that ever happened to you? Someone automatically inserts themselves into the conversation or interrupts you because they think they know what to say before hearing you out? This is not how God desires us to communicate with each other. When answering before listening, a level of narrow-mindedness, and ultimately pride, is present. Though there may be good intentions of speaking up before listening, it is still foolish and shameful. Speaking without all the facts is just unwise in the eyes of the Lord. There is also a level of impatience, here. If you or someone else cannot wait to hear the full story, but interject with their own words or opinions on the matter, there is very little consideration for what is being said. There is no patience, and according to 1 Corinthians 13, love is patient. If we are to live out a life of love, displayed in our communication with one another, then we have to cease interrupting and begin to listen actively and lovingly.

We are not entitled to critique someone or state our thoughts on the matter until we hear the full story, and even after that, we may not be entitled to say anything on the subject at hand. This reminds me of the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife(Genesis 39, check it out!), and how because Potiphar did not listen to the full account of what had happened, he understood a false account as truthful. Potiphar spoke out of anger rather than patience, and because of this, was subject to believing a lie, therefore presenting him as a fool. Seems pretty harsh, doesn’t it? Well buckle up, folks, it’s gonna be a long and convicting ride! It is so easy to give opinions on things we half-way understand, but the truth is that we will end up looking just plain ignorant and foolish if we try talking about something we honestly know very little about.

Actively listening is the key. We can’t use the person’s time talking to attempt to think about a response that we will say next. We must DESIRE understanding, and often times, listening is the perfect way to do that!

Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.”  Proverbs 18:2

DANG. That cut me to the heart. If I only desire to assert my own opinion on a matter and do not want to fully understand the story or other side of things, then I am just a fool with a loud mouth. If we habitually parade around our own perspectives but never seek to truly understand what we are talking about, then we are but a mere fool. Listening is humility, not leaning on your own understanding. What’s even crazier is that we, as humans, are not able to control our own tongue by ourselves, either!

no human being can tame the tongue…” – James 3:8

So we HAVE to depend on God to tame our tongue and ignite our desire for a full understanding of each situation that we are presented with.

All in all, that was just one of twenty times that I have studied when it comes to holding the tongue. After writing just one point, I realize that this post is pretty lengthy already. I plan on writing more parts to the blog, maybe making a series of “Just Shut Up”? Stay tuned, I’ll be writing more on when to keep your mouth shut in the near future!

Thanks for the support and feedback! I greatly appreciate it!

Mundane Lifestyle, Extraordinary Mission

Hey y’all! It has been a crazy couple of weeks with scheduling and time management, and I’m sure many can relate to the feeling of being constantly on the go. No time to rest, no time to breathe, no time to just relax and enjoy life. Days start bleeding together and soon a whole week has passed and that essay isn’t done, that studying didn’t happen, that shift at work wore you thin, and you have become completely distracted from the main mission at hand. What’s the mission I’m speaking of? We’ll get to that later…

As I said before, over the past few weeks, it has been very hectic for me. As a full-time student, a working girl, and a disciple of Jesus, it has been a struggle of mine to not fall into the same routine each day and feel bored with the life I am living. It seems to be the same thing each day – wake up, go to school, go to work, go home, maybe fit in a meal or two (college life, am I right?) and start the same cycle over the next day. And I am exhausted from it! How do I get out this slump and make my life exciting? How do I escape the blandness of a mundane lifestyle?

As I was praying and studying out this specific struggle more, I learned a few things about the questions that plagued my thoughts throughout my robotic day. In Philippians 4:11-13, I discovered that my boredom is a heart issue.

11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Hmm, contentment in ALL circumstances, in WHATEVER circumstance. Wow, that hit me hard. I had no idea that my fatigue in a seemingly bland lifestyle was because I lacked gratitude for the life that God granted me here in Iowa.

In Greek, “content” is translated as autarkés, meaning “contented with one’s lot, with one’s means, through the slenderest.” My lot is being a student. My lot is being a retail employee. On top of that, my lot includes the struggles and trials that come along with school and work, too. It is financial instability sometimes, or lack of sleep, or missing out on social events because I have to be responsible. In addition to the “identity lots” as I like to call them, there are “circumstantial lots”, as well. A car crash and the insurance goes up, a loved one in the family becomes ill or passes away, an overdraft on your bank account… you get the picture. It feels like on top of the identity lots and the outcomes of your niche in the world there are little things the Devil likes to sprinkle in to make life unnecessarily hard. Yet still, in ALL circumstances, I must remain content. But, there is great news, because that is not the full lot that God has bestowed upon me. I also have the lot of being his follower, being the direct recipient of his love. My lot is a purpose in life. My lot is the mission, and the mission that Jesus calls me, and us, to in Matthew 28:19-20 is not mundane or boring at all!

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

My life may be boring, my routine may grow old, but just think about that mission that has been set before us! Making disciples of all nations is such an extraordinary calling and this is how I have changed the way I live my days out. By answering the call to the mission, my days will never have an identical path!

Another way that I have found to be extremely helpful in making a week more enjoyable is simply making time to do activities that I enjoy. They are like little treats throughout the week that I can look forward to. When I find time amidst my busy schedule to sit down and just relax and enjoy the passions God has instilled in me, I find my week to be a lot less stressful. In John 10:10, Jesus assures us that making time for a little fun is a good thing.

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Jesus wants us to enjoy the gifts that he offers to us. He desires for us to appreciate the different passions that are engrained in all of us. He hasn’t just come to give life, He has come to give it to THE FULL. If he came to give life to the fullest, why would fun not be included? This life to the full, though, is not an excuse to go out and be a hooligan. This is a full life in the sense of righteous living and ultimately a life of love, because worldly and fleeting desires only result in hurt and pain. Hurt and pain don’t seem like a full life to me…

All in all, I don’t have it all together. I am still working on being content with my lot and praying for God to encourage my soul throughout the day. I have begun to ask specifically for Him to be revealed in little things as I continue my week. Even though I am living a seemingly ordinary life, that does not justify my discontent heart. The mission that we, as disciples, are called to contradicts a routine cycle. Finding meaning in a mundane life becomes a little more feasible in recognizing that God gives opportunities to make each day uniquely purposeful!



Living Out Love

I am just a college girl trying to follow Jesus.

I am aware that there are many of you out there who share the same goal as me. That is why I want to begin documenting what I learn as a growing disciple of Jesus. I want to be able to encourage other sisters out there that you are not alone! Yes, we are in the minority. College is filled with many distractions and struggles, and I am sure that you can fill in the blank as to what specifically makes you stumble. Whether it is the fear of missing out in what the world has to offer or the undeniable nagging feeling of persistent stress levels, I am learning that the college stage of life overflows with challenges. It is a time of development and growth, especially spiritually. I am not perfect. I will not put on the front like I am. But I have made a conscious decision to make Jesus Lord, and that is the conviction that I have promised to upkeep, even in the most difficult of circumstances on campus or in my daily living.

Just a little bit about myself…

Don’t mind me, I’m just awkwardly holding a flower and laughing about it

My name is Josie. I am currently a student at Iowa State University going to school for my Bachelor’s in English. I am originally from the great state of Texas, but moved to the Midwest after I was baptized at Texas State University. I am an avid hammocker (yes I am aware that is not a real word, but I just made it one) and enjoy writing and singing in my spare time. The best thing to do in my free moments, though, is to LOVE JESUS! Super cheesy answer, I know, but it really does far exceed anything else I do. And hey, that’s a pretty sweet transition to my next paragraph…

I have been studying out godly love within the past few weeks in 1 Corinthians 13.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

In it, we see love as an action, not an emotion. In reading this passage and parsing it apart for weeks at a time, I have had to read this in two different contexts. 1)This is what I am called to do as a follower of Christ, and 2) This is who God is and what he does. Love doesn’t depend on our own strength, either. This love that we are called to exhibit as disciples is something that our mere flesh is incapable of. Agape love requires us to be dependent on God for our strength. He calls us to express a supernatural response to our brothers and sisters, and furthermore, the world. Love is all of the actions listed in 1 Corinthians 13, not just a select few. I think of Luke 9:23, in which we are called to deny ourselves constantly and unswervingly. Loving in the same manner that God loves forces us to die to our human instincts and emotions, and love, regardless of how we feel or how others treat us. Rather than describe what love is, we get a definition of deliberate actions. There is no room for abstract concepts.

Coming from the world, I can recall trying to reproduce this love in my own life. I was searching for a true love and could not find it in its purest form, so I tried to make love up for what I interpreted it to be. I saw it as an emotion. My understanding of love was shallow, conditional, and dependent on my feelings. It is something every human craves, we are designed to be loved, after all! It is a love that is so desirable, yet so hard to mimic. The world sees this unconditional love, this agape love, and tries to imitate it. It is played out in the media of our society, in the music that is produced, in the personas of individuals that are in the dark. True love is desired by all, but impossible to offer in the flesh alone. Even within the church, people imitate a love that is so much like Jesus that it seems legitimate and genuine. What tends to happen is a checklist is formed, a  checklist of all the effects of love but no motivation behind it. So instead of being driven by agape love, disciples trade in a genuine love for a counterfeit one. When this occurs, a checklist of things to do for God is concocted. Read bible today? Check. Reach out to a few strangers? Check. Encourage my brother or sister? Check. They become almost apathetic and forget the reason behind the good deeds, that of which is love. Furthermore, when the checklist doesn’t get checked off, they define their relationship with God as weaker or not as productive. These actions are great, but what is the true, pure motivation behind it all? Strive for a relationship rather than a checklist. Strive for agape love rather a cheap knock-off. Strive to live out love rather than parade it around for show.

I appreciate your time in reading my thoughts and discoveries when it comes to God’s word. I would super appreciate any feedback, comments, or thoughts! Hope that you have been encouraged to radiate love on campus!