Categories
anxiety

The Spirituality of God

As I’ve started working out on a regular basis, it has reminded me of God’s Spirit. I feel more in tune with God as I’m focusing on my breathing and specific muscle movement. Because there are so many spirits out there, I believe that most Christians have shied away from the spirituality of God. While there are demonic spirits that we should be careful not to entertain, we can also trust the Spirit of God to guide us, comfort us, encourage us, and strengthen us.

God isn’t just spiritual. Christianity isn’t just spirituality. As a matter of fact, in the Christian faith, we believe in the Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God is Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17). Each of the above mentioned are equal in power, essence, and authority.

For most of us, the Person of the Trinity that is most relatable to us is the Son, Christ Jesus. This obviously makes sense, because Jesus came to Earth and walked among us. Humans have physically seen Jesus with their own eyes. They have heard Him speak, and He has humbled Himself to understand our weaknesses and struggles. Of course, His ultimate sacrifice and resurrection have also caused us to cling to Him for our salvation.

The Holy Spirit is Jesus and God the Father in Spirit form. As I explained before, He is the third “Part” of the Trinity, but He is not like God or a form of God. He is God. Before Jesus was crucified, He explained to His disciples that it was better for Him to leave than for Him to stay on the Earth: “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7, NIV). Forty days after Jesus ascended to Heaven, the promised Holy Spirit came to the world through tongues of fire (see Acts 1). Ever since Pentecost, the Holy Spirit has lived in and among those who have accepted Christ as their Savior, for the glory of God the Father.

In addition to God being Spirit, we are also spiritual beings. “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:16, NIV, emphasis added). God communicates to us (generally) through the Holy Spirit. If we are not filled with God’s Spirit, we can become spiritually dry. This can cause anxiety, depression, addiction, loneliness, and stress in our lives.

How do we know it’s the Holy Spirit speaking to us and not our flesh, or another spirit? God does not lie, and God does not contradict Himself. If the words you hear do not line up with God’s Word, you may be hearing something different. It will take time to learn how to hear God’s voice (whether audibly or in your heart), but if you read God’s Word, His voice will become more clear to you.

In the book of Ephesians, Paul tells us to keep in step with the Spirit (5:16-26). In light of this, how can we be more in tune with the Spirit of God? Here are some ways that help me to feel God’s presence on a regular basis:

  • prayer
  • meditation (of Scripture or a prayer)
  • silence
  • contemplative prayer (intently focusing on a phrase or Scripture)
  • dancing/creative movement
  • exercise
  • stretching
  • spending time outside
  • creativity (writing, drawing, painting, singing)
  • worship music

For more information about these topics, check out Francis Chan’s Forgotten God and Craig Groeschel’s message series called The Ghost.


Photo by Davide Cantelli on Unsplash

Categories
anxiety

Intimacy with God

Intimacy with God is made possible through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit. We are able to draw near to God when we accept Jesus’ sacrifice as truth, because we now have the righteousness of Christ.

A couple of weeks ago, I read Tauren Wells’ devotional on the YouVersion app called “Known,” based on his song of the same title. He said something on Day 3 that has stuck with me for about a week: “Access to information and an invitation to intimacy are two very different things.” Basically, God knows everything about us, but He doesn’t just want to know about us; He wants to be invited into those details.

As much as I hate to admit it, anxiety reminds me to invite God into my day.

Yesterday at work, I had a mini panic attack where I felt nauseous and dizzy. I looked down at the plaque on my desk: “Pray more. Worry less.” Taking a few deep breaths in through my nose and out through my mouth, I prayed that God would meet me in the office.

I hate to admit that my anxiety reminds me to invite God into my day, because without anxiety, sometimes I forget to invite God into my day. I feel like I don’t need God unless something is wrong with me. But the point of intimacy with God is, God doesn’t just want us to need Him. He wants us to want Him.

I’ve struggled with writing about this topic for several reasons, the most prominent being that I struggle with this topic in general. I’m a practical, to-do list kind of person, and intimacy is just not that easy. I wish I could give you a step-by-step guide to help you grow in intimacy with God, but there is none. I wish I could tell you exactly what to do to have the perfect relationship with God, but we’re all different.

All I can tell you is to be.

Unless we micromanage the other relationships in our lives, we can’t expect that micromanaging our relationship with God will work. While we should be intentional about spending time with Him, instead of squeezing Him into our schedules, we shouldn’t think that if we follow a magic formula, we can expect God to act a certain way. God is faithful, but He does not fit into the box we’ve created.

So, the point of this post is to tell you that intimacy with God is important. We were created for relationship, and that’s starts with a relationship with God. God is the only One who can fully know us and love us. When humans fall short, God reaches into the depths of us and pulls out things we didn’t even know were in there!

In Christ, there are multiple ways to experience God. Whether you enjoy music, journaling, dancing, meeting with other believers, studying the Bible, or taking a long walk outside, God can meet you when you invite Him into what you love. (As a side note: All of those things are necessary! You still have to read the Bible if you want to encounter God, even if you don’t like it).

James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” While it’s not easy, it is simple. When we make time for God, when we invite Him into our day, He miraculously comes to meet us. Today, invite Him into your day, and begin that journey of intimacy with Him.


Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Categories
Marriage

The Beauty of Letting Go

Why do we have so many fights with our spouses? Why do we keep having the same arguments over and over again?

Because we don’t want to let it go.

I could stop right there. But I don’t want to let it go. I want to hold on to my anger, my hurt, my rightness. My husband can’t get away with saying something like that to me! After all the times I have been so nice to him, how could he speak that way to me?

Oh, right…I haven’t been very nice to him.

I thank God that He lets my sins go. As far as the east is from the west does he remove our sins from us (Psalm 103:12). Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross gave us grace, which means that God does not hold our sins against us anymore. Praise be to God!

Since God forgave me, why is it so difficult to forgive my husband?

We all have excuses about why we say the things we do. We don’t mean to hurt our loved ones, and yet the wrong words come out all the time. From a women’s perspective, I admit that I use more excuses than my husband because I tend to have more times of the month that I’m irritable. But finally, after nearly two years of marriage, I’ve learned to shut my mouth long enough to listen to my husband. He’ll tell me he had a long day of work, and then he’ll say something totally rude to me about an hour later. He’ll tell me that he didn’t get enough sleep last night, and then a few minutes later he’ll give me an attitude. No, he doesn’t usually come out and say, “Sorry, honey, I just had a long day at work and I’m having a hard time controlling my tongue” (because who actually says that when they’re so tired they can’t even make sense of reality?). But I’ve learned that his insults are out of character for him, so I can make an assumption that he’s probably just having an off day.

Although he doesn’t have the same excuses as me about why he’s irritable, he has every right to be tired, hungry, or upset. I can’t expect my husband to be happy all the time, even though he’s happy most of the time. When he’s not at his best, my response is to let it go.

Through devotionals and YouTube videos we’ve been watching online, we’ve learned the importance of letting go. When we hold on to grudges, they can actually put up a wall between us. We may have decided we will never separate, but even if we are together on paper, we can be separate emotionally. On a daily basis, we strive to remove any obstacle from between us so that we can thrive in our marriage and maintain our closeness.

It’s important to let it go. I want to be right, but I would rather be united with my husband, physically and emotionally, than right. Obviously, if the negative comments and insults become continuous, we would have to have a conversation about it. However, if I know he’s having a bad day and he hurts me, I can let it go.

I make it sound so easy. It’s only not easy because we have complicated it. We live in an age of entitlement, when everybody has a right to be right. We all want to be rewarded for our actions and opinions. I have a hard time letting to when I want to prove my husband wrong, but most of all, when I want to protect myself.

If you find yourself in this place, remember that the Lord is our defender. God is our strength and shield. You don’t need to prove yourself in order to be protected. When Jesus was about to be crucified, he had multiple opportunities to prove himself. He even said that he could call a legion of angels to save him (Matthew 26:53). However, he chose to trust in God. No matter what you face, big or small, it is not as big as what Jesus endured for us. We have nothing to prove; we can show love to those around us without having to protect ourselves.


Photo by Raul Varzar on Unsplash

Categories
anxiety

The Thrill of True Hope in a Holy Night

“You better watch out, you better not cry. You better not pout; I’m telling you why. Santa Claus is coming to town.”

On Christmas Eve, my sister and I would run up the steps and bang on the front door to Grandma’s house. Grandma would open the door to her warm, carefully-decorated house, and as we thawed from the wintry cold she would click her tongue and regretfully inform us that, just like every year, we had just missed Santa Claus.

We little girls knew that even if we missed him, he had brought us presents. After dinner, we would rip open our presents and enjoy the thrill and anticipation of each new box. My hope was in knowing that there were still plenty of boxes to unwrap.

All around me, cameras would flash and conversation would erupt over the latest news and the funniest jokes of the season. My family members would coo over the gifts I received.

Finally, my hands would grab the final gift under the tree. I would slowly rip off the paper, savoring the last bit of excitement of the evening. I would open the box, and the fun would be over.

With the last present opened, the party would cease. Family members would rub their eyes and call it a night. We would all hug each other, pack up our cars with new stuff, and go home.

Each year, I would go home feeling empty. Did we really wait all year just to go over Grandma’s house, open a few presents, and that’s it? After all that anticipation, I didn’t even get to meet Santa Claus.

“He’s making a list. He’s checking it twice. He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice. Santa Claus is coming to town.”

I did the best I could to be a good child. If I really thought about it, I didn’t know what was good or bad, and I didn’t know what Santa Claus really thought of me. I just did whatever my parents told me.

The fact that I received presents every year confirmed that I was doing something right. Still, I didn’t think a few nice presents were worth following a bunch of boring rules.

What I really wanted was some love and attention. I wanted to be noticed not just for what I did, but for who I was. I wanted a reward that satisfied me. Santa Claus could only offer me toys that made me happy for a few days.

“He sees you when you’re sleeping; he knows when you’re awake.  He knows when you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!” 

Someone, somewhere, was watching me. I had a perfect image to uphold. If I made a mistake, that would be the end. And that someone watching me would remember my mistake forever.

Around Christmastime, kids care if Santa Claus is watching. But ONLY during Christmastime do they care. I have never gone to the beach on a hot July day and heard a parent threaten her kids with the notion that they may not get Christmas presents.

All year round, kids need constant attention and tender loving care. They don’t need a list of rules to follow; they need a loving protector who will watch them and guide them.

At the age of twelve, I met the One who I needed. For my whole life, I had thought that this someone was like Santa Claus, waiting for me to mess up so he could stop giving me presents. I thought He was distant and that He hated me. I thought He could never love such a stupid worthless failure like me.

But I was wrong.

“O Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining. It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.”

As a child, I knew that story of Jesus coming to Earth. That was all it was to me, a story. As I learned the Christmas story in church, I didn’t know that one day this story would change my life.

As I entered into my tween years, I tried to control my life. In the end, I developed an anxiety disorder and lost complete control of my body and the world around me. Looking back, everything was chaotic.

I tried to make sense of it all.  I tried to express how I felt. I was surrounded by people, but I was all alone.

I desperately needed help. I would sob alone in my room, looking up at the stars brightly shining in the sky, begging someone to hear my prayers.

“Long lay the world in sin and error pining, ‘til he appeared, and the soul felt its worth.”

When I was twelve, my dad dragged me to church to attend youth group with people my age. On that night, I heard the Christmas story in a way that I had never heard it before, in a way that completely transformed my life.

The story went like this: God humbly left His heavenly throne to become a small baby that would grow up and learn about human struggles. He would heal people and share about how much God loved them. He would die a death that He did not deserve so that we could have access to God again. He would rise from the dead to prove that He is stronger than death.

Jesus came to Earth to show how much He loved us, not to show how high and unattainable He was. On that night, I accepted Jesus as my Savior. My pastor taught us a prayer, and I believe God heard it.

God showed me who He really was. He cared about me and looked out for my well-being all year round. He forgave my sins, and even though I still make mistakes, he reminds me every day that He loves me too much to hold my sins against me.

After choosing to follow Him, I’ve learned that I am valuable. Since He appeared, my soul has felt its worth.

“A thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”

Since I made the decision to follow Jesus, each Christmas means something to me.  We exchange gifts, and I remember the most special gift I have ever received.

Instead of feeling empty, I feel complete. Instead of feeling alone, I know the ever-present God is with me. Instead of longing for more, I remember that God is everything I need.

The past broke me and made me forget my worth, but today is a new day, a new and glorious morning.

“Fall on your knees, and hear the angel voices: O night divine, O night when Christ was born.”

What if Christmas meant more than opening gifts and waiting for Santa Claus to show us whether we have been good or bad? What if God really did come to Earth? How would your life be different if you truly believed that Jesus came to this Earth to give you hope, to fill you completely and to show you your true worth?

God came to your world to show you how much He loves you. He is offering you a free gift that will satisfy your soul. You have a choice: will you accept it, or will you be content with that small thrill of anticipation year after year?


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