The Four Things Zophar Wants You to Know

With summer here already, I can’t help but recall one particular trip as a camp counselor. It was a waterpark field trip, and this park had a game-changing invention for kids and counselors alike – a lazy river. You pair each kid with a partner and an inner-tube, and they go for hours, no problems necessary. It’s built-in enjoyment and ease, and it reminds me too much of our spiritual lives.

We hop on our floaties, and life drifts like a lazy river. We forget about the spiritually important things, trying to live comfortably in the physical and finite. It’s easy to lay back and forget things as the lazy river treats you well, but you hit a little current and have to hang on. In life, you might need to holler for a lifeguard, and God’s like a genie in a lamp to you. We let our lamps sit there collecting dust, and we live our charming lives. Prosperous days pass by, and you only pull out the lamp when you think you’re hitting a rough current. I’ll warn you, though, you’re not really in control of the lamp at all.

We might feel a little in-control when life is smooth, but we feel the plummet when it’s hopping off a cliff against our will. When life goes sour, calling on God is the first step to fixing the downward spiral, but we also still pretend that our lives are swell. We put on a pure white porcelain mask, claiming that our hearts are clean and pure, and we cry out to God with our sins still held in hand and muck still hiding within. That’s clinging to God on our terms, and we’re not letting go of the things that hinder us. I’ve been reading Job 11 like I’m the first cupcake meeting frosting. I. Can’t. Get. Enough.

Job had three friends by his side, and like most people – they had their own opinions to share. One well-meaner was named Zophar, and Zophar was the one friend who had great advice in the wrong place and the wrong time. Zophar was encouraging Job to repent, and he didn’t know that Job’s struggle had nothing to do with personal sin. From Zophar’s experience, such a tussle indicated that Job had not humbled himself before God. This advice wasn’t what Job needed to hear, but for us, it might just be in the right place at the right time.

I encourage you to read all of Job 11, and dive in deeply. There are a few key points that Zophar makes to Job, and they’re timeless.

#1: Job 11v4-6 says, “You say to God, ‘My beliefs are flawless and I am pure in your sight.’ Oh, how I wish that God would speak, that he would open his lips against you and disclose to you the secrets of wisdom, for true wisdom has two sides. Know this: God has even forgotten some of your sin.”

We can come to God like a Pharisee, wearing our porcelain masks that whitewash our sin. It makes the dirt in our hearts hide under a rug, but lift the rug and RUN! In Matthew 23v26-27, Jesus tells a Pharisee what He sees, “Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.” We keep things within us, bottling up and hoarding the sin that entangles, and we are tied up in lies. We’re wound up trying to look beautiful, while being strangled by our sins inside. In Verse 28, Jesus just lays it on by saying, “In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

Zophar’s first point is this: God sees everything. Job 11v11 says, “Surely he recognizes deceivers; and when he sees evil, does he not take note?” Despite your desire to sometimes hide from yourself and sin, God wants you to take off your mask. You know when your kids pretend they didn’t do it, but you know that the dog can’t color on the wall? Well, God sees that you’re painting on your walls, and you’re horrible at pretending that you, “didn’t do it.” In fact, God’s already extended grace to you, as Zophar reminds us, and it’s time to wash off the paint.

#2: Job 11v7-10 says, “Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens above—what can you do? They are deeper than the depths below—what can you know? Their measure is longer than the earth and wider than the sea. If he comes along and confines you in prison and convenes a court, who can oppose him?”

This goes back to hitting a rough patch and rubbing a genie lamp. We like to compartmentalize and separate everything in life. We even distinguish between the good times and bad. Unfortunately, we also do this with our spiritual lives, and the consequences lead us into compartmentalizing our relationships with God. When times get hard, humans turn to God, as though He will swoop in upon our beck and call. Now, don’t think that we can’t call on Him in times of trouble. He will be there. Psalm 18v2-3 says, “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies.” This passage defines that God is your rock, your stable foundation, and He is a place to stand and find refuge in during times of trouble. He is our place to dwell.

But, there is a condition to believers calling out, and you can’t put God in a box. Hebrews 5v7 says, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” If you cry out to God for help, you must be humbled before Him. You must repent and recognize how unendingly sovereign God is over you. Jesus isn’t just a “Sunday Morning Savior,” and God is not a genie waiting in a lamp. He is unfathomably great; thus, He cannot be compartmentalized at other things may be. You must cry out in submission, and this is where we drop our genie lamps. In contrast to our thinking, God says that you are the vessel, and He is the one who pours us out.

2 Corinthians 4v6-7 says, “For God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to bring to light the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Christ. But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.” So, you’re the lamp the He’s holding. He is the potter, and we are His clay. He has made us as earthly lamps, and it is He who works through us. Hold up, though! We do have one task in this: We must empty ourselves to be his servants. Philippians 2v5-7 says, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” You might ask, “What should I be emptied of?” 2 Timothy 2:22 explains, “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

Zophar’s second point is this: You must empty yourself of earthly things, because God fills us with all things good. He is sovereign. He is infinitely searchable, and infinitely unknowable. You can’t fathom Him, and it’s time to realize that you’re finite. He holds you as an earthly vessel, and you can choose to serve and be filled by Him. Or, you can be left empty. Amazingly, that choice is in your human hands.

#3: Job 11v20 says, “But the eyes of the wicked will fail, and escape will elude them; their hope will become a dying gasp.” Without adding water to bring this down a notch, by choosing sin over Christ, the inevitable end is hopeless failure. Zophar said it. That’s that. But, as the cheesy commercials always blast, “But wait! There’s more!”

Zophar’s third point is this: The choice to stay in sin ends in hopelessness; however, there is a remedy.

#4: Job 11v13-19 says, “Yet if you devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him, if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent, then, free of fault, you will lift up your face; you will stand firm and without fear. You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by. Life will be brighter than noonday, and darkness will become like morning. You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid, and many will court your favor.”

God says that we can find Him when we’re looking for Him. Jeremiah 29v13 says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” So, you have to put your whole heart into this, and it’s a search. I’ll remind you, it’s really not as easy as rubbing a lamp and making a wish. You have to seek for Him with your whole self. To do this, Zophar reminds us that we must stretch out our hands to God, devote our hearts to Him, and drop the sins that we cling to like cellophane.

I had a recent experience with this, and I promised the Lord that I’d share it with my dentist (I heard that laugh). So, I’ve always taken the right steps to take great care of my teeth. But, do a few fillings on a kid, and you’ve made someone who both hates and fears going to the dentist. Flash forward, I just went for my first checkup in two years, and I was SO sure that nothing good would come of it. Thus, I turned to prayer. I’ve never liked going to the dentist, and I wanted this to be a great experience – something that was covered in God’s grace and presence. So, I did as Zophar suggests. I gave it to God, in prayer and repentance, asking that He would let me be cavity-free. As I was sitting in the lobby beforehand, I just kept reading Romans 8v37-39 over again, which says, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Or cavities. Yes, cavities.

I got in the chair, and even the hygienist said my teeth looked great for a cleaning that’s two years late – not a single cavity was there, and I truly felt blessed. I know it’s simple, but if you give even the simple things like fears up to God, He will give you rest.

Zophar’s fourth point is this: God is your ultimate hope. Only in Him, will you find true rest. In Him, you will be filled. You have to empty your hands of the sin that leaves you empty, and lift them up to the One who fills your soul with life.

Let’s bring this into perspective – I hope you have a sense of urgency. Ecclesiastes 9v12 tells us, “Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them.” You never know when tragedy, weakness, temptation, sorrow, or struggles will hit. From one to four, Zophar is stressing that it’s time to leave the floaty life – the life of comfort versus the times of crying out. He says that each day, God sees your sins, and He is jealous for you. There’s not a thing that slides past Him. So, you need to empty yourself for God’s purposes. He’s the only thing that truly feeds your starving appetite for purpose and joy. You might be tempted to stick with sin, but it doesn’t end well. In the end, you have a choice to make. In Christ, by dwelling in a relationship with your Father and serving Him, you will truly find rest. And, you will delight your Creator by relying on Him for your hope. Turn from your sin. Seek the Lord with all your heart. Rest in His unfailing love.

XOXO,
Rae(& Zophar)

His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. – Psalm 147v10-11

It’s Time to Tie Your Shoes

From one day to the next, we shuffle in our worn soles, grazing the arms of thousands. We come within the glow of souls and spirits in flesh, bearing an image of our very great God. We are one of these creations, independently thinking and feeling – bearing our own likeness to an unseen God. We are bound to this body, but our minds sometimes wander beyond our physical boundaries. The truth is, you sometimes wonder at other humans passing by. Sometimes, your mind picks up with the wind and drifts into another’s shoes. You look at other people, and you wonder what it’s like in their shoes. In fact, you might start to question your own shoes. You might pop your shoes right off at the end of the day, searching for a newer and finer pair, while neglecting the very shoes your Creator made for you. I’ll tell you a true thing. God made you the way you are for a reason. You should stay in your perfectly worn shoes, awaiting their glorification and the path they’re about to tread.

I’ll ask you a simple question: “Do you believe that you’re on the path God has for you?” You may not know whether to say yes or no, and that’s fine for this moment. Einstein didn’t discover the theory of relativity before learning about physics, nor did man walk the moon before engineering the rocket. You have to know what to rely on before searching for the answer. So, there is a glaringly important element to my initial question. “Are you prepared to tread the path?” Are you, as who you are today, ready to follow the path that God has you on, regardless of who you are right now? There’s a simple truth that God both equips us and leads us when we are boldly wearing our own shoes.

I’m convinced that too often, we are quick to doubt ourselves. Let me affirm you in one thing. You were not created to be a sinner. God didn’t make you to be a sinner, yet he gave you the capacity to choose something outside of his plans for your life. In all reality, he created you and called it very good. God made you to be his handiwork (Ephesians 2:10), his pleasure (Revelation 4:11), and his do-gooder (Also Ephesians 2:10). If that’s not enough, he didn’t just make you to spread his glory all over the place, although you have to admit that’s a nice take on the six creation days and on your life as a whole. 😉 God made you out of a love that started before your life began, and it keeps going infinitely past your death. Jeremiah 31:3 says, “The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, with lovingkindness I have drawn you.’” Jeremiah, the prophet, was looked at and affirmed in this way. Not only is it infinite love, but God loves you with “lovingkindness.” In Hebrew, this word appears as chesed. Chesed, when looking at Strong’s Concordance, is literally defined as God’s deeds of devotion, his faithfulness, his favor, and his unchanging love. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” While you were still feeling disgusting, being selfish and vain, hating others and yourself, choosing to indulge today and forgetting tomorrow, or putting your heart in a freezer, God called you loved and he gave himself up for your sake.

Did you ever imagine that what Christ did on the cross had anything to do with what he wanted? Just attempt to grasp what being infinite, painless, stress-free, and perfect must be like. I fail to grasp it. But now, imagine making the choice to fit that infinite, painless, stress-free, and perfect existence into what we call home – this body. It doesn’t fit. It can’t physically fit. Christ, being the only way to redeem humanity, gave up that existence to fit into a human body, be finite, feel immense torment, and give you the choice to obey him. He didn’t die just to save you. He died to give you the choice to be saved, knowing that a massive number of humans would reject him. He died, knowing that the conditions were much more comfortable for you and I. Yet, Hebrews 12:2 says, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” For the joy set before him, he endured the cross. He endured a human life, and later, died for your free will to follow him. That is what he wanted. 1 Peter 1:18-19 says, “Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” He redeemed you with the most valuable, precious gift of all. You were worth giving up a most precious thing, because to him, you are a most precious thing.

So, if you’re not convinced that God values you, as you are, let me remind you of one more thing. Isaiah 49:15, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” You might feel like you have no shoes to fill worth filling, no life to have worth having, but the Father doesn’t forget that he made you, that he loves you, and that you are his. This life of yours was crafted. Isaiah 64:8 says, “But now, O Lord, you are our Father, we are the clay, and you our potter; and all of us are the work of your hand.” You were made by God’s hands, and he does not forget you. To that end, the shoes you wear in life are yours. God made you precisely as you are; he values you as you are. Getting to the next point, let’s talk about the path your shoes are on.

First of all, you are called to a high purpose. 2 Corinthians 5:20 says, “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” You are made to be Christ’s ambassador while he’s away from earth. This goes back to being created as his do-gooders in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” God made things for you to fulfill as his follower, before you made it to those tasks. And, those things he’s created for you to do are good things. So, we have a duty to be pursuing the Word, striving for obedience, and discerning the tasks that are given by God.

Second, Hosea 10:12 says, “Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.” Did you know, a degree in Christian agricultural studies is yours to chase the minute you become a Christian? The Word states multiple different images of sowing and farming, but we’ll stick with two of them. In your life as a Christian, you are meant to serve Christ and obey his commands. I’m not a fan of how I was told growing up, “The Bible is your instruction manual for life.” If you’re anything like me, you leave the instruction manual in the box for the recycling truck, tucked away in case of an emergency, or off to the side for looking at the pictures. I don’t follow the instructions, and I certainly won’t read the whole thing. So, I’m going to call the Bible my “Inspiration Book for Life.” If it is well and good, it will be in the pages of the Bible for me to follow. If it is evil and destructive, it will be in the pages of the Bible for me to be forewarned. Our first task of sowing is sowing the Word of Christ in our lives. Find out what your “Inspiration Book” says about you, and sow the good ways of Christ in your life. Pull the weeds of doubt, hate, anger, and sin. Let God’s love grow in their place, because he says his righteousness will reap unfailing love.

The second sowing action is when you spread the truth of Christ in others’ lives. Mark 4:14-20 says, “The sower sows the word. These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them. In a similar way, these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” You are called to share the Word, as it is living and active, into the lives of people around you. It shall grow where it lands in some lives, it shall fail to grow in other hearts. Nonetheless, your task is to sow.

Finally, God is equipping you. He is preparing us for the tasks he’s given us to do. Ephesians 4:11-16 says, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

You have been surrounded by believers that can rub off on you, train you, and encourage you to pursue the Word. It is made to build you up, and likewise, you are to build up others. It is meant to give you a full measure of knowledge, so that you will stand firm on your foundation. The ways of the world are taunting, tempting, and treacherous for us when we aren’t following after Christ. Thus, follow after truth in Christ, and just as others are doing the same, it will keep you on track. You will do the work God has placed before you. The last action is this: Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Throw off your sin, tie up the shoes that God’s given you, pursue the tasks marked out, and run your race with perseverance. Good luck.

XOXO,
Rae

Worthy of Your Calling?

TIME Magazine’s “Year in Review” articles are like birthdays. Once a year, we look back and celebrate getting to another year. However, as we look forward, that’s where we have no power over the looking glass.

Humans have such a capacity to worry about and plan out the future, but realize that your future’s not as exciting as the present plans unfolding in your life. I can’t help but great freakishly, goosebumps-worthy excited over life, as it’s full of surprises and goodness. We might think that tomorrow will be uncomfortable and different, so we get hung up on the future. But, you weren’t made for that.

Today, we’re told to be different. I’m sure some Bible-quoting crazy person (they’ve got your back) has come up to you and told you that the Bible says not to worry about tomorrow, because it does! TODAY is your day, and this day is also the Lord’s. You might focus on your future, but He’s working right now.

Taking a look at Esther in the Bible, we see that her cousin Mordecai talked some sense into her about focusing on today, not tomorrow. As we know, the advisor of King Xerxes of Persia was shiftily working to make practicing the Jewish faith an act of treason and punishable by death. Esther, a Jewish woman, was among a few chosen to present themselves as a potential wife before the king. Esther became his chosen wife, and she was given his ear. Mordecai gave her the timely advice to speak to the king about his advisor. Esther 4v14 shows Mordecai’s words, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Mordecai is literally telling her, “God is giving you this opportunity, right now, to do something amazing for His purposes. Do it now, while today is before you, because the time for action is now.”

Look at your life, and ask yourself if your present actions are honoring all that God has given you. God doesn’t tell us that in the midst of our good times and future times He is there. He tells us He is always in our midst. Zephaniah 3v17 says, The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” He is with you in the gladness and the turmoil, and He’s with you eternally. We’re not meant to focus on whether God will be planning, protecting, guiding, and leading our lives tomorrow, because we know He will. Instead, we must focus on the day and plans He has for us now. Ephesians 4v1 says, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”

Live a life worthy of the calling you have received. One, you are a called child of a Living Savior, a Universe Maker, a Promise Keeper, and Kingdom Builder. He is promising life eternal, as an alternative to the fiery pits of Hell, gifting you a home in heaven which is under construction. Two, you are to live worthy of your calling, not because you can be good enough to earn your keep in heaven, but because it displays how deeply Christ’s love has changed you and shapes you. If you do not allow the Spirit to work in your life, you do not take up your cross and the forgiveness of your sins daily, you do not see the fruits of grace pouring through your life — MAYBE, just maybe, you need to work on being more obedient to Christ and His calling for your life.

Today is the day you were created for. Every day is a newly-crafted gift. You open it and see as it unfolds. Don’t worry about tomorrow’s gifts, as they’re not coming any sooner. You’re not promised tomorrow, and today will already be full. Focus on what things God may have for you today, and live worthy of that calling.

XOXO,
Rae

Because Life Matters – 40 Days for Life Campaign

Talking about and praying for the sanctity of life inside the womb is courageous. Generally, vocal supporters of life are viewed as aggressive protestors, and peaceful activists are likened to violent demonstrators. I have been asked, “Are you one of those people that stands outside of abortion clinics and protests?” This question is provoked by destructive pro-life groups that devalue the quality of love that envelops the work of places like *HOPE Pregnancy Center*. Love and peace are the qualities that make pregnancy centers succeed, and it works for activists, too!

The 40 Days for Life Campaign hosts prayer vigils outside of abortion clinics, and its mode of operation is peaceful prayer. It is radical to be peaceful, and prayer is a powerful weapon for change. Hebrews 4:16 says that God asks us to boldly come before the throne and ask for help in our time of need. Right now, prayers are being said at vigils around the world, asking for God’s help in the fight to conquer abortion. Our work for life is meant to be courageous, and our prayers are meant to be bold. It’s because of bold prayers that lives are being affected. The following passage is an anonymous testimony from the kick-off of the 40 Days for Life Campaign, and it is a testament to God’s work and the faithful prayers of his followers:

“It was a lovely morning as the snow fell today at 7:00am, while 8 members from our West Bloomfield team gathered to kick-off the 40 Days for Life Campaign. Many horns honked and several said “God Bless You” as they witnessed our prayers for the sanctity of life just outside an abortion clinic on Orchard Lake Road.

During the 5:00-7:00pm shift, I had the opportunity to witness to a young woman who was offended by our campaign. She stated that it brought back memories of her rape when she was 14 years old and her subsequent abortion, which she defended. I continually told her how sorry I was for her horrible experience, and I let her know that we are all praying for the end of violence, disrespect for life, and manipulation—which is what leads some to a sense that there is “no other way out” and causes them to choose to end a baby’s life rather than defend it.

I offered her information about *HOPE Pregnancy Center*, a Christian Crisis Pregnancy Center that provides free counseling services to mothers and fathers who are considering abortion (teaching them about the dangers of abortion). Additionally, they offer free assistance with clothing, diapers and other baby needs for moms who choose LIFE and permit their miracle from God to come to fruition. I also showed the young woman what an 11-week old fetus looks like (not a “bunch of cells” as the anti-life media would like everyone to believe). After holding the life-like fetus model in her bare hands, the young woman was touched and said she didn’t know if she could have aborted her unborn child after experiencing what a fetus truly is … an unborn baby. Her precious heart was softened by God’s grace. The young woman thanked me, we hugged, and we prayed for her healing.”

It is because of courageous prayer and peaceful interactions that Christians are changing and saving lives. Just this year, the 40 Days for Life Campaign saved 482 lives, and only God knows how many more were influenced. I had the opportunity to volunteer with West Bloomfield’s 40 Days for Life, and one thing stuck with me. I was sent the “Statement of Peace” of its participants, and one statement hit me in the heart. It says, “I will show compassion and reflect Christ’s love to all employees, volunteers, and customers.” You see, in that order, one begins to realize that it is not just moms we’re meant to care for. At the heart of abortion, there are lost people being the hands and feet of destruction. They are blind to God’s love, and working for the enemy. More than ever, our peaceful prayer should be directed toward the lost abortion providers, the volunteers, the mothers, and our own hearts to relay the compassion and love that God has for all of us. The song “Amazing Grace” said it best, “I once was lost, but now I’m found. I was blind, but now I see.” Focus your heart on courageous and bold, peaceful and compassionate prayers for the lost. As we work for the salvation of the unborn, may our lives first reflect the gift of salvation that was perfectly pictured by Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:4-6, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”

With Love,
Rae XOXO


*Name is a pseudonym*

I Heard the Word

If I tried to place my finger on the right word, it might land somewhere between you and me, seated in the back of a friend’s car, stopped in Michigan’s darkest city, paused in prayer for the light to come. It reminds me I never quite grasp God’s glory – that I never quite have big enough expectations. Allow me to explain.

A sex trafficking outreach at my church has branched out from its suburban hotel outreach in Novi, Michigan to cross with international interests. The North American International Auto Show draws nearly one million people to Detroit, and human trafficking is escalated in the city of Detroit during these two weeks. Minors makeup a large demographic of individuals that are sexually exploited, and information on them is sought by both police detectives and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

I wake up once a month to take pictures of missing kids to local hotels. In the hopes that one child might be seen or found, our team has been dedicated to the search for missing kids and to the hotel staff we educate on sex trafficking. On January 15, our team took the latest pictures and our educational packets into the hive of the Michigan sex trade, and every hotel and motel in Detroit was given a chance to peek into that hive. As I predicted, my expectations were too small for God’s glory.

I often find that prayer is a companion we see as small but mighty, as the mustard seed can move mountains. I regret that I have never seen a mustard seed literally move a mountain, as it would be a wonder of the natural world. However, I have seen such a wonder through the power of prayer. Our team spent months in prayer for God’s protection, His direction, and His motivation to put our hands and feet to work. Then, the outreach came. Prayer was essential. A visiting prayer-walking team and members of our team joined together in their cars and prayed as we traveled through the city. Have I yet stated that God will conquer our expectations and prove them to be inconsequential? Here is what my eyes beheld.

I never expected that I would be calling the Toledo Police on a tip. I never expected that a woman at a motel would listen to us. I never expected that God would put me in a motel in Detroit, have me stand face-to-face with her honest eyes, have me equipped with 12 photos, and have one of those photos spark a memory in her mind. The staff member remembered seeing one of the girls on our posters; she had recently come to the hotel for a room. A missing girl from Toledo made it onto our posters for the outreach, and we happened to visit the motel where she would be recognized.

Prayer, an open conversation with God, is more potent than I can comprehend. It took one million international visitors, all the hotels and motels of Detroit, five carloads of willing servants, and one motel employee to hear the whisper in my ear. I never anticipated the opportunity to pass on information concerning a child’s case. Prayer enabled our outreach serve one lost sheep, and I heard the word – God is faithful.

Much Love,
Rae XOXO

———♡ P.S.—————————————————————————————-

I work for the freedom of others because I know what it is to be free. FRē exists because police officers, detectives, missing children, and loved ones need citizens to be activists, too. If a whole society turns a blind eye to the oppressed, failing to advocate for the rights of the exploited, how can justice ever be served? Hotels are the cultured world’s brothels. While we freshen up, go for a dip in the pool, and sleep under pressed sheets on vacations and business trips, there are children in hotels being used for commercial sex. Since MKL Jr. Day was Monday, I think his quote is rather timely, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” I cannot stand in comfort, even though it is convenient. I cannot stand on the outside while a child’s rights are being stolen and a society isn’t facing the challenge and controversy before its eyes. Consider joining one outreach with FRē on a Saturday morning, considering asking me for more information on other groups, or consider if your life is too comfortable and it’s time for change.

Isaiah 1:17 says, “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” If you’re considering doing any of those things, I implore you: do them. Did you ever wake up as a kid and decide that your dreams weren’t worth dreaming? Did you ever wake up as an adult and say, “I never want to make a difference in the world.”?? No, I didn’t think so. So, consider what role you want in saying, “I have a dream.” I have a dream today!

“I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.” -MLK Jr.

Coming Home: Veteran’s Day

Veteran’s Day is a week away, and while it’s coming up keep this thought in mind. Our soldiers go onto the front lines and face the closest evil to hell on earth — that I could never comprehend. Yet, there is a deeper element. As Winston Churchill so eloquently penned, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” The intention of a war is not to fight one battle and see who wins. Wartime contains many battles, many fights, many losses. Yet, our soldiers keep going. On one side, a comrade falls behind. On the other side, the enemy pushes forward. In agony, our soldiers relinquish their joy in life that others might fulfill their own. Here at home, mothers, wives, fiancés, sisters, fathers, brothers, and children feel the emptiness. On that spot at the dinner table, at your side where a companion once held your hand, through the doorway where they would’ve come home, in your dreams where it all is kept alive, the hope still remains. Someday, your phone may ring or the knock on the door turns your dreams into reality. Dinner is placed at the empty spot, your hand is warm again, and the doorway is passed under with laughter and tears at the sight of those shoes you missed coming home. They have come home. Your loved one has arrived. Your veteran, your soldier, your hero, your love has returned. Honoring those especially dear, remembering the spaces that may remain empty, and thanking those currently sacrificing their lives for yours and mine. Happy Veteran’s Day, and never forget.

When you speak two languages, y Dios usa los ambos.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. — Psalm 62: 5-8

Sólo en Dios halla descanso mi alma; de él viene mi esperanza. Sólo él es mi roca y mi salvación; él es mi protector y no habré de caer. Dios es mi salvación y mi gloria; es la roca que me fortalace; ¡Mi refugio está en Dios! Confía siempre en él, pueblo mío; ábrele tu corazón cuando estés ante él. ¡Dios es nuestro refugio! — Salmo 62: 5-8

It’s amazing that reading the Bible in two languages can add to your take-away from a study. In reading this passage, I picked out a few parallels that show me more about the meaning of the passage. This Bible passage has worked on my hard heart, and I’ve really been softened by God’s Word lately. Hearing these words two ways meant so much more, so I hope it touches you, too!

First, the English says that my soul finds rest in God, yet the Spanish says that ONLY in God I will find rest for my soul. The English says that in God, you will not be shaken, and the Spanish says that in God, you will not fall. The English says that my salvation and my honor depend on God, and the Spanish says that God is my salvation and my glory. Pour out your hearts to him, or open your hearts when you stand before him.

Only in God, you will have rest. You might find rest in God, but have you ever realized that he is the ONLY source of your rest? I find true rest when I solely look to him as my hope. You will not only be firm in God, you cannot be shaken or fall out of his caring hands.

Do you ever feel beat up by others, undervalued, unloved, unnoticed, or not cared for? Well, not only does your honor and dignity come from him, but His glory is the source of your value. When you feel like no one cares about you and you are not worth dying for, remember that your value doesn’t even come from who you are. Your value and honor comes from a Savior that lived for you, died for you, and shows his glory through your life. Do you feel worthless? Your honor and glory, your dignity and value, come from someone much more amazing than yourself (or than what others fully realize when they don’t know him or worship him).

Finally, have you poured out your heart to him, not only emptied it but left it open for him to fill up? See, until you are emptied of the gross stuff that fills your heart, until you have opened your heart and given your battles to God, your heart will not be transformed and made new. You must fully empty your heart to Him, allow him to be your refuge, and your heart will be filled with his hope and glory. It will finally find its rest.

XOXO,
Rae

P.S. Spanish and English are so much alike, yet even the similar Bible translations are still a great resource for side-by-side study. If you speak or read another language, too, or are interested in more studies let me know! Drop me a line on the contact page and I’d love to study one of your favorites, too!

Filled with a Good Measure

Back in elementary school, I had a teacher that used to read a riddles book called, “What Am I?” Some were great, others gritty. I’ve got a gritty one, and I think you’ll know what I mean. Here goes:
I’m opinionated, negative, and condemning. I’m on the lips of few, but I’m often felt by many. Sometimes, I’m all about justice and other times I’m unfair. Sometimes, I’m about you; other times, I’m all about others. I might seem tame when caged, but I’m destructive when unleashed. I’m can be found in a court room, minds, mouths, and hearts. I’m brought down with the gavel. I’m passed from one person to another, and I’m…

“Judgment”

We all know what it’s like when another person’s opinions exceed the limit of constructive criticism and throw a tornado through our hearts and minds. I hate saying, “It’s not fair.” But, no one has the right to deconstruct another person, size them up, and put them together the way they think is best. God’s the only one who knows how to take us apart and put us back together again. So, on that judgmental attitude…It’s not fair. It’s hurtful to the body of Christ. It’s WAY beyond your abilities. It’s a sin.

God, being perfect, is the perfect judge. I’m sure you know as well as I do, we are mega, super, fantastically imperfect. Throwback to four years old, and that’s the whole reason I turned my life over to Christ. However, we can’t use our state of imperfection as an excuse to sit in our sin and judge others. Get real about your grit. If we’re transformed by the grace that makes us into new creations, we should no longer live in the old and messed up ways we used to follow. In fact, God gave you the freedom to choose his ways over your sinful ways, so chose today which master you will serve. Are you a slave to your sin, or are you a servant of your Savior? I’ll give you some time to think about this as we dive into scripture.

Romans 2v1-3 says, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?”

Hey buddy, did you know you’re guilty of the same sins you’ve cast stones about? Don’t fret, we’re all guilty of it. Let your toes be stepped on, and let it be freeing. God convicts us when we’re in need of some refreshing. So I encourage you, press on. Maybe you’ve looked at someone today and sized them up, dressed them down, or gave them a label before you knew the person behind your words. It’s a sin, but isn’t it great to know that God knows that we’ve done everything wrong and he loves us anyways? Look away from others and start looking at yourself — where God’s working on you. You’ll be finding the cobwebs in your closets, and I promise, God’s willing to change your heart if you want him to…

Just a few days ago, I went to a greenhouse for some herb garden shopping. There was a young woman, about my age, who looked like she was trying to go against the grain of people’s expectations. She seemed peculiar, but God pricked my cold heart and let me peek into a heart of gold. I began talking with this young woman, and I got to know her a bit better…. She just lost her mom, and she’s heart broken. She’s 26 or 27, and she just lost her mom. I thought, looks and behaviors are deceiving. God, before the twinkle of her life, saw into this moment and cared for her in her loss. It took me hearing her thoughts and getting past my eyes to truly comprehend from my heart how much love she needed. If I had looked at her with the eyes of Christ, I would have had compassion before her sadness and sorrow was apparent. I’m glad I didn’t miss my opportunity to care for her in Christ, because God got ahold of me right there.

However, I wonder, how many times have I missed an opportunity to show Christ’s love because my judgments got in the way? BEWARE: Missed opportunities due to personal judgment are innumerable. Know it now. As a Christian, you’ll be judged according to your actions, so live as Christ did. Pray for him to give you his eyes to see his people the way that he does.

Luke 6v37-38 also says, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Live with a heart full of Christ’s love for others. Forgive others when they have wronged you, and don’t just do it because you have to. Know that Christ forgave you, and with a heaping cup of love, gratitude, and kindness — show that same forgiveness to them. Realize that they will be judged, as you will, for your actions; God’s working on their heart, too. I’d rather have that cup of good measure, pressed down and running over, full of love and life, than I would an empty, hollow cup.

Matthew 5v44-45 says, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” God sees all that we do. If we put down our thoughts and let Christ’s words come in, it will transform us. It’s twofold. You have to love the people who judge you and do you wrong, and you also have to pray for them. By doing that, you will begin to have new eyes – Christ’s perspective of the ones you’re tempted to judge. And for those at the tail-end of judgment right now, God knows what you’re going through, and he’s letting the sun shine on the deeds of others, too.

So, is Jesus your Savior, or is your sin your master? Choose which one you will serve. Both transform, but one is perfect and the other destroys. Judgment from the Lord is perfect, but our sinful hearts take it upon themselves to participate in work beyond their abilities. Ask for Christ’s eyes, let him convict where needed, pray for those who persecute you, and love others in Christ. You’ll be filled with a good measure.

Are You Marriage Material?

It’s a highly volatile idea with repercussions for your future. It’s the “Marriage Material” label. Oh, we’ve all heard it. It is a concrete concept to everyone, and it has an abstract application. You can make a list of things you think are qualifiers for marriage partners, but that’s just too simple.

I could list off so many things I prefer in a marriage partner, but what is the standard that I use? Well, I could say that a man should measure up or compare to my dad. He’s a great man. I could say that he should love his family and have high goals for himself in life…you might look for someone motivated, hard-working, ethical, intelligent, handsome/beautiful, caring, going places in life, all of the above and more… However, these are just basic things that sort through a sea of faces. It’s really no way to find one out of 7 billion people, right? There has to be a critical point where we say yes and no to one.

I’ll define two MAJOR PROBLEMS >>right here<< about my/your expectations:

One, I am an imperfect person, so my expectations and standards are imperfect. No one that is imperfect can have a flawless expectation of another. I find that my expectations are high, and at any given time, I fail at one or more them simultaneously given my human nature. If the foundation of my standards is flawed (which, it is because…I’m me.), then my standards are also flawed and somewhat unreliable.

Two, I can only describe qualities or characteristics that I prefer before being married. This is not Lord of the Rings, and I am not Sauron’s all-seeing eye. What could be the qualities that I’ll really like in a marriage partner? Folks, I have no idea because I’ve never been married. I’ll probably not even know after “x” number of anniversaries, and I’d vouch to say that no one can describe the perfect marriage partner. Even people who are happily married go through life with some toil and strife in their relationship – it’s a part of being human having to work through the struggles. Luckily, that’s not the stuff that God deems as “making or breaking” a marriage in Scripture, and to have a godly marriage with noble “Marriage Material” expectations, God’s laid out some simple things to guide you.

I know, you’ve got it. There is no standard that any person can create that will be perfect, and that’s where God’s plan for his followers takes place.

#1: Establish that prayer is your greatest weapon. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.” Trust in Him. That includes in prayer and in your hopes for a marriage partner.

#2: Lean on God, and Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” And, here’s the follow through in Psalm 21:2, “You have given him his heart’s desire, and You have not withheld the request of his lips.” Search for God to fulfill His will, whatever that may be. Be faithful to a Lord that is faithful. Beyond prayer, put your actions into a path of obedience with God’s Word.

#3: Maestro, drum roll, please! God’s has one deciding statement on what kind of person to marry – here’s what real “Marriage Material” is if you would oblige…2 Corinthians 6:14-16 says, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?” That’s the best answer to any question you might have. Set your one standard to the highest one of all. Does he or she love Jesus? If the answer’s not yes, say goodbye to romance with that one, love. I can’t stress it enough, take it and leave it where God says to. Date and marry someone who loves Jesus, and that’s a match made in heaven (literally!).

#4: The Bible describes what a great wife and a not-so-great husband look like.

TO THE GUYS: Proverbs 12:4 & 19:13 says, “Find a wife of noble character, avoid a disgraceful wife… Avoid a quarrelsome wife.” So, find someone with noble character and a good temperament. Proverbs 31:10 says, “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” Wives are not only to be noble in character, but their lives are to be actively reflective of Christ’s character. 1 Peter 3:2-1 says, “Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.” Finally, Proverbs 18:22 & 19:14 says, “A prudent wife is from the Lord. He who finds a wife finds what is good, and receives favor from the Lord.” So there you have it. You must choose, but choose wisely, Indiana Jones. A wife is a gift from God that you may choose to seek after and pursue. There are so many factors to finding a wife of noble character, but there’s hope for you, clever boy. God’s given you His Word, so cling to it.

TO THE GALS: Proverbs 14:7 says, “Stay away from a foolish man, for you will not find knowledge on his lips.” Proverbs 14:16 & 20:3 says that a fool is “hotheaded and reckless, quick to quarrel.” Essentially, stay away from the fools, ladies! Know a man that is lacking self-control or is highly argumentative? Well, Proverbs 28:26 sums it up: a fool “does not walk in wisdom.” Is he lacking self-control? LOOK OUT! Proverbs 25:28 says, “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.” He will not be a protector to you, a safeguard for your heart, or a wise man in times of trouble. Get away, and move toward the godly. God-fearing, Christ-following men are out there, lovelies!

#5: One passage sums up everything we’ve covered. Ephesians 5:22-33 says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

If it wasn’t for Christ and the Word of God, we’d be lost forever on marriage and what qualities to look for in the opposite sex. Christ, being both fully God and fully man, gave us some guidelines and bits of hope that reveal his plan for the folks he cares about. “Marriage Material” is perfectly pictured through his relationship with us, and he’s told us to look for someone that follows him.

Heed this in your heart: God’s Word is unfailing and it is fully inspired by God’s love, care, and attention for your well-being. And, friend, if you have a hard time seeing that, just read the Word and reflect on its place in your life. Christ was sent to redeem the World, to offer us forgiveness through his blood, and to bring us into a perfect relationship with the Father. Marriage is the joining of two bodies and two hearts into a single body for the service and care of one another. When you give your life to God, he transforms your heart from stone to flesh – from hard-hearted to compassionate. He brings you into himself and gives you his spirit to dwell within you. He has a relationship with you that is constantly growing you and changing your heart.

Likewise, a marriage partner should be as iron-sharpens-iron. If your partner isn’t saved by God’s grace, can you really run the race of life side-by-side? Grace leads us to be unlike our human nature and more like Christ. I might hate to admit it, but I’ve been wrong all my life. My prince charming isn’t a fairy tale, shining-armor, strapping young lad that meets my marks. He’s a man that is flawed, is struggling, is broken, and is hurting. He’s a man that daily has faults and failings, and he’s not enough on his own. He’s a man that knows this, and he’s made the choice to let God change his heart. He’s been filled with a new spirit, been made into a new creation, and been transformed by the blood of Christ. To see him for who he is in Christ, I’ll have to use fewer of my human expectations. “Marriage Material” will have to go out the door, and I’ll have to let Christ come in. So, will you let Christ change your expectations and replace them with his? Are you leaning on and trusting in his ways? I encourage you to keep pressing on toward the ultimate goal: Christ being the center of your life…and someday, your marriage, too.

XOXO, Rae

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For additional study, let Scripture be your guide. I’ve compiled some suggestions, and I encourage you to keep studying on your own. The Bible has multiple places where it describes a person that is noble, valuable to others, hard-working, etc. If you’re wanting to evaluate a potential mate or to improve your relationship with Christ while you’re prepping for marriage, keep the following verses in your arsenal:

• Psalm 112:6-7 says, “For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.” A righteous man (or woman) trusts God.

• Psalm 15:1-2 says, “O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart.” Honesty and integrity are the effects of having a heart that pursues the Father.

• Romans 6:12-13 says, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.” A Christ-follower is disciplined in his or her commitment to God’s Word and His saving grace. They’re in pursuit of God’s redemptive grace daily.

• He or she must also put love into action. As Christians, we’re supposed to have a stable foundation, clinging to the cross. Romans 12:9-12 says, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

The Relationship that Renews

Our lives are not really what people see on the surface. If we, as individuals, are defined by only what people see, wouldn’t we have to look at ourselves in a mirror all day long to figure out we are? Instead, we tend to define who we are by our feelings, values, emotions, thoughts, and more. We don’t look in the mirror to see our spirits; we reflect internally to discover the heart that lies beneath. Our value is not defined by what we look like, but it is defined by the beauty of our lives behind the looks.

Quick context: I proofed a magazine article today that encouraged women to intensify their makeup looks and diversify their beauty arsenals, to dress fashionably, and to look to others for ways we can improve our appearances. I have a serious problem with the simplicity and shallowness of articles and advice like this. Makeup is meant to enhance natural beauty, fashion is the choice of a whim, and your inner-being is separate from the appearances of others. Basically, looks don’t mean everything, and we are SO MUCH MORE than what people see.

We live in a time that tells us, “Good appearances equal finding love, joy, security, and happiness.” Our compliments usually revolve around clothes, good looks, or qualities that we see. Folks, the truth is this: We fall in love because of kindness, affection, time, presence, etc. – qualities and conditions that exist outside of good looks (as good looks are only the first impression!). Our happiness comes from things that affect our lives, not from just looking fine. Don’t get me wrong here, either. Looks and personal care have immense value, as our bodies aren’t created without value. In Christ, our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit, and they should be treated as such. But, beyond caring about your looks, let your focus be on the inner condition of your heart and the beauty of the life that you live.

Do a heart check. Do you care so much about your outside appearance that you don’t care about your heart and care for others? Is your life being lived to serve yourself first? When was the last time you looked outside yourself for value beyond your looks? If you have a ✔✔ next to even one of these questions at any given time, you are human, just like everyone else. For all of humanity, this is the gritty, raw truth. It’s a universal issue. *Whew, glad that’s settled* Because now, we can face the solution.

Looks and self-esteem are a battle that men and women face everyday, but they’re not worth the gunpowder. Did someone ever tell you that looks are deceiving? Beauty is vain, and charm is deceptive. 1 Peter 3:3-4 says, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

Unfading beauty did you say? It’s the spirit, plain and simple. It’s what lies beneath the surface that makes us beautiful, and it’s so fitting that our Creator knew we’d struggle with vanity and gave us hope outside of ourselves. Christ renews our inner beauty as we rely on him. When he saves us, Ezekiel 36:26 says, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” God removes that cold heart of yours toward others, the selfish human heart, and replaces it with a tender heart of His making. Then, 2 Corinthians 4:16 says, “So we do not lose heart, though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” This new heart is lasting, and it is renewed while our outside remains imperfect. No big deal, we’re mortal. Big deal, our soul is eternal. I’d rather have this eternal heart that is renewed than have a temporary façade that is gorgeous. Finally, 1 Timothy 1:5 says, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” God gives us the pure heart, our life is to reflect that purity through our actions, and we are to rely on our relationship with Christ to love others.

So there you have it. Your outside is temporary and wasting away. You are worth much more than the looks you have, and the value of a pure heart is eternal and God-given. Are you selfish today? Think about the gift that God gave you. It’s not often that we get to unwrap gifts and marvel at the bits of love that people took the time to make or find for us. Yet every moment, Christ is willing to renew our hearts and gift us with a pure self. Look to the relationship that renews, and your truest beauty will be unfading.

XOXO, Rae