2017 Faith-Related Resolutions

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Hello, friends! I personally love to have goals going into the new year. Although I don’t embrace the “new year, new me” idea, I always believe in striving to better one’s self and one’s relationship with God. I definitely have a lot of room to grow and improve.

  1. Finish Reading the Bible!

In 2016 I started with the intention of reading the bible in it’s entirety. Unfortunately, I didn’t even get close to doing so. I have only finished about a quarter of the bible so far, which is disappointing. But I am motivated to really get into scripture daily and understand what I’m reading fully. The important thing is to get into scripture as much as I can and grow my relationship with God.

  1. Go to Church More Often!

This year I did slightly better than 2015, but not nearly as good as I should have. I can’t say that in 2016 I tried my hardest to get to church every week, but in 2017 I hope that I can say just that. I would also just like to get more involved with my church community. And on the weeks I can’t make it for whatever reason, I would like to watch and take notes from the online live services my church streams on Sundays.

  1. Tithe Monthly!

This year towards August I began tithing for the first time in my life. Towards the end of the year, I fell off with it a bit. As a college student, it’s a bit stressful to donate 10% of your paycheck but I think I lost sight of the true meaning. Also, I don’t think the percent is as important as it has seemed in the past few months to me. Just tithing or giving an offering monthly is going to be my personal goal for 2017.

  1. Join a Bible Study!

And actually stick with it! I hope to join a bible study at my church for college students. Since my schedule next semester is more permitting, there should be no reason as to why I can’t.

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I hope you have faith resolutions for 2017 as well and, most importantly, I hope you are able to achieve them all. This time next year I hope to be able to look back on this resolution list and say I was successful. Something else I would love to consider is being re-baptized, but it is not something I would like to put a year limit on. Leave one of your 2017 faith goals in the comments below- I would love to hear them!

Seeking God

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Welcome to Christian On Campus! Today I would like to try a “devotional-style” post as requested by Hannah Grace, other known as @girls_living_for_christ_ on Instagram! Hebrews 11 is the chapter I will be focusing on, as per suggestion. Feel free to take notes using my free printable you can find and print here!

The major theme of Hebrews 11 is the application of FAITH in our lives and the importance of following God without hesitation. What I really enjoyed about this chapter of Hebrews is how it provides over twenty separate examples of biblical figures in the old testament who had great faith and how it worked out for them. For example, Noah with his ark (Hebrews 11:7) and Abraham with his big move (Hebrews 11:8). Without faith, Noah and Abrahams lives could have turned out so much differently, but not only that, the lives of all those after them could have been completely altered-including ours!

Faith can have a different definition for each of us but Hebrews 11:1 defines it as “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” None of us know what the future holds, but we have to trust that God has a unique plan for each of us that will get us exactly to where we need to be. It’s difficult to trust in God’s timing when we are impatient by nature, but that’s a big part of having faith!

My favorite example included in Hebrews 11 is Hebrews 11:29 “By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land…” which was actually one of the first stories I read from the bible. It still is just as mind blowing every time I think of it or read about it as the first time. Thinking about how much faith the people who passed through the Red Sea had is very inspiring to me when I feel discouraged. If you find yourself being discouraged, I suggest you find the bible story that makes your faith stronger just like the story of the Red Sea is for me.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

Of all of the wonderful things from Hebrews 11, verse 6 was my absolute favorite. If nothing else, take from this post that “without faith it is impossible to please God” because that is a very important concept to understand. Invest in God as much as He has invested in you. It’s imperative also to never think that God is “failing you”. God does not fail. In reality, it is our lack of faith that is failing Him.

I hope that overall this devotional post has inspired you to work on strengthening your faith. Whether that means praying more, studying the bible more, or any other spiritual exercise, I wish you the best of luck!

Leave me your post and prayer requests below and have a lovely rest of your day!

danielle sig

Self-Reflection

Self-Reflection

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Recently one of my lovely followers, @everlastingfather on Instagram, requested I write a post on Ephesians 4- and I’m so glad she did! It’s funny how God sends you messages through other people and this one definitely caught me by surprise. Some of you may have noticed I have been gone for about a month and I put off this request until I knew I could put my all into it. Of course, tonight after re-reading Ephesians chapter 4 I have no doubt in my mind that God was telling me I had a lesson or two to learn from this specific scripture. After reading it and reflecting, I would love to share with you all what I have learned from Ephesians 4 and also leave you with some thought provoking questions that helped me in my reflection.

If you have your bible I suggest you read this short chapter before you continue or you can click the following highlighted words to read it in either KJV or NIV. Also, I have created free printable bible study guides that you can access here. You can find the password to the freebie page by subscribing and checking the email you will be automatically sent.

Now that you’re all set, let’s get right into the scripture!

“…I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3

In this letter, Paul begins the fourth chapter that we are studying by saying that we must “live a life worthy of the calling you received”. Some of us already know our calling and some of us may have no idea what that may be, but all of us know we have one. This is something to pray on and also exercise your trust in God about. Trust that God has something special planned for you and work on your character until that time. Paul goes on to tell us the qualities that will help us live that “worthy life” he speaks of. He calls us to be humble, gentle, patient and peaceful. For myself, I think that patience is my weakness of those four. It’s important to recognize our own weaknesses so we can work on them. This would be a good time for you to ask yourself “What are my spiritual weakness and how can I make them my strengths?”

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:15

Paul continues with his letter explaining how these qualities equip us to fulfill the acts of service God has assigned to each of us. As I read through more of his letter I began to realize that he was explaining to us how we can improve and reach spiritual maturity. I also noticed how much Paul emphasized love in all of this. The love of Jesus can help you to improve on whatever spiritual weaknesses you may be struggling with. Not only His love, but the love of those around you such as the love shared between you, your family and friends. If you feel like you don’t have enough love and support to grow in your relationship with God- I suggest finding a church to immerse yourself in and find fellowship at. If you are at church that isn’t fulfilling this need, maybe it’s time to start exploring new churches and finding where you are supposed to be.

God calls us to live differently than other people as His followers. In doing this, it does set us apart and in some ways give us more challenges to overcome. But whenever you find this difficult or find yourself struggling for motivation, remind yourself of all Jesus has done for you. Writing down a whole list of everything He has done would take about a week to complete so, if you can, write down five things at this time that He has done for you to reflect on His grace and inspire yourself to make changes.

“Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.” Ephesians 4:19

Paul not only tells us what qualities are honorable and necessary, but also what he advises us on not becoming. He warns us against becoming over-indulgent and greedy. He also goes on to warn against deceitfulness, unwholesome words, stealing, bitterness, rage and anger. As humans, we all are imperfect and face these types of feelings and temptations in daily life. It’s our job to work against the evil in this world instead of contributing to it. Evaluate your struggles and challenge yourself to change.

“…be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:23-24

Out of this entire chapter, the end of Ephesians 4:23 stood out to me the most. When Paul wrote “be made new in the attitude of your minds” I believe he is telling us to change our perspective and become more optimistic and proud of our new self. Stop dwelling on the past and what has already happened and look at your future. Fight the negativity you feel and invest positive energy into everything you do. Recently a friend told me “You can rule the world with your positive thoughts!” and every time I catch myself thinking negatively I repeat that in my mind and re-focus my thoughts and feelings. Your perspective changes everything and the more you work on this, the better you get and the easier it becomes to naturally think positively. What is one positive thing you can say about your spiritual journey?

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I hope this was helpful and will grow your relationship with God. Comment below what part of this lesson spoke to you the most and also leave me any other chapters you would like me to post about.

Sending my prayers and positive energy your way!danielle sig

 

Social Media Mission

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Many of us want to participate in mission trips but have trouble finding time, funding or both. There’s a long list of excuses as to why you may not be able to do mission work right now. And as valid as they may be, that does not mean you can’t do the work of God right from where you are. That’s right, you can spread the word and love of God from the comfort of your home.

I have been working on my “Social Media Mission” since this time last year and I must say, motivation is the number one key to success.  However, there are a lot of other factors that go into making social media your mission field. Here are a few of my tips for sharing your faith online and making an impact from wherever you are.

  • Be consistent. You have a bigger impact when you are able to build community and people actually want to read/listen to what you have to say. Consistency will help you to establish your legitimacy. If you want to take this seriously, having a normal post/upload schedule that people can rely on is really helpful and people will notice and appreciate that you care enough to do so. I had trouble with this the first few months of having my Instagram account, which is what I started my “mission” on. I created my account around August 2015 and started regularly posting December 2015. Since then, I have also created this blog (in February 2016) and also manage a Pinterest If you have trouble with staying active with your accounts, channel or blog, remind yourself of Jesus Christ and how he never gave up or took breaks. Not to say that you can’t ever take a day or week, or however long you need off, but going missing without a word for months probably won’t help your mission very much.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” -Hebrews 13:8

  • Show your passion. Readers can tell when you don’t enjoy the photos you take or the posts you write or whatever you may be doing, for that matter. If you are not enjoying whatever platform you are using, maybe find a new one. For example, YouTube is great but it isn’t for everyone. And maybe you aren’t the best photographer or photo editor so Instagram and Tumblr aren’t your cup of tea. In that case, try twitter or create an online blog. If you are having fun with it, your passion for Christ will show effortlessly. I found my passion in bible journaling scripture which is really what started all of this.

“Be strong and immovable. Work enthusiastically. Nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” – 1 Corinthians 15:58

  • Stay motivated. If you have lost motivation in some way and can’t find inspiration to keep going with your mission, that is something you should probably talk to God about. Pray and God will answer and pull you out of your rut!

“He reached down from heaven and rescued me; He drew me out of deep waters.” -Psalm 18:16

  • Collaborate with others! Build other Christians that share your mission up. The more we empower one another the greater the impact we will make in this world. That could mean asking another Instagram account to write about a similar topic as you, running a photo contest together or whatever it may be.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” -Philippians 2:3

  • Be personable. Share your own experiences and testimonies if you can. It may be hard to share what you have been through, and maybe don’t start with the hardest times, but even sharing a small story can make a big difference. People learn better when they can connect and relate to the “teacher”. Even if you just talk about a time God answered your prayer in a unique way or the time God alleviated your anxiety before an important exam, it can help your audience to know you on a deeper level and you can show others that they are not alone. It can be scary to make yourself vulnerable in that way, but your followers will appreciate your openness and honesty and the outcome will be worthwhile.

“Don’t be afraid. Just believe.” -Mark 5:36

  • Make it fun. This goes with showing your passion but, just to expand on that, be sure not to do anything that feels like a chore to you. Make this an exciting learning experience for you and find joy in your “mission”.

“Always be joyful.” -1 Thessalonians 5:16

I am still “on my mission” and I plan on continuing with this journey as long as I can. The best part of having a Christian account and blog is getting to know all of you guys and meeting other fellow online Christian “missionaries” that I can learn from and grow with. I have asked a few lovely ladies to share with us about their insight on online missions and how they share the word and love of God through their platforms. Here is what they had to say:

Jesse from @jesusgrewaflower on Instagram and Jesusgrewaflower.weebly.com said “I use social media to share God’s love by posting about God. I want someone to look at my account and say ‘That’s a girl who loves the Lord!’ I hope that it will encourage Christians to walk closer to Him.”

Morgan from @children_ofchrist on Instagram said “By sharing the love of God through Instagram I am able to reach thousands and thousands of people that would never have been able to hear His Word otherwise. This is not only a huge opportunity, but a remarkable privilege that the Lord has given me.”

Christy from @smilinforchrist on Instagram said “The way I use social media as a “mission field” is just making up devotionals that will show God’s love to other people. I like to add themes and relate my devotions to real life. I love to inspire other people to experience God in new ways, so I use social media to prompt people to start spending time with God. It’s basically what you do in actual missions, just through the internet!”

Kaya from @gods.faithful.servant on Instagram said “My mission is to help those in need of God. I’ve struggled with God’s existence and I don’t want others to go through that. I love to inspire people about God and His love.”

Angel from @jesusrunsmylife on Instagram and teenfaith777.wordpress.com said “Social media is one of the best ways to spread the Gospel of CHRIST. It goes all over the world.”

Cassandra from @blessedbytheson on Instagram said “Sharing God’s love on the internet is one of my favorite things to do. With this Instagram account, I have been able to reach out to so many teens who were lost but are now found! It has been a wonderful experience for me and I hope others decide to do it as well.”

Lexi from @happilylexi on Instagram and The HappilyLexi Show on YouTube said “I spread the love of God by posting positive quotes about hope and belief in Jesus. I encourage others to see God in everyday life by letting them know that he is everywhere and always with us.”

Maybelle from @teens__forgod on Instagram said “This is a Christian account I share with my best friend Alyssa. We both want to share the love of God through social media while making new friends and sharing devotions with other Christian accounts.”

Finally, @sparkleformysavior on Instagram and sparkleformysaviorr.weebly.com said “Social media, I believe is an underutilized resource for reaching people with the gospel. We have access to people across the world at our fingertips, so why not use it to make a difference in our generation? I spread the love of God online through my Christian and private account because I believe that it’s good to encourage people in their faith, but we also need to be reaching out to unbelievers.”

Thank you to all of these wonderful ladies for sharing their mission with us here and be sure to check out their accounts and tell them Danielle sent you, if you get the chance!  I hope you have been blessed by this post and possibly inspired to start your own online mission. Be sure to leave me a comment with your Instagram account or other platforms so I can check them out and give you a follow!

One more thing! Before you leave, I would like to announce that I have created a more detailed (and much cuter, if I do say so myself!) Bible Study Guide printable that you can access here! The page is password protected because it was created as a thank you for my subscribers, so if you would like to use it, simply subscribe by entering your name (first name or Instagram handle only if you prefer) and email below (if you are on a mobile device) or to the right of the screen (if you are on a computer) and you should receive an email with the password! If you are already subscribed the password was at the end of the email notifying you of this post. I hope you enjoy the guide and send me pictures of you using it through Instagram.

Please contact me with any issues or feedback by commenting or emailing me at christianoncampus@outlook.com and leave any prayer requests or post requests down below.

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[Photo courtesy of Casey Hogue. Follow her on Instagram @caseyhoguephotos]

Quiet Time Routine

Quiet Time Routine

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“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. “ Luke 5:16

One of the greatest and most sacred gifts you could ever bless yourself with is alone time with God. There is truly no better way to heal your soul and mind then taking a little (or a lot) of time each and every day to simply sit in his presence and be with Him. If you’re anything like me, you probably have trouble with actually sitting down with no distractions (including your phone!) to really dedicate time to God. When I have free time, I automatically want to get on Instagram and search through my feed or catch up on my YouTube subscriptions. But, in hindsight, social media should never take priority over God, or anything else for that matter. So today I wanted to share with you all the quiet time routine that has helped me stay focused and keep a healthy mindset when spending time alone with God.

  • Finding the best setting. You never want your alone time with God to feel like a chore, and if it is, you’re probably doing something wrong. This time should be relaxing and, if you go about it the right way, it could be the best part of your day. If you are a night owl, don’t try to wake up at 6:30 AM and expect it to go as well as planned. And if your house is nosy, maybe try going outside and sitting under a tree where it is quiet and peaceful. I personally like to study in my room, sitting in my bed with a candle lit, some cozy blankets and pillows and a sound machine with some ocean waves or rainforest noise going on in the background. I never like being in complete silence, so the white noise helps me a lot but if silence works better for you, then by all means find the quietest place you can! The point is to make yourself comfortable and create an environment that will bring the results you want.
  • Start with a prayer! This is so important for me and I found that if I just start by jumping into my devotional, I don’t have the same calm and focus that prayer gives me. In this opening prayer I always ask the Holy Spirit to guide me in my reading and to keep my mind centered on God. I am not sure where I learned that, but it really does make a difference in my quiet time and the quality of the experience. Usually this prayer takes under one minute for me.
  • Start with a devotional. If you don’t have a physical devotional book, there are free daily devotional apps for your phone that you can download within seconds. If you are looking for an affordable devotional book I have two of my favorites listed here for you to check out. Having a good devotional is very valuable because it provides a great starting point for your daily reading. It serves as a small reminder of what you should be doing that day and gives you a mission to begin with. Also, if you aren’t sure where you should begin in your bible reading, it provides a great starting point. Usually this only takes about two minutes.
  • Open up that bible! This is SO important in your quiet time because it is the actual Word of God! Even if you are limited on time, at least open up the bible and read one small chapter, or even just a verse. Getting into God’s word is so essential for a healthy relationship with God and leads to a greater understanding and a deeper, more meaningful relationship between you and Him. I personally am going through the bible from beginning to end, in chronological order. But if you don’t want to do that, I suggest starting off from the scripture your devotional provides you with, or starting with Psalms or Proverbs. If you can, find an online bible study printable or e-book to follow along with so you have guiding questions to ponder on and answer. I will actually be creating my own bible study for my subscribers to print and download for free, very soon actually, so be sure to subscribe to receive an email when that is finished! Until then, there are plenty of other online resources available for free that will help guide your bible study time. I usually study for about three chapters of the bible, which are usually very short. This takes me about ten minutes.
  • Scripture Memorization. While I do my bible study, I always write down scripture that I find really relevant or beautiful as I read. Pick your favorite verse of the day and take about two minutes to remember that verse so you can recite it or call it to mind whenever you may need.
  • Finish with a closing prayer. At this time, you can really open up to God about what is going on in your life, about your sins and struggles and also about your accomplishments. You can ask God for guidance and peace. Most importantly, you can thank God for all of the blessings He has so graciously given you. Also, be sure to give yourself time to feel and listen to what God wants you to hear. God always answers our prayers, but we don’t always listen. Making an effort to actually listen for Gods wisdom and answers is more than worth your time.

I hope this is helpful and you all can take a try at my quiet time routine and see if it works for you just as well! I also like to take notes when I go through my quiet time routine in a journal or on any piece of paper I can find, really! Writing it down helps me to solidify that information I learned in my mind and is also great to look back on. In considering some of you all might be just like me in that, I created a “Quiet Time Check List” that you can view and print for free here! I have uploaded it in black and white, purple and blue. It has ample space for you to write down any notes and check off what you have accomplished as you go. It is password protected, though, so if you would like to view it, just subscribe to my blog and you should receive an email containing the password. If you are already subscribed, the password is in the email you received for this post notification. If you have any problems, please comment or email me and I will respond as soon as possible.

As always, leave posts requests and prayer requests below! Be sure to also answer the poll on this page as I will be opening a new section to this blog very soon all about college!

“If you seek me diligently, you will find me.” -Proverbs 8:17

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[Photos courtesy of Casey Hogue. Find her on Instagram @caseyhoguephotos]

 

Friend or Foe

IMG_0612“A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.” Proverbs 27:9

Today I would like to share with you all some of my experiences with friendship and drama and how to build long lasting friendships as well as what to look for in a friend. This was requested by Dani from @everlastingfather on Instagram! I am always taking post requests and love to share my life with you all and give any advice I have to offer, so contact me through Instagram or leave a comment and I will be sure to meet your requests as soon as possible.

My high school experience with friendships wasn’t exactly the best. Not all of it was bad; I met some absolutely wonderful people that I still keep in touch with and hang out with regularly! I made some fantastic memories, but for every good experience I had a poor one to counteract it. I think the root of all my problems surrounding drama and friendship revolved around me surrounding myself with the wrong people and, most importantly, not caring about my faith until my senior year. With all of that being said, after a year of college and being more focused on building good friendships, I finally am content with my social circle. Nothing is perfect but with good communication and a strong foundation, any problem can be solved in a mature manner.

The drama that some of my past friendships created for me was pretty toxic at times. Like I said, I was surrounding myself with the wrong people and I was not focused on my faith. Before my senior year, I considered myself catholic because I was raised in a catholic church but I only went to church about two times a year and never read the bible. I didn’t think much about my faith and, although I believed in God, I didn’t think much else of religion. Looking back at that time of my life, I wish I had sought after my faith much sooner, as I would have avoided a lot of heartache and problems.

Also, since I wasn’t going to church and wasn’t involved in any bible studies, I didn’t have a source of fellowship. When I entered my first semester of college, I had already made the decision to re-dedicate my life to God, which led to going to church more often, joining college ministries and a bible study and, in turn, I met a lot of people who shared my faith and had similar standards and goals. I wish I had involved myself in a bible study or youth group in high school so that I could have had more successful friendships.

If you find yourself often in the middle of arguments with friends, look first at yourself and also at the people you spend time with. Are they a good influence on you? Are you being a truly good friend to them and vice versa? Are you able to actually talk things out with them if an issue arises? Are the issues you are having even relevant or are these “friends” simply looking for a way to start drama?

If these people are wreaking more havoc and heartache in your life than happiness, you should re-evaluate the amount of time you spend with them. I don’t really find it necessary to completely “cut people off” from you but maybe just talk to them less or don’t hang out with them outside of work or school. In my experience, making a big dramatic event out of “un-friending” someone usually leads to more problems and it’s much better to just let the relationship fade away on its own. If the person in question really cares about you, they will figure out a way to make the friendship work and change to meet your standards. And if they don’t, then be glad you aren’t emotionally invested in the friendship anymore.

Once you have detoxed these bad friendships out of your life, make sure the new people you let in wont bring the same results. I suggest finding friends who share your faith, are kind and understanding and who value your time. Also, be sure you are equally as kind and understanding for them and value the time they spend with you as well. Friendships are so worth the time and effort you put into them, just make sure to surround yourself with good people and treat others how you want to be treated.

Thank you for reading and comment below any prayer requests or post requests and I will be sure to respond.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12

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[Photo courtesy of Casey Hogue Photography]

Learning to Listen

Learning to Listen

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Prayer can seem quite tedious and one sided if you don’t know how to listen for Gods answers. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if God would send us a text in response to our prayers? Or if a voice shouted down from the sky with a definite “yes” or “no”?

Grasping the thought of God talking to us in any way other than we have experienced is difficult, but not impossible. God reveals Himself to people in different ways. Sometimes he changes it up here and there. But once you take the time to really listen patiently for Gods answers, you will be thankful you took the time to do so.

“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” 1 Corinthians 14:33

Often times, I think God communicates through feelings. Last semester, I was struggling with my identification in regards to denominations of Christianity. I felt pulled in so many directions between a few different churches, and one had given me a deadline of January 4th, 2016 to decide whether I wanted to be baptized into their church or not. That could have been a sign in itself that this was not right, as I do not believe a decision as big and important as that should be rushed, but it was feelings that confirmed my decision. I felt so confused and anxious about the decision. I felt nervous about the entire situation. Of course, becoming entirely dependent on feelings for answers is not wise. To confirm my suspicions, I turned to scripture.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

The Word of God is incredibly helpful in many ways and to not take advantage of it when making decisions is quite a waste. I see the Bible as a guide to life. Most bibles even have a directory in the back. For example, if you are struggling with peer pressure at school, you can search “peer pressure” or “pressure” or “friendship” even to find multiple scripture references to whatever you need to know. If your bible does not have this, I highly suggest searching whatever your topic of inquiry isinto the Pinterest search bar followed by “scripture” to find great references and explanations other bloggers have found useful. God has provided this amazing resource for us, we just have to learn how and when to use it.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Psalm 32:8

Sometimes God also speaks to us through others. If you go to church, God is able to speak to you through the pastor/preacher. But there are so many other people who can pass on very meaningful messages from God to you without even realizing it. Sometimes talking with a fellow Christian about what’s going on in your life can really bring clarity and comfort when going through a rough situation. They may be able to reference a story from the bible that you had forgotten or not read yet that really shines light on your situation. I also have found that praying with a friend or family member can really strengthen the conversation, if you will.

Another way God speaks to us through others is through Christian music. The song “Jesus Paid It All” by Kristian Stanfill helped me when I was still feeling guilt after repenting from sin and changing my ways. Hearing that song really opened my eyes and heart to how forgiving God really is and that if I repented for my sins and followed through with change, he would erase it completely. Part of the chorus of that song says “Sin had left a crimson stain, he washed it white as snow.” Hearing those lyrics gave me a new perspective and lifted a heavy burden off my shoulders that I had been carrying for way too long.

Even a movie or book can be a way God speaks to us. Sometimes God reminds us of things we have forgotten by giving us the idea of reading a certain book, opening the bible to a certain page or watching a certain movie to help us hear the message he is trying to get across to us. It may be hard to so patiently listen and wait for Gods response when we live in a world of instant messaging and facetiming but it’s well worth the wait and effort.

Continue to pursue God with all your heart as he pursues you and you will hear what He needs you to hear in His perfect timing.

“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation.” James 1:12

[Photo by Casey Hogue Photography. Find her on Instagram @caseyhoguephotos]

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Prayer Without Limits

Prayer Without Limits

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Confiding in someone can be challenging, to say the least. It’s hard to know if you can truly trust someone with your innermost thoughts. At the same time, if you keep all of your feelings bottled up inside, you feel as if you are going to explode. At some point, you have to talk to someone about what is going on in your life. Family members or very close friends are usually the best option, but, depending upon your situation, you might find yourself fearing that judgement will be passed on you.

Good news! God already knows everything happening in your life, he cares about every detail and he wants to help guide you through those rough times.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2

Growing up, I honestly felt intimidated by God. I believed he existed, I knew that he created boundaries for us regarding good and bad and I knew that if we broke His rules, that we had sinned against Him.

I also had no understanding of why these guidelines were made for us. I did not understand until my more recent years that sinning actually hurts us much more than it hurts God. God does not like to see us suffering and that is why he so plainly gave us these laws of life to keep us safe and happy. For example, lying is a sinful act, which makes sense because lying only hurts you and the other people involved. Any sin you can think of can somehow be traced back to hurting you or another person. These statutes of the Bible can seem overwhelming at first but there is a true purpose behind them and following them only leads to a happy, fulfilling life.

Because I did not understand this concept, I was fearing God in the wrong way and shying away from talking to Him. Prayer, which should be an everyday occurrence, only happened when I was really scared or worried. Even when I would pray, I was not very open when talking to God because I was scared. My hesitation towards prayer caused my relationship with God to be non-existent and resulted in me losing many years I could have spent following His teachings and avoiding countless mistakes along the way.

Now that I understand this, I find it easy to be open and tell God what is on my heart at any time and regarding any situation. God has become my confidant and not only has that provided me immense relief but also it has strengthened my relationship with Him tenfold.

Another thing that makes it easy for me to talk to God without holding back is that I realize He has seen everything that happened already. God is all-knowing, so as soon as we experienced something, He is aware of it. Even before anything happened, God knew exactly how everything would unfold.

“The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.” Proverbs 15:3

The ability to be open to God and admit any wrong doings can be more refreshing than you think, but what God offers afterwards is even better. God is constantly extending his guidance to us, all we have to do is accept it. Sometimes it can be hard for us to take the time and listen to His guidance, whether it be through prayer, attending church, or studying the bible; His guidance is always being spoken to you in one way or another, you just have to welcome it into your life.

“In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:6

The best part of learning to pray without limits is the priceless relationship you will build with God throughout this process. Within no time you will get to know God better than you have ever known Him before. Not only will you be able to fix past mistakes, but also be forgiven for them and learn how to avoid encountering them in the future. Catching yourself before making a bad decision and praying about it can prevent a lot of future turmoil and draw you closer to God.

Since adapting this new mindset and prayer method I have learned so much about myself and my faith. I have changed my ways of thinking and acting for the better. Who knew simply talking to God could have so many rewards?

I encourage you all to open your hearts to God and see where it leads you. Ditch the rehearsed prayers here and there and just speak your mind. And afterwards, make sure to listen. God wants to be part of the conversation, too.

“He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3

[Photos by Casey Hogue Photography. Find her on Instagram @caseyhoguephotos]

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Worrier vs. Warrior

Worrier vs. Warrior

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Its second nature for us, as humans, to live in constant anticipation of what’s to come. Some are better at limiting these pestering thoughts to a minimum but the majority of us drown in worry daily. I know the feeling all too well. Midterms approaching, appointments to make and follow through with, seemingly endless assignments due in just a few days, organizational meetings to attend, hours to log in the library, working after classes and to top it all off a family crisis arises out of nowhere. And don’t forget about all the other mini stressors that occur on a daily basis; forgetting keys, getting held up because of an accident and facing being late to work or class or getting lost while driving. We all live unique lives and have varying circumstances but I know that, regardless, we all have our own reasons to worry.

But, God is an all-knowing, all-powerful God and He is willing to relieve us of our worries. The only catch being, we have to hand those worries over willingly. I think that part in itself can be just as hard as the actual worrying, but the result is life changing. When I first heard about handing my worries over to God and implemented that concept into my life, my concern was turned into comfort. Instead of living in constant anguish over the future, I can turn that worry into a prayer and mentally hand those things weighing heavy on my heart over to God.

If you call Jesus your savior, as I do, you are probably calling him savior in reference to Him dying on the cross for your sins. But He saves us from more than just that. Jesus can rescue you from any situation you relinquish to Him, and he WANTS to, but sometimes we don’t realize how relentless we truly are in passing them over to Him. Consider it like this, someone offers to give you a thousand dollars every day and you decline. That may seem like an extreme example at first but if you really think about it, being relieved of all your worries and anxieties is a priceless gift and we refuse to accept that beautiful gift and continue to worry endlessly.

Learning how to surrender all uncertainty to God can be very difficult and takes practice but I eventually figured out a way to do it in a way that worked really well for me. This may not work for everyone, but I encourage you to try this if you are ready to trust God with some of your burdens. It’s just like any other prayer but this prayer I usually do in a different, more quiet and calm spot than I normally pray in. This is not completely necessary but it has seemed to help me have an increased feeling of significance in the whole process. Somehow the location of where I pray this type of prayer reinforces that I have given the worry away and it is no longer mine to worry over. For example, I normally pray kneeling by the side of my bed, but when I pray kneeling behind my desk it signifies the release of the worry. Now for the actual prayer, I personally think visualization is the best way to be able to signify the “letting go” of worry. I imagine a very peaceful and beautiful place to “go to” in prayer, which for me is usually a field of yellow flowers that I once visited in North Carolina with my family when we pulled our boat into a cove to get off and explore. I imagine Jesus is there and I walk to him, holding an object that symbolizes whatever my worry is. For instance, I had anxiety over testing for my General Chemistry course last semester so if I was praying about that, my “symbol” would be my chemistry textbook. Once I walked to Jesus I would imagine myself physically handing over the symbol, or textbook. This may sound a little improbable, but I can assure you every time I practiced this method of prayer I felt so much release and peace come over me, and I knew Christ had just accepted my burdens as His own. Some people may use this method and never have to feel distressed over that thing they prayed through again, but for myself I feel I have to renew the prayer when it starts to cloud my thoughts again. Then again, I am the type of person who habitually worries so it’s okay to have to restore the prayer when needed.

I will swear by this technique forevermore because it has provided so much consolation. That doesn’t mean I stop studying for my tests, quit my job or ignore my responsibilities. I continue to work hard but I work with the reassurance that I need not worry because I know God, creator of the universe, has my back. I work knowing that whatever happens, God is in complete control and I can rest assured that He is working tirelessly in my favor to make my life greater than I could ever dream.

My hope for the “prayer” section of this blog is to help whoever may be reading this transform from worriers to prayer warriors. Please comment any questions about prayer below and I would be glad to address them in the next post. Also please comment if you tried my “method” or if you have a certain way of “letting go” that works for you; I would love to try it!

“Gods plans for my future are far greater than my fears.” – Helen Fagan

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[Photo by Casey Hogue Photography. Find her on Instagram @caseyhoguephotos]