How to Handle Peer Pressure

If we live boldly for Jesus, we’ll stand out like a green leaf full of life amidst leaves that have dried up and begun to wither.

What do you do when you want to fit in but know you were called to stand out?

Welcome to the world of peer pressure where people you want to impress want you to do something that you don’t feel right about. Many of us who perhaps went to public school know what this is like. Now, I attended private school from the 5th grade and on, but until the 4th grade, I went to public school like most kids do and experienced a bit of peer pressure early on.

It was the first grade, and I was in Mrs. Patton’s class—a wonderful teacher. She was young and sweet and had us do action songs for fun. During one particular song (when I was wearing a matching cardigan, tank top, and skirt set), the boy and girl who sat next to me kept motioning me to remove my cardigan, which would leave my arms exposed in the tank top I had on underneath. I did not quite understand modesty or separation at this time. All I knew was that I was raised not to reveal my shoulders in public.

I remember the boy looking back at me and smiling as he nodded when I reached up to my cardigan to begin to remove it. I was a bit confused, unsure of what he and the girl meant at first. I liked them. They were cool kids. They made me laugh. Still, I had a sense that I shouldn’t do what they asked.

Then, the boy said, “Do it,” as he clapped to the action song.

So, I did, and he and the girl nodded again and cheered me on before looking back at Mrs. Patton to see the next action in the song. I don’t remember how long I kept my cardigan off, but I know I had it on when I left school that day. I never told anyone. What I did seemed harmless, but something inside my first-grader mind knew that my mom would be disappointed if she knew.

That was the only example of giving into peer pressure that I have from my public school years, but it helped me understand as I got older how to handle and how not to handle peer pressure.

1. Fall in Love with Pleasing Jesus

If we are to resist peer pressure, then we must first fall in love with Jesus and living a life that is pleasing to Him.

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

1 John 2:15-17 (KJV)

When I first caved to peer pressure, I didn’t fully understand what I believed or why I believed it yet. As I got older, stayed in church, and developed a love for reading the Word, my love for dressing modestly to reflect His glory grew stronger. Eventually, I didn’t imagine what I might look like if I didn’t wear skirts or if I did wear makeup. Eventually, I didn’t groan and complain about having to find dresses with modest necklines. Eventually, I didn’t care about what others thought of the way I dressed because I fell in love with a lifestyle that was pleasing to my God.

2. Don’t Cave

I caved to peer pressure in the first grade, but it taught me a lesson not to do that again. I was lucky that I wasn’t pressured to do much worse when I was in public school, but many are not so lucky.

Some students may be pressured to smoke or do drugs. Some students may be pressured to go too far with a boyfriend or girlfriend. Some adults may even be pressured to do these things by coworkers or to go to a coworkers’ outing where they drink and party. Whatever you do, don’t cave in to others’ demands that make you uncomfortable and that you know are not pleasing in God’s eyes.

Paul wrote in Romans that we are to be a holy and acceptable living sacrifice to God:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:1-2 (KJV)

It is only reasonable that we live for God in righteousness and resist the ways of the world. Sometimes, our flesh finds a way to confuse us, however.

I can remember times when I was a teenager and was around others who were listening to inappropriate music and talking about movies I wouldn’t dare share with my parents. I can remember feeling they shouldn’t be doing those things, but still I bopped my head to the music with them. I can remember thinking that I shouldn’t have been with them, but part of me wanted them to like me.

If you cave to peer pressure, then even if that thing that you end up doing doesn’t seem that harmless, it may invite spirits into your life that will linger with you longer than you’ll realize. And those spirits may influence you to do or say things in the future that will take you further from God.

Caving to peer pressure is dangerous for your spiritual survival.

3. Stand Strong and Love Others

Boldly embrace a lifestyle of separation from this world.

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.”

2 Corinthians 6:17 (KJV)

The older I became, the more I loved being a born-again Apostolic who doesn’t look, dress, talk, or act like the world. By this time when peer pressure came knocking, I was able to keep from even opening the door and inviting it into my living room. However, as one lives a lifestyle of righteousness and separation, one should not become too prideful of that.

When friends or coworkers invite you to a bar to hangout, don’t respond by turning up your nose in a self-righteous attitude. That does not reflect the character of Christ, and it certainly does not make others want to go to church with you. As we stand strong in this faith, we must love others like Christ does.

Love those who invite you to those parties that you know you won’t go to. Decline politely, and if they ask why, take that moment to share your beliefs. Witness to the peers who pressure you out of love for them, not out of condemning them. They need to know that there is a better life than giving in to worldly lusts, and we are the ones who can show it to them by standing apart from this world.

After all, it is the love of Christ through us that compels people to live for God. We can resist peer pressure by becoming more like Jesus and hiding His Word in our hearts, and when we do, His love in us will draw others to Him.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Sin: A Brief Guide

Committing sin is no laughing matter.

I saw an ad for a graphic tee the other day that read, “I feel a sin coming on,” and the shop’s caption said, “Good thing it’s a Sunday.”

The comments were filled with people tagging their friends with laughing emojis and saying, “This is so us,” or, “I need this shirt!” And others were talking about their experiences with such a flippant attitude about sin.

Sin is serious.

“For the wages of sin is death….”

Romans 6:23a (KJV)

It’s not something about which you should speak carelessly or be wishy-washy, arguing with yourself and wondering, “Is this a sin? I don’t think that’s a sin. It isn’t that bad. It’ll be fine. I’m going to church tomorrow anyway! I’ll just repent then. LOL.”

There’s a group of Christians within society who perhaps go to church and worship on Sundays but then go clubbing on Fridays. They perhaps sing with the choir about living like Jesus but curse like a sailor with their friends or coworkers on Mondays. They listen to sermons that warn them about being too close to the world but dismiss that it’s meant for them. They post Scriptures on social media but never read their Bible. They say they love Jesus but never spend time talking to Him. They engage in immorality and spew profanity, ignoring the seed of conviction in their spirit that tells them what they’re doing is wrong. They think if no one from church knows what they’re doing, then it’s okay.

They fail to realize that God is watching and sees all things, and even if they do know that, they fail to understand how much He cares about sin. But Jesus cares so much about sin that He taught the following during the Sermon on the Mount:

“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”

Matthew 5:29 (KJV)

There are many do’s and don’ts when it comes to sin, but I’ll share a brief few here.

Don’t be wishy-washy about living for God or flip-floppy about sin.

The only thing Jesus flip-flopped was the tables of the moneychangers who were selling things in and defiling the Temple!

“And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”

Matthew 21:12-13 (KJV)

When one takes on a careless attitude about sin or about something that’s meant to be serious and tries to make it seem mundane, ordinary, or “not that big a deal,” do you think God’s pleased?

When you repent of your sins, are water-baptized in Jesus’ Name, and receive the Holy Ghost by the evidence of speaking in tongues, your body becomes a temple of the Holy Ghost, of God’s Spirit dwelling within you.

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (KJV)

Don’t defile that temple with sin or a callous attitude about sin.

If you do, Jesus just might call you out on it. He might flip-flop some tables in your life to get your attention and make you realize the seriousness of what you’re doing.

Matthew 7:14 says, “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

Don’t think you can do x or y or z and get by with it.
Don’t think, “How can I do this thing and still make it to Heaven?”

Do flee from sin.

The Bible says that we must flee from fornication, idolatry, and youthful lusts (see 1 Corinthians 6:18, 10:14, and 2 Timothy 2:22).

Do chase after righteousness.

After fleeing from sin, we must pursue righteousness, faith, charity, peace, godliness, patience, and meekness (see 1 Timothy 6:11 and 2 Timothy 2:22).

And when you sin, repent. Be sincere. Turn from your wicked ways and live right.

God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins (see 1 John 1:9).

If you turn away from sin and back to Jesus in sincerity, then He will fill you with Godly desires that glorify Him and lead you down the path of righteousness.


I pray this post has blessed you and helped remind you to live for Jesus alone and obey His Word.

I also wanted to give you an update about some changes to BPR’s post schedule. I’m having some issues with WordPress’ algorithim and with BPR subscribers seeing all of my posts. That combined with my fall schedule has made me decide to change the BPR post schedule to every other week.

So, starting today, BPR posts will come out every other Friday for the months of September and October or until further notice. This means that the next post will be on Friday, September 3rd.

Thank you all for being patient and for sticking with Breathe Pray Repeat. It means a lot to me that y’all still keep up with the little blog that could! God bless, and I’ll “see” you in two weeks!

BPR Update + Thought of the Day

Today, I will not be posting a regular blog post. Life has been busy this week, and I did not want to rush through a Bible study post just to have it posted by today. Have no fear, dear reader, for I will be posting a regular blog post next Friday. Because I love and appreciate all of you very much, I’ll go ahead and give you a sneak peek at next week’s topic: people’s reactions to sin. Yes, next week on BPR you’ll read a bit about my take on the reaction to sin among many Christians in society today and on how we should react to sin.

Now, I also wanted to share with you a brief thought in light of recent events in my family’s lives that may apply to many of you. Over the past couple of weeks, my family and I lost both my grandmother (my last surviving grandparent) and my uncle, and I know of many who have passed away this year or over the past year from the “vid” or other illnesses. Many people in the church are feeling a lot of pain and sadness right now. Brokenness and loss have visited many homes and afflicted many hearts.

I know that my family has felt the prayers of the church, and the peace of God and support from friends and our church family have helped alleviate a lot of the grief that comes with losing a loved one. I also know that when you’ve lost a loved one, the only one who can truly help you carry on and get through another day is, of course, our God.

He is the God of comfort, after all.

When my pastor spoke at my grandmother’s gravesite service, he said a few things I wanted to share with you that might comfort you or someone you know who has lost a loved one. He mentioned that many people say when someone passes away that we’ve lost them, but you can’t lose something when you know where it’s at. He also said, “We are not in the land of the living going to the land of the dying. We are in the land of the dying going to the land of the living.”

So many beloved children of God have traded their tents on earth for a mansion in Heaven and are now rejoicing on streets of gold before our King, free of pain and suffering and sorrow. They’ve finally made to where we are planning to spend eternity.

Recently, I was going through Psalms and stopped at chapter 34. I believe there are many verses in this chapter that offer a lot of comfort to those who are feeling grief, hurt, or brokenness, and so I wanted to leave you this week simply with this chapter to offer some encouragement:

I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble thereof, and be glad. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together. I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing….The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of their troubles. The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.

Psalms 34:1-10, 15-19 (KJV)

“We are not in the land of the living going to the land of the dying. We are in the land of the dying going to the land of the living.”

Pastor Tony Wyatt

4 Steps to Remove Idols in Your Life

Whom do you serve?

As Christians, we are to serve our God Jesus Christ alone (see Exodus 20:2-6), but sometimes, without even realizing it, we find that we have built altars to idols in our lives. The Bible speaks often about idolatry, and this is an issue the people of Israel struggled with a lot. They were called to serve one God—Yahweh—but all throughout the books of Judges and 1 and 2 Kings (among many others), we read how they began to serve false idols and little gods rather than serving their Creator alone.

“Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

Joshua 24:14-15 (KJV)

There are countless examples of idolatry in the Bible from Aaron making the golden calf for the Israelites to worship while Moses was on Mt. Sinai (see Exodus 32) to the young man who would not sell his possessions to follow Jesus (see Matthew 19:16-25). However, idolatry is not only a thing of the past. Sure, many of us may not be serving literal statues in our homes and praying to them every day, but many have built altars to idols of money, success, and fame. Idols come in all forms today.

We see people make idols of other people. I read a comment from a woman on social media a while back, and in this comment, this woman said she repeated to herself as a mantra when she became scared of the current virus rampaging the world, “I trust Fauci. I trust Fauci.” Indeed, many have made political figures and celebrities idols in their lives, investing more of their time in thinking about these people and having more hope and faith in these people than the very God who created them and the entire universe.

People make idols of ideas and ideologies. They worship a scientific theory as though it is Bible. They hold onto a political belief system with greater conviction than the Word of God.

People make idols of things—things like social media, expensive cars, or even (Lord, help me) their phone.

People also make idols of their habits and of themselves. As my pastor has explained, even something as seemingly harmless as going fishing can become an idol if you give all of your time to it. If a hobby or habit takes up most or all of your mental energy, your thoughts, your time, and your passion until it controls you and compromises your walk with God, then it is an idol. If you can’t say “no” to it, it’s an idol. And if you have set yourself and your desires and plans above God, then you have made an idol of yourself.

So, how do we get rid of idols that we have set up in our lives, whether we did so intentionally out of rebellion or ignorantly out of distraction? Thankfully, God’s Word shows us clear steps we must take to remove idols in our lives:

1. Examination.

When king Josiah of Judah was about 20 years old, he began to purge “Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images” (2 Chronicles 34:3). In order for Josiah to get rid of the idols, he had to seek them out first.

The first step to removing idols in our lives is daily examination. We must search our hearts each day and ask ourselves these questions: To what or to whom am I giving my time? My treasures? What are most of my efforts going toward? For what or for whom am I most passionate? Is there anything in my life that I cannot say “no” to?

2. Recognition.

In order for Josiah to purge the land of idols, he had to do a thorough job, which required recognizing which things were idols or were related to idol worship and had to be destroyed. After searching high and low for idols and destroying them all over the land in II Kings 23, Josiah even went so far as to destroy the high places that king Solomon had built for the false gods Chemosh, Ashtoreth, and Milcom (see also 1 Kings 11). Solomon failed to recognize the gravity of what he was doing as he turned away from God and toward idols.

After searching our hearts and lives for idols, we must be able to recognize what counts as an idol. In order for us to remove idolatry in our life, we must ask God for the wisdom to discern what we have made an idol, and we must be honest with ourselves. For example, if we allow playing video games or watching sports to take up more of our time and passion than praying to God, studying His Word, and investing in His Kingdom, then we must exercise wisdom, discernment, and good judgment to understand that those things are idols that we must remove.

3. Eradication.

King Josiah was very thorough in removing idols from the kingdom. He removed horse and chariot decorations in the Temple, broke the altars and images of false gods, and even killed the priests of the high places of false gods upon the altars and “burned men’s bones upon them” (II Kings 23:11-20). Josiah put away those who were “workers with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem” (II Kings 23:24).

If we are to remove idolatry from our lives, then we must do so in completion, holding nothing back for ourselves. We must totally remove the idol (be it a habit or an obsession), leaving no trace of it for us to return to in a moment of weakness. For example, if a person is obsessed with sports to the point of committing idolatry, but this person only stops obsessing over baseball and basketball but still places football above going to church or praying to God, then they have not totally eradicated that idol from their life.

4. Re-dedication.

After we have examined ourselves, recognized the idols in our lives, and totally eradicated them, then we must re-dedicate our hearts to the Lord. After putting away idols out of Judah and Benjamin, king Asa “renewed the altar of the LORD,” and the people renewed their covenant to seek the Lord (II Chronicles 15:8-12). King Hezekiah repaired the Temple, restored worship to God, and had the people sanctify and cleanse themselves before God (see II Chronicles 29). After Manasseh turned to God from a life of wickedness, he took away the idols and “repaired the altar of the LORD, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings and thank offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel” (II Chronicles 33:15-16).

Our bodies are temples of the Holy Ghost, and when we remove the idols from our lives, we must then recommit ourselves to God.

Rebuild your altar to God. Sanctify it with prayer. Commit yourself to studying the Word and following His commandments. Sacrifice your time, talents, treasures, and passions and give it all to God. And renew your covenant with God to serve Him alone.

This world is all about serving yourself, worshipping your desires and plans, and elevating yourself and man’s creations above God. But we are not called to be like the world. Though we be in this world, we are not of this world.

Our God created us, came for us, died for us, and rose again, defeating death and overcoming the world all because He loves us and wants us to live with Him in His Kingdom for eternity. The least we can do is serve Him and Him alone.

7 Things to Do at The End of Your Rope: A Guest Post by Jake Walden

We’ve all heard the expression, “I’m at the end of my rope.” And we all get to the end of our rope at some point. How do we get there? Life, usually. Things happen. We get tired, worn out, burnt out. Or maybe we do it to ourselves. We let ourselves slip to the end of our rope. No matter how we get there, the end of our rope is a place where we have nothing left. If we get any lower, there’s no more rope to hold on to.

The end of our rope is not final, however, and I’ll tell you why. Here are 7 things to remember at the end of your rope:

1. Don’t let go.

This is very important to remember. Letting go at the end of your rope is definitely not the answer. As the old saying goes, “When you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on!”

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

Galatians 6:9 (KJV)

Don’t stop coming to church. Don’t stop praying. Don’t stop fasting. Don’t stop giving. Don’t stop seeking the face of God. Tie a knot in the Word of God and hold on! Letting go is not the answer to your problems.

2. Don’t blame God.

Too often, when people are at the end of their rope, whether life got them there or they got themselves there, they start to blame God.

“Why did God let me get here? God must not care about me anymore. God must have more important people to help. He must not have His hand on me anymore.”

All are lies that we can begin to tell ourselves if we aren’t careful and don’t keep our hearts right. Job’s wife told Job to curse God and die when he was at the end of his rope, but he would not curse God. The Bible says that in all this Job did not sin with his lips. The Bible also says it rains on the just and the unjust.

God tells us, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11, KJV).

“Don’t stop seeking the face of God. Tie a knot in the Word of God and hold on!”

Jake Walden

3. Forgive yourself.

We’ve got to learn to forgive ourselves. We will get nowhere if we cannot forgive ourselves. Maybe you condemn yourself because your decisions got you to the end of your rope. Or maybe you cannot forgive yourself because you simply feel that you were not strong enough, and now you’ve ended up at the end of your rope.

Whatever the case, you’ve got to forgive yourself. You’ve got to realize who you are to God. You’ve got to realize that He will not hold your shortcomings against you, and you shouldn’t hold them against yourself.

His mercy endures forever. He loves you. And it is not wrong to love yourself enough to forgive yourself.

4. Let go of the past.

Even if you have forgiven yourself, you’ve still got to let go of the past. What has happened has happened. Sometimes, we have the opportunity to make amends, and that’s good. But you’ve still got to let it go.

Stop dwelling on what got you to the end of your rope. Stop losing sleep over it. Stop worrying about it. The only way to ever escape it is to let it go and move forward. You can’t change what has happened, but you can control what you will do next!

5. Surround yourself with Godly influences.

When you are at the end of your rope, don’t go to the people that are going to fill your mind with a bunch of mess.

Don’t go to someone like Job’s wife who will tell you to blame God. Don’t go to someone who is going to turn you on your brothers and sisters. Don’t go to someone who will gossip about and trash talk other people or gossip about and trash talk your church. Don’t go to someone who will tell you to let go of what you believe in. Don’t go to anyone who will tell you to lash out at people.

Don’t go to someone who will tell you to do ANYTHING that contradicts the Word of God.

Like the Bible says, don’t be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. Surround yourself with Godly, positive influences—someone who will pray for you and with you, someone who will encourage you and lift you up. Like the Bible says, seek WISE counsel.

6. Trust God.

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”

Proverbs 3:5 (KJV)

This is a very important step. Even when you don’t understand why you’re at the end of your rope, trust God. Like the Bible says, lean not unto thine own understanding. It also says right after that, “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:6, KJV).

God’s ways are higher than our ways. We do not know more than God. Sometimes, things happen, and we end up at the end of our rope, wondering, “Why am I here? This was not my intention.” But God knows right where you are, and He knows exactly what He’s doing. He isn’t punishing you. He won’t let us carry more than we can bear. Things just happen sometimes, and we end up at the end of our rope. But don’t ever stop trusting and believing that God has got you. 

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

Romans 8:18 (KJV)

“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.”

Psalms 121:1-3 (KJV)

Romans 8:28 says ALL things work together for the good of them that love God and are called according to His purpose.

7. Bless the Lord at all times!

Job said, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21, KJV). One of the most important things you can always remember is to bless the Lord at ALL times.

David said, “I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalms 34:1, KJV).

When you’re at the end of your rope, don’t stop praising. Don’t stop worshipping. Don’t stop giving God the honor and the glory. There is power in that, and it gives us authority over the voice and influence of the enemy.

Don’t stop saying, “Blessed be the Name of the Lord!”

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Jake Walden is a licensed minister with the United Pentecostal Church, the youth pastor at Restoration Apostolic Church in Winterville, Georgia, and the Section 3 youth director for the Georgia District Youth Ministries. He is also the host of the podcast What Was I Thinking? with Jake Walden in which he covers Biblical topics with an informal, easygoing demeanor. You can follow along with his ministry on Instagram (@jakewalden39). Be sure to check out his podcast on Spotify or Apple Podcasts and subscribe today!

How God Changed Me

My childhood friend, sister, cousin (in the back), and me a very long time ago.

I hate change. As a super nostalgic person, I’ve always had a habit of romanticizing the past, of looking back at my childhood through rose-colored glasses.

It’s true that I did have a pretty awesome childhood. God blessed me with Apostolic parents who raised me in a good church with leaders who followed God and His Word. I spent my days annoying my older sisters, playing with my cousins, and writing short stories about—wait for it—dogs and their owners going on adventures. Yes, it’s true. I went through a weird phase in which I was obsessed with dogs and dog stories. 10-year-old me adored Homeward Bound and thought it was one of the best movies ever. I spent my summers digging in the mud outside, playing catch and frisbee, running around the backyard with my dogs, and playing Spyro the Dragon on our PlayStation. Ah, yes, the early 2000s. What a wonderful time.

I spent my teenage years going to my church’s private school that consisted almost entirely of my sisters and our cousins for several years, and we constantly tried to stall our teacher (also my cousin) from starting class each day. We threw notes to each other in class, watched silly videos on the old computers during breaks, and laughed at the boys as they picked on each other among other shenanigans. Of course, there was learning going on, and I didn’t earn the nickname “Ms. Perfect” from my cousins for nothing. I was very adamant about getting all gold stars (which stood for a grade of 100%) on my test score chart. From the 5th grade until the 11th grade, I spent practically all day at church almost every day of the week.

My church school gang in 2011.

As a lifelong Apostolic Christian, my church was my second home. I went to school there, and I played with my cousins there as we roamed around the halls downstairs in the dark (as if it was scary) while our parents participated in music practice upstairs. When I got a little older, I became more involved and went to music practices and youth events in addition to spending all day at church because of school. Church was my life, so one might think that I had a super close relationship with God and that I was super spiritual from a young age, right?

Wrong.

No, I wasn’t a rebellious child who didn’t like my upbringing. I loved church. I loved God. I loved living for God. I just wasn’t truly digging deeper into my own relationship with Him. Instead, I rode the waves of the high I was on during that time of my life. After all, most people’s teenage years tend to be a breeze compared to the adult world. Life was great, so I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking that I needed to change anything in my personal life.

I went to church twice a week faithfully. I mean, I practically lived there. I was involved in ministries. I skimmed through a chapter or two of the Bible almost every day. Sure, I talked to God a lot. But I wasn’t breaking through. I wasn’t seeking God with all of my heart.

Why? Because I was also giving my heart to something else.

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other….”

Matthew 6:24 (KJV)

I was the biggest movie buff. Not only did I watch a movie or a few episodes of one of my favorite tv shows every evening, but I researched film and television trivia all the time. I obsessed over my favorite films and characters—I was a HUGE Marvel girl, and I may have chanted “Loki” along with the crowd at San Diego Comic Con several years ago when I watched it on my phone as Tom Hiddleston, dressed up in character, screamed to the delight of his fans, “Say my name!” Being a fangirl of various movies and series was not something I shared with many, but it pervaded my thoughts constantly as I geeked out over new stories and plots and characterization (because I’m a writer with a very vivid imagination, and I couldn’t resist that type of stuff).

Now, I’m not explaining all of this to tell you, “DON’T WATCH ANYTHING EVER AGAIN YOU HEATHENS, OR YOU’LL ALL BE CONDEMNED!” After all, I know many people who watch films or series every once in a while with their family, and it doesn’t affect them or take them away from God. But if it does, then it becomes a problem. Know who and what you are serving. If the answer isn’t God alone, then it becomes a problem.

I needed to change, and once I began my early young adult years, and my life began to get harder, and my family and I began to go through things I had never faced before, I realized I needed much more of God than I had. You get out of your relationship with God what you put into it. And so I examined my life and realized that I had not been progressing in my walk with Him. I wasn’t getting closer to God. I wasn’t really hearing from Him. I wasn’t digging deeper into the Word. I had let myself become obsessed with things of the world all the while trying to serve God.

For many years, I thought I was “just fine” in my relationship with God until the rubber met the road, and I needed more of God but was farther away from Him that I realized. That’s when I knew I needed to change.

“A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”

James 1:8 (KJV)

Change is not easy. It’s a long process, filled with mistakes and trial-and-error and going back to God for forgiveness and asking Him to give you the strength to do better and live right. With His help, I put away those obsessions. I began to pour myself out so that He could fill me. I began to study His Word more closely, searching the Scriptures to be closer to Him. I began to pray for longer than five or ten minutes each day. I began to search for Him with everything I had, and through that process, He began to change me.

God’s been so good to me, and now I’m privileged to be a youth worker and spend time with great kids who love God and want to serve Him more.

You see, when God changes us, He gives us new and better desires to please Him in all we do. He takes us to a deeper level where we receive revelations and a greater understanding of what it means to walk with Him. There were things I no longer watched anymore. There were songs I no longer listened to. He changed the way I spoke about others and my attitude toward them. He helped me understand the habits I had that were not wise.

The more time I spent in His Word and His presence, the more I came to love His Word and His presence. The more time I spent putting away old habits and trying to live a righteous lifestyle, the more I came to love holiness and living for Him.

Of course, I still have so many moments in which I need my Jesus to help me overcome my flesh. Just as none of us are perfect, I (in absolutely no way) claim to be nor do I claim to be super righteous or have it all together. Of course, there are still some things I will watch with my family and enjoy every now and then (I do love Star Wars, but my sister has not been drawn to it—yet!). But those things, those old habits no longer have a hold on me.

My God delivered me and changed my mindset and attitude. And He will do the same for you if you will put away those unhealthy habits, sacrifice your flesh on the altar, and draw near to Him.

Free Indeed: 3 Freedoms We Have in Christ

A Bible lies open under an American flag.

Freedom.

It’s something we Americans are so privileged to experience while living in this blessed country, and this coming Sunday, we’ll be celebrating America’s 245th birthday. As a proud American, I’m excited to celebrate my beautiful home country, but I’m also excited to share with you today and remind you what freedom means for us as children of God.

In Christ, we are free indeed, but what does it mean to be “free in Christ?”

There are many different explanations of this concept. Below are three particular freedoms we have as children of the Most High King that I wanted to remind you of this weekend.

1. Freedom from Sin

As the Timothy Reddick song says, “I’m free indeed, in Christ, I’m free indeed, no chains are holding me, it’s who I choose to be.”

In Christ, we have freedom from sin. This means that no matter what you’ve done, the sins of your past cannot hold you back once you’ve truly repented and given your life to Jesus.

Once the blood of the Lamb has covered you, you are no longer a slave to sin!

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”

John 8:36 (KJV)

We are free from sin and have become the “servants of righteousness” and servants to God (see Romans 6:18 and Romans 6:22). Remember—there is no condemnation to those who are born again and believe in Christ (see Romans 8:1).

When Christ died for us and shed His blood at Calvary, He covered all our sins, and when we are baptized in Jesus’ Name, our sins are completely washed away. The chains of a sinful lifestyle that once kept us bound are broken, and we are free to move forward in righteousness and serve our King!

2. Freedom from the Result of Sin

Freedom in Christ also means that we no longer have to live in fear of the result of sin or of death. We no longer have to fear going to Hell over a sinful lifestyle because Jesus has given us a way out through complete surrender to Him, repentance, baptism, the infilling of the Holy Ghost, and a lifestyle of holiness, separation, and righteousness.

In Christ, we are free from what sin inevitably leads to. In Christ, we are free from fear.

Freedom in Christ allows us to completely put our trust in Him, knowing that He has covered us with His blood and paved the way for us to spend eternity with Him in glory.

3. Freedom from Ignorance

In Christ, we are also free from ignorance.

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

John 8:32 (KJV)

No, I don’t mean ignorance in general. (As you might be aware, because we’re still fleshly beings, there are many ways people can still be quite ignorant even while serving God!)

Through Christ, we have freedom from spiritual blindness. Paul wrote about this to the Corinthians.

“And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.”

2 Corinthians 3:13-16 (KJV)

Here, Paul spoke about the Jews’ inability to understand Jesus’ identity as God and to understand God’s divine plan. Jesus revealed Himself to Paul as the Lord when He spoke to Paul as Paul was on the road to Damascus, and Paul was able to understand Christ’s identity (see Acts 9:1-6). When people turn to Christ and seek after Him, He gives them the ability to understand who He is.

Freedom in Christ means that we have spiritual awareness of who He is, what He has done for us, and how His plan for us is that we live for Him so that we can someday be with our God forever.

“Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

2 Corinthians 3:17 (KJV)

Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. In His presence, we find liberty, peace, understanding, and everything we need. We are free from our past, free from the weight of our sins, free from bondage, free from death, free from fear, and free from spiritual blindness.

And not only are we free in Christ, but He has also given us the freedom to choose to serve Him or not. That makes our decision to live for Jesus so much more meaningful.

He didn’t make us live for Him. He died for us all but gave us the freedom to choose to live for Him, and so our choice to serve Him comes from a genuine desire to live for Him, from genuine love for Him, and from a heart of thanks and gratitude for who He is and for all He’s done for us.

We choose to be free when we choose to live for Jesus!

“No more shackles, no more chains, no more bondage, I am free!”

“Freedom” by Eddie James

I hope all of my readers in America have a wonderful weekend celebration as we celebrate the foundation of our great nation, and I hope all of you can take a moment to thank God especially for the freedoms we have because of all He’s done for us.

God bless you all, and God bless America!

The Hope of Believers: 3 (More) Reminders from Romans 8

Tired of bad news? Social turmoil? Dealing with sickness? Struggling just to make it through the day?

This world seems to be getting further from Jesus with each passing day, but Romans 8 gives us many powerful truths about life on earth and beyond earth. Here are three brief reminders from Romans 8:20-39 to give you strength and hope in these trying times.

1. We have hope of an eternal reward.

No matter how messy things get on earth, believers have hope that someday soon, we will no longer be in this world but with our Savior forever in a world where sin, death, and pain no longer exist. Romans 8:20-23 describes the fall of Creation and the hope that we have:

“For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”

In a nutshell, this passage explains that God subjected mankind and nature to the curse of sin and death because of man’s fall in the Garden of Eden, but He did this in hope. No matter how much creation and we ourselves may groan in pain on this earth, we have hope that God will someday deliver us from the bondage of our corrupt, mortal bodies. When that happens, the adoption as God’s children will be complete and the body redeemed since sin and death will be no more. As verse 25 states, we have hope for that which we cannot physically see and wait for it with patience.

This is one of the greatest promises of God.

2. We also have hope of better things even here on earth.

Just because we hope for Christ’s coming and life with Him in eternal glory, that does not mean that we don’t have hope for good things here on earth even amidst turmoil and destruction. When we go through things and travail in prayer, the Spirit makes intercession for us (see Romans 8:26-27). This means that the Spirit goes beyond our limits and weaknesses in prayer and prays on our behalf when we don’t even know what to say or how to pray for our situation.

No matter how hopeless you may feel, you are not forsaken or without hope!

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28 (KJV)

All things—our trials and joys—work together for our good according to His plan for our lives. Notice that this verse states that this applies “to them that love God” and “to them who are the called.” When you love God, live for God according to His Word, and answer the calling He has placed on your life, then you can rest assured that God has a plan for every trial you will experience and for every period of your life.

God has given us hope on earth that He will help and guide us through life so that Romans 8:29-30 may be able to apply to us:

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”

There’s a lot to unpack from these two verses, but my Apostolic Study Bible breaks it down into 5 concepts: 1) God’s plan includes the fact that He knew from the beginning that man would fall and need a Savior; 2) God planned in advance for the church to be formed in His likeness; 3) salvation extends to everyone, but everyone has the individual responsibility to answer God’s calling in order to be chosen; 4) God redeems us from our sins in justification; and 5) we will receive sinless bodies in eternal glory with Christ.

If we maintain a righteous lifestyle and faithful walk with God, then again we have hope of eternal life with our Savior.

3. It’s never a mistake to depend on Jesus for everything.

The last several verses of Romans 8 reveal that it is not only God who is the only one who can condemn or justify us but that it is also God who makes intercession for us and helps and loves us no matter what. It doesn’t matter what we may face or what may come against us, we are more than conquerors through Christ (see Romans 8:37).

His love extends far beyond the weight of our sins and powers of darkness!

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:38-39 (KJV)

We can depend on Jesus for everything we need, for He is everything we need!

He is our Strength, our Helper, our Forgiver, our Savior, and the Lover of our souls.

Life in the Spirit: 3 Reminders From Romans 8

School and work are often drudgery.

Back-to-back tests and papers due. Piles of work that lead to overtime. New company policies that are confusing and make your work harder. It can make your life seem completely miserable at times.

As children of God, however, we have an avenue to living a purposeful and rewarding life even when our school and work responsibilities try to drain the life from us.

Today, we’ll look at three key reminders from Romans 8:1-18 of what it means to be alive in Christ.

1. Through Christ, we are free.

You might feel like a prisoner to the drudgery of life, clocking in and out of work in robotic fashion or dragging yourself to school every week, but we are not meant to feel like prisoners in this world.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom!

In fact, Romans 8:1-3 explains that we are free from “the law of sin and death.” When we believe in and live for Jesus Christ, the sins of our past no longer have a hold on us. Without Christ, we are prisoners to sin, and eternal death is an inevitability. With Christ, no matter what mistakes we may have made or difficult circumstances we may have to endure, the consequences of sin and the ways of this world no longer have us bound.

The weight of this world and of the things that accompany life in this world do not have to keep us down or burdened because our God already defeated sin and death and has overcome the world (see John 16:33). “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” has made us free (see Romans 8:2), and so we can walk in the freedom we have through Christ each day no matter how stifling life may seem on earth.

2. We must continue to walk after the Spirit.

When group projects and research papers pile up, when the customers are rude and your boss keeps giving you more responsibilities, and when traffic is backed up after a really long day, we must continue to walk after the Spirit—yes, even when we are tempted with road rage. If you live in or near Springfield, Missouri, then you might understand the frustration that accompanies dealing with mindless drivers who pull out in front of you while you’re doing 60 and they’re doing 35 or who cruise in the fast lane and refuse to move over. Truth be told, many a Holy Ghost-filled Christian has almost lost their Holy Ghost when dealing with rush-hour traffic.

Walking after the Spirit means living a righteous lifestyle every day. Simple, right? Not when we feed our carnality more than the spirit, but when we pursue righteousness and a closer walk with Jesus on a daily basis, it becomes more natural to maintain a spiritual mindset.

Having life through Christ means forsaking our carnality.

“For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

Romans 8:5-6 (KJV)

If you follow your flesh, it will lead to death. If you follow after the Spirit, then it will lead to eternal life and the peace of God. We cannot expect the peace of God and His blessings if we follow our own lusts and desires. Verse 8 goes on to say that “they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”

Ouch.

Want to please God? Pursue Him. Pursue righteousness. Even when people annoy you and schoolwork overwhelms you and your job is miserable, pursue a lifestyle that reflects His Spirit within you.

3. As His children, we have a divine inheritance!

The more we walk after the Spirit, the more we realize another truth of what it means to have life through Christ.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”

Romans 8:14 (KJV)

Those who walk after the Spirit are called the children of God. Our salvation is not based on a “once saved, always saved” ideology. Walking after the Spirit means that we continue pursuing Him and practicing a righteous lifestyle every minute of every day. If we do so and are filled with His Spirit, then we have what verse 15 calls the “Spirit of adoption.” Being “adopted” by Christ not only means His Spirit dwells within us but that we have 1) a loving relationship with Him and 2) a divine inheritance.

“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

Romans 8:17-18 (KJV)

Being joint-heirs with Christ means that we join in suffering with Him and that we also get to experience the benefits of what we may have to endure on earth—eternal life with Him. No amount of suffering we may experience here can compare to the glory that awaits us in Heaven with our King.

As the old song says, “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus. Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ. One glimpse of His dear face, all sorrow will erase. So, bravely run the race till we see Christ.”

No matter what you’re facing, whether you’re going to school or working or both, encourage yourself with these truths.

Through our God, we have freedom, and our past mistakes cannot keep us bound. Through Him, we have everything we need to maintain a righteous lifestyle. Through Him, we have the promise of eternal life.

The weight of this world no longer has a hold on us. We are alive through Christ!

BPR Post Update + Thought of the Day

This week’s post is just a little blog update for all my readers and subscribers. I’ll be at Missouri’s senior youth camp this week, so there will be no blog post this Friday. However, I’m working on a Bible study post for Friday of next week that I hope you’ll enjoy.

My family and I are back from our vacation to the east coast in South Carolina, and as we were driving back in the rain through Tennessee, I had a thought that I wanted to share with you.

How often do we shut the windows of our heart and soul when things get a little uncomfortable? It starts pouring, life gets hectic, or God moves us in a direction that shifts us out of our comfort zone, and sometimes, we decide that we can’t take it all at the moment, so we close the window.

God, I don’t like this. I just can’t deal with it right now.

We don’t want the discomfort that comes with getting wet. After all, who wants that uncomfortable feeling of being in wet clothes in the rain?

Sometimes, the rain of His Spirit is pouring down, but we still have that window closed. We don’t want the discomfort that can accompany spiritual growth. So, we keep the window closed and prevent more of His Spirit from flowing into our lives.

If we want more of Him, we’ve got to open the window in our hearts and let Him in to nourish us, clean us out, and help us grow.

Just as a plant needs water for growth, so do we need the living water of God’s Spirit to pour into our lives and transform us into who He wants us to be.

Transformation and spiritual growth aren’t necessarily comfortable, but they are necessary.

My prayer is that we succeed in resisting our fleshly desires for an “easy way out” and instead continue to grow in Christ no matter what may come our way.

Again, there will be no new blog post until next Friday the 18th, but I encourage you to go back through the Breathe Pray Repeat archive and read any post you may have missed!

Thank you to all the BPR readers and subscribers who are still here. I appreciate each of you and pray this blog has blessed or encouraged you in some way.

Have a great week, everyone!