2 Principles of Spiritual Growth

Where do we grow from here?

This was the title of Rev. Victor Jackson’s Friday night message at Missouri Youth Convention a couple of weeks ago. At every youth convention, congress, or camp, there are always powerful messages from anointed preachers. Through each message, God ministers, and He moves. But there is always at least one message in particular that stands out. Everyone has their own “favorite” message that spoke to them in particular. Well, ever since the Friday night service of Missouri Youth Convention, I’ve been thinking about Bro. Jackson’s message on growth.

Growth has been a topic I’ve thought about often over the years as God has helped me navigate various life struggles and situations. So, for today’s post (which I know was supposed to go live yesterday—my apologies for the delay!), I wanted to share with you an extension of some of my notes from the message “Where Do We Grow From Here,” highlighting two principles of spiritual growth. Also, I do share post updates and topic ideas on my Instagram, so please be sure to go ahead and follow me there if you aren’t already so that you can find out when posts may be delayed or about upcoming topics. (You can find my Instagram account by clicking here.)

Without further delay, here are two principles of spiritual growth.

1. Don’t make a small start your identity.

Everybody’s gotta start somewhere, right? Whether it’s in your ministry or personal relationship with God, you must begin small. In order to grow your prayer life, for example, you may begin by praying 15 minutes a day consistently and extending that over time. As Victor Jackson said, however, “It is a blessing to begin small. It is a curse to end small.”

We should all start out at small beginnings, but that isn’t where we should end up.

“If you’re not growing, you’re living outside of God’s purpose for your life.”

Victor Jackson

We are meant to be producing spiritual fruit. An apple tree will not produce apples if it stays in the state of a small seed or the size of a twig. When we grow, we become stronger and produce spiritual fruit. The righteous man experiences spiritual growth like what the beginning of Psalms describes when comparing the godly versus the ungodly:

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Psalms 1:3 (KJV)

2. Don’t put limits on your elevation.

People often limit how you can grow. As soon as God starts using you more and growing your ministry, there are people who judge you. They place limits on how much a person can grow in his or her walk with God. We may even fall privy to the idea that we should only grow to a certain extent and no further so as to prevent others from believing we’re trying to make everything about ourselves or to try to prevent ourselves from becoming prideful. So, we stay small and claim it’s out of humility.

Humility is an essential attribute of a true Christian character, but Bro. Jackson pointed out that we are not meant to use our humility as an excuse to remain small and refuse to grow into what God wants us to be.

“Humility is not a destination; it is an attitude,” he explained. “If you don’t want to grow, your humility in remaining small just became disobedience. Obedience is a pathway. You’re supposed to be going and growing. Get to growing and knowing this is what the kingdom is.”

Indeed, spiritual growth is about letting God use you more in the ways that He wants to so that His Kingdom can grow through each of our efforts. That’s why we should teach more Bible studies, pray more, fast more, become more involved in ministry, and do all that He asks us to do. As we mature in Christ and grow, we become more well-rounded Christians and more effective in ministry and in the Kingdom.

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:5-8 (KJV)

Follow after God’s direction in your life, and you will grow. Spiritual growth is stunted when you stop putting effort into your ministry and walk with God. A lack of effort leads to a lack of growth, and a lack of growth leads to spiritual death.

“You were destined to grow. You were destined to go beyond.”

Victor Jackson

We must always be striving to do more for the Kingdom, more for God, more for others, more in our ministry, and more than we’ve done yesterday and ever before in order to reach this lost world and get closer to Jesus. We cannot forsake the importance of growing in every aspect of our lives.

We were destined to grow.

How to Study the Word More Thoroughly: The Re-Reading Method

Hey, BPR readers! As you’re reading this (that is, if you’re reading this on Friday, April 15, 2022), I am at Missouri Youth Convention with our church youth group where young people across the state of Missouri are worshipping God together, receiving the Holy Ghost, and hearing anointed messages from the Lord for their lives.  As such, today’s post is a bit simpler, but I hope you find it helpful!

Today, we’ll be diving into one Bible study method I’ve been using that’s helped me study the Word more thoroughly. One of our associate pastors at my church once mentioned the phrase “digging for diamonds” when mentioning Bible studying and how we ought to dig deep and truly search the Scriptures for understanding if we’re going to know the Word and draw closer to God.

I dubbed this Bible study method the “re-reading method.”

Read, then re-read, then re-read, and then re-read again.

That’s right. It seems like a pretty basic Bible study method. Just read the Word, right? Well, there’s a lot more to it than that. Last year, I read the Bible through, but I’ve always found it difficult to truly study the Word when I’m just trying to get through a certain number of chapters in a day so I can meet my goal.

So, this year, I’ve been reading through Romans, and I’m on my 3rd go-round now. The re-reading method involves at least 5 steps, but you can alter this to suit your style.

1) Read the book you’re focusing on straight through.

Yes, the first step is really that simple. Set a daily reading goal and read the book through within a week or a month.

2) Start from the beginning again, taking brief notes along the way this time.

The notes can be as simple as rephrasing a key verse in your own words that you want to highlight, jotting down a recurring theme or purpose, or noting how you can apply a verse to your life.

For example, when I went through Romans chapter 6 for the second time, I took these quick notes as I read verses 15-23: “Grace compels us to righteousness. The more God gives us grace and mercy, the more we want to live righteously for Him. As we grow in righteousness, it leads us to a greater desire to reflect His glory and Christ-like character.”

3) On the third read-through, take more time with each section of every chapter.

Write more thorough notes about what is going on in the chapter and how it relates to other verses, chapters, and concepts. I recommend using a concordance or the Apostolic Study Bible for this step as the footnotes and cross-references are great resources to study the Word more thoroughly.

When I read Romans chapter 6 for the third time, I took more detailed notes, referring to the footnotes in my study Bible for more information on the concepts of being dead to sin and living righteously.

4) On this read-through, study a collection of verses a day, whether it’s 4-8, and break down each verse.

I like to call this the word study. It’s a study of certain words that might stick out to you, for which you’ll need a Strong’s concordance or Bible dictionary to get to the root meaning of each word. On this step, you might write down how the original text’s definitions enrich and deepen our understanding of Scripture. By now, your notes will begin to build off each other from the previous read-throughs, resulting in a more layered Bible study approach.

5) Read through the book again using a related daily devotional or study book.

The final step in the re-reading method is optional, but it involves re-reading the book again but with a corresponding devotional or study book on the specific book you’re reading.

For example, I have a devotional from The Daily Grace Co on the book of Colossians that I’ve used to answer prompts about the verses as I read through the chapters. Reading someone else’s study of a particular book or passage in the Bible and using the prompts they give you can help you think more critically as you ponder how to respond to a prompt about applying a verse or concept to your daily life.

By the time you’ve finished with this method of Bible studying, you’ll have re-read the same book several times in a row, digging deeper into the Word each time and hopefully gaining a greater understanding of what God is telling us through His Word. If we are going to draw nearer to God and become who He wants us to be, we must study the Word – not merely read it each day to check off a box on a to-do list but really, truly, earnestly study the Word and search the Scriptures.

After all, Jesus is calling us to a deeper relationship with Him.

“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”

Psalm 119:11 (KJV)

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)

The Burning Bush Experience and Four Points of Reflections on Exodus 3:1-4: A Guest Post by Dr. Rafael Machuca

Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.

Exodus 3:1-4 (KJV)

1. Stay faithful in the things of God.

As the above passage of scripture opens, we find Moses traveling to the backside of the desert. He was traversing a hot, barren place alone, leaving behind him the comforts of home, companionship, and support. Regardless of his circumstances, Moses continued to faithfully take care of the flock that had been entrusted to him by his father-in-law. He was a support for his family even though it put him in a difficult situation. As he put the care of the flock before his own comfort, he was completely unaware that he would soon be called to lead God’s flock, the children of Israel.

Any time we do work for the church or support the leaders over us, it is important to remember to do it all unto God. It is not unusual to experience situations that make you feel like you are working alone in the desert. Maybe you are the only one showing up for prayer, willing to teach a Bible study, or participating in evangelism. It can be easy to wonder where everyone else is. If your eyes are not on the Lord, the work can become very wearisome in your own eyes. However, when you do it unto God, you can take comfort in knowing that God notices your hard work and determination. He knows exactly where you are and the work you are doing to further His kingdom.

2. God will utilize all parts of your life for His Glory.

The mountain Moses came to was called Horeb, also known as Mount Sinai. Even though Moses had been raised by Egyptians and then spent decades as a fugitive in the desert, God knew that every experience he had and every land he learned to traverse would be beneficial to help lead the children of Israel out of captivity. When God uses us, He does so knowing every past experience will become a skillset to be used in the future.

Do not let yourself believe you have no skills or talents to offer.

God can use your Bible quizzing experience, years of living faithfully, your secular work experience, and even the knowledge born out of learning from mistakes. The key is to give ourselves totally to God so He can use us for His purpose and His glory.

3. God uses your surroundings to get your attention.

A bush burning in the desert would not have been an unusual sight. It would have been easy for Moses to see the fire but shift his focus back on moving the flock away and continuing with his daily tasks.  However, he gave this situation enough attention to realize something was different, and doing so, he witnessed a “great sight.”

God used a seemingly normal occurrence to get Moses’ attention as he was going about his day. What in our surroundings is God trying to use to get our attention? It may be a situation at work or with family or friends. At first sight, everything may appear insignificant and normal. But further inspection may reveal the Lord at work getting our attention for a greater purpose.

4. When God calls, answer.

As Moses turned aside to witness the bush burning yet not being consumed, God had succeeded in getting his attention. However, the Lord’s intentions went far beyond that. God does not just want to get our attention. All who are willing to stop and turn toward God can have the opportunity to hear Him calling. It is a call filled with love and a purpose, and all who hear will get to choose if they are willing to answer that higher calling.

This passage in Exodus 3 paints a beautiful picture of how God will set things in motion to get your attention. From the burning bush to the call, don’t be too busy living life that you miss what God really has for you. He is just waiting for you to look toward His direction to call you into a deeper walk and a deeper life with Him.

*****

Dr. Rafael Machuca is a VA Hospital Chaplain at the John J. Pershing VA Medical Center in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. He studied and received his Doctor of Ministry degree at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in 2020. Dr. Machuca served his country in the United States Marine Corps from 1993 – 1997 and has been honoring and paying tribute to U.S. veterans ever since.

Welcome to 2022: A Bit About The New Year, Jonah, and Forgiveness

Happy New Year 2022 from yours truly!

Welcome to 2022!

This first post of 2022 is going to be pretty simple and casual because, to be honest, things are already starting to get crazy busy, and my mind can’t focus long enough this week to spend 3+ hours writing anything!

First order of business, I just want to say thank you to everyone who is reading this and beginning the new year by keeping up with Breathe Pray Repeat. It means SO much to me! Second order of business, I wanted to share a thought with you today on something that’s been on my mind for a while now, and it involves perception, forgiveness, human nature, and the account of Jonah.

From all the things I’ve heard said about Jonah throughout my life, I’d say the dude gets a pretty bad rap. Of course, he did literally try to run away from God’s commandment and was angry when God wanted to show others mercy, only being truly distressed when his plant died. But if I’m going to be completely honest with you, I have to say that I find Jonah incredibly relatable. You see, it’s easy when we read the Word to separate ourselves from the people we’re reading about as though we would never act or think like they did when they made mistakes. Sometimes, it’s easy to think of them as mere 2-D historical figures playing out a role in our heads rather than real, regular people. When we do that, we forget our own human nature.

Jonah did NOT like the people of Nineveh to say the least, and as I read a little about Nineveh, I began to understand why Jonah felt as he did. Nahum called it “the bloody city,” and witchcraft, murder, fornication, and other evils were abundant in Nineveh’s society (see Nahum 3). Suffice it to say, they were a truly wicked people committing unspeakable horrors and egregious evils. It’s completely understandable why Jonah, who knew full well what kind of people the Ninevites were, would not want God to pardon them (however wrong he was in his response).

Put yourself for a moment in Jonah’s sandals. You’ve seen and heard what the Ninevites do, and then all of a sudden, God tells you to go preach to them, and knowing God, you KNOW He will show them mercy. And (because you know how much evil they’ve done), you don’t want them to be given mercy. No. You want them to be punished. After all, how could they do all that evil and then get a free pass?

Ay, but there’s the rub. Therein lies the flaw in your thinking. And therein lies the point of the book of Jonah.

It isn’t about all the bad things the people of Nineveh did. They truly repented, and God always honors true repentance, and He offers forgiveness and mercy even though we don’t deserve it.

What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

Romans 9:14-15 (KJV)

Our human nature doesn’t want to look past people’s mistakes. That’s why we often want to hold grudges against others for hurting us. That may even be why we may want to judge Jonah for the mistakes he made. Our expectations of others can make us forget our own human nature and flaws.

God extended grace and mercy to the people of Nineveh as He does to you and me. He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins if we turn from our wicked ways and seek after Him. Jonah shows us an interesting study of human nature, but it also shows us that God wants us to be forgiving towards others as well.

No matter what so-and-so did or said to hurt you or others, forgive them. No, they don’t deserve mercy, but neither do you. God GIVES us grace. We don’t earn or deserve it. Our flesh causes us to judge others and hold grudges, but it’s the Spirit of God within us that helps us show mercy and love.

So, that’s it for today! It’s true that even after what we know about Jonah, I still relate to the dude for how real and imperfect he is. There is an account out there that states he came to his senses after the end of the recorded book of Jonah and praised God, so there IS hope even for us stubborn people!

Thanks for reading the first BPR post of 2022! There should be a guest post on here in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned for that as well.

God Bless,

Caitlin

5 Ways to Avoid the Pitfall of Pride

“Everyone, look at me! I did a thing!”

That’s what many of us may often think or even say when we want people to pay attention to our accomplishments. Don’t get me wrong—I believe it’s okay to acknowledge when you’ve done something halfway decent. After all, it certainly isn’t helpful to tear yourself down when you’re doing your best. But attracting others’ attention to your own strengths or talents often leads to pride. And what follows pride?

Destruction.

We’ll go over 5 ways you can avoid the pitfall of pride in your walk with God. Today’s post is inspired by and taken from notes to a lesson by Tony Wyatt Jr, an associate pastor and the young adult leader at my church. (You can check out a full guest post by Bro. Tony on spiritual food for the soul through this link.)

1. Seek God in the good AND the bad.

“Lord, I need you,” is easy to say when things aren’t going so great. It’s easy to run to God when life is falling apart.

Now, I’ll admit it. I’ve certainly struggled with maintaining consistent, quality prayer time and Bible reading when things were going great. You may know how it is. You don’t have a pressing, dire need at the moment aside from the usual future goals and desires. You start to get a little distracted. Your prayer times don’t seem as fervent as they were just a few months ago. You’re reading fewer chapters of the Bible a day. Maybe you’re even going a day or two in a row without really connecting with God.

Whether it’s your job, school, kids, or other responsibilities, life tends to find extra things to distract us with when the status quo is pretty manageable. But the less we pray and study the Word, the more we’re almost telling God, “Eh, I got this for now.”

Cue narrator voice: “She did not have this for now.”

It seems as though many of us may feel we need God less in the good times. We run to God when the going gets tough, but when things are looking up, we prefer to rely on ourselves.

You see, those bad moments will test our faith and hopefully strengthen it, but those good moments will prove our resolve to have a strong relationship with God. When you seek Him in the good times as well, you’re showing God that you understand you still need Him and that you WANT more of Him. If you find yourself in a rut because things are pretty peachy, and you’re getting distracted, choose a time of day when you can give God your full attention and seek Him harder than before. Continue to fast, continue to pray, continue to study the Word, and God will take you deeper than before.

2. Let go of your desire to prove yourself.

Pride often develops through the desire to prove to yourself and others what you can do. When we focus on proving our talents or accomplishments to others, we’re obsessing over our abilities.

“I can do it. Just watch me. Look what I can do. Just wait. They’ll see.”

We don’t have to prove ourselves to others. The only one we should truly seek to please is God.

Jesus was literally God wrapped in the flesh, but he approached others, especially those who argued against him, not with a prideful attitude but with a meek and gentle spirit.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it now robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

Philippians 2:5-7 (KJV)

Jesus made himself like a servant, and so we should follow His lead. Instead of trying to prove yourself to others, focus on serving others and pleasing God.

3. Don’t boast about your accomplishments.

This one takes us back to the opening of this post. Boasting about what you can do emphasizes the self.

It’s all about me. Look how talented I am. Susie can’t sing like I can. Bobby isn’t as smart as I am. I’m leagues above them. Pay attention to me!

Here’s a good thing to practice each time you accomplish something or improve a skill: tell yourself, “It’s because of God that I could do this. It’s His power and ability, not mine.”

When I was in college, every time I passed a test that I was terrified I’d fail, I knew it was God who got me through it. Trust me. I took an advanced Spanish class as part of my degree requirements, and while I can speak baby Spanish, I couldn’t speak it fluently to save my life. The final was a ten-minute, one-on-one conversation with my Spanish professor. To this day, I have no idea what I said during that conversation, and I have no idea how I passed with flying colors. I’ve joked that it’s because my professor must have taken pity on me, but truly, I know it was God.

Every good thing you do, every accomplishment, every skill you earn, remember that it’s because of God that you can do those things. In a culture that is all about the self, be the one that makes it about Jesus. Be the one that boasts of His power and accomplishments.

You may have a lot of talent and great achievements, and it’s okay to be pleased with a job well done, but remember this: God is the one who blessed you with your accomplishments and abilities.

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

1 Peter 1:5 (KJV)

4. Put others before yourself.

You should also be the one who puts others before yourself. This society loves the term “self-love.” Now, it’s true that you can’t truly love and help others if you hate yourself. However, people tend to go overboard with the self-love concept nowadays.

“I need that $500 spa treatment. The kids can go without a few essentials this month. It’s my time.”

Remember the old saying you might have learned in Sunday school? J – O – Y.

Jesus.

Others.

You.

Put Jesus first. Put others second. Then comes you.

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2 (KJV)

Jesus’ ministry was all about helping others, healing the sick, showing mercy, and loving the needy. And that is what the church should be all about—reflecting the character of Christ, pointing people toward Him.

Pride is all about putting yourself first. True love is all about putting others first.

5. Be happy with what God gives you.

Finally, you do need to be content with what God has given you. Now, don’t mistake complacency as the same thing as contentment. I believe complacency and a lack of drive or willingness also bring about destruction as pride does, but contentment is about accepting what you have and finding ways to be pleased with it. (Side note: that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strive to be better or improve the skills God has given you.)

A prideful spirit boasts as though the things you have are because of your abilities, but it isn’t just that God is the one who has given you skills and abilities, He’s also the one who has blessed you with a home, food, clothes, and a job and provided for all your needs. And if you have such a need, He is the one who can fulfill it.

Matthew 8:20 shows us that Jesus didn’t even have a house or place to stay every night, but he was content: “And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”

Paul wrote of his contentment even when he was imprisoned in Philippians 4:

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Philippians 4:11-13 (KJV)

In verse 13, Paul hit at the key to avoid being prideful. I can do all things through Christ. Many people think of this verse as referring to just accomplishments or skills when Paul says, “I can do all things.” Sure, it does apply to those things, but Bro. Tony made the connection here between this statement and Paul’s circumstances when he taught this lesson recently.

Paul was able to endure his circumstances through Christ. It’s through Him that we can do all things, meaning we can endure hardship, overcome trials, experience loss, pain, disappointment, and heartbreak, and still trust in God, be content with what He’s given us, and finish the race strong through Christ who is our strength.

We don’t have the ability on our own to achieve great things. We don’t even have the ability to endure difficult times on our own and come through them stronger and wiser. It’s His Spirit within us that gives us that ability.

So, what’s the key to avoid being prideful?

Practice giving everything back to God—the praise, the glory, the credit.

He, not you, deserves it all.

This Is My Testimony

Don’t stop praying.

Recently, I came to understand the significance of persevering in prayer when God fulfilled a great need in my life. And with it, He increased my faith and gave me a testimony that I hope will bless and encourage whoever who reads it.

******

Lately, I’ve been singing the song “Jireh” a lot, but it has taken on new meaning for me ever since August 23rd. On that Monday, God blessed me with the full-time job I’d been praying about for over a year.

You see, I graduated college in May of 2020 and still had not found a full-time job. God blessed me with a part-time job as an online writing tutor last summer, and in the meantime, I had applied for hundreds of jobs in writing, editing, teaching, marketing, communications, clerical work, and the like.

Until about spring of this year, I never had a call back. Zilch. Nada. Nothing but rejection emails. I desperately needed a job.

As a diabetic still on my mother’s insurance and who will soon turn 26, my mind kept going to worst-case scenarios in which I wouldn’t be able to afford insulin and would end up back in the hospital. I went through cycle after cycle of applying for a round of jobs, believing God would open the door, hearing nothing back, getting discouraged, and taking a week or two off of applying until the pang of fear motivated me to search and apply for more jobs.

2021 came, and I set a deadline. God would bless me with a job by June. Come late spring, promising opportunities started to arise. I got calls back and emails that said employers were interested. Come summer, I started getting interviews. Still, nothing worked out.

June passed.

Then, I landed an interview for my dream job as an editor for a Christian company. I was the only candidate, so I was SURE this was the job God had for me. The interview went very well. The lady and I talked for an hour. I knew I could handle every job responsibility we discussed. She seemed very pleased. The following Wednesday, I received the rejection email:

“Thank you for your interest. Mrs. __ is declining to extend an offer at this time, but she wishes you the very best.”

How thoughtful of her.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t crushed. The news hit me harder than I expected. The following day, I hardly left my bed.

What was I going to do? Where else could I apply?
I’d tried everything else. All I could think was, God, help.

I sought counsel from trusted spiritual leaders, and when God helped me get back up again, I applied for more jobs the following week.

July passed.

The deadline to enroll in private insurance was getting closer. I needed a job right away, not in a couple of months, not by the end of the year. NOW. Unfortunately, my options were limited. It may sound picky to say, but I knew I wasn’t cut out to work in a customer-based role, and the thought of working a job that had nothing to do with my degree and that I wouldn’t be able to use my skills in nearly defeated me.

I knew what I’d prayed for so many times.

God, I need a full-time job with good pay, that I can use the skills I have in, and that will give me good insurance so I can keep my doctor.

I’d prayed that prayer since the beginning, and after all my worrying by the end of the day, I knew that God knew exactly what I needed. And He would supply. Somehow.

My sister put me onto an opening at an insurance company where she works. An associate underwriter job. I looked over the job description. Not exactly related to my degree, but unexpectedly, the description of the role and duties fit my experience as a writing tutor perfectly. Put very simply, I’d be working from a queue and reviewing documents for changes and accuracy. Nothing I wasn’t familiar with as a remote essay-writing tutor. My sister also checked the available doctors through the insurance the company offered and found all of my doctors were in-network, which was very important to me.

In that moment, I thought about my specific prayer for God to provide me with a job that would allow me to utilize the skills and experience I had and that would provide me with good insurance. Then, I applied. After a day or so, a recruiter contacted me to begin the process of interviewing me.

Take these tests. Set up a phone interview. Set up a video interview. Video interview went well. Oh, but you won’t hear from us for at least a couple of weeks while we interview others.

Great. And here I’d been praying that they’d call me the next day to hire me.

A week went by. The insurance deadline passed. All the while, I kept seeing posts on social media about a 12th hour miracle and that God was about to open doors for someone.

So, I claimed it and did everything I could to squelch fear.

God will provide, whether it’s with this job or another. He knows what I need, I kept reminding myself.

Sunday, August 22nd. I heard a minister in my church talk about speaking in faith in pre-service prayer. He told the story of a man who needed a job and prayed for one in a Sunday service. After the service, a woman came up to the man, offering him a job.

I wish that would happen to me, I thought.

That night, I prayed again in faith that the company would call me the next day to offer me the job. On Monday, I was out with my mother at Walmart when they called me.

Oh, no. This is it.

Worried, I let it go to voicemail.

What if it’s a rejection call? What if they just want another interview?

I’d been through so many interviews, I could hardly stand the stress of going through another.

I got home and called back right away, and the hiring manager said the words I’d been praying to hear for a long time:

“I’ve got an offer for you.”

I sat down on my bed and just listened as she detailed the job. Though I wouldn’t have expected it, it was exactly what I had prayed for all along.

This was taken the day before I got the good news, but this was 100% the face I made when I heard the recruiter say those wonderful words!

You see, even though there were many moments when I worried, doubted, and even feared that God might not fulfill my need on time, I did not quit praying for my miracle. As a wonderful mentor reminded me during a low point, we have to pray past our nothing—that moment when you’ve prayed until your body is limp, and yet nothing seems to change.

God is faithful. God will provide for you. He knows your needs, and He will never fail you. He knows your desires and wants to bless you with them if you will first delight in Him.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by feelings of disappointment in the waiting, but don’t let your emotions make you forget God’s neverending love for you. As a father loves to see the light in his child’s eyes when that child opens up gifts at Christmas, so does our Heavenly Father love to bless us with good desires that bring us joy.

David described an example of God’s endless love for us and of His goodness in Psalms:

“Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”

Psalms 37:3-5 (KJV)

David also said several verses later that, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread” (Psalms 37:25, KJV).

If we are ever going to see a victory, we cannot give up in the waiting. Continue to pray. Don’t underestimate the power behind speaking in faith and declaring your victory in the Name of Jesus. Live for God according to His Word and Will and walk forward in righteousness.

He fights our battles for us and wins the victory. All we have to do is praise Him for it in advance. Our Jehovah Jireh is enough.

He has never failed me and never will. My God came through for me, and I know He will do it for you.

Don’t stop praying!

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:19 (KJV)

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!

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.

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.