Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Traveling Pictures

I'm back! I haven't blogged in months. After traveling I just continued this blogging break. It was a great break. I needed it. But now I'm ready to try to get back in the groove of blogging.

I have way too many pictures from my trip to China to not post some, so this won't be my typical post. Next week I'll try to start again with my normal posts.

Here are some of my favorite pictures of the sights I saw in China...

Shenzhen, China ^


Picture taken from a train ^

Nanning, China ^

Nanning, China ^

The Guilin mountains ^

A spot in Guilin ^

View in Guilin ^

View of Guilin ^

Guilin mountains ^

Bamboo rafting ^

A Dong village ^

Dong village ^

The Great Wall ^ 

The Great Wall ^

A spot in Beijing ^

Beijing at night ^



Anyways, those are some of the highlights. I'm excited to be getting back to blogging!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

With us in the trials...


Hey guys.... so I unintentionally took the last two weeks off of posting. This summer has been crazy and I've only posted a handful of times, but that's okay!

I also wanted to give y'all a heads up that I probably won't be posting again until September... I'm going to be traveling a lot in the coming weeks.

~~

I'm not really sure yet where I'm going with this post. I guess I just want to share some things I've had on my heart recently, so bare with me here.

This summer has been wonderful, challenging, and weird all rolled into one. It's been a time of a lot of internal struggling for me, but that's also made a pathway for growth.

I've been struggling with insecurity, identity, friendships, and a lot of other things for a while now. But I'm slowly learning how to grow and move past those struggles. It's a process, but it's Jesus who sees me through it.

A few weeks ago I was reading through James and James 1:2-4 always sticks out to me...
"Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing."

Maybe you're thinking, "woah James, back up. A great joy to go through trials?"...

Yeah, that's what pops in my mind too. It's crazy to think of having joy while going through trials. But here's the thing: sometimes when we're going through struggles it's not just us suffering for no reason. Those struggles - those trials - produce endurance which helps you to grow in maturity in your faith.

Have you ever played guitar or a simple instrument? If you have then you know that when you first start playing, it hurts your fingers. Your fingers are soft and the strings hurt. But as you continue to play and practice your fingers build callouses and you can play with ease and without pain.
While that's not a perfect example, it helps get the point across. Sometimes you have to go through pain to get what's necessary to grow (or perhaps become a better guitarist).

Guys, I get it. Life can seem awful sometimes. Sometimes it feels like the pain has no meaning. Like we go through trials for nothing but pain. But that's not the case. I know it can seem like those struggles bring nothing but suffering and perhaps for now that's all you'll be able to see.

Last year I went through a time where I seriously struggled with fear. I hated going to bed because the darkness would come and Satan would whisper lies that would terrify me. It got so bad that I wanted to scream for the lies to be silenced. That went on for a while. At the time I couldn't see an end in sight, I couldn't see any good in that situation. But through God and the power of His Word, He helped me to move past that. He helped conquer my fear. That doesn't mean I'm never afraid, but since then I haven't struggled with it that much.
Going through that time taught me how memorizing scripture can help a lot (Psalm 56:3 and Romans 8:15 helped and comforted me during that time). Now I can look back and see how God worked. He used someone in my life to help get some truth back in my head. He was there with me through it all.

I'm not sure what you're going through. But I do know that God can get you through it. But I'm also not guaranteeing that all your problems will automatically vanish.

In 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 Paul is talking about how he had a thorn in his side and he prayed three times that God would take it away. But God didn't.

In verse 9 God told him, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness."

Sometimes God will ease our suffering. Other times He will give us what we need to bear it.

God loves you so much. He's with us always. He will never leave or forsake us. So trust Him with what you're going through. He will be with you through it.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Seasons




Ecclesiastes 3:1, "There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven."

I've heard this verse quoted so many times. Or, more commonly, shortened to just "to everything there is a season".  People tell you to be satisfied and content in the season you're in.

But what if the season is one of pain?
What if the season is one of trial?
What if you would like nothing more than for that season to end?

Have you ever struggled with something where you felt as if the struggle would never end, would never cease? Have you ever gone through a time of waiting where you just wanted to something to begin?

It's hard, when you wish the season you are in would end. There are times when we are so passionate about God, there are times when we struggle in our faith, there are times when we are waiting, and there are times when we're going through trials.

But the thing is, we aren't guaranteed tomorrow. And we were never promised a life without suffering.


So what do you do when caught in a season you wish would end?


Philippians 4:11-12, "I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself.  I know both how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need."

Paul figured it out. He learned that he could be content anywhere as long as he had Christ, who strengthened him.

"When you've hit rock bottom you have no place to look but up."

I've also heard that quote quite a few times (I think I paraphrased it though). It's true. Often it's at the end of ourselves that we turn to Jesus.

Like I wrote in my last post, we may not always understand what He's doing, but we can always trust in Who He is.

Psalm 42:5, "Why, my soul, are you so dejected? Why are you in such turmoil? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise him, my Savior and my God."

Habakkuk 3:17-18, "Though the fig tree does not bud and there is no fruit on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though the flocks disappear from the pen and there are no herds in the stalls, yet I will celebrate in the Lord; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation!"

Those are two of my favorite passages in scripture. Why? Because they both have the same theme: Both authors, while they didn't understand what was going on, they still praised God.

That is such an important reminder to me. I'm a realist, and often I can feel a bit dragged down by the things going on around me. I can struggle with hope and joy. But no matter what happens, I know that I can and should praise God.

The problems, the sin, the trials in our world today aren't a negative reflection of God, they are a reaction to the choice of mankind when we chose to sin.

So yes, even when we don't feel like it, even when we're struggling, even when the world is in chaos around us, even when we don't understand.... we can still praise God.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Who He is




It was late. I was lying in bed, tired, but I couldn't fall asleep. I had to be up early for church the next morning, but my thoughts wouldn't leave me alone. I just wanted it to be morning. My mind wandered, as it often does on late nights, and I started thinking about God and His Word. A Bible verse came to mind and I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep without looking it up so I grabbed my Bible and turned on my lamp.

I was flipping through the Psalms trying to find it (I didn't bother googling it), but instead of finding that verse I came across another verse.

Psalm 38:15, "For I put my hope in You, Lord; You will answer me, my Lord, my God."

As I read that verse, something came to mind...

~ When I put my hope in Christ, my hope isn't in what He will do. My hope is in Who He is.

Then I came across another verse.

Psalm 43:4, "... Then I come to the altar of God, to God, my greatest joy..."

~ When God is my joy, my joy isn't in my circumstances around me. My joy is in God within me.

God will never let me down because He is the same forever.  I may not always understand what He's doing, but I can always trust in Who He Is.

My joy and my hope aren't merely emotions based on the world around me, they are results of Who God is in me.

To be completely honest, I have always struggled with having joy and hope. I still do. But when I remember that joy and hope solely depends on Who God is, it's easier to have joy and hope. God doesn't change. His character is the same as it's always been and is as it always will be.

He is my hiding place (Psalm 32:7).

He is my comforter (Psalm 119:50).

He is my peace (John 14:27).

The list goes on and on. God doesn't change (Job 23:13). His character remains the same. When we learn about Who He is through His Word, we more clearly see Who He is in our lives.

Sometimes its hard to have joy, peace, and hope. But we have to remember that those things are found in Jesus and in Him alone. It doesn't depend on our circumstances, but on Who He is.

~~

What are some of your favorite Bible verses about God's character/attributes? What are your thoughts on the subject? Any other thoughts?