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Philippians 4:8 | How to Overcome Anxiety

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” -Philippians 4:8 ESV

This verse keeps coming to mind these days. God speaks through His Word and when a verse seems like it’s on repeat throughout the day, I know it’s from the Holy Spirit. I’m in a challenging season physically and mentally. Months now of aches, pains, trouble sleeping, sick to my stomach, anxiety, and the blues… I’m not entirely sure what’s going on, but I am guessing the primary cause is anxiety. I’m on a journey to find relief and healing physically, but as I’m learning and growing in that area, God is also teaching me that this is just as much – or more – a spiritual battle as it is a physical one and it’s the spiritual side I’ll be focusing on in this post.

A recent experience

On the early mornings I can’t sleep, I often get up to pray. One recent morning, I felt compelled to write down all the things I was worried about. The list was long and 99% of what I wrote was entirely out of my control. As I wrote, I prayed, “Jesus, I lay these worries at Your feet. I know these are burdens I’m not meant to carry.”

Later that morning while I was driving, this thought came to mind: How do I lay my worries at Jesus’ feet for good? I could still feel myself hanging onto what I prayed to let go of. That’s when the words, “whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable… think about these things,” came to mind. It was the Spirit responding directly to my thoughts, directly from His Word. Through that verse alone, He reminded me of an important step in letting go of anxious, worrisome, fearful, and even sinful thoughts: fill your mind with godly thoughts.

So often we see, hear, and read the “do not be anxious” part of Philippians 4:6 independently from the context of the passage. With just those words, it feels impossible. We wonder how do we just stop being anxious when it feels out of our control? But thankfully, God gives us clear direction in how to do this through the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:4-9.

Let’s start by reading the passage in full – slowly and thoughtfully:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” -Philippians 4:4-9 ESV


How to overcome anxiety (According to Philippians 4:4-9):

Rejoice

Delight in the Lord and remain joyful in Him always. Again, rejoice!

Be reasonable and gentle

Let your gentle spirit and sound judgment be known to others. God is with you!

Pray about everything

Pray to God about everything – He wants you to do this!

Give thanks to God

Practice gratitude. Acknowledge every good thing is from Him.

Allow God’s peace to guard you

Allow the peace of God which surpasses all understanding to guard your heart and mind in Christ.

Think godly thoughts

Think about whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise.

Trust

God promises peace when we do these things and He is faithful to keep all His promises! Trust Him. Be expectant!

Repeat

Put these things into practice, learn, and grow continually.


Remember…

Remember: Grace abounds! Focus on continual growth, not an impossible standard of perfection. God is faithful to His promises even in our shortcomings. But, we also have to face the truth: There are no shortcuts. The first step is putting our faith in Christ, trusting in Him as our Lord and Savior. The next is renewing our faith in His promises continually and humbly obeying His Word – trusting our loving Father truly knows what’s best for us.

If you are like me and are in need of a clear visual reminder to put this passage into practice, I’ve created a free PDF for you to download and print at home. (Existing mailing list subscribers, check your inbox today!)

And finally, if you are struggling with mental illness of any kind, cling to Jesus. In Him alone there is lasting healing and peace. I believe applying this passage in Philippians will bring peace that surpasses all understanding because God promises it and He is faithful to His promises. Always. I also know that God often uses friends, family, doctors, and licensed therapists to bring about healing as well – to help us apply these truths to our lives and bring about healing where anxiety is effecting our physical health too. There is no shame in reaching out for help if you need it. I’m learning there are so many people in this battle against anxiety right now. You are not alone and our God is a God who sees you, cares for you, and loves you unconditionally. 🖤


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My Faith Story

Nine years ago this week, by the grace of God, I put my faith in Jesus Christ. So, I thought it would be appropriate to share my testimony of faith with you all today.

My life before Christ

When I share with others that I’ve only been a follower of Jesus for the time that I have, many are surprised to hear that I grew up going to church very regularly. Nearly every week growing up, our family would attend a small, traditional church. My sisters and I would go to Sunday school and every summer we would attend church camp. The Bible was read in church and Bible stories were taught in Sunday school. But, I never knew why all the ancient stories mattered. And, I never understood why Jesus dying and being raised from the dead had an impact on my life personally.

My old beliefs and questions

For most of my life, I believed in God, but I was not following Him. I had no idea there even was a difference. To me, God was mostly a holy judge. If I followed the Ten Commandments well enough, I would be accepted into heaven. I remember a specific moment from my childhood where I questioned: How do I know when I’ve done enough for God so I can go to heaven? Which I later learned is the opposite of the Gospel message.

I was a Christian by name, but not at heart, which isn’t a true Christian at all. Aside from having some strong morals based on God’s commands, I followed my own path and my own understanding. But, in my late teens, I started seriously questioning the existence of God. I had a powerful experience my last year at church camp and reflected on that camp high thinking: I feel like God wants us to feel close to Him all the time, not just one week out of the year.

Prayers and doubts

That thought impacted my prayers in a positive way, but not my lifestyle or even my beliefs about God. I prayed before bed many nights that God would show me what it looked like to be close to Him. I wanted that, but had no idea how to experience that. By the time I left for college, those prayers were prayed to a God a seriously doubted even existed.

Coming to faith in Christ

As I drifted from God, I became more self-focused. I was needy for attention and recognition for my accomplishments, the way I dressed, the guys I went out with, and the roles I got in school plays. I started playing ukulele and writing songs and became obsessed with music. A desire for fame grew in me, even though I denied it to myself and others for years. Music became my outlet for anger and I hurt several people because of the songs I wrote and publicly released. I destroyed relationships with the two people closest to me at the time. And, I started realizing I was on a self-destructive path I had no idea how to get off of.

An awkward moment

When I was home for spring break in 2012, I went to a party with a whole bunch of high school friends. A few of my friends told me they’d be leaving to get ice cream and French fries and that I should meet up with them at McDonalds. Being the introvert that I am, I left the big party shortly after my other friends did. I was expecting to show up and we’d talk about boys and gossip. When I arrived, I walked in on a conversation about Jesus and Bible studies that these two friends had joined. I was so confused and felt very awkward. A year ago, these friends were into the same kinds of things I was, not God.

I sat there for awhile, panicking a little because I had absolutely zero to contribute to the conversation. But as they turned to me to ask how I was doing, I told them about my fears. I shared how I felt like my life was spiraling out of control. My friends told me that Jesus could set things right and that I should start pursuing a relationship with Him. They encouraged me to start a prayer journal. They said I should start writing to Jesus about what I was going through. And, to tell Him my regrets and my desires to change.

It all clicked

In that moment, it clicked. Jesus is the answer. I didn’t know it at the time, but I later learned, it was the Holy Spirit who intervened, opened my eyes, made my heart His dwelling place, and made this realization possible. This was the moment God saved me from my sins. A few days later, I went out and bought myself a journal and began praying. Over the course of that week, I also wrote an extremely long letter to God about all my regrets and the idols in my life (the things that I valued more than Him). I expressed to Him how deeply sorry I was for the mistakes I had made. I shared how desperately I desired a relationship with Him and to experience His power in my life.

My new life in Christ

In the beginning

When I returned to campus after what was a completely life-changing spring break, I was a new person. I felt it, but I also didn’t understand what had happened to me. That “camp high” feeling was back again, which I later learned was the presence of the Holy Spirit. I was afraid that I would lose that feeling. I didn’t want to lose the new desires I had to rush back to my dorm between classes to journal, to spend my evenings alone at a picnic table listening to sermons my friend sent me, and eventually reading the Bible myself for the first time.

By the grace of God, I began growing in my new faith fast. I learned that I had been saved by grace through faith as I read in Ephesians 2 and that it was never about my own works. When I put my faith in Christ, I received the Holy Spirit. He was the one who opened my eyes to the truth and gave me the ability to understand the Bible for the first time in my life. I learned that this was not just a phase of my life, but that this change was permanent.

As I time went on

As I grew in Christ, I changed for the better. I became more focused on Christ and less focused on myself. I became obsessed with God. In other words, I was totally in love with Him and hungry to know Him. This was a major shift from my old obsessions and idols. Six months after that night at McDonald’s, I met my husband at a music school we both transferred to. He was such an inspiration, teacher, and encourager to me as a new believer. And he continues to be, though I will admit our path of growth has not always been a pretty or straight one.

As the years passed, by God’s grace, I found reconciliation in both the relationships I had destroyed, which had been a source of guilt for a long time. God has done countless other great works in my life since and I praise Him for it all. I truly wouldn’t be the person I am today without Christ and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I still love Him and I’m beyond grateful that as a doubting teen, He heard my prayers to be close to Him, whatever that meant.

What I know now

I now know that being close to God is not about the things I thought it meant: going to the right church, simply calling myself a Christian, living a moral life in my own eyes, and being good enough to earn God’s favor. I’ve since learned that God used my upbringing to prepare me for that moment at McDonald’s. I’ve learned that I can confidently call myself a Christian, not because of my own efforts, but because of the Gospel message.

Out of God’s goodness and great love for unworthy sinners, He sent His perfect Son to die and be raised from the dead to forgive sins and promise eternal life to all who put their faith in Him! My works are no longer rooted in an attempt to gain His favor. They are now simply an outpouring of my love for Him. I now have a desire to follow His commands, because I trust that following what He says in His Word is what’s best for us. I’ve since learned that though our God is a holy judge, He is also our Savior, Redeemer, and Friend. A healthy balance of understanding all His attributes leads to deeper trust in Him.

Put your faith in Christ

God declares in His Word that faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation (John 14:6). Maybe you can relate to my early story of growing up in the church or in some other religion, but you’re not close to God or you don’t feel like your faith has had a significant impact on your life. I encourage you to pray to Jesus. Ask Him to show you what true faith looks like in your life. Start seeking Him diligently, even if you don’t feel His presence. James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” That is a promise to cling to.

Reflect on your mistakes, your flaws, what might be idols in your life (the things that you put before God), confess them to Him, and ask Him to redeem those areas of your life and help you change. Put your faith in the Gospel. Faith in Jesus Christ requires full surrender. I know this can be scary, but what He promises is far greater and far better than anything we are tempted to hold onto. He assures us of this over and over again in Scripture and I personally can attest to this as well.

You can trust Him.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” -1 Peter 1:3 ESV

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” -Galatians 2:20 ESV


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New Shop, New Products, Now Live!!

After weeks of anticipation, the new and improved shop is now live!

I am so excited to share this new space and these new products with you. I can hardly wait to see what you pick out! Mailing list subscribers, make sure you check your inbox for an exclusive coupon code to use at checkout. Everyone else will get free shipping if you spend $35 or more!

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts leading up to this launch, I’ve been feeling a stirring in my heart to create this shop for several months. I’ve been on Etsy for over 4 years and I’m extremely thankful for how the Lord used that platform to launch my career as a lettering artist and graphic designer. I hadn’t created a shop on my website up until this point, because I love to simplify. Having a shop here and a shop there felt redundant. But, the experience on Etsy changed and so did my desires. I wanted to create an online space away from distractions to just focus on Jesus. And I realized that I wouldn’t be creating something redundant. I was ready to create something brand new for my community and for myself, all for the glory of God.

It’s my hope that this website and shop will be a blessing to you and your loved ones – a place where you come to get filled up on the Word of God each week, consider how you can apply the truth to your lives, and to share that truth with someone in your life. That’s why I improved the entire website and blog at the beginning of the year. And now, I hope it will be a go-to place where you come to find reminders of God’s character and promises to add to your home and give as gifts to those you care about and want to encourage.

Thank you so much for your love, prayers, and support.

Whether you’ve been with me since the first shop opened or have joined me somewhere in between then and now, I am grateful you are here. It’s a privilege to be a part of your life in this way. I know many creatives experience burnout either through the content they create or the people who follow them. But for me, our great God and His trustworthy Word keep me inspired. And, this wonderfully supportive community keeps me motivated to keep blogging and creating. I love to create, but to me, it’s a means to be a part of something bigger than myself – trusting God will use my works to make a lasting impact for His Kingdom.


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New shop, new products launch in one week!

The shop launch is just one week away!

Boy oh boy, has this transition been a labor of love! I am working on this website all on my own, so it has been a huge learning experience. Thankfully, my husband is a software developer. He has been a huge help when I’ve run into hiccups that I can’t find an answer for on the internet. I’m so grateful for him!

I’ve been thinking back on late October/early November when I thought about getting this shop up and running before Thanksgiving. That would have been a disaster! I’m grateful God gave me patience to wait until I had more time. Even with several weeks to work with, there have been a lot of long afternoons of taking and editing new photos. There have been many late nights uploading and updating products. I’ve spent long hours designing the website and troubleshooting the many problems that pop up. And all of this was on top of my regular work responsibilities with other companies and clients.

It’s been busy around here. A lot of hard work! But, I’ve done several big projects over the years and know it’s the ones that cause you to grind, persevere, and rely on the Lord to give you the abilities to accomplish them that are the most rewarding in the end. Holding onto that hope!

I’ve been asked if opening this new shop means I will close my Etsy shop. For now, I will be leaving it open since about 30% of my sales still come directly from Etsy searches. However, this new shop will be the home base from now on. All new products will be uploaded here first. In fact, I will not have time to get all the new products loaded to Etsy until days or weeks after this launch. I’ll be focused on updating my wholesale shop next, Etsy will come last.

I know Etsy is so convenient, but I invite you to shop here for several reasons.

By shopping directly on my website:

  1. You will be supporting my efforts to create a shopping experience centered on Christ.
    • I’ve been working hard to create an online space that feels cozy, calm, and peaceful – a comfortable place to browse and convenient way to shop, centered on God and His Word.
  2. More of your money will be going directly to me, a Jesus-loving small business owner, and less to giant companies.
    • There are so many hidden expenses on my end with Etsy: transaction fees, listing fees, shipping fees… the list goes on and on. There are significantly less fees on my end when orders are placed right here on my website, so your dollar goes a lot further.
  3. You’ll be able to shop without the distractions of ads and unwanted product suggestions.
    • When you come here, you’ll know what to expect: Jesus-centered, quality, well-designed products.
  4. You’ll be able to create an account for quick and easy transactions in the future!
    • It’s super easy and safe! I don’t see your payment info, and the personal info I do see (name, address, email, phone), I never give away or sell. (See my privacy policy.)

A more mindful way to shop, not just here

If you shop a lot on Etsy, I recommend searching a shop or asking the owner if they have a website you can shop from first. I know it’s slightly inconvenient. But until recently, even I (who has been doing this online shop thing for a few years now) didn’t realize how much more you can support shop owners by shopping directly on their website. I’ve started doing this instead of shopping Amazon when I can too! Some will be like the old me and only be on Etsy, Amazon, or wherever, I get it! It’s a great way to start! But, those who have independent shops on their websites will be so grateful for the extra effort you took to support their small business.

See you next week!

It’s crunch time, so unfortunately, I will not be back this week with my usual art and scripture meditation post. But stick around! There’s plenty more of that to come, as well as a brand new, beautiful shop with tons of new items to choose from (including a super exciting one that I’m still waiting for from a new manufacturer in New York)!

Mailing list subscribers will get an exclusive coupon code, so make sure you join my community and introduce yourself!

Launch day is March 8th! See you then!

Xo Lauren

Shop is now open! Click here to browse.

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James 1:2-3 | Count it all joy

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,  for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” -James 1:2-3

Count it all joy: A biblical approach

God says through the Apostle James to count it all joy when we meet trials, because this tests our faith and that testing of our faith produces steadfastness. In a recent post, I talked about the word steadfast. It means to be unwavering – fixed or firm in a direction or purpose. In the context of this verse, it means the testing that happens through our trials produces unwavering faith within us.

As Christians, our ultimate desire should be to know and love God more deeply. We should long for growth – to be more grounded in Him and His Word, whatever the cost. So, from a purely logical standpoint, if trials produce a more grounded, fixed and firm faith, we absolutely can be joyful in trials. But of course, that’s easier said than done.

This kind of joy does not mean we ignore, deny, and avoid our circumstances. Nor does it mean we suppress emotions of grief and sadness. It means that in the midst of our pain and suffering, we are able to see God’s presence. We are able to trust that God will bring good from our suffering (as He promises in Romans 8:28), that He empathizes with us through His Son, and is actively engaged in the midst of our trials. This type of trust strengthens our foundation in Christ. And oftentimes, it’s in the most challenging circumstances that we are able to see God do His greatest works.

Count it all joy: Applying this truth

A woman in my small group shared an amazing story recently, which she gave me permission to share. Her mom was a strong believer and my friend was right there with her as she breathed her last breaths. In those moments, she experienced God’s grace in the most profound way. The reality of the Gospel hit her. Though we are completely unworthy sinners, out of His great love for us, God the Father sent His Son to die the death we deserved and rose from the dead so that we could be forgiven, declared blameless in the eyes of God, promising all who put their faith in Jesus will receive eternal life in His presence.

As my friend watched her mom pass away, she was overcome with the reality that we are all deserving of hell. But, by grace, through faith, her mom would get to leave her suffering and be with Jesus forever. This realization grounded my friend’s faith in such a significant way. There was and still is deep sadness over her loss. But, she said she has not experienced God’s peace and grace like that since. She wishes she could, but she also would never want to go through that suffering again.

This is such a beautiful example of this verse lived out. Of course, we do not rejoice in the loss of loved ones, a terminal diagnosis, an unfaithful spouse, a home foreclosure, a wayward child, crippling mental illness, or whatever your trials may be. But as we mourn, we can still have hope. By grace through faith, we are not only promised eternal life and forgiveness of sin (though that in itself would be enough). We can cling to God’s promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us. Jesus empathizes with our pain. He will bring good from the darkest circumstances. And, He will use this testing of our faith to produce unwavering faith within us.

God is with you

So, dear sister in Christ, whatever you are going through right now, no matter how dark and numerous the trials in your life may be, God sees you. He is right here with you. Jesus is actively at work in your circumstances and the deepest places of your heart to produce steadfast faith within you. Cling to Him in prayer and His Word. Worship Him and trust He is good. His character unchanging and He is faithful to every one of His promises.

If you are still wrestling with a past trial or struggling to see where God was in the midst of it, tell Him. Ask Him to reveal where He was. Pray that He would reveal His goodness and faithfulness through it and to bring you peace that surpasses all understanding. It may take time, but keep seeking Him and worshipping Him as you wrestle. He hears you. 🖤

HEBREWS 10:23 | Remain grounded in Christ. He is faithful to His promises.

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Sneak peek at new products coming in two weeks!

The new shop is opening two weeks from today! I’m so excited to share a sneak peek at what I’ve been working on! (And these are just a few of the new items!)

Creating a better shopping experience

My main motivation behind launching this new shop is to create a better shopping experience right here on my website. I want everyone that comes here to grow in their understanding and love for Jesus. It’s my hope that all who visit will be creatively inspired as they shop for well-made items inspired by biblical truth.

In college, I worked at a Christian bookstore and gift shop. I got familiar with what types of products were on the market and readily available to the body of Christ. While there were definitely some beautifully designed and well-made products, many lacked both of those attributes. And, it was especially hard to find products that were more modern in design. This better fits my personal style and personality. I didn’t have any plans of making my own products or opening an online shop when I was in college. But, I think my experience at the bookstore was the very beginning of a growing desire to create unique, modern, well-made, well-designed artwork and products that boldly proclaimed biblical truth.

Humble beginnings

It started with a growing love for hand lettering and a few digital prints I listed on my Etsy shop over four years ago. It has grown into a shop with a variety of products. Not just hand lettering, but books, digital resources, graphic design, typography, block printing, illustrations, and the list goes on. My shop has grown in more ways than one, so it felt like the perfect time to give it a new space right here on my website.

I have worked hard to provide a calming place on the internet for all to come and reflect on the goodness of God and I am excited for this new shop to be an extension of that, so you not only come here for my posts, but also come here to find those special daily reminders to display in your home, wear on your jacket, read during your quiet time, and give as gifts to encourage loved ones.

Thanks for checking out this sneak peek! The brand new shop will be launched in just two weeks! I hope you will be there to celebrate this new chapter with me and find some special items that remind you of the hope we have in Christ. 🖤

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Shop is now open! Click here to browse.

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Jesus Block Print Process / New Shop Update

Jesus Modern Art Block Print Available HERE.

A couple weeks ago, I announced I will be opening a new shop on March 8, 2021. It’ll be right here on my website! So many of you reached out to share your excitement and encouragements, which truly blessed me – thank you! I actually was super hesitant to make the announcement. Because at the time, I was really struggling to figure out how to get my shop built on here. I was seriously doubting if I’d be able to make it happen. It took three days of learning before I made any visible progress. But, I’m happy to say nearly all my existing products are loaded to the new shop! Praise God!!

About the video

Now that I’ve started figuring out the technical side of things, the website building part of it has gotten a bit more fun. But, the funnest part has been creating new products! Above is a video of my new Jesus block print. This modern design will will be available on 8×10″ card stock in black or blue ink. I already have this block print hanging in my office. And I love the modern touch it adds to my space. A handful of my new products were inspired by mid-century modern graphic design. I’m so excited to add this type of work to my collection. It’s been super fun experimenting with different ways to create pieces that point us back to God and His Word.

Stay tuned for more updates and previews of what’s to come! I’m grateful for a community of people who are excited right along with me. 🖤 Your enthusiasm is great motivation, so thank you so much for your love and support!

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John 14:6 | Christianity vs. Universalism

Can one believe in Christianity and universalism simultaneously? Jesus Himself clearly tells us that He is the way. He is the way of truth, the way to eternal life, and the way we come to God the Father. Without faith in Christ, we are separated from God. But let’s dive deeper into this topic.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” -John 14:6 ESV

Feeling conflicted

This verse takes me back to a time when I was a senior in high school. Before I put my faith in Christ, I was attending a Q&A session where students could ask faith leaders tough questions. One of the questions asked was, “As Christians, what do we say to our friends of other faiths?” A woman I really looked up to at the time responded. “We encourage them to be the best follower of whatever religion they belong to.”

I don’t remember her exact words as she expanded on her answer. But, the clear idea was that no matter what we believe in, if we follow that faith wholeheartedly, it honors the one true God the same. Essentially, she was saying all roads lead to heaven.

I remember sitting in the group feeling conflicted. On one hand, this would make my life a whole lot easier. If faith ever came up with friends and there were conflicting beliefs, I didn’t have to have an awkward conversation. I wouldn’t have to evangelize. But on the other hand, I wondered:

What was the point of Jesus dying for our sins if all faiths lead to heaven?

Christianity and Universalism

This idea that all roads lead to the same God and/or heaven is called universalism. It’s a super common belief in our culture. Even many professing Christians attempt to believe in both Christianity and universalism. On the surface, universalism may seem like the most loving belief. If all faiths lead to the same god, then we don’t have to have tough conversations. We don’t have to risk hurting anyone’s feelings or making anyone uncomfortable. It’s the “you do you” mentality and the idea that one faith doesn’t suit all people for all time.

But, if we dive deeper into this belief, we start to see it crumble. If God doesn’t care if you worship Jesus, then why would He send Him? Out of His great love, God the Father sent His only Son to die on a cross for the forgiveness of sins. He rose from the dead so we could be declared righteous in His sight and promised eternal life. God sent His perfect Son to die the most gruesome, torturous, completely undeserved death for utterly unworthy sinners. Why would God go through all that if He was indifferent to what we believed in?

If universalism were true, it would make Christ’s sacrifice meaningless. It wouldn’t have been necessary at all, but we read throughout Scripture that it was necessary from the very beginning. The human connection to God was broken in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve took the bite of the forbidden fruit they broke their perfect communion with God. It was Adam’s sin that led to condemnation for us all. However, it was also through one Man’s righteous act that many will be made righteous.

Some key verses:

“Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” -Romans 5:18-19 ESV (emphasis added)

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, […] For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” -Ephesians 2:4-6 & 8-9 ESV (emphasis added)

God has made it clear

God clearly states many times in His Word, that there is only one way to Himself. There is one way to salvation, one way to forgiveness of sin, and one way to eternal life in heaven. Only one way is true. Christianity and universalism are contradictory beliefs. Universalism denies what God Himself has said for thousands of years. He does not change, nor does He contradict Himself.

Universalism is a works-based mentality that is also contrary to Scripture. It’s the idea that if we just live as good people, doing good works, faithful to whatever god we believe in, that will be enough. It is by the grace of Jesus Christ alone, through faith in Jesus Christ alone that we are saved, not by works. It’s entirely a gift from God! And while universalism seems like the most open-minded belief, it is actually completely closed-minded to the almighty power of God. He truly came to save people of all walks of life (Galatians 3:28). He has complete power to do so through one man – Jesus Christ!

Almost two years after that Q&A session, I came to faith in Christ. Quickly, I learned that Christianity and universalism cannot coexist. Universalism embraces the world and its ever-changing ideologies and religions. True Christian faith embraces the one true God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We can either choose to believe in Him or not, but what is true will always remain: Faith in Jesus is the only way. Jesus + nothing = salvation. 🖤


Response

If you have already placed your faith in Christ, reflect on God’s goodness today. Praise Him for all He has done for you!

If you have not put your faith in Christ, you can do so right now! Make this prayer your own today and continue praying to Jesus and studying the Bible each day. He loves you and wants a relationship with you!

Pray:

Jesus, I believe You are God. You are the only way, the truth and the life. I confess that I am a sinner and that there are no works I can do to become right with you. I believe you died on the cross in my place and rose from the dead so that my sins would be forgiven in full – so that I could experience new life in You. Thank You for loving me and for this undeserved gift of grace! I am ready to turn from my old beliefs and sinful ways of living to follow you with my whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. Continue to grow my trust in You and show me how to walk in Your ways for the rest of my life. Amen.

If you prayed this prayer, please reach out to me! I would love to hear from you and as your sister in Christ, welcome you into God’s family and offer guidance in any way you might need. 🖤 Whether it’s me or someone else… tell someone about your new faith in Christ!

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My feelings are not God.

“My feelings are not God. God is God. My feelings do not define truth. God’s Word defines truth. My feelings are echoes and responses to what my mind perceives. And sometimes – many times – my feelings are out of sync with the truth. When that happens – and it happens every day in some measure – I try not to bend the truth to justify my imperfect feelings, but rather, I plead with God: Purify my perceptions of your truth and transform my feelings so that they are in sync with the truth.” -John Piper

I came across this quote recently on Pinterest and it spoke to me personally, but I also believe it’s such an important word for the times we’re living in.

A biblical look at our feelings

In the second half of Isaiah 45:19, God says, “I the LORD speak the truth; I declare what is right.” Therefore, we can trust God’s complete written Word. He speaks through His Word with intent, which means His Word was not made for us to read our own interpretation into based on our feelings. He had specific purposes in all He said and wants to communicate with us and it’s through the power of the Spirit and diligent study of the Bible with a reliable translation that we learn God’s original intent.

I mention reliable translation, because sadly not all translations are reliable. Stick to word-for-word translations like the ESV and NASB. It also can be helpful to invest in a good study Bible. My favorites are the ESV Study Bible and The ESV Keyword Study Bible, which gives you the ability to reference key words in the original Hebrew and Greek.

A good Bible is our foundation in learning to interpret God’s Word accurately, and of course, it is by the power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to understand what His Word says. But, we are also called to learn about Him in community. Belonging to a church that preaches directly from the Bible and studying the Bible with other women has been huge in my personal growth and I know it is because that is God’s design for the church!

When our feelings are out of sync with truth

I mention all of this, because it’s in knowing God and what He has spoken through the Bible that we are able to see when our feelings are out of sync with the truth. Without the Word of God grounding us, we are much more easily tempted to bend the truth to align with our feelings, instead of comparing our feelings to what is true. It’s in understanding what God says in His Word and trusting what He says is true that we are able to tell if our feelings are accurate perceptions of the world around us.

We hear phrases like, “Your feelings are valid,” and “Do what makes you happy,” or “Speak your truth,” all the time in our culture. Our feelings are very real, but are they always valid? I think about when I was a young girl and I would get angry my sister for stealing something of mine. More often than not, I’d realize I just misplaced it. Were those feelings of anger really valid? What if what makes us happy is actually harming us? Even good things can become idols and unhealthy obsessions. And what if our perceptions of truth are merely things we learned from life’s experiences, but aren’t grounded in anything beyond our own understanding? God says in Proverbs 3:5 ESV, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Emphasis added).

Stay grounded in Scripture

We must be grounded in God’s Word to be able to perceive our feelings and what’s happening in the world around us accurately. When was the last time you prayed for godly wisdom? For God to transform your feelings to align them to what He says is true? These can be hard questions, but they are essential to our growth. It is typically so much easier to see these pitfalls in others, so ask God to reveal your own blindspots.

Here’s a prayer to you can make your own today:

Heavenly Father, You are good and Your Word is true. I confess (insert your sins, shortcomings, struggles, etc). I am grateful for Your patience with me when I mess up. Thank You for (insert what He taught you or reminded you of today). Father, I pray You will give me wisdom and align my thoughts to what You say is true. Give me discernment to understand the difference between worldly “wisdom” and true wisdom that comes from You. Reveal my blindspots. Give me a greater hunger for Your Word and fill me with Your Holy Spirit so that I may accurately understand what’s true. (Add any additional requests you have.) In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

TRUST GOD | Be reminded continually that Jesus can be trusted. Always. 🖤

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Psalm 63:3 | Steadfast

“Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.” -Psalm 63:3 ESV

Steadfast: A word study

That word steadfast has been one of my favorite words lately. I’ve reflected on it so many times over the past year during my quiet time meditation. According to dictionary.com, steadfast means to be fixed or firm in a direction or purpose – unwavering. The the word for steadfast in the original Hebrew word is chesed (pronounced kheh’-sed) and it refers to God’s devout loving-kindness, mercy, and faithfulness at the very core of His character and actions.

God is steadfast. Therefore, His love is steadfast – unwavering, faithful, and kind.

Meditate on God’s steadfast love

Pause for a moment. Can you think of a moment in your life where you experienced God’s loving-kindness and mercy? I can think of several off the top of my head, but ultimately, I think back to the Gospel.

The ultimate display of God’s steadfast love for humanity was the Father, sending His perfect Son to die on behalf of undeserving sinners and be raised from the dead to promise new, eternal life to all who put their faith in Him alone. I think of the kindness displayed through the Holy Spirit who, by His grace, softens our hearts to the Gospel message so we are able to put our faith in Christ. Then, He goes even further in His loving-kindness by making our hearts His dwelling place, sealing us with the promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us.

Understanding the Gospel

To fully understand the Gospel, we have to be willing to acknowledge the seriousness of our sin.

According to God’s perfect and complete written Word, the righteous and just punishment for sin is hell. Acknowledging this truth can make us very uncomfortable – so uncomfortable, we tend to skip this part when thinking of our own sin or in proclaiming the Gospel to others. But, taking this step is what leads to repentance. In fact, it is the crucial step we must take in order to fully appreciate the magnitude of this beautiful gift of salvation and new life in Christ. When we accept the reality of hell and agree with God that we are sinners in need of a Savior, we are able to understand the Gospel with the proper perspective. He didn’t have to make a way, yet He made a way. He didn’t do it because we deserved it, He did it because His steadfast love is at the very core of His character.

In Christ, we are given new life. All other roads lead to hell. His steadfast love is truly better than anything life apart from Him can offer. And wherever you are in our faith journey, whether you are a new Christian, or you have been following Him for decades, the good news of the Gospel will forever be at the center of our praise and worship.

We never outgrow the power of the Gospel.

REJOICE ALWAYS | Remember to praise God for His steadfast love wherever you go.

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