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!

How to Overcome Doubt with Determination

Overcoming doubt with determination by studying the Word.

Ever feel like bad things always happen to you, or like you just aren’t as lucky as those other people on social media who are living the dream and have it all together?

Ever doubt that things will work out because it seems they never do?

Sometimes, we make things harder for ourselves when all we focus on is the negative. It interferes with our ability to trust God and give Him our cares. Doubt can be crippling.

As someone who’s teetered between pessimism and optimism, I know the back-and-forth can make you emotionally and physically exhausted.

“God, I just want something good to happen in my life for once!” I’ve said before.

Our doubt blinds us from seeing how God is working, and it keeps us from moving forward with determination.

Doubt damages our determination.

After all, why bother embracing the future when you can’t see what’s ahead or when it seems bleak and uncomfortable? Why trust that things will work out when it seems nothing good ever happens?

You know, we often get stuck on patterns. If there’s a pattern of negative events in our lives, we come to expect negative things, and negativity becomes the lens through which we see life. As humans, we like patterns because they’re predictable. They give us a feeling of control. If we can predict what might happen, then we can prepare for the worst.

But God does not operate according to the predictions of man. His ways are higher.

When we learn to trust that God always has a plan for our lives, then we can turn our doubt into determination—the kind of determination that says, “I will trust in God no matter what happens.”

God's ways are higher than ours.

We say Thomas doubted that Jesus really had risen from the dead with a kind of disdain for Thomas’ attitude, but I’ve always found Thomas relatable here.

Think about it: Jesus Christ, whom the disciples had hoped would help them overthrow the government, was crucified three days prior. Their movement seemed hopeless and crushed. Bad things kept happening. And all of a sudden, a man stood in front of Thomas claiming to be the resurrected Christ. Perhaps many of us, if we had been Thomas in that moment, would feel it was too good to be true. After tragedy and disappointment, we might have responded to Jesus’ resurrection with hesitation and doubt.

Have you ever asked God for a sign if something really was Him?

God, if this is You moving, send me a sign!

Thomas declared that he would not believe until he had seen the scars in Jesus’ hands and touched His spear-pierced side. How did Jesus respond?

“Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.”

John 20:27-28 (KJV)

If we are to see Jesus, we must reach out and touch Him.

If we are to overcome our own doubt and pessimism, we must get closer to Him and believe.

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God!

(See Romans 10:17.)

When we study His Word, we begin to hear His voice. When we hear Him, our faith in Him grows. As our faith grows, so does our trust and our confidence in Him.

The more we seek Jesus in determination, the more our doubt will diminish.

BPR Schedule Update, 03/26/21

BPR Logo Announcement

Due to some issues with scheduling, I am postponing today’s blog post until tomorrow evening.

Tuesday’s blog post will come out on schedule.

However, there will be no Friday blog post next week as I’ll be at the Missouri District Youth Convention in St. Charles, Missouri, with my church’s youth group. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out my Instagram here for additional Breathe Pray Repeat content, modest fashion, and some updates while I’m at Youth Convention next week.

One quick thought for today: things don’t always go according to plan. In fact, they often never do. As I was talking with God earlier today, in a moment of frustration, I mentioned that it’s difficult being a little human down here on earth with no knowledge of what might happen tomorrow. It’s hard not knowing. But I felt the Holy Ghost remind me that that is, of course, why I have Jesus, why I need Jesus.

His ways are higher, and the more life doesn’t go the way I want it to, the more He reminds me how much I need Him, how much closer to Him I need to be, and how much more I need to trust that He has everything under control.

When we surrender to Jesus, He gives us peace and assurance that even though our situation may seem impossible, He has a plan so that it will work out for our good according to His perfect will.

“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)

3 Scriptures to Speak Over Anxiety

Anxiety

What will the future hold?

That’s a question we often ask ourselves when life seems more uncertain than usual.

Bills pile up. We’re saving for trips, home maintenance, or a new home or car. We’ve got work and school responsibilities, or we’re in need of a job or financial blessing. It seems we often waste our days away in nervous expectancy for what won’t or could happen. But that’s not what God wants for us.

Anxiety can absolutely consume our thoughts and affect our physical health. I sometimes get more stressed just thinking about stress, and then I try to put away all those things causing me anxiety, which causes me more stress because I know they’re still out there.

For those who struggle with anxiety, overcoming our worries often involves a process of reminding ourselves throughout each day that God knows what we’re going through and has a plan for us. He is our Provider and Comfort.

If you’re battling anxiety, here are 3 passages of scripture to study and speak over your fears so that the Lord can calm the troubled thoughts within your busy mind and speak peace over the storm in your life:

(8) I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.
(9) Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.
(10) Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about.
~Psalms 32:8-10 (KJV)

(3) Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
(4) Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:
~Isaiah 26:3-4 (KJV)

(6) Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
(7) And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
~Philippians 4:6-7 (KJV)

Our God has a plan for each of us. He is faithful, and He never fails.

No matter what you’re facing, rest assured that He is right there with you.

He will guide you.

He will keep you.

He will give you peace.

Prioritizing the Kingdom

So, I have this need. A time-sensitive need. It’s one of those needs that you try not to worry about too much, but as the days go by and nothing changes, you start to worry a lot.

“God,” I say, “I have this need. Now, You know I have this need, and I know You know that, so if You could maybe speed up Your need-fulfilling machine and meet this need ASAP, that would take a load off my mind. We’re dealing with a time-sensitive issue here, and the funny thing about time is that it’s always running out. Right, God? God? Is this thing on?”

I scratch my head and wring my hands and ramble on and on until all I can think about for the next hour and day and week is that one need that keeps coming closer to its deadline.

And then I read Matthew chapter 6, and I realize God is speaking to me:

(30) “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
(31) Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
(32) (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
(33) But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

From these verses, God reminds me, and us, that we need not allow worry over our needs to consume our thoughts. Sometimes, we prioritize our cares on earth over Kingdom concerns too much.

What should we do?

We should seek first the Kingdom of God and trust that God will meet our needs. My Apostolic Study Bible explains it as actively pursuing the Kingdom while passively expecting the meeting of our needs.

Indeed, Matthew 6 says it perfectly as well. If God takes care of His creation, then how much more will He care for His children? For He knows our needs. And so we should not busy ourselves with overloaded concern for our own selves. Rather, we should busy ourselves with His Kingdom.

Prioritizing trust in Him breeds more trust in Him and the assurance that God will take care of us no matter what life throws our way.

I may still have a need, as do we all, but I also have the promise that my Savior who knows my need is working on my behalf and will come through for me at precisely the right moment.

If we are faithful to Him, then He will provide for all our needs in this life, for the righteous are not forsaken.

For Better or Worse: Remaining Faithful to God in the Face of Adversity

This is a simple post, but sometimes, we need simple reminders of the greatness of our God to overcome our complex emotions.

The other night in prayer, I was thinking about and praying for our nation in the face of whatever may come in the next few weeks. Emotions have been high for many Americans as the presidential inauguration is scheduled for next week. We well know that God raises up kings (and other leaders) and takes them down. We can rest assured that His Will is what’s best for us, even when we may not like the immediate outcome in the natural.

So, what is our path forward in the face of adversity?

When I was sitting and praying about these things, I believe God led me to Daniel chapter 6 and reminded me of the single most important priority for any child of God no matter what may come our way—our relationship with Him.

(10) “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.

(11) Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God.

(12) Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king’s decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.

(13) Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day.”

~Daniel 6:10-13 (KJV)

In this chapter, corrupt leaders conspired against Daniel, who oversaw the financial affairs of the kingdom, to get him out of the way because he was an upright man. They manipulated King Darius to sign a decree saying that no one could present a petition to anyone, including God, except for the king for 30 days, knowing full well Daniel’s faithfulness to God. Now, Daniel knew that the king signed this decree, but instead of cowering, panicking, and following along with the corrupt leaders, he maintained his relationship with God. He remained faithful and prayed to God three times a day “as he did aforetime.”

In the face of evil, of darkness, of danger, and a threat to his life, Daniel remained faithful to God.

In the face of adversity, he continued to put God first.

His faithfulness got himself thrown into the lions’ den. Now, any one of us, if we went through that situation, may be thinking at that point, “God, whatchu doin’? Where you at? This ain’t looking good.” But Daniel didn’t doubt God, and as we see, God delivered him from the mouth of the lions.

(19) “Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions.

(20) And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?

(21) Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever.

(22) My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.

(23) Then was the king exceedingly glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.”

~Daniel 6:19-23 (KJV)

No matter what kind of adversity comes our way, if we’re faithful to God, He will deliver us.

What we learn from Daniel’s experience in this chapter is that things always seem to be falling apart in the natural. Remember the three Hebrew boys from Daniel chapter three? Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego refused to worship to the golden image King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and the king had them thrown into the fiery furnace. In the natural, things seemingly became much, much worse.

I certainly would rather not be thrown into a fiery furnace. I don’t think I’d be all that calm or chill with it, but maybe that’s just me.

In the natural, when we consider what we see with our flesh, we can often allow ourselves to become focused only on the storm and only on the bad, but we fail to see with the spirit. We fail to see that no matter how bad things may look in the natural, God is preparing a great work in the supernatural.

This great work then serves as a great witness to others of the greatness and glory of God. God delivering the three Hebrews from the fiery furnace impressed Nebuchadnezzar, and he blessed God, declared that no one could speak against God, and he promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (see Daniel 3:28-30). God delivering Daniel from the lions’ mouths impressed Darius, and he made a decree that gloried God as “the living God” whose “dominion shall be even unto the end” (see Daniel 6:26). Not only is our faithfulness to God a witness to others, but how God comes through for us is a testament to others.

God shows His Glory to the world when adversity comes.

Things always seem to get worse in the natural before they get better. Before God moves, before deliverance comes, and before God reveals His Glory, things seem to be falling apart.

But God is moving.

“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)

God was right there with the Hebrew boys when they were thrown into the fire. He was right there with Daniel when he was thrown into the lions’ den.

God is always with us. We just have to keep the faith, pray, and keep up our relationship with God.

No matter what may happen in the natural world, God is getting ready to do a mighty work for His people and for His Glory the likes of which the world has never seen.

One Answer to One Million Questions

What am I doing wrong?

Where do I go from here?

How do I know everything is going to work out okay?

How do I know You’re listening to me?

How do I know if I’m doing Your Will?

We have one million questions that plague our thoughts throughout our lives. Life questions hit us at every stage, whether we’re wondering about in which ministry to become involved as a teen, which college to attend, which career to choose, or to which part of the city we should relocate with the best schools and safest community for our children. It seems the possibilities and answers for each scenario are endless. But there is only one answer that suits them all.

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

(6) In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” ~Proverbs 3:5-6 (KJV)

Often, we find ourselves trying to figure things out and predict what might happen using our own logic and rationale. Even though we may have hated math or not excelled at it in school, we’re still using equations to find the answers to our questions.

If a equals b and b equals c, then c equals the a(squared) scenario, which means I shouldn’t take out that loan, I should go into accounting, and I’m probably allergic to dairy.

Perhaps I’m one of the only ones who goes into Sherlock Holmes mode when deciphering questions and answers regarding various scenarios, but if you can relate to this even a smidgen, here’s something I tell myself that may help you:

Stop trying to figure things out on your own.

It hurts your brain, and it may be making your hair grayer. (Okay, maybe that last one only applies to me, but it’s food for thought.)

But also, it prevents you from completely surrendering yourself to God. If I find myself still trying to figure things out and so stressed out that I can’t focus during my prayer time because I’m still thinking about scenario a(squared), it’s most likely because I still haven’t decided to let God take care of it. I may say, “Lord, let Thy Will be done,” but there’s still a part of me that isn’t really sure it will work out, and so I’m performing mental algebra to decode the answer to my question. Sometimes, trusting in Jesus wholeheartedly requires a daily exercise that involves reminding myself of how little I truly understand. Man’s intelligence amounts to nothing when we consider the infinite amount of knowledge and wisdom God has.

Jesus is the answer to every life question and every struggle we may experience. In fact, all the answers we seek lie within His Word and in His Presence. We see through a glass darkly, but if we acknowledge God and declare His Glory and Power in all our ways, then He will make our paths straight and prosperous.

“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)

Why Things Happen

Why?

This may be the question we ask God the most. Why did “x” have to happen? Why couldn’t I have gotten that job? Why did you let me fail that test when I studied so hard? Why did so-and-so have to die? Why are you letting bad things happen to me? Why, why, why?

We wonder, we fret, we pity ourselves, and we ask “why, God?” until our eyes are swollen, and depression consumes our spirit. We see through a glass darkly, so we sometimes cannot see that there is always a purpose behind our pain. Ah, yes—the statement no one wants to hear when they’re going through something, but we humans often only learn things the hard way, especially young adults, and our struggles exist to make us stronger if for no other reason.

Physical pain can be a good thing. It tells us that something is wrong and that we may need medical attention. When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I never felt a literal pain as in aching bones, but I felt a mental pain. I was fatigued and nauseous (among other things), and the very sight of my weary self signaled to others, like the receptionist at urgent care, that something was wrong with me. Miserable is the word I typically use to describe how I felt then, but if I hadn’t felt that way, I might not have known for quite some time that I had diabetes. My pain served a purpose, but it’s often emotional pain that is the hardest to see through and understand.

During and after the spring semester in 2018, I felt an emotional and spiritual exhaustion that threw me out of sorts, and it set me on a path to realign my focus. I had just entered a four-year university to get my bachelor’s degree, and the shift in the atmosphere from a small community college to a very liberal university was palpable. All semester, I was stressed from classwork that involved treating subjective, liberal studies as legitimate, evidence-based coursework, which greatly conflicted with my conservative and Christian beliefs. But I felt an exhaustion deeper than simple stress due to papers and exams, and it escalated that summer.

Never before had I been tired literally every day. It is an understatement to say that I slept a lot. Practically all I wanted to do was sleep, and when I wasn’t sleeping, I was tired and disturbed in my spirit. I loathed college—loathed it—for the atmosphere and for its inefficient system, and I knew I simply couldn’t continue college past a bachelor’s degree to get two master’s degrees (long story there, but that’s where I was headed) in order to teach college English and write professionally. I was done. I was miserable. I was lost. It’s only now after having finally finished college that I have come to truly appreciate the experience for what it taught me and how it helped me grow.

After realizing I didn’t want to continue the path to becoming a full-time English professor in this liberal society, I prayed (a lot), and I looked to different avenues. I made an alternate plan to apply for work at a local publishing company after graduation, but then COVID happened. The company went on a hiring freeze. Great. I scoured the internet for job openings in editing, tutoring, and copywriting, and by the grace of God, I found a company that was hiring part-time tutors. The future is still uncertain, but all of my searching and pain and misery and growth has helped me grasp a simple concept that I hadn’t realized I didn’t truly “get” until I went through something difficult: trust God.

Sometimes, we don’t truly understand a concept or truth until we have no other choice but to embrace it head on. C.S. Lewis once said that “God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons that we could learn in no other way.” Of course, having grown up in church, I’ve always known we should trust in God to guide us through life, but somehow, I’d formed my own contingency plans for everything to get where I wanted and expected everything to work out as I planned—until it didn’t. I can look back now at all those moments I was worried and miserable and exhausted to my core and understand that God let me go through those things to teach me that no matter what happens in my life, I still need to trust in Him and let Him take the reigns of my life, that I need to believe it’s okay when things don’t go my way, that if something tragic happens, I am going to make it as long as I trust in Him.

I still wonder why things happen sometimes. But now I understand that I am not alone in whatever trial I’m going through. Whatever happens—no matter what happens—I can rest in the assurance I have in Jesus. It’s okay to be not okay. It’s okay to wonder about why things happen, because in those moments, God fills me with His Peace and whispers, “trust me,” and He draws me closer to Him than I’ve been before.