The word 'JOY' is often thrown around and reflected upon more around the holiday season. We think of happiness, simplicity, and peace as being factors of joy. However, there is something we experience as Christ-followers that succeeds all earthly understanding of joy. I am referring to unspeakable joy. The kind that overwhelms and satisfies your soul. I literally cannot explain this in words. Even as I was thinking of a blog topic, I realized that I probably would not be satisfied with a post about this joy because it comes across as entirely too warm-n-fuzzy. Sometimes the power of words is so weak when they are describing something so strong. My challenge to you is to not take these words at face-value. Doing that will only dilute the message I wish to share. Please think about this joy in your own life. What triggered it? The Holy Spirit fascinates me; when I can experience something so tangible and real and breathtaking, I am filled with joy. Sometimes it's the 'PTL' (Praise the Lord) reaction, where I just can't stop praising with my words. Other times, it's the quiet, teary, soft moments when I am overcome by God's grace and love. Reading and praying over scripture is also a way God can quiet us to discern His joy. These are only to name a few. I pray that you have known this joy. As I said, there are hardly words to describe accurately. Psalm 139:23-24 says "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Speaking personally, there is nothing more freeing than completely surrendering and being known. Especially by God. The joy that comes solely from that is divine.
I hope this has honestly provoked you to think about where your 'joy' is being derived from. Keep your eyes open and set on Him.
Also, feel free to suggest new post topics in the comments below, I'd love to hear from my readers!
and hearts be light oh what a night. praising Your birth light of my heart. shine down Your grace
to save the world
to You we praise" If you have ever heard Lady Antebellum's version of 'Silent Night' then these words are probably familiar to you. These lines are sung in an echo to the original words of the song. In light of Christmas I wanted to share. Go listen and focus on what a prayer this is! My new favorite Christmas song, for sure. Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! -Brittney
This past semester has been one of the most challenging, growing, and rewarding I've experienced yet. I feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be in every aspect of my life. Not that this makes the rough times any easier, but it has given me a new perspective on how I handle my circumstances. Looking back, I think I have learned the most about how God works through consistent prayer and His provision in my life. There were so many times that I specifically prayed and asked God to provide exactly what I need, whether it was what I wanted or not. That kind of surrender is such a beautiful part of a relationship with Christ. It's vulnerability. I can recall being hit right in the face with his plans each time I prayed that prayer. His answers were SO incredibly clear and I could do nothing but sit back with an awe-smirk (Yes, I just made that up) and feel the tangible love of my God. Just to give a practical instance of what I'm speaking of, I recently needed to pay off a remaining balance before I could register for my next semester at Cedarville. It was a lot more than I had initially planned, so I immediately took it to God. By the end of the week I had come up with literally the exact dollar amount I needed. To the dollar. Seriously, what are the chances of that? That my mom, or others who helped, didn't round up a few dollars to make it even, it was the most detailed amount. We serve a God that is so faithful. I know that money is an easy way for us to apply 'His provision' in our lives, but it doesn't end there. I will agree that it is a dangerous prayer to ask only for what you need, but what else more could you want? The creator of everyone and everything knows your deepest longings and how to satisfy you, let Him work! Also, Christians often abuse prayer and only pray for what God will provide. Re-evaluate the focus of your prayers, be sensitive to selfish nature. I find this easier to do when I journal; when I can physically see the words 'I', 'Me', 'My', on the page. This doesn't work for everyone, but it's definitely worth a try. I am truly blessed by every little thing that has happened in this season of my life and I'd like to thank you if you have been a part of it. To end my post, I would like to share Psalm 86, one of my favorites that got me through a lot this semester. It overflows with God's faithfulness. Thanks for reading!
Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. 2 Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God;3 have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long. 4 Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you.
5 You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. 6 Hear my prayer, Lord; listen to my cry for mercy. 7 When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me.
8 Among the gods there is none like you, Lord; no deeds can compare with yours. 9 All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name. 10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.
11 Teach me your way,Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. 12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. 13 For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead.
14 Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God; ruthless people are trying to kill me— they have no regard for you. 15 But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. 16 Turn to me and have mercy on me; show your strength in behalf of your servant; save me, because I serve you just as my mother did. 17 Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.
Over the summer, a great friend of mine introduced me to a blog. She told me I had to read this one post about being 'normal and single, so what's wrong with me?' So I subscribed to the blog, followed the author on Twitter and Instagram, and called it a day. Little did I know that this woman's words would have such an impact on my life. Her name is Ruthie Dean, a young, Christ-following, non-cheesy, REAL woman who shares her advice and life experiences on an array of subjects. She wasn't married until after college and often struggled with issues that Christian ladies go through in pursuit of affirmation, acceptance, and love. Her latest post was 'God doesn't want you to fake it.' which you can imagine, is pretty convicting. I live by the saying 'Our injustices are small' and to never let anything get in the way of the power of the cross, but that doesn't mean we aren't allowed to feel, it's dangerous to put everything in God's hands and not truly trust and believe he will work.That, my friends, is faking it. We often go about our lives and are encouraging, reading the word, and even witnessing Christ to others, all while not being completely honest and real with God. Ruthie wrapped it up in the following quote:
"We have the message of the Bible all wrong when we think we have to pretend our lives have a perfect bow wrapped around them–when Jesus calls us to tell the world that despite heartache, addictions, broken families, and all the tragic circumstances–that we have hope. We don’t hope in happiness, but we place our hope in joy."
Let this be a challenge in your week. Be real. God desires nothing less than vulnerability in order to romance you.
Also, PLEASE check out Ruthie's blog, you will not regret it! The link is below!
Being back at Cedarville is incredible. I love it here. And there is nothing better than living and feeling like you are EXACTLY where you're supposed to be. I'm overwhelmingly blessed. Not only with friends and people here, but the Fall Bible Conference that I'm required to attend twice a day this week. There's something especially divine about worship at CU and the messages are real, unsweetened reminders of the Christ we proclaim. I seriously couldn't be anywhere more full of truth, grace, and simplicity. We sang a song at the conference one night and it struck me hard. The lines are solid, and the melody is pretty moving itself. So I thought I'd share what's been on repeat in my dorm room and mind all week. Meditate on Him this week. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit living and working inside of you. REACT to God's hand in your life. Be boldly humble and have confident hope, as Rob Tuner says. Don't be afraid to be still and HEAR. Work hard. Repent often. This is my prayer for this semester. These words yearn for Christ to be revealed, we deserve Hell and receive Grace. How insane is that. Sorry for the holy rant. I attempt to hold myself to these principles, as well. Hope this can speak to you, somehow.
'Show Us Christ' Prepare our hearts, O God Help us to receive Break the hard and stony ground Help our unbelief Plant Your Word down deep in us Cause it to bear fruit Open up our ears to hear Lead us in Your truth Show us Christ, show us Christ O God, reveal Your glory Through the preaching of Your Word Until every heart confesses Christ is Lord
Your Word is living light Upon our darkened eyes Guards us through temptations Makes the simple wise Your Word is food for famished ones Freedom for the slave Riches for the needy soul Come speak to us today
I love that summer allows me to catch up on my reading list! My newest fixation is the book "The Sacred Romance" by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge. Under the title on the cover reads 'Drawing closer to the heart of God.' and this book teaches just that. To explore your own heart and not become detached as a result of our external life of action. I'm fascinated by the division God created in us between body and spirit. I mean, it's pretty neat. (shout out to neature walk right there) Anyway, in my attempt to stop highlighting every sentence in the book, I decided I could let out my excitement here. So here goes a few quotes that really hit me.
'The heart does not respond to principles and programs; it seeks not efficiency, but passion. Art, poetry, beauty, mystery, ecstasy: These are what rouse the heart. Indeed, they are the language that must be spoken if one wishes to communicate with the heart.'
I would take this as a challenge, to not be comforted by everyday, mundane routines and regularity. Let your heart feel. It's easy in today's society to not let things affect you. For example, 'yolo' and social media sites that allow us to tell the world how much we're 'so over this' or 'don't even care anymore'. Such unhealthy closure we perverse our thoughts with, and for what? To look tough? Invulnerable? In reality it dulls us, actions without HEART mean nothing.
"When we ignore this heart aspect of our faith and try to live out our religion solely as correct doctrine or ethics, our passion is crippled, or perverted, and the divorce of our soul from the heart purposes of God toward us is deepened."
I guess this topic is something that I feel weighing on me during summer. And I don't feel alone when talk of summer romances, vacations, and new opportunities are often exchanged. But take control of your heart, what it feels and judges, how it always yearns for truth. Take the following words into account and start living.
"It is by the heart that God is perceived..."-Oswald Chambers
"In the end, it doesn't matter how well we have performed or what we have accomplished--a life without heart is not worth living." -The Sacred Romance
"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." -Proverbs 4:23
Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts!
So, have you ever had one of those moments listening to a favorite song where you feel on top of the world, like everything in your life will line up, and it seems to speak directly to your soul? I have. A lot more recently and especially while I'm driving alone. My point is, it's almost like pieces of heaven that we get to experience on earth. It blows my mind that a God who entirely overcomes the world and wins in the end, is able to bring these simple, BEAUTIFUL moments to my life. I'm sorry if this is vague and you don't understand what I'm talking about. I guess a proper metaphor would be like stopping to smell the roses in your life. If you don't pay attention, you might miss it. And that'd be such a shame because it is, for lack of a better word, incredible. It's not only music that speaks to my soul, but often words. There's nothing like some darn good poetry or quotes. In my head I just say 'YESSS!!' It tends to leave me wonderstruck with a half-smile, butterflies, and new motivation. In closing, some lyrics that describe exactly what I'm speaking of! Thanks for reading, guys. Keep life simple. Be thankful.
Don't Miss It by Francesca Battistelli
"Don't try so hard
To move past the moment
These days go by
And they're gone before you know it
So come on, open your window
Let the light shine in
This is life don't miss it"
I spend my Thursday nights at a college-age Bible study at my church. We've recently started going through the book of Hebrews. I absolutely LOVE and highly recommend it.Something we talked about this week really made me think and I thought I'd share! Please feel free to comment your thoughts or questions. :)
"For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries."
What a good reminder. Especially after being in a "Cedarville bubble" for a bit, it's so easy to get caught up in feel-good Christianity. Nobody talks about the hard stuff. But this scripture points out that we will be judged one day. As my leader said at study, don't be willing to fall into the wrath of a living God. If there is a sin in our lives that we choose to ignore...well, that sucks because we can't be chasing after Christ with everything. Confront the sin in your life, easier said than done, but for real. Do what you have to do. I am encouraging this in conviction, not judgement. As Christians, we already have to face judgement with a renewed heart and account for the sins we've already confessed and repented from. I don't think anyone wants to face that with an ugly sin that they willingly participated in despite knowing better. It's a scary thought, but one of the beautiful parts of our faith.
It's pretty well-known to my friends that my favorite band of all time is Needtobreathe. I love their lyrics, unique sound, talent, and maybe how they rock skinny jeans. Anyway, they have a song titled 'Slumber' and it contains some great lines I was thinking about and I thought I'd share.
"Tongues are violent
Personal and focused
Tough to beat with
Your steady mind
But hearts are stronger after broken
So, wake on up from your slumber
Baby, open up your eyes"
The truth and conviction in these words are incredible. To me, the idea of a tongue being 'violent, personal and focused, tough to beat with your steady mind' has come to light recently. The words we say are hurtful, a lot of times because we want them to be so. It makes the situation way more complicated to sort out with a rational, steady mind because your heart is aching and emotion usually trumps logic. But the next line is what gets me, 'hearts are stronger after broken.' Think of the times of hardship in your life, whether it involves relationships, family, school, or work, after the issue is resolved you walk away knowing how to at least get through if not handle it. You earn stories, emotion, connection, and most of all, new strength. I've had this happen many times in my life, and relying on Jesus to BE my strength showed me that indeed, my heart is stronger after broken. And although this may sound like an abstract or simple idea, let it be an encouragement to get through difficulties with a positive, upward looking attitude. Also, flee from hurting others with your words, it's not fair, despite what they have done to you. Being unburdened and positive doesn't make you vulnerable, it helps you open up your eyes.
"And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment," Philippians 1:9 ESV
**Also, check out the song 'Slumber' on YouTube or iTunes!
Being an analytical English major and writer is a blessing and a curse, sometimes. I will get inspired from the smallest, off-the-wall things. This happens so much during my day that I decided to keep a blog containing some of the things that inspire me and lead me toward Christ. Whether it be lyrics, book quotes, people or an idea that pops into my head while drinking my morning coffee, I will post it here. I hope to be encouraging and push others to be aware of their own blessings even in hardship. I'm so fascinated with Jesus and his love for me, how it shows up in my day and how I can acknowledge him. That's why I call this 'finding open arms' because I come back to my father's embrace daily and I just can't contain that to myself! I hope you will be revealed to open arms daily, as well! It's an incredible journey.
Thanks for reading!