One Body

Tonight I met a man named Peter while doing bible study in a Starbucks. He was standing a few inches away from me looking at the newspaper stand to my left when he looked over and saw my bible open. He said “Oh I see you are doing something with scripture”. I replied with a smile “yes, I am. I’m just doing some devotions and studying”. I got nervous for a second because his eyes widened and I thought maybe I didn’t say the right thing, but to my surprise he started telling me about his experiences with God and his faith. Peter is a catholic, and he mentioned that early on in the conversation. I must say that, being a non-denominational Christian, I was a little nervous that he would start judging my faith. I think that fear came from a very stereotypical place in my heart, and I must say that I don’t think I’ll ever go into another conversation with that sort of judgement on my heart.

Peter was very open with me. He is 63 years old, but the way we connected had nothing to do with age, and everything to do with the Lord. That sort of open conversation about the Lord with a complete stranger brought me a lot of hope. Sitting in that Starbucks I felt isolated and like maybe I was the only believer around. Needless to say, I actually had a few different interactions with people who noticed my studying and it was pleasant. I realized how important it is to open yourself  and to give a listening ear. It really gives you the chance to speak into people and build that sort of open and honest communication.

A lot of the things Peter said and believed were things that I say and believe, and I began to wonder…what makes us so different?

I have to admit that I do not know a lot about Catholicism, but this conversation tonight made me want to learn about and understand different denominations of Christianity…..after all we are one body of Christ, right?

We talked about God opening and closing doors of opportunity, the Holy Spirit, Jesus and His disciples & more. What really stood out to me was how devoted Peter is to God. He mentioned going to mass and prayer almost four times on Sundays. I can relate because I go to three different church services on most Sundays on top of many other things at my church throughout the week. Peter also said that he left everything he had and traveled across the world to join a Catholic monastery just to see if that is where he was supposed to be. It turns out that it wasn’t something he felt God was calling him to, so he came back. Peter said that one of the best things that came from that situation was that he lost the attachment to his things and it made him more willing to give things up and not hold on so tightly to the things of this life, which of course translated into his spiritual life as well.

In one of my plans that I was studying on the Bible App, maybe twenty minutes before Peter and I began having this conversation, I was learning about being selfless and being Jesus’ disciple. In Luke 9:23 Jesus says that if anyone desires to be His disciple they must deny themselves and take up their cross. Denying ourselves is a hard thing to do because essentially we are giving up our “right” to ourselves to the One who made us. It is obedience. We struggle so much with obedience to God because, as humans, we tend to put ourselves first in everything. It is always about our feelings, our thoughts and opinions, or what we think is right. Having this sort of mind-set is the reason it is so hard to just say YES to God. Here is an excerpt from the Bible plan:

“The Lord does not give me rules, but He makes His standard very clear. If my relationship to Him is that of love, I will do what He says without hesitation. If I hesitate, it is because I love someone I have placed in competition with Him, namely, myself. Jesus Christ will not force me to obey Him, but I must. And as soon as I obey Him, I fulfill my spiritual destiny.”

It was really inspiring to hear about Peter’s obedience to God even to something he only thought God wanted him to do because his heart was in the right place. After all, God is more concerned about our hearts condition than anything. 1 John 5:21 warns us to not let anything take Gods place in our hearts. There are many scriptures in the bible about the content of our hearts and their overall condition. It is important to guard our hearts and ensure that God stays at the center because that is how obedience will take place and we will produce fruit. Peter is a great example of the sort of selflessness that it requires to say yes to God, and I hope this inspires you as well.

I want to encourage you to walk boldly in your faith, and be open enough to have conversations about the Lord with complete strangers. It will bless you. Be the light in this world of darkness. Stay positive.

The Call to Selflessness

Our journey on Earth is filled with a lot of different highs and lows, but we all must admit that there will be an endpoint. There has to be a goal. I believe that our culture would suggest that the goal should be independence. When I say independence, I mean the true definition of “adult-ing.” I have noticed that being able to take care of yourself and make a life for yourself (and maybe your family) through material success and financial gain seems to be what everyone is striving for. They want the big house, the nice car, and the fat wallet. That is “goals” on social media.

Really think about it: all that social media pushes is SELF promotion, SELF gain, and…well, SELF.

I would never say that loving yourself, wanting to improve yourself, and being confident in yourself is a bad thing. It is actually something I would encourage people to start practicing. The main issue that I want to highlight is the culture of selfishness.

There are so many people in the world who have the attitude of “This is who I am so you have to accept me just the way I am.” and although there is some truth in that statement, if you use it the wrong way, it can be detrimental to your relationships. How many times have you encountered someone who lashes out or has an anger fit and their justification to their actions is “This is just who I am”?

I believe this is because there is a disconnect in people about their ability to control their own mouth, thoughts, and emotions. But God has given us the power to control our own minds. He has given us the ability to be transformed through the renewing of our minds.

Proverbs 13:3 says “Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.” NLT

When you do and say whatever you please without thinking first about the consequences, you are being selfish. To think that your opinions and thoughts are more important than being kind to someone is selfish.

I don’t think I have to spell out what being selfish is. You know.

What I want to challenge you to do is assess your own life and figure out where you are the most self-focused. That could be in you work place, your home, or even your brain. The challenge is to put others before yourself.

Philippians 2:3 says “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” NLT

Be humble.

That’s honestly such a hard thing to do in todays day and age. We are taught to be prideful. We are taught to put ourselves first. I even just read a post that said something along the lines of “Putting yourself first doesn’t make you selfish.” but, if you’re always putting yourself first, it does make you selfish.

I would never encourage someone to drain themselves to the point of self destruction, because I believe that in order to serve and give of yourself you must first be filled. To me that means having alone time, reading my bible, and praying that God fills me with enough motivation and energy to serve His people. To you, it may be something different. Either way, there should be a balance between giving and receiving and having an others-focused mind set will allow you to seek the needs of the people around you.

Jesus says the second biggest law that we must follow is “love your neighbor as yourself”. You will only be able to treat others the way you would want to be treated if you put those people in the place in your mind where your selfish tendencies would normally reside.

God calls us to selflessness. God calls us to be light and to spread His word. God calls us to serve. I want to encourage you to answer that call, and be who God says you are.

God Bless you. Yes, you. Stay Positive.

We Have Power

Think about this: What we say has the ability to change lives.

A difficult concept to grasp is the power of what comes out of our mouths. Things that seem so pointless, actually have this crazy ability to worm their way into somebody’s heart and actually change them. Multiple times I’ve had people come up to me and express to me that just one tiny conversation has had such a positive impact on them. Here is why:

– Love spreads like a wildfire if enough of it is given and positivity is so contagious.
-Allowing yourself to shine light into a persons dark life, heart, or mind is such a blessing and it shows you care.
-Being a person that encourages others truly shows who the Lord is and draws others to Him, and people can feel that.

“For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you.” Isaiah 60:2

 

You have the ability to choose what you want to contribute to this world. Do you want to allow yourself to be covered by darkness? Or do you want to be that glimpse of light peeking through and standing out?

You and your life can have such an impact on another person. It’s in the little things. It’s in a simple “hello!” Or asking someone about their day. Forming human relationships that build off of trust and communication is so important. Essentially, our human relationships are great examples of our relationship with God.

 

The next part of this verse says “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”

Love my neighbor? – Yes. Love your neighbor. Love the people that God put on this earth to help you. Show them, through kind words and actions, how much they mean to you.

Speak life. Be a light. Share the love. Stay positive.

 

Why I Won’t Pursue a Man

Ashlin Boyles

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Relationships and opinions about them are sticky.

People get passionate and everyone has an opinion. I think it’s something that we all work out, a choice that is ours to make. I can’t and don’t judge anyone’s personal journey, or the way they feel like God calls them to pursue romance.

As for me, I can state this (after much wrestling and questioning):

I can not and will not pursue a man.

Feminism is becoming a common doctrine of our world, and because of it, there is a question of whether or not women can approach a man in the way that they’ve been forbidden to in the past.

I’m not going to answer that for humanity. But as for me, I have one desire:

I want the (and yes, I said “the”) man that God has for me. God cares for the birds, so I believe that He intimately cares…

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Gratitude

There are so many things to be grateful for. Even if you feel as if you are falling down a hole of negativity and it just keeps getting darker and darker, it is important to step back and think about the things you have. Sometimes you think “I want what she has” or “what I have is not good enough” but the truth is that there will always be someone who has more than you, and at the same time there will always be someone who has much, much less than you. Being content with the content of your life can make every day so much easier. Be grateful for everything you have. Be grateful that you are healthy. Be grateful that you are able to get an education. Be grateful that you have people who love you. Be grateful to who is making it all happen; God. You are so blessed! You may not realize how blessed you are, but I am telling you right now…..you are blessed. Pray everyday and thank God for all he has done. Stay positive.

Diversity

As I’m sitting in my AP language arts class, I’m taking a few moments to look around and absorb every detail. People are reading, people are chatting, and others are paying attention to detail such as I am. I glance at a girl, her face quiet and subtle. It is strange comparing and contrasting myself and another. We all have different looks, slang, strengths, weaknesses, etc. 

When you actually pay attention to your surroundings you notice things that normally wouldn’t be visible to you. Like the way people walk. Or the way humans huddle up into little flocks and stay with their flock at all times. (I guess people don’t know how to be independent anymore). It’s funny to see someone with a friend and then as soon as that friend leaves, they kind of just stand there doing nothing. Like a lost puppy. 

People do strange things. Because we are all different. But what is strange to me may be perfectly normal to you. There is no such thing as normal or perfect. Those words are opinionated. And frankly people take them way too seriously. The second someone called me weird for the first time I’ve never stopped thinking that I am weird. But I’m just not their idea of normal, and that is perfectly fine with me. Because I love who I am. 

Embrace your quirks and differences, because they’re what make you…you. Stay positive. 

It’s just unfair 

When you were growing up, you were probably told “life’s not fair”. As I’m growing and maturing I am realizing just that. Things don’t always go your way or the way you think they’re going to. I am learning that the hard way, I must say. I’ve had bad things happen to me, and I’ve seen bad things happen to people around me. I always ask “why?” because truly it is not fair. Things will happen to you that you just don’t deserve and there is nothing you can do about it. It sounds harsh, but it’s true. 

I went through the hardest part of my 16 years when I was really young. Nothing compares to those years. They were terrible. From bullying, to my parents divorce, events just kept happening that were tearing me down. I probably handled it poorly, though. I used to just push it to the back of my brain and try not to think about life’s unfair treatment. Eventually that weighed me down, and I sunk. The only thing that revived me was my relationship with God. I feel so blessed now to be living my life no matter how many terrible things happen to me. 

The world is going to try to tear you down, and things are going to happen to you that you may not deserve. Push through it, because things get better. They always do. With God, anything is possible. Stay positive. 

Get Up!

Dreams are well thought out but rarely executed. Normally, people walk around with what ifs and if onlys strapped to their backs. Look around you, and ask yourself, “is this what I’ve always dreamed of?”. I know it is a stretch to assume that everyone will be able to live out their dreams, but I have faith in human kind. I believe that if everyone got up and chased after what they want, things would be different. We wouldn’t have people complaining about their 9-to-5 boring old office job (no offense to anyone who likes their boring old office job). We wouldn’t have children’s dreams crushed every day by society. Opportunity is a big part of this. Not everyone gets the chance to do what they want due to tough circumstances, and I understand. But I also believe that you can do whatever you put your mind to. That is something that was etched in my brain from the day I was born. I’m a dreamer, and I fully intend on reaching my dreams. You should too.

What is it that you want?

Whatever it may be, GO GET IT! Get up and chase it! You can do anything. There are no limits to what you can and will do. Every single person reading this should know that I have faith in you. Even if people are putting you down and telling you you can’t, you better stand up tall and boldly say “I can do it”. Do not let anybody tell you your worth, or tell you that you’re not good enough. Surround yourself with abundant amounts of support and love and I promise you could rule the world!

Stay Positive

The Unexpected 

How often are you thrown information that shakes you to your core? For me, it’s not often at all. I’m not one to expect the unexpected. Most people don’t live that way. When you are given information that shocks you, how are you supposed to handle it?

You want to yell, argue, and even cry. But that is kind of selfish, isn’t it? Do you even take a second to acknowledge how the other person is feeling? My first instinct when given shocking news is to freak out. I ask too many questions, and I never take the time to listen. This causes controversy and uneccessary drama. The best way to handle a situation you are not comfortable with is to pay full attention. Pay attention to words, actions, feelings, body language. A better understanding will result in more comfort. 

Remember, it is probably not as big of a deal as youre making it. 

Think before you speak.

Always take the time to listen.

Do not be too quick to judge.

Stay positive. 

Why moms are so important 

The most important person in my life, besides God, is my mother. I could go on for days about how much she means to me. Recently, I was thinking about my childhood and how much fun we used to have. As I have gotten older things have gotten different. Not a bad different, but different. The way I treated her was different. That partly had to do with the fact that I was a dumb teenager (still am, just less dumb). No matter how much of an attitude I gave/give my mom she has never treated me differently. I am forever grateful for her.

Having a person in your life that loves you unconditionally and will never give up on you is so important. Moms help you grow. They push you to do greater things and force you out of your comfort zone. They make you see the bigger picture. As children, we were so naive, and quite oblivious to everything. We didn’t realize how much moms actually do. If you haven’t yet, start telling your mom how much you appreciate her. Tell her you know how hard she worked for you, and tell her you love her. Tell that to all your loved ones, and stay positive.