Life the Jesus Way: 3 Ways to Stop Playing the Game

I have this growing sense that I have wasted way too much energy in my life on things that just don’t matter.

Growing up, I would attend a weeklong basketball camp every summer. On the first day, the coaches would place us all on teams and then we would spend the next five days competing to become “Camp Champ.” What more could a ten-year-old kid ask for?

One year I got placed on the green team (we naturally called ourselves the Green Machine) and spent the first two days giving everything I had to ensure that, come Friday, we would hoist that little fifty cent piece of plastic in the air declaring to the world that we were the best. But Wednesday morning I walked into the gym and received terrible news. I had been traded to the Blue Buffoons – the worst team in the entire camp.

I was devastated (and furious) because all the effort I put into helping the Green Machine win was not just wasted, it was now working against me. Life is so difficult sometimes isn’t it?

Nobody likes being told they’ve been playing the wrong game. I certainly didn’t.

So two thousand years ago, when a Jewish Rabbi named Jesus showed up and started changing the game, nobody knew quite what to do.

Beginning his ministry with the declaration that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand (Matthew 4:23, Mark 1:15), he went on to explain a brand new way to be human.

In this new system:

  •  The first shall be last and the last shall be first (Matthew 19:30)
  • If you want to find your life, lose it (Matthew 10:39)
  • If you want to be great, learn how to serve (Matthew 23:11)
  • Forgive everyone, even if their debt is so big they could never repay it (Matthew 18:21-35)
  • And be so generous that people think it is unfair (Matthew 20:1-16)

Bold move, Jesus. He flipped everything upside down and told the world to stop wasting so much energy playing the game. Meaning the call of Jesus is not to stop playing for the Green Machine and start playing for the Blue Buffoons; the call is to realize that the fifty-cent piece of plastic (and the “fame” that comes with it) is no longer the win.

In the Kingdom of Heaven, there is always enough. Our job is to realize that as a part of that new system, we are enough.

Okay, stick with me. Think of this new kingdom Jesus is talking about like a meal.

In the world, food is limited, so you better eat fast because other people at the table are in the way of you getting your fill. But in God’s kingdom, the feast is infinite, so the pressure is off. Meaning other people are not in the way of you getting your fill, they are on the way to you enjoying the meal to its fullest. You are free to sit with them, laugh with them, and enjoy the meal together. And when you try something you like, there is no longer any reason to hoard it or keep it to yourself; now you can tell everyone about it so they can experience it with you.

This paradigm shift is at the root of my growing suspicion that I waste way too much energy. Why do I gossip? Because if I can make other people look bad, I can gain some leverage on the world. Why do I stay bitter? Because if I focus on the struggles of others, I feel better about myself. Why do I try so hard to get recognition? Because I still don’t believe that I am enough.

Do you see how this works? When resources are limited, there is a brutal game to be won, and other people are competition. But when resources are infinite, you can stop playing the game and start seeing other people as eternal souls who need and deserve love and respect. When that happens, you stop competing and start celebrating, because these other people become the means through which you get to enjoy God’s infinite resources to their fullest. Of course, making this shift is no small task, so here are three ways we can practice.

1. Live Generously

Sometimes God must just laugh at how tightly we hold onto our possessions and our reputations. But if we believe the message of Jesus, then life is way too precious to waste on comparing ourselves and trying to one-up each other.  

Living generously means learning to celebrate people. It means honoring everyone, even if you have to be demoted for that to happen. It means that you genuinely desire to see others succeed, because if they win, you win.

2. Practice The Thousand Year Rule

Here’s a good question to ask yourself: Am I going to care about this a thousand years from now?

If the answer is no, then why are you wasting so much precious energy on it? That energy could be used to build somebody else up.

  •  That silly argument you had with a close friend that just feels so important right now. Not going to matter a thousand years from now.
  • That guy that cut you off on the highway, just to prove a point. Not going to matter a thousand years from now.
  • That award or recognition you so desperately desire. Not going to matter a thousand years from now.

What is going to matter is the way you cared for people and the quality time you spent with loved ones. So next time the blood starts boiling and you feel like you have to prove yourself to the world, try asking yourself that question.

3. Create A Saying

A simple saying is an excellent way to guide yourself back to the proper mindset. And it can be whatever you want it to be! Here’s one that works for me: “I’m not playing that game anymore.”

The goal is to stop playing the “prove yourself to the world” game and start playing the “live, love, and look like Jesus” game.

When I start to feel jealous of someone who is getting more recognition than me:

   - “I’m not playing that game anymore.

When a co-worker gets an opportunity I feel I am more qualified for:

   - “I’m not playing that game anymore.”

When traffic is ruining all of my plans:

   - “I’m not playing that game anymore.

I am not the best at this, so I have to say it to myself over and over again throughout the day. But the more I do, the more I realize the invitation of Jesus is far better than anything the world has to offer.

All of this is completely counter-intuitive. That is one of the things I love most about Jesus. So remember this is a process. Take it one day at a time, give yourself grace, and whether you find yourself playing for the Green Machine or the Blue Buffoons, remember to play with freedom…

For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!  

Ryan is the Missions Pastor at Seacoast Grace Church in Cypress, California. His passion is to lead his peers into lives of service, primarily focusing on the cities of Compton and Long Beach. He is also back in school slowly working on his Master’s Degree at Talbot School of Theology, which he plans on finishing sometime in the next 20 years. Any other time he has is spent surfing, playing basketball, and watching the Broncos.

NEW YouVersion Reading Plan // A Journey Through Pregnancy

Pregnancy has had its good moments and its unlovely moments. I've had some of my most joyful moments in this journey and some of my hardest. Even now I'm beyond the moon excited to meet our little boy next week but I'm miserable with an itchy stomach, swollen ankles, and over pregnancy.

So what did I do with this roller coaster? Naturally, I wrote about it! I've written a 7-day YouVersion reading plan on the highs and lows of pregnancy and what every mama can focus on in her journey through pregnancy!

Needing Less When I Want More

He must increase, but I must decrease.
— John 3:30

I know what it's like to feel unnoticed or unappreciated, and to then try and make myself visible to those around me with good works. To want to have just one person acknowledge my good ideas and efforts--to see me.

It's in our nature to desire to make up for the lack of attention from others. There's something inside of us that wants to be noticed and valued. When we don't feel we're getting that, we can go to unhealthy places of building ourselves up, trying to get ahead, or serving with the wrong motives.

I get it--it's discouraging to work hard and watch others get promoted ahead of you and to feel like you're being taken for granted. I think we've all been there. You've probably felt the proverbial punch in the gut when you've given so much only to be unrecognized.

Like I mentioned above, when we feel these emotions we have a tendency to want to make up for the gap in recognition. We want to make a play that gets us noticed. We want to increase our position or visibility so that others will recognize us.

At the beginning of 2017, God put the word "decrease" in my heart as my theme for the year. I felt deeply convicted to focus on becoming less so that Jesus could become more in my life. Hence, John 3:30 became my verse for the year.

Someone, maybe you, needs to read that verse today. To be reminded that it's not about you, but it's about Jesus. It always has been and always will be. When you can be honest with yourself that it's about Jesus, this verse will become important to you.

This verse is the words of John the Baptist. Jesus had begun baptizing--something John was known for. John's disciples come to him and point out as much. This is when you or I might cringe in pride, but not John. In fact, he proclaims that his joy is now complete! John recognizes that the time has come for him to start taking a step back; to decrease and for Jesus to increase.

When you feel the need to increase--to want more recognition and affirmation--decide to take less. Choose to want less; to decrease. When you decrease, Jesus is increased in your life. And when Jesus is increased in your life, the Son is glorified and God is honored.

Don't you want that from your life? Less stress over being "someone" or to perform for people and greater peace that Jesus is being glorified through and in you. And to be quite honest, "whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." (Matthew 32:12)

Seek the decrease in life. Choose to fade into the background so that Jesus is increased. 


Insecurity // "Go Forth in Strength"

When you embrace your value and God-ordained purpose in life, you will be able to walk in strength and confidence. The enemy will take notice of a person once riddled with insecurity standing strong, and he will come at you with his arrows of discouragement. Because of this, Ephesians 6 is necessary to walk out this new found security. 

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
— EPHESIANS 6:10-20

Putting on the armor of God will cloak you in items that will protect you from injury. And not just when you need it, but every day. Verse 11 conveys the point that your armor must be worn at all times, as your daily attire. See to it every morning that you intentionally prepare yourself for a day of battle, because you never know what attacks might take place. You see, the armor doesn’t magically appear when you need it, but rather in a conscious decision made each day through your dedication.

What’s most important as you move forward is the confidence you place in God. There will be times you feel weak or fall into discouragement. When that happens, find shelter in the safety of His wings. There is something powerful in recognizing that yes, you are weak, but our God is stronger than anyone or anything. There is no weapon that can defeat Him. No miracle too big to conquer. No enemy too strong for Him. He has claimed victory on the cross for all time and in each moment of your weakness.

It is absolutely necessary to recognize God as the source of your strength. When you do that, you can tap into his never-ending supply. Allow it to refresh and encourage you. Hold firm to the belief that He is for you. Walk forth in His strength to overcome insecurity.

Insecurity // "You Are Valued"

Today we begin to examine Biblical truths and learn how to get a hold of insecurity. The first step on this path is to believe in your worth and value. Let me help you get started: YOU ARE VALUED! YOU HAVE WORTH! THERE IS NO ONE LIKE YOU!

Insecurity is essentially a lack of confidence in yourself. Why believe that?! Psalm 139:13-15 talks about the great care God took in creating you. Such thought, love, and dedication was taken in the unseen moments God knit you together carefully in your mother’s womb.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Luke 12 describes the interest God takes in the sparrows and lilies, and yet, isn’t His devotion to you greater. Indeed, Scripture is filled with words of God’s love and value for you.

You need to know right now that you are valued. You need to know that God cares more about you than you could ever comprehend. You must understand that His love is deeper, wider, and higher than you could imagine. Collapse into His love for you. Embrace His care. Trust that how He has designed you is wonderful and powerful. You have a purpose and calling very specific to how He wants to use you; that’s a lot of thought and planning set aside specifically for you and you alone.

When you think your gifts are not as important. Rebuke it. When you feel your experience is lacking. Lean into His. When you feel your value is nothing compared to another, trust what His word says about you.

Tell insecurity today that you have value by speaking Psalm 139 over your life. Let the words of Luke 12 drench you in the assurance of His care. Every time an insecure thought pops into your head, push it out with prayer and these Scriptures.

Remember, you are fearfully and wonderfully made!

Insecurity // "I Want What They Have"

The comparison trap--we all get caught in it at some point, if not many. It’s why we say things like “keeping up with the Jones” and see teenage girls binge on fashion magazines and reality shows to make themselves “perfect.” It’s as if we are nurtured by our culture to evaluate others and elevate our lives beyond that.

Wanting what others have is the ultimate thief of joy and will leave you in utter disappointment with your life. Compare yourself to others and you’ll take for granted your own gifts and opportunities. Early on in ministry, as a young twenty-something, I use to get caught up in the promotion of others around me. It caused me to be discontent, jealous, and oblivious to what God was doing in my life. I’m thankful He changed my heart, and can now celebrate in other’s blessings.

Galatians 6:4-5 is a stunning statement to combat comparison, especially in The Message translation.

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.

Scripture instructs us to take inventory, examine, and dive deep into who God has made us as an individual. What talents and gifts do you have, not your co-workers? How can your experience and testimony be used, not your neighbors? God has designed you with a particular story and skillset that He wants to use in a very particular way.

Once you are aware of your dreams and purpose, focus on that. Not on your friends, or the co-worker down the hall. Jump into what God has for you and give it your all! Verse 5 says to, “take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.

Christine Caine shared a powerful phrase I reflect on in my moments of comparison, “Someone else’s success does not rob you of anything.” If we can remember this, we can remain confident in the calling God has on our own life. You see, God has a special plan just for you! When the time is right (to which you’ll see the time was indeed right), everything will come together as it should because God did it. That way we can boast only in Him and His power, as opposed to thinking it was our will that made it happen.

Lean into Galatians 6 today, trust that the dreams God has placed on your heart are there for a reason and sink your teeth into what is right before you!

Insecurity // "I Care What They Think"

In high school, I use to care so much about what people thought of me that I use to be nervous to walk across the cafeteria because I didn't want people to critique me.

  • Do they like me?
  • How does my outfit look?
  • Was my joke funny?

On and on thoughts played in my head like a dripping faucet that wouldn't allow me any peace. I can relate to Saul's actions in 1 Samuel 15, unfortunately. But thankfully, I can also "not relate" to him because God has helped me over the years to care less about what others think and more about what He thinks.

In this chapter, God orders Saul to battle and defeat the Amalekites. And not just defeat them but annihilate them. At the core of this God wants to remove any trace of the wicked nation. However, "Saul and the army" spare the life of the king and keep the best livestock. The next day Samuel goes to find Saul, who ironically is building an altar to the Lord. Saul thinks he has done well by God. He thinks he has been obedient. However, Samuel confronts him on his obvious disobedience, having failed to do what God instructed. This alone leads to a powerful truth: partial obedience is still disobedience. Saul did not fully carry through on God's command and, therefore, is deemed disobedient.

Now here's where the insecurity plays in: "I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them."

Saul's disobedience can be traced to his desire to please men above God. It provides a powerful example of what the desire for men's approval can lead to. In this passage, we see that caring about what people think, particularly above what God thinks, does lead to sin.

How does one avoid such a trap? Fight the urge to care! It seems so simple, and yet it’s hard to live out, isn’t it?

You have been given a moral compass and as a Christian, you are blessed to have the Holy Spirit dwelling within you. Chances are you're pretty set to know when something is wrong or right. When you feel something is wrong, don't do it! Even if people are directing you to the wrong thing. Fight the urge to care about what people think and find security in your Heavenly Father. What He thinks and desires is what really matters.

Insecurity // I'm Not Good Enough

Insecurity was an ugly, unwelcomed companion in my life for many years. In fact, there is one particular phrase that still echoes is my mind like a broken record under the right circumstances. It’s the phrase, “I’m not good enough.” Maybe a similar phrase plays frequently in your mind as well, and it’s so familiar that it feels like an old comrade keeping you company.

Insecurity can manifest in many forms and we'll touch on some of those in this brief series. It’s not all inclusive, but rather an examination of what we find in Scripture and real life as the most common manifestations.

Believing you are not good enough is one and it has a particularly devastating effect--it keeps you from living at your full potential. For example, you give yourself one hundred percent to a passion, only to go overlooked. You want to give up because it seems there is no point. Or perhaps you try to do something romantic for your spouse but it falls flat. You internalize it to mean you’re not loving well.

When we put stock in this phrase and give it validity, we allow pieces of our potential to be chipped away. The truth is, God never wants you to feel inadequate or not good enough. He wants you to be aware of your weakness that you might lean into His strength, but never for a second does He want you to diminish your value.

I get goosebumps when I read The Message translation of 1 Peter 2:9. It describes that we are CHOSEN by God, not for ourselves, but to be an example of His power to take you, “from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.” You are SOMETHING. You are ACCEPTED. When you or the enemy begin to whisper attacks about your value, rebuke such words and remind yourself of what 1 Peter 2 says.

Don’t allow insecurity to diminish your potential or steal away your calling. They will if you don’t keep careful guard over your heart and mind. In this plan, we will not only evaluate other manifestations of insecurity, but we will cover our lives with the truth of God’s word. At the end of this series, my prayer is that you will walk forth with the power of Scripture to know you’re valued and have a purpose that insecurity has no part in.

Guest Post - Gabi Kelley

Microcosm Moment - By Gabi Kelley

I have come here to declare the faithfulness of God.

These past few weeks have been crazy as we’ve moved out of our home in Colorado and brought our family to a new home in Texas. I don’t think I’ve ever done something so HUGE, and I’m still in the center of the hugeness of it right now. I see the wind flying around me in circles, but I’m sitting here at a table in Starbucks in the stillness right in the middle of it.

This is where Jesus is.

I don’t mean here at Starbucks (although I’m pretty sure He hangs out at every single one – praise the Name of the Lord:D. I mean here, right here in the stillness and in the middle of the tornado of upheaval caused by a cross-country move. Just like He was there in the middle of the storm on the Sea of Galilee, He’s here in the middle of this chaos I’ve landed in.

And He’s faithful to keep me here in the stillness, despite what winds blow 6 inches in front of me.

What a good God. What a faithful Shepherd. What a beautiful Savior.

Honestly, this was the moment I was dreading. This moment when my husband started going to the office to his dream job and my kids started preschool and I was left adrift, left to fend for myself and to find my own way.

But that’s not how it is. That’s never how it really is, is it? Maybe it feels that way sometimes but never, not once, have I been left to fend for myself. It’s in these moments of seeming aloneness, these hours of unsure footing, that we have a choice. We can either give in to discouragement, feeling as though we are unseen, or we can look up into the eyes of our King, say, “Ok, I’m ready!” and let Him take us on the adventure of the unknown.

Why oh why would I choose discouragement? No, I will not accept it. I drop it by the side of the road, I pick up my suitcase full of hope instead, and I go on this adventure with my Jesus. He has never let me down and He has never left me alone.

This moment in this season is like a microcosm of this life I have chosen to live. In this life, I have known with surety what He has planted in my heart. I have clung to the dreams and the promises of God with everything in me. I have waited…and waited…and waited…and cried, and fought, and prayed, and bowed down with whispers of “When, God, when?” but I have never let go of the promises. I can’t. I mean, how could I? When the God of the Universe bends low to whisper a secret into your life, you can’t just let it go, can you? I mean, I guess you could, but that would be an utter denial of the life change caused by the whisper, even if the change is only visible on the inside. For me, to let it go would be like losing a limb. So instead, I hold tight through it all; all the joys, trials, pains, hopes, betrayals, struggles, victories, discipline, and questioning.

This move to Texas is technically due to Benj’s new job. And I’m so happy for him – so happy. But in my heart, from the very moment I knew we would be moving (and I knew before anyone else…remember those God-whispers I was talking about?), I knew so much of this was going to lead to the fruition of 20+ years of prayers and dreams, the things planted inside me as a small girl. I know a little about how it’s actually going to look – but only a little. The rest is just expectation and belief lighting up like fireworks inside my soul. I know it’s coming…and I know it’s going to be beyond what I could even ask or imagine. But right now, right in this moment, the circumstances are tempting me to feel alone, forgotten, and overlooked.

But really, honestly, I know that’s just smoke. I know these are just shadows. Because I know the reality: My God SEES ME. My God KNOWS ME. My God REMEMBERS me every single moment. My God is the Dream Giver and the Dream Fulfiller. And He is holding my hand and telling me to keep holding tight because soon, so so soon, we will be running.

Like I said, it’s a microcosm of my life; this little moment in the middle of the tornado. I’ve learned how to wait and wait well, to wait actively, with faith as my guide and hope as my anchor. I understand that what I learn in between seasons and in the middle of unforeseen moments are the exact tools that I need for the next season and the next moment. Nothing is meaningless when I walk with Christ. So I know, I KNOW, that this time of waiting is just a chance to breathe before I’m swept up completely in the dreams of God’s heart, in the story that He’s written over my life, the story of rescue and compassion and mission and hands reached out and heart broken open for the world.

And so I rejoice. I choose joy. I tear off the heaviness and the gray and fight to the light and the color.

Here I am, God. Let’s do this. I am so so excited.

Gabi Kelley

Jesus Lover, wife, mommy of two, writer, God-dreamer, and adventurer. Host of Monday Morning Espresso podcast and gatherer of those who dream at

* Microcosm Moment was originally published at

He is Risen, A Special Easter Message

The two women didn't expect to find the stone pulled away, two angels before them, and certainly not the resurrected Jesus on this very early morning. No; they expected to find the body of a man they loved very deeply lying in a tomb. But now Mary Magdalene and Mary, mother of James, were amazed at what they saw before them. The tomb stone was rolled away by one heavenly angel while another was in the tomb.

The two women hurried into the tomb looking for Jesus, but all they found were the outer garments he had been buried in. This, a symbol that Jesus had left his earthly boundaries behind and was now risen [as he proclaimed he would]. The angel proceeds to speak some of the most powerful words ever uttered,

He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.

Jesus, the man they knew as the Son of God now gone from his grave. A declaration not only to them and the Roman guards that stood by speechless, but to all that he was indeed God, resurrected from death. This...this was the very moment that changed everything for humanity! 

This weekend we celebrate what has become Easter, but more than any Easter basket or Sunday lunch with the family, we highlight this event. Easter weekend is all about him and what he did. Jesus didn't have to wrap himself in flesh and come to Earth, but he did. He didn't have to live in obscurity for 30 years, but he did. He didn't have to carry each of our sins and take our punishment of death at calvary, but he did. Jesus did--for you and for me! He temporarily gave up the beauty of heaven to carry the sins of men from Earth, into death, and free of it all victoriously back into Heaven. Now we get this incredible gift of grace, salvation, and eternal security with the Father if we put our faith in him. There is no greater gift or love you could ever receive than this.

When you wake up tomorrow morning, you don't have to worry about the fate of Christ and carry any mourning. You get to wake up with eager anticipation that Jesus is alive and reigns victoriously, on Earth, in Heaven, and in your life. That is the hope you have and I pray you'll carry it like a flag you wave proudly in the streets of victory.

The Cry of a Heart // Psalm 150

Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness!

Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe!

Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
— Psalm 150

This is it--the end of the series on psalms. And of course, we must end it in praise! Throughout this journey, we've explored so many seasons of life and emotions: depression, thanksgiving, betrayal, trials, and praise. No matter where you are in life and what you are going through, there is something in the book of Psalms that will speak to your heart.

Let's end it with praise! And I think this is so important because praise and thanksgiving is so vital to our way of life and everyday walk. If we miss this, we miss the mark big time.

God is worthy of all glory and honor and praise, no matter what you are going through. Take this to heart and make it a priority. Don't let a day go by without doing this with passion and sincerity.

God is an good Father who gives good things, and every good and perfect gift comes from Him.  Even the hard and heavy has value in His plans. He is worthy of praise! Will you give him honor and praise, the One who redeems and satisfies you?

The Cry of a Heart // Psalm 142

With my voice I cry out to the Lord; with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord. I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him.

When my spirit faints within me, you know my way! In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me. Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul.

I cry to you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.’ Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low! Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me!

Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name! The righteous will surround me, for you will deal bountifully with me.
— Psalm 142

Psalm 142 is a prayer of David's while hiding in a cave. David's was physical, but perhaps you've been in a proverbial cave before. Maybe even now. Because we all have our caves in life. That place in the darkness where we fell alone and afraid. David shows us how to respond when we find ourself in such a place.

In my Bible, I wrote out a progression I found in the Psalm a long time ago in my own cave. The progression goes like this:

  1. Prayed
  2. Cried Aloud
  3. Poured Out
  4. Trusted God
  5. Longed for God's Presence
  6. Confessed Need
  7. Asked for Deliverance
  8. Hoped

When in a cave, we often turn to prayer. This is, of course, a great place to turn to. Cry out to God, for He alone has the ability to turn your situation from turning to joy. He can bind up your broken heart! Don't be afraid to pour it all out to Him. God is a safe place--a refuge in time of trouble--that you can trust. Long to be in that safe place with Him--in His presence.

Once there, in that safe place in His sweet presence, confess your need and what you're going through. He's listening. And this is where it's ok to ask for deliverance from your situation. He probably won't create a shortcut or make it all go away, but if you ask Him to show up in your cave, He'll be there. And He will also get you through it. Have hope that He will come through for you!

NEW Article Contributions // Marriage & Calling

NewResources Blog.jpg

Hey all! I've recently contributed articles to 2 websites on the web I've not shared with before and I hope you'll check out!

I shared with 10 Things Your Wife Hates for all the husbands out there wanting to know what might really be bothering their wife. You can check it out using the button below!

This week I spoke to calling by sharing my story as a writer with Still Waters Publishing Co. In it, I give 4 Tips for Pursuing Your Calling and it's for all the dreamers out there wanting to put some action to their calling! Check it out using the button below.

The Cry of a Heart // Psalm 133

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.
— Psalm 133

Unity is vital to a flourishing life. Forget prospering at work if you cannot get along with your co-workers. And don't think marriage can be healthy unless both are on the same page. Psalm 133 declares that unity with others is good and pleasant; refreshing like the oil or the dew. WHo doesn't want that?!

My favorite passage to break down in regards to unity is Ephesians 4:1-3. In fact, I recite it to myself daily because I believe it to be that powerful and that valuable!

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Humility. Gentleness. Patience. Love

These 4 words, if embraced and lived out, can foster intimacy and ignite unity at all levels of your life. Furthermore, these attributes have the power to radically change your heart. I don’t know about you but there are a few of these I struggle to live out and diving deep into their meanings is reshaping my heart to be more like His. So not only is this a journey to unity, but it is a journey to be more like Christ.

  • Humility - Putting others before yourself is hard and requires sacrifice. It means stepping back and allowing others to take the credit. It manifests in celebrating the success of others when they are recognized. It’s this very practice that cultivates unity. When you begin to put others first and to serve the people around you, you are fostering an environment of connectivity.
  • Gentleness - When you interact with someone, Colossians 4 says we should do it in grace; that how we speak to them should bring out the best in them. Particularly in a tense moment or one with an unbeliever. Being kind to someone when your instinct is to lash out or correct is gentleness in action. Therefore, when anger begins to brew in you and in the other person, it’s our responsibility to diffuse the tension. Choose to turn the table by responding in kindness and gentleness.
  • Patience - Focus on patience as you go through your day today. Catch yourself in the moments it is tested and embrace how you can grow in that moment.
  • Love - When we commit to love others--to show them brotherly affection--we are doing one of the most important things we can be doing on this earth. It’s not an afterthought or something meant only for those closest to us; love is your highest calling. In fact, Romans says you should outdo one another in showing kindness. Imagine if everyone aimed to go above and beyond in loving each other.

Unity is incredibly desired by God, for His people. He longs to see His children live out humility, gentleness, patience, and love among each other and in a broken world. Begin to take steps in growing in these areas and living them out, and you’ll certainly honor Him.

Seek unity in your relationships, among other believers, and in your church, and watch as they flourish in ways you’ve never witnessed before. Unity is very important, so be a carrier of it today. Bring unity into your world!

If you would like to dive into this a bit more, check out my YouVersion reading called "Cultivating Unity" using the link below!


Coming in 2018 is...

The Untouchable Myth!

By the absolute goodness and grace of God, I recently signed a book deal with Baker Publishing/Chosen Books and my first will release in 2018. In The Untouchable Myth, I share my story of moral failure in ministry as a mid 20-something and what I learned through that journey--that to truly flourish in life you must be willing to admit weakness.

Although I know He's always good, God's faithfulness continues to blow me away! To take what I thought was the end of my story and journey, and to turn it into something beautiful and redemptive is both humbling and overwhelming. Now I get to share what He's done in my life and perhaps one of the most valuable lessons I've learned along the way to hopefully help others.

If you have a minute, please say a prayer. I've never felt such a burden for people, or a desire to honor God, or unqualified for what He's called me to. Prayers are much needed throughout this process! ;) 

I have this to say to anyone out there with a dream in their heart--don't give up! This dream to love on and minister to people through writing was birthed as a midwest 20-year-old girl, new to ministry, 12 years ago. When I was 25 years old and at rock bottom after my moral failure, I honestly thought my dream was dead, along with any real purpose in the Kingdom. But He saw me and still had a plan for my life, buried under all the mess I had created. He redeemed me and that dream, beyond what I ever could have imagined! And finally, I've been on this book writing journey for 3 years now, working away in the hiddenness not knowing if it would ever produce anything. 

Don't be discouraged by the timeline, haha! I share that to say that a dream is worth investing in and waiting for. God worked in my life and He wants to in yours! I believe with all my heart that if He would choose to use someone like me, He will use anyone willing to say "yes, Lord."

The Cry of a Heart // Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.
— Psalm 121

When I open up my Bible to Psalm 121, there are literally tears stains and makeup covering the page. This psalm has been a source of great comfort and encouragement in very difficult times in my life. I would literally hold this psalm to my face and proclaim it over my situation; crying out to God from the depths of my soul.

If you're going through a hard time, this is certainly a psalm you can turn to. It reflects on the source of your help and how God is there for you in your trials.

The psalmist starts out by asking (and answering) where his help comes from. His help--your help--doesn't come from men, resources, or things accessed in this world. God can certainly work through such means but when you're up against it, God is your help. We wage battles not against flesh but against principalities in the spiritual world. Certainly, the spiritual battle waging around you can manifest in the physical world but you need to know today that God is in control of both worlds and He alone has the power to bring victory into your situation!

Once the psalmist establishes where his help comes from--and now that you can be confident in the same--he describes how God shows up for His people.

  1. God is always alert. Even when you sleep, God is alert and ready to battle on your behalf You can be confident that He never takes a break but is right there, ready to act on your behalf.
  2. God always protects you. To shade your right hand, He cannot be far off. God is with you and will protect you, whether it be in the desert or in the dark. It doesn't mean challenging things won't happen to you but it does mean that He will watch over you and protect you.
  3. God is always with you. You can be sure that God will not walk away from you. In your comings and goings, God is with His people. You can call out to Him and know that He is right there, ready to respond.

If you're going through a difficult season, tap into this psalm and lean on God!