4 New Year’s Resolutions for Christians

There are so many new years resolutions we can have, but I believe these four would change your 2020 for the better. This is how you’ll grow in your relationship with Christ and with others: resolve to pray and read the Word daily, to share your faith openly, to take care of your soul, and be Love to those around you. May this new year be filled with blessings for you!

Read and Pray the Word daily.

  • It’s funny how this resolution is the most talked about but hardest to apply. It seems like a given that we would read the Word daily, but for so many of us, time escapes us, and when we don’t schedule our time with the Lord, it just does not happen. Admit it. You tried to start that bible reading plan and things just didn’t pan out.

    • Here’s a resource: Public Reading of Scripture : Download the App if you download the app onto your phone (Public Reading of Scripture) it actually reads the Bible aloud to you as you follow the text, and there’s a bunch of different reading plans to suit your schedule. There’s 30 mins, 45 mins, 60 mins of daily bible reading. It’s the most engaging, lively bible reading I’ve ever encountered.

    • Get an accountability buddy or group. Read through the Word with a plan with friends or family. Give yourself grace when you do not read all of the day’s readings.

  • So that’s reading the Word. Now praying the Word is different. That’s when you take a text, and you read it aloud, and you pray over it. You insert names of yourself and others into it so that it comes to life. You meditate on it. You allow the Scripture to soak through you and you memorize parts of it to keep yourself equipped. We need to pray the Word out loud because it becomes Life giving to us, and we have direct communication with the Lord.

Share your faith openly.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

  • People are hungry, now, more than ever before, for a life of purpose and meaning. People are searching for answers, and wholeness. Little do they know that the answers are in the Bible and their source of life is from Jesus Christ. It is our job, our duty as Christ’s handiwork, to do good works, to share our faith, and to spread His name.

Take care of your mind, body, spirit.

  • As Christians, we tend to overwork ourselves in all areas of our life and steamroll over our own care. The secular age will tell you to do “self care” but I would implore you to consider “soul care”. What is “soul care” as a Christian? Soul care is usually defined in the context of a church community, where biblical counseling and nurturing is provided. But as a Christian, for yourself, I’d define soul care as tending to the needs of your mind, body, and spirit. There are so many ways that could take shape for you – whether it’s reading the Word daily, exercising daily, meditating on Scripture, engaging in a community bible study, volunteering, treating yourself to a coffee, going for a nature walk etc,.

Be Love to those around you.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing. 1 Cor 13: 1-3

  • I was reminded in a healing and deliverance room once last year about this passage. They instructed me that if I had the message of God, if I could speak tongues, if I could do all these things, but did not act in Love, I was not going to reach people’s hearts. If I had all the biblical knowledge and foresight, but did not Love, I would not turn peoples’ hearts towards Christ. So I remind you that do all things in Love, and speak words softly with Love.

There are so many new years resolutions we can have, but I believe these four would change your 2020 for the better. This is how you’ll grow in your relationship with Christ and with others: resolve to pray and read the Word daily, to share your faith openly, to take care of your soul, and be Love to those around you. May this new year be filled with blessings for you!

When You’re Angry with God

BUT you know what JESUS did with his anger? When he was dying on the cross, blood pouring out, his sides in incredible pain, his mouth parched, his knees giving way, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”and then when His time arrived, Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. He committed His Spirit to the Lord forever. Eternity was always waiting for Him. Eternity is always waiting for you.

Right now, I’m incredibly angry with the Lord about my illnesses and the time it takes to recover. But I think our anger can come from anything relatable — whether you’re angry because you lost your job, or didn’t receive that promotion, or don’t feel His presence, or there’s a sudden death — we feel anger towards God quite frequently actually. And I often wonder, is it right to be angry with God? Because I’ll stand there – having a shouting match with the Lord with phrases like “I don’t deserve this!”. I rage and holler  “I shouldn’t have to go through this!” “This pain is too much to bear!” “Make it all go away!!!” “God I’ve been good – why are you punishing me?”

Don’t we all qualify our anger — that we’ve been good and therefore bad things shouldn’t happen to us? We say that we don’t deserve this pain – we don’t deserve this injustice – it’s all about ME, ME, ME. 

Well, anger comes in many forms and I’d like to break down the things that hold up space in our hearts and ask you to reflect on what is holding you captive today (Be honest!):

This category is of things that poison the heart:

  • Jealously
  • Envy
  • Scorn
  • Deceit
  • Malice

We see this appear in:

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Rom 1:28-32

When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
I was brutish and ignorant;
I was like a beast toward you. Ps 73: 21-22

This category is of things that darken the soul:

  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Hopelessness

“Let the day perish on which I was born,
and the night that said,
‘A man is conceived.’
Let that day be darkness!
May God above not seek it,
nor light shine upon it.
Let gloom and deep darkness claim it.
Let clouds dwell upon it;
let the blackness of the day terrify it. Job 3:3-5

This category is of things that harden your soul and quite literally kill your soul relationship with God:

  • Anger
  • Bitterness
  • Rage
  • Displaced Aggression against others

Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry,
I struck him; I hid my face and was angry,
but he went on backsliding in the way of his own heart. Is 57:17

BUT you know what JESUS did with his anger? When he was dying on the cross, blood pouring out, his sides in incredible pain, his mouth parched, his knees giving way, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”and then when His time arrived, Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. He committed His Spirit to the Lord forever. Eternity was always waiting for Him. Eternity is always waiting for you.

And this is what the Lord says about our anger. It is not righteous, nor is it pleasing to the Lord. He says…

Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands? Ecl 5:6

Be not quick in your spirit to become angry,
for anger lodges in the heart of fools. Ecl 7:9

Friends, when you are in the midst of boiling anger, I pray that you would find the strength and the patience to endure and to seek the Father immediately. To bow down before Him and tremble in His presence knowing that He can turn your anger into gladness, your frustrations into singing praise, and your mourning into dancing. Let not our hearts be ripe with anger, but be filled with the Holy Spirit that rules our lives and controls our entire beings.

Christians in the Age of Casual Dating

I read a really interesting article today from Thought Catalog that voiced the pangs of casual dating. A part that struck me was Don’t let anyone call you “crazy” for developing a real human connection and then caring about that connection. That doesn’t make you “crazy,” it makes you healthy and strong and open-hearted and ultimately someone who will absolutely receive real love one day.” 

Let’s face it: the way we date today looks vastly different than years prior. When was the last time a friend told you that they had their date show up at their front door, drive them to the date and drive them home safely, say goodnight to their parents? When was the last time you saw or heard of a date where it started with a warm hug or a first kiss, and not sex or a one-night stand?

Reality is that dating is different today. We have so many different dating applications where we can choose people based on our interests and we can showcase ourselves to the world a projection of who we are and what we want to show. Casual dating has made that 100x more confusing – where dates and hookups intermix, commitments hang dry, and feelings are out of place.

So here are some reminders I want to give to Christians, whether in the LGBTQ+ or heterosexual space.

Our ultimate aim must be to know, love, and abide in Christ. If we forget what the Love of the Father is, we will traverse aimlessly through the dating world.

Breathe Deep and Know the Goodness of God.

Reflect on these questions:

  • Who is the Father TO YOU?
  • Have you engaged in thoughtful reflection and prayer with Him lately?
  • Have you asked Him about these desires you have to date?
  • Have you asked Him to speak to you about these desires to have a partner, to share and do life with someone?

I invite you to take a moment after reading this article to meditate on His word and ask yourselves these questions, to journal out your response to the Lord. Do you believe in His goodness? So if you believe in His goodness, do you believe He has hand-picked your partner for you? Do you believe then, that instead of searching for the one, you should search for the One who made your heart in service and compassion? (For some, you may find that in searching for His heart, you do not need a life companion and are supremely satisfied in His love – that’s the gift of celibacy.)

Lean Back and Rest in the Arms of the Father.

Dating is not easy. Say, you do end up finding someone that you start to like. You start to learn each other’s likes and dislikes, you start to spend time together, it seems like it’s all going really well. Often, whether as Christians or not, we lean into this love with all we’ve got – we become as the songs would say it – hopelessly, madly, irrevocably in love. We want to be with this person 24/7, if not text and call them 24/7. We think they’re amazing and they’re the one. And maybe they are. Maybe this ends up being the person you spend your life with. But as Christians, we have to take precautions – we have to lean back and rest in the arms of the Father before we lean into the arms of this loved one. Our treasure should be in His divine presence, not in the worldly treasure of this man-led pursuit. Do you get what I’m saying? Here’s the breakdown of reminders:

  • Lean into His Love, and Learn to Rest in His Presence
  • Spend time with your loved one, but don’t overdo it (heed curfews/time)
  • Enjoy your time with your loved one, but guard your heart above all else

Here is my last point. The Bible says “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” The Message version (Proverbs 4:23-27) says 

Keep vigilant watch over your heart;
    that’s where life starts.
Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth;
    avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip.
Keep your eyes straight ahead;
    ignore all sideshow distractions.
Watch your step,
    and the road will stretch out smooth before you.
Look neither right nor left;
    leave evil in the dust.

We must be vigiliant to guard our hearts against impurity, and against jumping ahead to dreaming up dreams about our romance. We have to guard our hearts against making this new love our highest priority. We have to be vigiliant in balancing out our time and company with this new love. Above all else, we must guard our hearts with the Love of Christ and allow all our decisions to flow from the mind of Christ.

My last bit of advice would be that regardless of who you are with, or how many dates you decide to go on, if you pray to look at this person with the eyes of Christ, you cannot fail. You will love with the mind and heart and Spirit of Christ – and that is a constant protection for you and for them.

In the light of eternity friends,

yours truly,

Jackie.

 

Why We Fast as Christians: Part I

To set our hearts ablaze for God, we must acknowledge, recognize, and revel in his desire for us. 

     Jesus is the Bridegroom God that is fascinated with us – all day long. Therefore, fasting is a unique, and intimate way in which we draw near to the Father – and become fascinated with HIM. Taken from The Rewards of Fasting by Mike Bickle, I outline an overview of the text to give you a quick glimpse into how we can start a regular routine of fasting.

According to Mike Bickle, there are seven ways of biblical fasting, and I summarize each below:

  1. Fasting to experience the power of God in personal ministry: Fun fact, the early church fasted twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays. Back then, the apostle Paul, John the Baptist, and many others understood that fasting was the fastest way to connecting with the Holy Spirit. It drew us so close to Him we could Kiss the Lord. 
  2. Fasting for prophetic revelation of the end times: The end of the age is coming – and the Bridegroom, King, and Judge is coming on a cloud of fire. When Daniel was in prayer, the angel Gabriel came to him that he might increase in prophecy (Dan 9:3). He gave Daniel a vision, and said to Daniel, “Do not fear, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words” (Dan 10:12). Whew, what supernatural anointing and ability David had to understand the Lord’s plan for the end times. He encountered the Lord’s presence and increased in understanding because he fasted and prayed before the Lord.
  3. Fasting for the fulfillment of God’s promises to our city or nation: God does not want us to wait without expectation. He wants to wait with eagerness for the fulfillment of His promises, in thanksgiving, prayer, and fasting. In this heart position, we can gladly pray and seek the vision over our cities and nations. A great example of this was the prophetess Anna, who prayed and fasted for more than SIXTY years that God would visit Israel and fulfill his promises to them (Luke 2:36-38). Sixty years! Could you imagine waiting SIXTY years for God to fulfill his destiny for your people? Could you imagine praying, and waiting on the Lord for provision for sixty years? Most of us cannot even take waiting a minute for a microwaved hot pocket, let alone waiting sixty years for God to deliver us!
  4. Fasting to stop a crisis: There are many examples in the Bible of followers who took to prayer and fasting to avert a crisis. In modern day, there are national days of prayer instituted to call a nation to a position of sitting before the Lord, waiting. An example is Hannah, the mother of Samuel, who was so distressed by her physical barrenness that she wept and did not eat for many days. She cried out to God in prayer and fasting so much so that God eventually delivered her, heard her cry, and gave her a son that eventually became a great prophet (1 Sam 1:7).
  5. Fasting for protection: When Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den, King Darius and Daniel prayed and fasted for his protection. It was because of his prayer and fasting that God shut the mouths of the lions and spared him.
  6. Fasting for direction: While in Antioch, Paul prayed and fasted for prophetic direction with his missionary team. Jesus prayed all night to receive anointing wisdom in selecting his twelve disciples.
  7. Fasting for encounter and intimacy with God: A concept that Mike Bickle highlights in his book is something called the Global Bridegroom Fast, a call to fast in desiring Jesus more than anything and to seek spiritual renewal. It’s time for us to align our hearts and desires with the Lord and set ourselves apart to increase in knowledge of God’s love for us.

In my next post I will talk about the Rewards of Spiritual Fasting and how we can step into God’s favor through prayer and fasting. Like what you see? Comment below and sign up for my weekly newsletter launching THIS week!

 

 

Made for Forever

What is the difference between spiritual intimacy and secular intimacy? How do we navigate the world as Christians in a fallen world? I offer some candid remarks on this topic.

The trouble I find that most Christians get into is that we try to feed our cravings for intimacy in the wrong places. What is spiritual intimacy? How is it different from secular intimacy, given by the world? I would define spiritual intimacy as a relational fulfillment of drawing near to the heart of the Father. Secular intimacy is relational closeness with other people. Secular intimacy, then, when gone haywire, is drawing fulfillment from things outside the spectrum of right orderings – such as fleeting, self-seeking pleasures like pornography, gluttony, etc.,. But here’s the first simple truth I will give you:

We were made to be in awe of God. 

Yes, dear friends, we were made to seek the Father with our whole hearts, an undivided devotion!!!

“Teacher, which commandment is the greatest in the Law?” 37 Jesus declared, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.… Matthew 22:37

No wonder we fall into the trap of trying to fulfill our needs with what the world gives us, and promises us with satisfy! But God calls us higher. He wants us to draw near to Him, and love Him with our whole hearts, souls, and minds. How can that be achieved when we are distracted by every day life? How can that be achieved if we are single, or married? I think at the end of the day, God wants us to give Him our best. I refrain from saying our best efforts, because God does not quantify or measure our devotion to Him. He wants us to give Him our first fruits – whether that be devotion first thing in the morning, or our first tenth of our paychecks. However we go about giving Him our best, God will respond – He will draw near to us. There is no one model to perfectly love the Lord – we all triumph and fail in this category. So how do we go about pleasing the Lord?

Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

To be in awe of the Lord, to get to this humble position where we gaze upon the beauty and bounty of God, we must seek Him with our whole heart. We must be willing to sit in silence, and be mesmerized by a holy gaze. We must be willing to listen, and hear what He has to say to us – before we spill over our own wants. We must be willing to shut the door, and enter into relationship with Him in the secret place. We must be willing to read his Word, digest it, soak into it, and meditate on it.

There are many ways in which we can draw near to the Lord in spiritual intimacy. My prayer is that you would realize that you were not made for this fallen, temporary world. You were made for Forever. 

Did this resonate with you? How are you drawing near to the Lord in your daily life? Comments, questions, concerns are all welcome here!