“Righteousness” is not a word we often hear or use outside of the context of the Bible and the church. And even when we hear it there, I’m not sure we really have a handle on what it means. We often think of righteousness merely as moral purity or personal holiness. As if Jesus was saying , “seek first the kingdom of God and his moral purity.”
“Is there a pool?” It’s the question you’re most likely to hear me ask when I am considering where to stay on any vacation that falls between March and September. But not all pools are created equal. I am scouring Airbnb’s for a pool with a lounging ledge. You know the ones. I’m talking about a pool that boasts a space just wide enough for a lounge chair and just carved out enough to allow for water that’s depth is measured in inches instead of feet.
Sparrow Conference 2017 is quickly approaching and we are so excited to hear from the women who will be teaching and encouraging us from the Book of James all weekend long! Jada Edwards graciously answered a few questions as we prepare to gather, learn, and ask the Lord to move through our time next weekend.
Sparrow Conference 2017 is quickly approaching and we are so excited to hear from the women who will be teaching and encouraging us from the Book of James all weekend long! Jen Wilkin graciously answered a few questions as we prepare to gather, learn, and ask the Lord to move through our time next weekend
James says this simple phrase in chapter 4 verse 8, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” In the following verses, we learn that the act of drawing near involves us submitting ourselves to God, resisting the enemy and the world,cleansing our hands, purifying our hearts and humbling ourselves.
A few months ago, I was slowly but surely inducted into a new club.
My initiation came through sympathetic looks, navigation tips, and lots of changes in my bank account balance.
I didn’t join a Greek organization, a country club, or buy a new home. Instead, I happened upon the mysterious and new world of having close friends date, marry, and honeymoon.
1 Peter 2:9 tells us that we are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that [we] may proclaim the excellences of him who called [us] out of darkness into his marvelous light.” God has called us, adopted and claimed us as His (Eph. 2:5) and we are to live out our days proclaiming His glory because we carry His name.
The holiday season is upon us. There is likely no other season in which we gather our paper and pens and begin to list the things for which we are thankful. We tend to be more aware that we ought to be grateful in the holiday season and actively look to thank and acknowledge the Gift Giver. This is a right and worthy task. This recognition of the goodness of God throughout the Bible is called praise.
“Speak your truth.”
I have heard that phrase uttered countless times. It’s almost always meant to be a sincere way to encourage people to find value in their stories and respect others. But what happens when we begin to define the world by the way we have experienced it? Lies set in. Half-truths bear inconsistent fruit. Conflicting ideas paralyze or incite anger. Most tragically, the kingdom of the world begins to appear more logical than the kingdom of God. So in a world where we have access to an unimaginable amount of information and perspectives in seconds, what are we to do?
Fall! Just the word brings to mind a host of images and memories. Football season, school schedules, halloween costumes, and the beloved (or reviled) Pumpkin Spice Latte. As school ramps up, work travel schedules begin to emerge, or the monotony of life hums along, here are a few words of encouragement for you!
"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."1 Peter 2:9 “You are God’s Plan A for reaching this campus."
I’ll never forget the moment those words were spoken by my campus pastor my junior year of college. Granted, I knew that sharing your faith was important but at that moment I caught a glimpse of what it meant to be uniquely placed to reach the people I knew for the glory of God. My campus pastor wasn’t interested in numbers or filling the auditorium, he was encouraging us to see our classmates and friends as people who desperately needed to hear the good news of the gospel.
It was an invitation, a charge, and a call. It was invitation to join the Lord in what He was doing. It was a charge to take seriously my identity as a follower of Christ. And it was a call to be creative in how I engaged those around me. There are so many ways to do so whether through asking people you know spiritual questions, inviting them to church, or telling them of how you came to know and follow Jesus. Sharing the gospel is a joy and adventure!
This is why we are so excited that our friends at Polish are providing a fun way to do just that! On Thursday, May 19th the 4th Annual Polish Dallas Fashion Show will take place. There will be incredible clothing, yummy treats, and a lot of fun! Most importantly, the gospel will be shared. This is a great opportunity to invite friends who haven’t heard the gospel and have tons of fun doing so!
Polish has been gracious to give our readers a 25% discount when you use the code BLOGREADER. This code will last through May 6th.
We are cheering you on as you run your race and pray that as you obey the Lord in sharing the gospel that there will be joy!
"How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” Romans 10:13-15
This is what the Lord says: “Cursed are those who trust in mortals, who depend on flesh for their strength and whose hearts turn away from the LORD. They will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert in a salt land where no one lives.” Jeremiah 17:5-6
I’ve been offended, rejected, used. I’ve gone through suffering, sadness, hostility. There are painful experiences I have had to let go of and people I have needed to reconcile with. This, I know is true for all of us. The problem however, is never the outside issues; the problem is the heart.
The Lord says that when our hearts turn away from Him we will be like a bush in the wastelands – parched and dried up. When we rely on man, when our hope is conditional, we wither.
Yes, I’ve been hurt by much and had to forgive much, but the hardest person I have ever had to forgive is myself. For most of my life, the “mortal” I trusted in was me; the “flesh” I depended on was my own. I honestly, and foolishly thought that I would never let myself down. How could I? With all of my strength and sass and will power, I could handle any trial or temptation! I really wanted to believe that, but unfortunately I was betrayed in my own skin, I wasn’t able, and I failed.
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9
Whenever my world crumbled around me, I didn’t cry out to my Father. Instead, I took things into my own hands claiming control and seeking revenge. I made a lot of mistakes not becoming of a child of God. I chased sick cravings, and turned often to Satan’s lies and deceptive pleasures. My mind was severely poisoned and I didn’t even care. So what if I was perpetuating sin and death, because I had my heart to protect. These were my coping mechanisms and survival skills for enduring hardships.
I was a rebel in the wastelands. It took me years to figure it out, but none of my “being tough” or “dealing with things” was life giving. I was being sucked dry by ongoing faithlessness in the Lord.
Thankfully though, my Redeemer showed me a new way to live…
“But blessed are those who trust in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8
Don’t those verses just make you want to let out a sigh of relief and contentment? How much sweeter it is to trust in the Lord than to trust in flesh! I praise God for the work He has done in bringing me from a dying bush in the desert, to a fearless, fruit-bearing tree! Is there still sin in me? Are there strains in my relationships? Absolutely, but Christ is renewing my faith in Him in such a way that circumstances no longer cripple me. My assurance is in the Lord’s ability, not my own. I recognize that I am merely human and will fail. But I anticipate the Father’s grace in those moments. He is the only perfectly trustworthy One and my heart can rest in Him. This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” Isaiah 30:15
Aszia Walker is the Discipleship and Outreach Director at pureHOPE in Dallas, TX.
One thing I've noticed about feeling restless... it can bottom me out. And it has. When I get restless, I get tired, I get weak, I feel too overwhelmed to even breathe. Restlessness has been the threshold giving way to depression in my life. It has been the cause of physical anxiety and discomfort. It has set me up for any and all temptations. It has taken my eyes off of Christ and set them instead on the storms of life constantly swirling around me. Restlessness has been a very eager, and not at all welcome, intruder into my mind and heart. I have an ugly history with restlessness.
It always scares me when I get like that, because its heavier than I can fully explain. Eerie even. Often it comes out of nowhere - not because of anything I can name - I just feel it. I don’t know what to do other than wait and pray for it to pass.
Once, a dear friend, also a writer (which makes her annoyingly perceptive) sat down next to me and could tell something was off. Within five seconds of studying my face she had already diagnosed the problem and was giving me a prescription:
"Here. Take this piece of paper and write a full page of things you like. On the back write a full page of things you like about yourself. It'll help. It'll clear your head, give you something to focus on."
I didn't believe that it would work, but I decided to obey because she was pretty insistent.
- when my momma laughs really hard
- deep, thoughtful questions
- vanilla mint chapstick
- sun-lit eyes
- curling my hair
and so on....
I finished the "like" list and then stopped. It totally did help, and I was thankful for the suggestion, but I never made it to the second "like about myself" list. It just felt kinda awkward, kinda vain, so I didn't even try.
That particular bout of anxiety eventually tapered off and other ups and downs have happened since. I forgot all about my lists and was also beginning to forget how bothersome the company of restlessness can be... until lately. Ugh! The swelling feeling of seemingly unprovoked distress is back, with all of the appetite changes, late nights, irregular breathing, irrational thinking, roused fears, and uneasiness that it entails.
One night though, I remembered something. I found that piece of paper, turned over to the blank side and finally created list number two -
Like about myself:
- I'm His.
Peace provides a firm opposition to restlessness. Peace is no uninvited stranger. Peace is family, a virtue with a permanent address in my soul. It lives deep in my heart at all times, because in His grace, God gave me His peace-producing, ever-indwelling Spirit.
And as I freshly acknowledge the reality that... I. Am. His. I have a keen awareness of this peace. It permeates every part of me. It slows my thoughts. It stills my heart before my King. It quiets every lie and whispers gentle truths…
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7
"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you." Isaiah 26:3
"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." John 14:26-27
May today be a fresh revelation not just of God’s love, but of His peace that transcends all understanding and guards your heart and mind.
Aszia Walker is the Discipleship and Outreach Director at pureHOPE in Dallas, TX.
To each and every woman who attended #Sparrow2016 this weekend, thank you.
It was an honor to get to worship our King alongside you.
We're thankful for your tender hearts that were open to receive truth this weekend.
We're thankful for each of your stories and the work God has done in you. We pray you continue to share it.
We're thankful for your faithfulness in inviting friends who Jesus called to be there this weekend. May you continue to spur one another on.
We're so thankful we get to run this race together!!