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GirlandTheWord

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  1. Anger, on its own, is neither sinful nor virtuous. The concept of anger could be a little vague to Christians because the Bible teaches us to not act on rage, yet shows multiple incidences of angry, Godly characters—even Jesus. This is because anger is a tool, not a smith. The person inflicted with anger could either choose to take rightful action or vengeful action. What we see in Matthew 21:12 is a depiction of Jesus’ righteous anger. Out of their extreme disregard for God, the people in the temple took advantage of their captive audience and turned the temple into a greedy marketplace. Out of righteous anger, Jesus drove them out and overturned the tables and chairs of the various salesmen. To better define the term, “righteous anger” is simply heightened sadness and disappointment at a tragic or ungodly event, such as terrorism, blasphemy, and causes of extreme poverty. As Christians, it is okay to be angry because of injustice. Feeling angry is not “bad.” What you choose to do with the anger will determine its effect. If you’re angry because of jealously, entitlement, or other insecurities, be sure to not turn your anger into a weapon. That’s when it becomes sinful. Take a look at these 10 relevant passages on the topic of anger to help you make the right decisions in the heat of the moment: 1. Ephesians 4:26-27 – “And don't sin by letting anger control you. Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” 2. Ephesians 4:31 – “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.” 3. Proverbs 29:11 – “Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.” 4. James 1:9 – “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.” 5. Colossians 3:8 – “But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language.” 6. Proverbs 16:32 – “Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.” 7. Psalm 37:8 – “Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper--it only leads to harm.” 8. Proverbs 14:29 – “People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.” 9. Proverbs 15:1 – “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” 10. Romans 12:19 – “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, "I will take revenge; I will pay them back," says the LORD.” From these scriptures, it is clear that God does not want us to act sinful out of anger at all, but rather leave the vengeance to Him. Although it is extremely difficult to keep our cool when there are so many injustices going on, refrain from using your anger as a weapon to destroy. Instead, find peace in the comfort of God’s promise to make things right for you. Written by Girl&TheWord
  2. A Great Friend Listens Ah, yes. It’s the old “listen before you speak” spiel. Except without the speaking. When you’re there to listen, genuinely engage. Don’t listen half-heartedly while you silently conjure up a clever response. Listening takes a lot of humbleness and humility. It is the act of placing others above ourselves; giving them the safe space they need to tell the truth without judgment. You don’t need to talk in order to change their hearts. People who simply need to confide in you only need the comfort of your silent empathy (unless otherwise stated, of course). A Great Friend Tells the Truth When it’s a fitting time to reply, let your friends know the truth of God’s heart. Yep—not your own two cents. That’s not telling the truth in love. True truth is God’s truth. If you don’t know what to say, simply refer to the Word and get your response from there. Please keep in mind that this does not mean referencing Bible verses left and right at someone who is struggling or hurting. Sometimes, nothing could be more unfeeling. You can speak the Word of God naturally, without citing the book, chapter, and verse, and I promise you that it would still remain the powerful Word of God. A Great Friend Protects Protecting your friend doesn’t always mean physically. One of the most conventional ways to protect your friend is from slander. If your friend is a nonbeliever and your group of Christian friends speak of him or her as though he or she is a lost cause, it is right for you to gently defend. A great friend always hopes. Another common way to protect your friend is to protect him or her from your own thoughts. This is tied to the next point. A Great Friend Always Assumes the Best Andy Stanley explains in his book, The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating, that we are often left with ‘gaps’ in our time apart from others. For example, if your friend promised to show up to church with you but ditches at the last minute, he or she leaves a ‘gap’ for you to fill. You can choose to either fill this gap with good thoughts or malicious thoughts. Either way, these are your thoughts to own. The Godly way, of course, is to assume good thoughts about your friend. Give him or her the benefit of the doubt – always – and you will finally attain peace. “Always?” you ask, “Even if I know deep down that person is just lazy?” Yes, even so. And this is why: It will do your friendship no good if you feed yourself malicious thoughts about the other person. Even if you know he or she cannot righteously justify his or her actions, assume that your friend’s heart is simply not ready. This is often the truth of the matter. A Great Friend Allows Mistakes Like I’ve mentioned in my previous article, our friends and family are not extensions of ourselves. They have their own desires and reservations. If God Himself doesn’t want to infringe on our boundaries by giving us free will, we should model after Him and do the same for others. After you’ve told your friends the truth in love, let them exercise their free will. If you interfere with the process by taking on the consequences for them, they shall never learn. Allowing for mistakes is the only way to love others. Don’t worry, God will surely supply you with enough patience (and reminders) to give room for error. A Great Friend Forgives How many bitter people out there win people to God with their bitterness? Zip. Nada. None. And that’s exactly why we don’t want to be that kind of friend. When my group of middle schoolers were asked, “What makes a great friend?” their responses varied from “Someone who is supportive,” to “A person who listens.” Not one of them would ever in their right minds say, “Someone who doesn’t forgive.” Yet, most of us fit into that category. Our traumatic memories keep us entangled in the past sins of others. However, we are called to be kind, compassionate, and forgive as God had forgiven us. No matter the offense, you must forgive because that is the only way to change people’s hearts. After all, it was His kindness that led us to repentance. A Great Friend is Gentle One of the greatest attributes of the wise is gentleness. Gentleness includes being thoughtful with your speech and being sensitive with your actions. A great friend doesn’t use force to make something happen. Gentleness is not weakness; never forget that. My sister once taught me that gentleness is power under control. To be gentle is to know how to control yourself for the benefit of others. A Great Friend Does Not Envy Finally, this is the point that blows us all out of the water. Great friends are not envious of others. A great friend seeks to give, not to take. Envy takes the life out of every celebration. That means that you should look for opportunities to celebrate your friends’ victories. Be competitive at it! The same way you’d want your loved ones to celebrate your victory, be even more eager to celebrate theirs! That’s what separates an insecure friend from a Godly friend. A Godly friend is already 110% secure in Christ, so he or she is brimming with joy at the success of others. Here is an important note to remember as you attempt to be a great friend to others: It is okay to mess up sometimes. The most important thing is to keep referring back to the truth and try again. Loving others the Godly way takes practice. If you haven’t made the connection yet, I’ve taken these principles straight out of 1 Corinthians 13. To be a great friend, you’ve got to learn to love like God loves. By investing time, energy, and self-restraint in loving others the specific way in which Christ loves you, you will win souls for the kingdom of God. Written by GirlandTheWord
  3. With a topic as broad and touchy as sharing the Gospel, it’s no wonder why so many Christ followers recoil when it’s “their turn” to share the Good News to others. One common view of this, which I don’t recommend, is to look at people as sales pitches. Yes, you’ve read that right. If you haven’t heard it before – which is unlikely – then now you know why so many churches appear business-like: They are ran by business values. Although I believe we can use our business skills to glorify the living God, viewing our friends and family as potential sales pitches is immoral, unloving, and brings zero glory to our heavenly Father. Even if this approach works, it still counts as taking a major a shortcut. We don’t want to be “businessmen in Pentecostal suits.” Our circles of influence aren’t potential customers, they’re souls waiting to be loved and stewarded. Reducing them to sales leads takes away their humanity and erodes the calling God had placed on us: to live in a way that wins people and brings them into relationship with Him. So, what does that mean for the well-intentioned Christian who’s eager to share the Word? It means that it will take time and ongoing investment. People are not simply extensions of our wills; they are their own individuals, with their own desires, agendas, and reservations. It takes a lot of time and patience to establish trust. Diving into this new venture thinking that it only takes one or two coffee dates to win a soul is terribly misleading for both parties. Try to put yourself in the shoes of a nonbelieving friend. Would you want to be viewed as a ‘project’ to conquer, or a sales lead to convert? Chances are, that would be insulting to you. The same goes for everyone else. No one wants to be anyone’s project. Everyone appreciates true, genuine friendships. That is what you’re called to do as a disciple of God – establish loving, genuine friendships with the world and be the bridge in which they can meet God. This is why we shouldn’t push people towards the cliff before we’ve established a bridge with them; they will feel betrayed and close themselves off from us. People won’t understand why we’re pushing them towards such a huge commitment when they’re simply not ready for it. I have a close friend who led a nonbeliever into a sinner’s prayer on the first meeting. Needless to say, they never hung out again. By being consistent, steady, and genuine, people will ultimately come to know that your bridge is safe and sturdy enough to cross. They will do this on their own because the Holy Spirit is constantly at work in them. “But how do I even begin telling people about Christ?” you might ask. At first, mentioning the big JC might be a little awkward for some and a deal breaker for others. Unless you know that your friend is a person of peace (or a person who is open to hearing about God), refrain from overwhelming them with your religious speech. Even if it is done out of pure motives, not respecting the boundaries of others is a sure-fire way to guarantee rebellion. Be sensitive to your level of closeness to the person and share the Gospel accordingly. If there is no bridge built, the only thing your friend will see when you speak of the Almighty God is a silhouette of a faraway, idealistic fantasy. That’s because they don’t know Him close up yet because you haven’t done your job of building the bridge. If you’ve already established a firm friendship with others and the time is ripe for you to tell them about Christ, start with an invitation. For example, you can say, “Hey, are you free this weekend? Would you like to check out my church? I’d love to introduce you to my friends!” Please keep in mind that this attempt will be a lot more successful after you’ve proven that you’re a trustworthy friend. Often, being Christ to our friends doesn’t even involve us mentioning His name in every opportunity we get. ‘Preying’ for someone who’s at his or her weak point to interject the Gospel can be a very insensitive and unloving move. Just be a true friend and approach him or her without ulterior motives. Your friends will grow to know God as they grow to trust you. Offer prayer, but don’t force it. Always pray for those friends on your own, as we know that our faith can move God to soften hearts. To share the Gospel successfully, you’ve got to invest time and share your life with people. There are no easy shortcuts to sharing the Gospel. That’s why it’s imperative that you actually have a relationship with God yourself, so you can confidently make your faith public. The light that you have should not be hidden or only expressed when you see that it’s the ‘perfect opportunity’ to inject the Gospel into someone’s wounds. By making it known, on your own platforms, that you are a follower of Christ, your friends and family will already know who you stand for. All you’ve got to do now is build solid bridges. Written by GirlandTheWord
  4. Have you ever met people who suck the energy out of others as soon as they open their mouths? Or people who would provoke a situation until it becomes more hostile than necessary? Those individuals fail to see the value in speaking life to others. “Speaking life” simply means to speak out of a pure motive, with the intention of benefitting the hearer of your words. The Bible says, “[O]ut of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). This means that the words we say are clear reflections of our hearts. If we speak poison or hostility, it is a pretty good indicator that our hearts are full of bitterness. If we speak with honesty and gentleness, it indicates that we have godly and wise hearts. To speak life, you must be wise. Those who are dead set on foolishness will refuse to see the value in wisdom. To truly be wise, you’ve got to develop a deep respect for the Lord—or, as the Bible calls it, “The fear of the Lord” (Proverbs 1:7). The book of Proverbs is perhaps one of the best books to teach wisdom, so we will explore it in depth. Proverbs 15:33 says, “The fear of the Lord teaches wisdom; humility precedes honor.” Indeed, there are no shortcuts to speaking life. We can fake our kindness and gild our words with gold, but our vain efforts will eventually fall through if we don’t match our words with what’s really in our hearts. To sustain a lifestyle of speaking life unto others, we must always start with the heart. Teach yourselves to respect and fear the Lord by meditating on His word daily. Remind yourselves of His goodness in your lives by reflecting on the many times He has pulled you through. Pray to Him as much as you can so that you will have a deeper relationship with Him. Whether you’re in the workplace or in your bedroom, be aware of His presence surrounding you. All of these thoughtful actions will give you more knowledge of the Lord and will help you to love and respect Him all the more. Once you’ve developed a deep respect for the Lord, you will want to love and treat His children in a godlier way. Proverbs 9:12 explains, “If you become wise, you will be the one to benefit. If you scorn wisdom, you will be the one to suffer.” Ironically, in your quest to benefit others by speaking life, you will also benefit yourself. When you consistently pour out honest and good things with gentleness and self-control, people will eventually recognize your wisdom and give respect to God, whom you represent. This is how you speak life: Speak kindly and truthfully at the right time. Perhaps the most important time for you to speak life is when it’s the last thing you feel like doing. In these common situations, this is how you exercise your newfound wisdom: · When you’re angry – "Starting a quarrel is like opening a floodgate, so stop before a dispute breaks out" (Proverbs 17:14). Before you decide to give the other party permission to make you angry, remember that it will not be life giving for neither of you to be quarrelsome. Proverbs describes this as “opening a floodgate,” meaning that it will only lead to more harm than good. Hold your tongue to save your energy and dignity. Speak again when you’re both calm. · When you’re insulted – "A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted" (Proverbs 12:16). There will be many foolish people in this world that will seek attention and validation by provoking you with insults. Refuse to be quick-tempered. Instead, let them feed off your calmness by restraining your speech. If they’re out of control, explain that you will not engage in a tirade of insults and leave the premise until you’re both ready to speak respectfully. · When your pride is hurt – "Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything" (Proverbs 13:3). In a situation where you feel like the other party is attacking you indirectly, refuse to attack back with equally stinging words. Instead, speak the truth calmly and confidently. Don’t let your ego take control. Rather, recognize that you are hurt and respond with kindness. If you can’t give kindness in the moment, just hold your tongue until you’re able to say what is wise and life-giving later on. Spouting off in the heat of the moment can “ruin everything.” · When you’re giving advice – "The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray" (Proverbs 12:26). As a representative of God, people who normally aren’t religious will most likely seek your advice when they hit rock bottom. When giving advice, refrain from pouring fuel into the fire (ie. “You deserve to do whatever you want to make yourself feel good!”/“He’s such a jerk—show him that you can do better!”). Although validation is important and necessary, stray from foolish validation that will do more harm than good. Seek first the wisdom of God, and your advice could save lives ("The words of the wicked are like a murderous ambush, but the words of the godly save lives" [Proverbs 12:6]). · When you’re tempted to lie – "The mouths of fools are their ruin; they trap themselves with their lips" (Proverbs 18:7). Lies are like knots; they will slowly entangle us and make us trip and fall. When you’re tempted to lie, remember your identity as God’s beloved. Proverbs 17:7 says, "Eloquent words are not fitting for a fool; even less are lies fitting for a ruler." You might not be a ruler, but you are coheirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). As someone whom God regards so highly, should you not keep your dignity by being honest? The honest person will always come out victorious over the liar. · When you’re tempted to tell a crude joke – "The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words" –(Proverbs 15:28). The saying, “Think before you speak,” is indeed very biblical. Spontaneity and jokes are both good, but it doesn’t need to be crude or foolish. Think carefully and search your heart before you want to tell a crude joke. If it makes you seem foolish, it’s not worth it. Wise people prefer fitting replies more than the shocking element of crudeness, anyway. · When you’re public speaking – "Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!" (Proverbs 15:23) When it is your turn to speak, use this opportunity to say wonderful things in truth. A wise person will be likeable in front of an audience, and her words will be persuasive because of her credibility. Foolish babble, on the other hand, will only incur more mockery on the speaker. After you’ve done your homework on what God has to say about being wise, you’ll find that you needn’t do much speaking at all. Out of the eagerness of our hearts, we might want to show others that we are worthy of respect, but speaking too much or too soon could ruin everything we want to accomplish. Even Proverbs 18:2 says, "Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions." This is why we must never skip on the behind-the-scenes “heart work.” Being even-tempered and having enough self-restraint to use few words takes discipline and maturity. God will grow these two areas in our lives if we surrender ourselves to Him. Get to know Him more and learn to respect His kingship in our lives. Then, we will find ourselves compelled to speak life unto others. Written by GirlandTheWord www.girlandtheword.com
  5. Let’s get a little personal. When I was in elementary school, I used to be a tomboy. To be clear, I wasn’t exactly sure what a tomboy was, I just felt comfortable wearing my dad’s shirts and socks. It also didn’t help that my parents thought it would be funny to see their little girl scootering around in a giant t-shirt and oversized socks. I once got a comment from my 6th grade teacher a few days before my promotion to junior high, asking, “Hey, Anh. You still gonna dress like that in Garvey [my would-be junior high school]?” I didn’t understand what he was getting at, but I could hear the negative connotation in his voice. I said, “Yeah! Why?” He shrugged and tried to keep his laughter in. When I hit high school, I started wearing girly Hollister clothes because that’s what all the cool kids did and I wanted to be cool like them. I began dressing “girly” from then on and never got a comment like the one I got in 6th grade ever again. When I entered college and exposed myself to a host of different communities, it became more apparent to me than ever that I have what people would call a “strong personality.” I’m more of a Type A than a Type B. I like to lead. I know I’m a thinker and a doer, so I end up coming up with my own ideas and then I try my best to execute them in the most efficient manner. I only like group work when my group mates are as self-motivated as me; otherwise, I get irritated beyond belief. Some people might point at this and say, “YES!!! Yes, that’s exactly how I feel.” Still, others would think, What’s the big deal? Relax. There will always be both types of people in the world, and they will almost always be on the same team as each other—whether in church, in the workplace, or in school. Anywhere you’re exposed to people, you will run into someone you might clash with. I know that full well. Nevertheless, in my personal experience and observation, I think that a person’s sex also has a lot to do with whether or not his/her personality would be accepted or even praised by his/her community. My personality is what you would define as a ‘masculine’ personality. You know those sociology personality quizzes you take to find out whether or not you fall more into the masculine or feminine side? Mine came out almost all masculine. Strong-willed, opinionated, initiator, correcting, and straightforward: that’s what society deems as a good portrayal of a man. Well, I’m not a man. I don’t identity as a man and I’m also not attracted to girls. So what does that make me? In college, I thought that it made me a saucy, insolent lady. I found out very quickly that my personality deemed me as offensive and out-of-line to many conservative communities and individuals. In college, I began hating the fact that I was born a girl because I wanted to be praised for my personality, just like the boys were praised for having an assertive personality. I actually wished I could keep my personality and change my sex, because I thought maybe then they would take my input seriously. Since I couldn’t wish myself out of being a girl, I decided to make small changes to my personality instead. I would literally bullet things to change about myself in my journal daily, like: · Stop talking so much. Only talk when you have something really profound to say. · Wear [insert girly outfit in detail here] · Be more graceful · Don’t get too excited. Stay calm. · Don’t talk too loud. When I first became a Christian, these insecurities grew even deeper. Reading verses that praised the gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4) and personally experiencing some clear injustices made me feel like I was severely misunderstood simply because I am an outspoken, strong-willed girl. I didn’t come to these conclusions right away; rather, they came to me as I spent time reflecting on situations that bothered me from time to time. From my observations, my experiences, and my analysis, I came to the conclusion that my ideas and potentials were shriveling in the midst of an essentially sexist environment. As a result, I became bitter. I started to secretly harbor this bitterness and became hyper-skeptical of the people around me. I constantly questioned their motives and made negative judgments about them secretly in my heart. For a long time, I was truly hurt from all the negative thoughts that circulated my mind as a result of the few bad experiences I had. Still, in the midst of all the hurt I was experiencing, I had forgotten how to empathize with others. My bitterness and insecurities made me become indignant and prideful, and I caught myself gradually turning into the judgmental and unjust person that I had hated so much. My insecurities made me extra sensitive to how people treated me in a group setting, which pretty much meant that my antennas were actually looking for flaws and negativities in a person’s intentions. Instead of “taking the meat and throwing away the bones,” I gradually did the exact opposite: I craved for the “bones,” or flaws in the person’s character, and I threw away the “meat,” or the valid points that they bring up in an argument. Most of my interactions became filtered through a “Is this person being sexist?” lens, and this wrong outlook set me up for a bitter load of disappointments and pain. Maybe there had been times when you felt the same way. After finding out that someone had gossiped about you, maybe you felt like you needed to be extra careful around everyone—not just the person who backstabbed you. Maybe after someone insulted your weight, you felt like it was as if the entire school was full of shallow people. Maybe after a racist incident occurred between you and a stranger on a bus, you think that the whole society is chock full of no-good racists. Whatever your experiences may be, I’m sure that you’re not the only one who has ever felt bitter after going through these painful incidents. It’s human nature to guard ourselves once we get hurt. Our brains seem to react to emotional pain similar to how it reacts to physical pain—it does whatever it could to avoid experiencing the same trauma again. I understand why you might be angry and bitter. In many cases, it’s also completely justifiable to feel that way. But please hear me out on these encouragements, as I’ve finally learned why I should let go of the hurt rather than hold onto it with everything I’ve got. God loves the gentle and quiet spirit; yes, but that doesn’t translate to “God only loves meek and quiet people.” He loves us all, and he created us with these personalities for his own pleasure. He loves it when we’re silly and when we get excited- there’s nothing wrong with that. It is only when we are inconsiderate of others, or forget to forgive those who speak against us and then hate them in our hearts, that makes the spirit of God sorrowful. Even when people speak against us, even when they deliberately hurt us with their unjustified words and actions, it would still be wise to work towards forgiving them in our hearts. When I continued to harbor bitterness against people who have hurt me, I was doing a massive disservice against both God and myself. I was eventually able to let go of my bitterness, but only after days of crying, praying, and wrestling with the subject. But you know what? Once I finally committed myself to trusting the Lord with my relationships, I felt an immense relief that I’ve only felt twice in my entire life—once when I got saved, and again when I decided to have compassion over those who made me bitter. Choosing to let go of the hatred helped me to become a more genuine and loving person. It allowed me to serve others with the compassionate and empathetic mindset of Christ. Ephesians 4:30 says, “And do not bring sorrow to God's Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Just like the verse points out, there will be times when we have to bear with one another. It’s not a matter of whether or not people will slander you; it is a matter of when they will speak and sin against you. As a response, Apostle Paul tells us to have compassion and be tenderhearted and get rid of bitterness—why? Because we would be damaging our own wellbeing as well as bring more sorrow to the Father who had gone out of his way to forgive us. Trust me, I’m also preaching to myself as I write these words. It’s not easy to forgive—and I don’t mean the “out of sight, out of mind” type of forgiveness, but the head-on, face-the-person and truly forgive-them-in-your-heart type of forgiveness. Christ’s type of forgiveness. It takes time, it takes wisdom, and it takes guts, but God is more than willing to bring you comfort and guidance as you decide to forgive those who have hurt you. It wasn’t an easy road for me to take, but in all honesty, after experiencing time and time again of how much he loves me and wants to restore me, how could I keep running away from him by choosing bitterness? I couldn’t. I want to encourage you to pursue the same route. Choose peace of mind and wisdom and freedom over bitterness; even if you have to face the monster head on to get to the other side. God is paving the road for you, anyway. Written by GirlandTheWord www.girlandtheword.com
  6. In my personal, ongoing seasons of uncertainty and unrest, I often find myself getting burnt out so easily from just doing simple, everyday tasks. Even if the workload might be a little more than usual—though nothing out of the ordinary—I still feel so overwhelmed and unmotivated that I struggle to finish the tasks in a timely manner. Even through all of this, I did not dare to give myself a break. I felt too ashamed to stop. What would people think of me if I took a break? I’d silently ask myself. What if they called me lazy? What if they think I’m not doing enough for my future/my church/my ministry? What if people start to think that I’m a failure? What if, what if, what if… My engine was sputtering forward in violent, hiccup-like increments, with fluids leaking and the gas tank running on empty. Still, I tried to move forward relentlessly despite the obvious signs telling me that I should stop, refuel, and rest. For those of you who are experiencing this emotionally turbulent and spiritually draining season in your life, I have a question to ask: Aren’t you tired? Aren’t you tired of dragging onward even though your engine has overheated and your wheels are worn? Aren’t you tired of feeling exhausted before the day even begins? Aren’t you tired of trying to live up to the expectations of everyone else instead of living the abundant life that God had promised you? I know for certain that I am completely and utterly exhausted of living this way. Ever since I came back from my short vacation, there hasn’t been a day where I felt rested or at peace with myself. I thought, Now that I’m back from having so much fun, it’s time to work and prove to people that I’m still capable. That was the source of the problem: I worked to prove my worth to people. Even as a believer of five years, I still contradicted what I’d preach to others and I worked to prove my worth, rather than being confident in what God already thinks of me. With the constant voice of the enemy ringing in my ears, telling me that I’m unworthy, I pushed my hardest trying to find a job, trying to find my place in ministry, and trying to find my niche in life. I went job-hunting for hours per day, I made commitments I wasn’t sure I could keep, and I forced myself into every event that I could possibly have a role in. I did good things out of the wrong motivation, which soon proved to be unsustainable. I burnt out. You can avoid all of this wreckage by stopping what you’re doing right now—really, STOP thinking about your next task, put that phone away, minimalize that tab, etc.—and say this prayer with me: Dear Heavenly Father, I commit all my cares and worries into your hands. Thank you for doing the impossible for me. Thank you for taking care of my eternal fate so that I don’t have to worry about my future any longer. I pray for your peace, which surpasses all understanding. I pray for your rest, which will refresh me like living water. I don’t have to prove my worth to anyone anymore because you’ve already proven to me that I’m worth your son. I can sleep at night not worrying about tomorrow because all the days are in your mighty hands. I can be at rest because I have you. Thank you, Lord. Amen. Believe those words you uttered. It is okay to put down your worries, your tasks, and your brilliant ideas for one day. Clear your table and clear your mind of the things that worry you or keep you up at night. Like Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Did you know that we were not made to work our hearts out until we die? This sad reality was a direct result of the Fall. We were not originally meant to toil nonstop until our last breath. These are cursed grounds, which means that none of our toils will ever bring us everlasting profit; but despite all of that, we are living in the era of Grace. Now that we’ve already accepted Christ into our lives, shouldn’t we want to live out the holy lives that were intended for us? I think it’s about time that we learn to “let His kingdom come” into this particular area in our lives. Work as though you’re working for His kingdom, and then rest, because in God’s kingdom, every soul is at peace and at rest. There are no burnt out souls in God’s kingdom—He makes sure of it. That’s why He commanded us to rest! There is a magnificent quote that goes, “Rest is not inactivity, but a Holy Spirit directed activity.” Think about that for a minute. Doing the work of God also includes listening to Him when His spirit commands us to rest. Did you catch that paradox? To do His good work, you must also rest. I went wrong the moment I started working hard to prove my worth to people, but I crashed and burned so quickly because I had also neglected to rest. I feared too much about what others would say about me. I had utterly forgotten the heart of the Psalmist, which says, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O LORD, will keep me safe” (Psalm 4:8). I didn’t even allow myself to believe that “God gives rest to his loved ones” because I was too prideful to ask for His help (Psalm 127:2). I refused to even go seek wisdom from the Bible because I wanted to get out of this wreckage on my own. And then finally, on a particularly busy and exhausting night, all of the unrest caught up to me at once. The exhaustion hit me like a train. I laid in fetal position, soaking my tears into my pillow. I texted incoherent emotional texts to my loved ones. I even thought of getting ice cream because for a moment, I had blamed the emotional trauma on my irregular hormones. The physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual exhaustion was literally crippling me. Still, even then, I tried to reason with myself (that’s human nature for you). I thought, This shouldn’t be happening. I planned everything out in detail. If I could just move this interview to this day, and arrange this task on that day, and if I could just… I went on and on, wrestling with my own injured heart, until this phrase came to me: Aren’t you tired? Yes, I was. But there’s no time to rest— But aren’t you tired? And the final, no-nonsense, honest-to-God answer was, “Yes. I’m so, so tired.” That was when He began the healing process in me. I stopped crying, said a thank you prayer, and fell right asleep with the prayer still lingering in my mind. I knew that He was going to take care of me from then on. In the morning, I felt more confident about not giving into my anxiety or dwelling too much on the tasks ahead. I was still physically tired, but I was not weighed down by the same daunting pressure as before. I felt very much like a child who had just gotten over a violent temper tantrum: puffy-eyed with a slight timbre of peacefulness, and arms clinging tightly onto my patient and loving Heavenly Father. Looking back on the situation, it was as though He had warned me to rest before I even started, but like a child, I playfully ignored Him. While thinking that I could do it all on my own, I avoided Him at all costs. He, of course, was standing by the whole time, allowing me to learn the hard way, but making sure that I was still in His sight. When I finally burnt out, there He was—not condemning me, not saying, “I told you so,” but in a firm yet empathetic voice, He asked, “Aren’t you tired?” I pray that today will be the day you humbly and honestly answer this same question. Life comes with the weight of expectations and tribulations, so it is understandable to be tired. However, you shouldn’t let those expectations and tribulations run your life. Those things will run you to the ground! Instead of fueling yourself with lies, busyness, and pride, just come to Him and rest. Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). If you’re weary and need to find a way out, your answer is right there: come to Jesus. Come, lay down your burdens and let loose your heavy baggage. Come, and find rest. A song to meditate on: Written by GirlandTheWord www.girlandtheword.com
  7. If you’re anywhere in your late teens to early thirties, you’ve probably realized that this age range has its own unfortunate struggles. For example, I often spend my days feeling like I’m always on the edge of doing something original and amazing, but I could never seem to get there. Many articles that I’ve read and the friends I’ve talked to expressed the same frustrations. Do you ever feel like most people around you are accomplishing big things, making good money, or traveling the world—basically everything you wish you could be doing—while you rot in your cramped little cubicle or mope around unemployed at home? Personally, I know exactly what that season is like. That feeling of unproductiveness oftentimes leads to the feeling of inadequacy, worthlessness, and meaninglessness—all of which are toxic build-ups to depression. Fortunately, having come out of that pitch-black hole alive, I could testify to you that it does indeed get better. God isn’t one to quit on His children, even if He allows us to wander through the wilderness for a few years. And try to digest this: everyone who pursues a relationship with Jesus will encounter his or her own wilderness season(s). It is actually completely necessary in our personal journeys with Christ to have a season where we are left with almost nothing, except to look up and trust in Him. That is when our relationship with God will deepen—when we’re finally put in the position where we’d have to surrender our ego, self-righteousness, and earthly wisdom, and have no other true options but to just take the next step by faith. The wilderness should not be feared. We usually admit that we’re in the wilderness when we’ve already crashed and burned due to all the different pressures, but the truth is that many times, we’ve been heading towards that direction long before we even realized it. And we’re not alone. Even our Christian brothers and sisters who seem like they “have it all together” most likely experienced their own season of wilderness as well. If not, you can be sure that it will come. Think of the wilderness as a rite of passage, so to speak. Everyone, or at least every believer, should be expected to experience the wilderness at one point or another in their walks of life. However, the wilderness should not be feared because it gives us the opportunity to strengthen our faith in Him, who promises to pull us through. 1 Peter 1:7 says, “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold.” When we feel like we are left with nothing, that is when our faith is being tested. It wouldn’t be called “faith” otherwise. If there weren’t any uncertainties involved, how then could we say that we are truly faithful? I hate uncertainty, and I understand that a shaky future could look really hopeless at times, but I encourage you to endure it when your faith is being tested by fire. If your faith could withstand the fire and the trials, then you will be able to shake the dust off your feet and walk away with a more genuine and unshakeable faith in Christ than before. See, that is the nature of our faithfulness—it must be tested so it could be purified, just like gold. The wilderness is God’s divine discipline for his legitimate children. When I looked at myself as God’s daughter rather than just His believer, there was suddenly more purpose behind my painfully tedious waiting season. It was so incredibly comforting and reassuring to know that God chooses to discipline and shape me because he cares about my character, my future, and my faithfulness. Out of his desire for me to have a genuine faith, a meaningful future, and godly character, He thought it would be good to allow me to go through the wilderness season. All of this has been recorded in Scripture. Hebrews 12:7-8 says, “As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn't discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all.” This passage gave me a tremendous sense of reassurance when I was going through my season of wilderness because it reminded me, again and again, that God was allowing this “divine discipline” to happen out of His astounding love for me. When we think about the wilderness through the lens of God as our loving and good father, we will grow less and less envious of those who have “more” than us—especially if they don’t love God. Why should we be envious of those who don’t even respect our father? And if the people who don’t even respect God, let alone love God, could lead “successful” lives (at least on the outside), how much more of a fulfilling life would we lead if we continue to trust God? I’m willing to bet that whatever God has planned for each of us is going to be infinitely better than anything we could ever plan for ourselves—even if it means we won’t ever get a 3 million dollar bonus in our lifetimes. Money can’t buy salvation, anyway. If there’s one thing you should take from this article, it’s this: God is not punishing you. He is challenging you to grow in maturity, patience, and faith because he cares about you. He sees you as his legitimate child. For this, I say: Praise and glory be to the One who holds our precious souls in the grasp of His hands—the One who provides for the sparrows and will provide even more for the children of His creation. You don’t need to worry about your next steps because he had paved the entire road for you. Amen. Written by GirlandTheWord
  8. You Are Free I am vested in the crumbs of society The fallouts from the Bread of Life I am the Bread of Life The bread of peace, love, compassion The bread of unbarred atonement, relentless redemption, Revelations made passable through the blood of My body, Which opens up new doorways, new doorways Unblocked, unbolted and unburdening. I say it is finished, That the yearning for a new freedom, The freedom of the soul, rather Than of the body, Is paid for and made reachable to both those Who deem themselves unworthy And to those who are laden with self-righteousness. I tell you the truth- You are far from worthless; In fact, you are My masterpieces, The soul center of my affection, The reason why I gladly trade My easy yoke for your sorrows And millstones. So now you can sing, “From every mountainside, let freedom ring!” So now you can sing, “I’ve a Saviour in the Kingdom, Ain’t that good news…” For this blood I shed is thicker Than wine, and sin, and death And it covers you. Indeed, It covers all breaches Of holy law— Laws that brought forth condemnation. But I bring forth life And life to the abundance, life Brimming to the edge with joy, life Everlasting. The Father is doing a new thing Do you not perceive it? There are those who claim That there is no freedom in me But I assure you, the freedom you Receive from The Father Will make you free from the inside Out; Freed from yourself. And you won’t be free As how the world sees freedom, But the freedom will align Your will With His will And that is free indeed. The King of Jacob, the God of Solomon, The Glory of Glories that has been Probed and debated By the children of his making Has sent me to make all things Different And alive. So be at rest, And rest assured that I would hear the cries Echoing through the toilsome hills And I would watch over the cottonmouthed sparrows And the anxious souls Waiting to be filled; I would watch over you. For I am who I say I am, I keep my promises, I am a man Of my word, Because I am The Word, And from the same breath that spoke those words, You have been breathed into life So you are mine You are loved And now you are free. Written by Anh Luu www.girlandtheword.com
  9. The season of singleness is notorious for being taken for granted. Whether we treat our singleness recklessly or simply despise this season of life altogether, we rarely find ourselves making peace with our single statuses. Too often, we rely on the thought of a significant other to motivate us to become our best selves. This could manifest in the most ordinary ways, like wanting to get in shape to attract a mate to, more dangerously, changing the sweet eccentricities of our character to fit into someone else’s mold of what is desirable. When we are not careful about guarding our hearts, we can actually lose our grasp on who we are at our core, which is God’s Beloved. Find out why you shouldn't trade who you are for who you want: http://www.girlandtheword.com/relationships/compromising-your-identity-for-love I hope this post will bless my readers..
  10. Hello! My name is Anh Luu and I'm currently 24 years old. I've been following The Lord since I was 17, but my experience with Him deepened in 2012 when I embarked on an insane Summer Mission trip to Indonesia. Ever since then, I've discovered what it's like to live in His grace and His astounding love. Let me tell you a little more about myself! I was blessed to have graduated from UC Berkeley in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in English. Since then, I've been writing lifestyle posts and Christian articles to share the insights I get from the Lord to the world. Here are some of the more practical things about me: I love to sing, draw, paint, write, make DIY stuff, record videos, take photos, and be silly with my Shiba Inu named Augustus. I know- that's a LOT of interests! That's exactly why I made the blog www.girlandtheword.com. I want to be able to share all of these interests with you guys in an interactive manner. May you find the things on my website to be useful and/or enjoyable. I can't wait to connect with you all! "And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God." (Ephesians 3:18-19, NLT) Blessings, Anh ❤
  11. No problem at all, Cary! I'm so glad you were encouraged by them.
  12. Hi, everyone! I'm so delighted to be a part of this community. I can't wait to connect with all of you! Anyone in need of a good reminder of His love right now? I know I do.. My favorite verse from here is Job 34:19 – “He doesn't care how great a person may be, and he pays no more attention to the rich than to the poor. He made them all.” What's yours? 1. Ephesians 2:4-5 – “But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God's grace that you have been saved!)” 2. Psalm 86:15 – “But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.” 3. John 3:16 – “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” 4. Romans 5:8 – “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” 5. Psalm 147:3 – “He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.” 6. Psalm 103:8 – “The LORD is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.” 7. 1 John 4:19 – “We love each other because he loved us first.” 8. Isaiah 53:5 – “But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.” 9. Psalm 103:13 – “The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.” 10. Lamentations 3:22-23 – “The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” 11. 1 Peter 5:6-7 – “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 12. 1 John 3:1 – “See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don't recognize that we are God's children because they don't know him.” 13. 1 John 4:10 – “This is real love--not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” 14. Job 34:19 – “He doesn't care how great a person may be, and he pays no more attention to the rich than to the poor. He made them all.” 15. Zephaniah 3:17 – “For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs." ________________________________ www.girlandtheword.com