Surrendering is to Receive Freedom

Surrendering is to Receive Freedom

We have been flawed human from the beginning. We believe we are smart, but we end up complicating things, then do worse when we try to take charge of fixing them and many times we live in anguish and remorse and ask God why these things happen to us. But how can we blame God for the things that happen when we do not surrender ourselves to Him first?

God is our father and as our father, He wants us to be in a good path. But He will not force you to come to Him, so it is unfair to blame when we are not looking for Him. We are not perfect. We want to control everything and get bothered when things do not go our way. But that’s the beauty of God, even if we complicate things and get angry with Him, He still accepts us back and in our surrender He gives us the victory.

[Tweet “Freedom in God gives us eternal satisfaction, while earthly things cannot satisfy.”]

Surrendering is scary in itself, but God is a gentleman who will bring us in, protects us, and does not humiliate us when we say we can’t, all while your concerns, problems are thrown to Him. Imagine that? Jesus died on the cross for our sins and even now He wants our problems so that we can be free. Freedom in God gives us eternal satisfaction, while earthly things can not. Although we may think we are living to the fullest, knowing that God will always be there anyway regardless of what we do, we will find a void that can only be filled with the sweetness of God.

Freedom in God is not like freedom in the world. Proverbs 23:26 says, “My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways.” When we surrender to Him, God takes the most precious thing, which is your heart. Surrendering to God is not losing, but it means that we have someone who is watching us. That when problems come, we have someone who is already fighting the fight and although we feel powerless and sad, we can know that God is there. That is true freedom, not doing any reckless thing we want but to have a God who loves us so willingly to take our problems and always let us know that He wins in the end and we can live in peace in Him. In His love we can run free and there is nothing better than that.

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Finding My Voice by Using His Words (Guest Post)

Finding My Voice by Using His Words (Guest Post)

Throughout our life, and possibly even from birth, God gifts us with special talents. With those unique traits and talents, He also bestowed upon us free will. This pairing gives us many opportunities to lean on Him to guide us with said gifts. It unfortunately, however, also gives us many opportunities to feel like we don’t need guidance. Moments where our pride and self-confidence allow us to have a handle on it. Growing up in Hollywood, I had many “I got this moments,” moments I’m not proud of, but moments I don’t hide behind, because let’s face it, He saw it all. He sees all, and will see all.

From the age of three, my dream was to be a successful musician. Toting around a microphone like it was an appendage, I saw that dream through. Through elementary school solos to junior high choir – I eventually headed into my first professional recording studio and graced my first professional stage at sixteen.

By the time I turned eighteen, I had made enough contacts and recorded a demo that allowed me to showcase and land my first deal in California. I packed up and moved almost 500 miles away from home all by myself to try to live out my dream in the city of angels.

What I learned was that the cities slogan was very deceiving and that I would come up against many, many walls doing it “my way”. A lesson that it took me many, many years to learn. Growing up, I was raised in a household with a Christian mother and a Catholic father. Very early in life (almost too early for me to remember), church was a priority and then became less so. It soon became holiday specific, and then we stopped going all together. We had the foundation, but didn’t live it daily.

I had a false belief that if God gifted me these talents then surely that’s what I was to do – the danger lied in my belief that it was the only thing I was to do. My mission. My purpose. And I shut off my openness to any other possibility. Everyday I was to sing. No matter how hard it was, no matter who the people were I had to work with, no matter how many holidays I spent away from the people I loved. I was music. And music was me. Period. And being young and naive, no one could tell me different, and I was in an environment where no one tried. They all agreed, music was the end all, be all to life.

It’s a dangerous business, and a dangerous city, to make a life in. I felt God tug at me many times over throughout my eight years immersed in it all. But we all know, God will walk 99 steps, but you’ve got to make that one back to Him. In that period of  my life my eyes weren’t set on eternal things, they were set on temporal things. The parties, the clothes, the hottest pop song, who my friends were, the parties. If only I’d looked up…

Then there came a tour opportunity that put me overseas for six months, and in that six months music started to lose its luster. The people I worked with weren’t the best to put it softly, and I felt lost, desperate for something. I started to visit Christian church services, for the first time in years, overseas at various churches filled with people from all over the world. And I was left breathless. I HUNGERED. I NEEDED HIM. I had ALWAYS needed Him and I felt shameful of the life I was leading.

While overseas, my now husband, had sent me an email, reconnecting after being out of touch for nine years (we met in high school, right when I started music). He asked me to lunch and I accepted. Falling in love with this man was one of the best things God wrote into my story. Our love story moved me to Arizona and out of the superficial haze I had been living in for so long. I found love. I found church again and in time, I found a true, real, life affirming relationship with Jesus Christ. I also owe this in part to my little sister, who found Jesus through some troubling times in her life and while living with us introduced me to good Christian music. Jesus fills every void I was always scrambling to fill with moments, with money, with music.

Never completely disconnecting from my music roots, my journey has since taken me back to school for journalism, has led me to an executive position at a fashion magazine, to health ailments that brought forth a passion for others to eat clean, to a community of beautiful Christian women and so much more. God’s way is ALWAYS better. Even though it can seem longer, harder or misunderstood. It’s good. He is good.

The most ironic part is, after a five-year break since that tour, I’ve come back to music. I have found a home with a wonderful label under the Universal Music Group and have more opportunities opened to me than ever before, this time surrounded by Christ loving Christians. Just like Luke 18:27 states: “But he said, ‘What is impossible with men is possible with God.'” I’m putting it into His hands and I am taking things slowly as my husband and I plan to start a family.

Just like I did when I picked up my first microphone at three, I still feel drawn to use this talent God blessed me with me. The difference? I’m letting Him taking the reigns with ALL of it. Everyday.

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:3-4 ESV

Mandi is a nutritionist and journalist. Read more from her over at her blog, Nosh and Nurture, and follow her through FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

YALE vs. YOLO (Guest Post)

YALE vs. YOLO (Guest Post)

Do you ever wonder what would happen if you dropped dead right now? – morbid, I know. But it’s a thought, isn’t it?

You know that quote that says, “Only the good die young?” Well I’m here to tell you that that’s not the most accurate statement. There are plenty of bad people who left this earth early.

Okay, now it seems like I’m just rambling. Let me get to the point:

James 4:14 – “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.”

So what is this verse saying? None of us knows long God will have us on this side of life. Some of us have years, some weeks, some even hours. Nonetheless, it’s something to keep in mind.

And that’s another thing – YOLO (You Only Live Once) is another lie we tell ourselves. Here’s what I think:

YOLO, though not as popular an acronym as it used to be, is a trick of the enemy, in my opinion. If you’re Satan, of course you’ll only live once! When this world ends you’ll be cast into the lake of fire for eternity. So this life is all you got! Satan doesn’t want us to enjoy the life he left behind when he defied Christ, so he wants us to believe that this is the only life we’ll have. That’s why we should go out and do whatever we want, regardless of whether or not God is pleased with it. However, if you’re a Christian and have accepted Christ, you only have one life on this Earth, but you’ll have eternity in Heaven with Him.

So if you haven’t accepted Christ YOLO is cool and all, but I don’t want that – I want this:

You’ll Always Live Eternally

Scripture differentiates between these two acronyms perfectly:

John 3:36 – Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life [YALE], but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them [YOLO].

Matthew 25:46 – Then they will go away to eternal punishment [YOLO], but the righteous to eternal life [YALE].

Mark 8:35 – For whoever wants to save their life will lose it [YOLO], but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it [YALE].

John 12:25 – Those who love their life will lose it [YOLO], while those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life [YALE].

So which one do you choose?

Read more from Jessica over at The Pen & The Needle and check her out on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Season of Dryness

Season of Dryness

It would be great if life was always good, God always speaks, and we expect to cruise through life feeling fruitful and satisfied. But that doesn’t happen, there will always be a season of dryness that interrupts the steady flow of our lives. These seasons happen for many reasons, sometimes it’s a point where God wants us to stop, reflect and look back at what He has been teaching us, other times it’s because we are the ones who stepped out of God’s will. In Psalm 10:1 we even read that King David felt God far away at one point, we are not alone in this. Seasons of Dryness are hard, but are sometimes necessary to redirect us.

There was a horrible situation I was put in a few years ago and because of that I felt hurt, angry, and guilty, which caused me to pull away from God for a really long time. It wasn’t God’s fault but my own bruised thoughts that made me feel unworthy. When I needed God the most, I pulled away and it caused me to fall into a barren streak in my spiritual life. It was probably the longest year of my life because even as I cried out, I felt no answer. I needed to reevaluate how much of God I wanted and cut out people from my life that weren’t pulling me to Him and confront what led me here. This time showed me that  I needed to stop serving for a bit to just receive and fall in love with Him all over again.

[Tweet “Seasons of dryness doesn’t mean it’s your chance to take a break, it’s time to learn.”]

The thing about seasons of dryness is that it is hard to see clearly what your direction you should be heading in. Faith is the one thing that keeps you in this time, and it is important to hold on to that and work in that. You might think that this is a time where you can take a breather and put your relationship with God on hold, but that’s hard;y the case. Seasons of dryness doesn’t mean it’s your chance to take a break, it’s time to learn. This is the time you have to pray the hardest, study the Word, and take a good hard look at yourself to see if there’s something you need to confront before the Lord.

God sometimes speaks the loudest in the silence, and it is hard to see that when we feel like we hit a wall. You might be too tired or overwhelmed and this dry spell helps us see that all we need is God and for the time being we just need to focus on Him. That’s what our whole Christian walk is about, falling ridiculously in love with our Creator.

So maybe you need to take a break from relationships or acknowledge where you did wrong and spend quiet time with the God while you work through this time. Don’t be afraid to admit that you’re in a season of dryness, because the fact that you recognize this is where you’re at means you still care about your relationship with God.

I leave you with one of my favorite verses, which is Ezekiel 37:4-5, which says, “Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Instead of fighting it and struggling with God, ask Him to show you where or what has brought you to this point because He would much rather give you life instead of living dryly. Spend the quiet time and refocus on Him, while He guides you to the weak spots you need to fix.  You might have to let down your pride but God will fulfill you in new ways and that is worth it.

The Truth About Forgiveness

The Truth About Forgiveness
The Truth About Forgiveness

The Truth About Forgiveness

We hate being wrong, it’s a fact and saying sorry is much worse because it puts us in a vulnerable spot. We hate seeing those who wronged us get their way and live their lives because we constantly wish they were punished for whatever wrong doing they did to us.

Forgiveness is tricky. Sometimes we say we forgive someone through gritted teeth but we don’t mean it. Other times, we choose not to forgive at all. People get this horrible idea that forgiving means losing, but that’s not the truth. Forgiveness sets us free from a bitterness that can take hold of our lives.

We harbor all these harsh feelings thinking that we are creating damage to the other person, but it is just making us so sour. One of my favorite quotes, which sounds better in Spanish is, “Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other to die.” We tend to keep in all this hurt thinking it’s damaging the other person but it’s having the opposite effect.

Forgiveness is important because it’s an expectation we have. In the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:12 it says,” And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” This is saying that God is forgiving us, just as we have forgiven others. We are being held responsible, so if we don’t forgive, we are doing a disservice to God. Later on in Matthew 6:14-15, it further clarifies that we have to forgiven when someone does something to us because God forgives us, and if we don’t God won’t forgive us. 

This goes back to harboring feelings, thinking that we are somehow taking revenge on the person that hurt us. We’re not doing anything but damaging ourselves, getting angry, and not living peacefully. Admit it, you probably creep on the page of the person that hurt you and roll your eyes and go back to the problem that caused your annoyance. That person will never know what you’re doing, and most likely will go on with their lives while you are shaking your fist at their memory.

I’ve been put in horrible situations years ago and I tried to act like I was above the whole situation, even though I wasn’t. I was pretentious and would respond wittily whenever the other people were involved. Besides being slightly immature, I would say I forgave them, but in reality I was far from it and would get annoyed when people wouldn’t get on my side to reproach the others. All I was doing was living uncomfortably and putting the people around me in an awkward situation, while for the others I was most likely out of sight and out of mind. It took a lot to ask myself what I was doing, what was I even gaining from being bothered all the time, and I knew it was time to let it go. The peace that came from it was unreal and it made me realize how much time is wasted on holding grudges that get us nowhere.

[Tweet “The truth about forgiveness is that, it seems that we’re giving in but it sets us free.”]

The truth about forgiveness is that, although it may seem that we’re giving in to the other person, in reality we are setting ourselves free. Forgiveness is hard and it requires you to look into yourself deeply, and it may take time, but when you do, you will release all these feelings and let the other person deal with their end of it. They may say sorry or they may not, but that’s on them, you will be able to move on and they will have to come to terms on their end at some point. Don’t dwell on the things of the past and let it affect where you will be in the future and the kind of person you can be.

Lewis B. Smedes said it the best by saying, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” So forgive. Forgive them even if they’re not sorry. Forgive them and in some case they will see their wrongdoing. But regardless, forgive, for your own sake, for the people around you, and for your spiritual life.

Don’t forget to read my last post on why social media and gratification. Make sure to share your thoughts with me below!