Can You Spare a Moment?

Lifestyle

can you spare a moment.jpg

Life is all about moments.

Especially in the fast-paced culture of the United States, many of us are so busy that we rarely have a moment to spare. We run from the moment our feet hit the floor in the morning to the moment when our heads hit the pillow at night. It’s incessant.

“Go!” Do! Get!” the culture blares at us. So we stumble as quickly as we can so we don’t miss the busy train that everyone says leads to success and happiness. But it seems that, no matter how fast we run, we can never reach it. We get burnt out, we miss the mark, and, ultimately, we give up.

Just because you can spare a moment doesn’t mean that you should spare it.

Spare moments are not always meant to be filled; rather, they are meant to be lived. Saying “no” is a learned art, and one that many of us are still refining, but it is one of the most valuable things a person can learn to do. Having moments to do nothing but simply exist are what keep people going mentally and physically. It doesn’t have to be an hour; you only need a few minutes. There is such an emphasis on living exciting lives and doing exciting things, but I do not believe that this is the Biblical perspective. 

Slowing down and absorbing God’s presence and His work is so glorifying to Him. Having a few, important things in which you can serve Him to the best of your ability is much more beneficial than drowning yourself in so many things that you can barely pass in any of them. Enjoying the people you spend time with and the activities that you’re involved in is important too.

“Slow down and smell the roses,” they say. But I say don’t just smell them. Sit down by them. Absorb the atmosphere of the garden–the smells, the sounds, the sights. Revel in God’s mercy and creativity. Marvel at His goodness and love. And then, when you are finished, continue to focus intently on doing your best along the path until the next rose bush comes into view.

Have a spare moment? Treasure it; do not throw it to the wind.

God can be honored even in the spare moments. Give yours to Him, and He may gift you with even more.

 

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4 Ways to Be Different in College

Lifestyle

4 ways to be different

The college environment is very unique.

People are here to reach their goals in life and to discover who they are, with one foot in adulthood and the other still in childhood. We want to have fun and get the most out of our last few years of teenhood, but we also want to do well academically and create a good basis for our first few years of adulthood.

The result is an environment of immature people with the lifestyle of adults and the mindset of teenagers, completely consumed in our own worlds and trying to figure out why we are here and what in the world we are supposed to do with our lives.

The danger in this is that we become extremely self-consumed. Everything becomes about us and our pleasure. We cannot serve others, or even God, until our lives really “start” (after we graduate).

If you have ever been on a college campus, you have probably seen the implications of this attitude. College students tend to be very negative people; we complain a lot, we procrastinate a lot, and we think that our lives are super hard. As Christians, though, we do not have to be subject to this culture and this attitude. It is not honoring to Christ and it does not benefit our future as servants of Him.

The negative attitude and self-focus of college students is a serious problem. But we as believers can make a difference by reflecting Christ in the way that we live in college.

First, we can have a positive attitude.

Being a positive person comes naturally to some people; for others, it’s a struggle. As representatives of Jesus, though, regardless of our natural tendencies, we can reflect His influence in our lives by having a positive attitude. It’s raining again and I have to walk to class in the freezing, wet weather at 8am? I should still be smiling and thanking God for another day. I have an assignment due at midnight, a headache, and class in the morning? I should be thanking God for the opportunity to get a good education. Having a good attitude is hard, but imagine what a difference that we as Christian college students could make if we had a God-honoring attitude amidst the inconveniences of college life.

Second, we can be diligent.

Getting our homework in on time, doing our best in everything from our jobs to our ministries, and investing selflessly in our relationships can really make a difference in how we represent Christ in college. Finding a college student who is not flying by the seat of his or her pants is very rare. Planning well and being a good steward of time is yet another way to be different in the college culture.

Third, we can have integrity.

We can do all the reading when the professor requires it. We can participate in cleaning and work responsibilities without cutting corners. Like C.S. Lewis says, “Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.” What areas of our lives can we reflect Christ simply by doing the right thing?

Fourth, we can be selfless and respectful.

Treating others, including difficult professors and peers, with selflessness and respect can be one of the most difficult challenges in college. It’s so easy to become consumed with ourselves and our feelings and forget about the perspectives and needs of others. One of the biggest ways to represent Jesus in college is to treat others as He would treat them.

As believers, we cannot succumb to the college culture of negativity and selfishness. By staying true to these four things and consistently studying God’s Word, we can make a difference in our schools and honor Christ in doing so.

When God is Silent

Faith, Poetry

When God is Silent

God is always the same.

Sometimes we don’t feel Him.

Sometimes we don’t believe that He is here.

But He is.

He hasn’t changed.

And He loves us just as much today as He did yesterday.

No matter how much we fail,

No matter how many times we screw up,

He is sovereign and His love for us does not change.

We, however, do change.

We are not consistently in the Word,

We do not bring our concerns to God in prayer,

And then we feel distant.

We feel lost.

We feel hopeless.

We wonder why God is changing, when, in reality, it is us.

But we have the power to change this state.

We can surrender our mind, soul, and strength to Jesus.

We can give Him our time and effort.

We can come to Him in prayer and we can hear from Him through His Word.

We can release our clenched fists and give Him the things that we guard so closely.

Then our relationship can be restored,

After we tear down the walls that we have built up against Him.

Take a deep breath.

And surrender.

God is never silent.

He will never leave us nor forsake us.

We have to choose to surrender to Him.

I’m Always Okay

Lifestyle

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You sit in a small group at your church listening to people around you share testimonies and ask for prayer. As your turn to share approaches, you begin to squirm in your seat. All of these people have such difficult situations going on in their lives. Some struggle with depression and anxiety, some have dysfunctional family situations, and still others are sick or injured. The church rallies around these people, rightly seeking to comfort and encourage them. But your day-to-day struggles are not nearly as serious as those of others. Besides, you are a happy person with a great life–what could you possibly have to be struggling with? Suddenly, it is your turn to share with the group. You plaster on a smile and share a well-rehearsed testimony absent of any real struggle or heartache. These people don’t need to know about your personal problems anyway.

I’m one of those people that is terrible at being vulnerable. I would much rather convey my feelings through the written word than pour out my heart to someone in conversation. To be honest, it is because I’m afraid. I’m afraid that my struggles and worries will pale in comparison to the struggles and worries of those around me. I’m afraid that people will discount my struggles and see them as dumb. I’m afraid that I’ll just sound like a complaining child, so it is better to just deal with things myself and move on. Besides, my pride won’t allow for a crack in my emotional wall. I’m always okay and the people around me shouldn’t know any different.

Unfortunately for my well-built persona, the Scripture has something entirely different to say. Galatians 6:2 commands believers to “bear one another’s burdens,” while James 5:16 commands us to “pray for one another” and even “confess [our] sins to one another” (ESV). According to the Bible, Christians cannot experience true community until they are vulnerable with one another.

I have to be honest–even writing this makes me squirm in discomfort. I am so prideful and so fearful, but I know that God is trying to teach me something about these persistent sins. God has given me many people who care enough about me to listen to my struggles and concerns and to pray for me, if only I will let down my guard and realize that I can’t deal with everything myself.

Maybe you’re in the same situation. Maybe your struggles seem silly in comparison to the heartaches of those around you. But trust me, even though I have had very little experience in this, letting other Christians know and understand your struggles will help you to conquer them in the name of Christ. We are not (and honestly, cannot be) in this alone, as long as we choose to take advantage of the loving people God has placed in our lives. Wipe off your fake smile, let down your guard a little, and share your struggles with other believers so that, down the road, you can also share your victories through Christ.

 

Are Christians Hypocrites?

Faith

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The Old Testament has a lot of rules–rules that no one in this modern age could actually follow. For example, the Old Testament commands us not to eat pork (Lev. 11) or wear certain clothing (Lev. 19). If Christians are so committed to following God’s Word, then why don’t we follow these rules? There are other rules that Christians follow in the Old Testament, such as not practicing homosexuality, observing the Sabbath, tithing, or even not getting tattoos. It seems as if we pick and choose the rules that we want to follow, making those looking at our religious practice from the outside see us as hypocrites. After all, how can we say that homosexuality is a sin when we don’t sacrifice cows on a regular basis? This is a valid argument presented by many who are confused about Christianity. There is a Biblical explanation as to why Christians do what they do, but if we as believers don’t hold to this explanation, then we are just as hypocritical as others say we are.

In short, the reason that Christians (should) follow certain rules and not others is that there are some prohibitions reiterated under what we Biblically call the “New Covenant.” In the Old Testament, the people of God were under a covenant with God which consisted of a lot of the odd rules listed in the book of Leviticus. However, when Jesus Christ came to Earth to die and rise again, He abolished this Old Covenant and created a new one. The New Covenant is one of freedom and forgiveness rather than condemnation and bondage. Basically, Christ “freed” us from the rules laid down for the Old Testament people of God. There are some things, however, that Jesus reiterated as important in the second half of the Bible, the New Testament. For example, the New Testament prohibits homosexual activity, encourages us to tithe, and commands that believers act in a way that honors Jesus (Rom. 1:24-32; Luke 18:9-14; Heb. 7:1-6; 1 Pet. 1:15). Thus, Christians follow these new commandments not out of fear or duty, but out of love for Christ and a desire to serve Him.

As Christians, though, we must be careful not to become the hypocrites we are often labeled as. We must be careful not to pick and choose the rules that we feel like following. We must recognize the Bible as mostly literal, all while carefully studying its meaning so that we know how to live. For example, many Christians believe that getting a tattoo is a sin, based on Leviticus 19:28. However, looking at the context of this verse, it is referring to idol worship and sorcery and is an Old Covenant rule, listed alongside rules about how men should trim their beards and cut their hair (v.27). Does the New Testament have anything to say about tattoos? Not specifically. However, it does say that we should treat our bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Does getting a tattoo help you share the Gospel or emanate Christ as His temple? What is your motivation behind tattooing your body? Therefore, rather than a rule to follow, Christ sets an example which we can interpret and follow. Even though this seems pretty subjective, the believer who follows Biblical patterns and truths and interprets the Bible as it is will make Biblically informed and Christ-honoring decisions. This may look different from one believer to another, because each of us have different interpretations and personal convictions. As long as we are each seeking to follow God to the best of our abilities, we will honor Christ despite our differences.

So, are Christians hypocrites? Yes, at times. But understanding the way that Christ has set us free from the law of the Old Covenant makes a huge difference in how we understand and apply the Bible. The Gospel and the New Covenant go hand-in-hand; to pick and choose from the old law defeats the purpose of Christ’s death and resurrection. As Christians, in order to follow the Gospel and be consistent in our testimony to those around us, we need to be diligent to follow all of Christ’s commands listed under the New Covenant rather than picking and choosing rules throughout the Bible.

“For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. . . This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.” -Hebrews 7:18-19, 22

 

I Could Choose to be Depressed

Lifestyle, Uncategorized

It seems as if everyone these days struggles with depression and anxiety, especially those of us in our teens and twenties. Almost every popular Youtuber, social media influencer, and blogger has a post or video entitled something like “My Journey with Depression and Anxiety.” While some people are actually physically diagnosed with these mental disorders, most people are not. As Christian young people, we have a choice: we can choose to be anxious and depressed, or we can choose to be joyful and peaceful.

Contrary to popular opinion, the Bible tells us that anxiety is a sin. We are commanded not to be anxious about anything (Phil. 4:6-7). As Christians, we must choose to let God’s peace reign in our hearts and minds. Likewise, depression is against the commands of the Bible. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are gifted with joy that we cannot even comprehend. In fact, one of the most repeated commands in the Bible is “rejoice!” (i.e. Phil 4:4).

The reason that the world wallows in depression and anxiety is that people are self-centered. We are discontent with our lives, distrustful of our situations, and altogether empty and hopeless. If you have ever read anyone’s story about anxiety and depression, it normally ends with something like “I learned to love myself more.” People who come out of times of struggling attribute their victory over these issues to self-love and personal success. Thus continues the downward spiral of selfishness and an altogether miserable existence which ends up exactly where it started. As Christians, we do not have to be subject to this vicious cycle. We can help it. Living by our feelings of anxiety and depression is a choice.

I could let myself be anxious and depressed. I could listen to what I feel, listen to the lies being thrown at me by Satan, listen to what the world says I am. I could choose to allow anxiety to overtake my every thought and action, and I could choose to let depression swallow me up into its deep abyss. But I don’t. I choose not to, despite the constant affirmation from the world around me that says it’s okay. Why? Because I am not subject to myself and my own feelings. I have a peace and a joy that is beyond my understanding and I am choosing to allow it to dictate my actions and feelings. I am choosing to believe the truth about myself, my life, and my future from God’s Word, which only comes from spending time reading and studying it. There has been times in my life when I have not chosen to believe these truths. There’s been times when my anxiety has affected my health, my relationships, and my overall quality of life. There’s been times that I have allowed depression to affect my choices, productivity, and even my friendships. Interestingly enough, these seasons of my life have always been devoid of time spent in prayer and in Scripture. Anytime I allow my feelings to take over is a time that I choose to turn my back on God and His truth.

I could let myself be anxious and depressed, and so could you. But you do not have to, and neither do I. God commands us to be joyful and peaceful. Choose to obey the truth of the Bible rather than the lies of the culture. Choose to be free from depression and anxiety. 

The Problem with Self-Love

Faith, Lifestyle

She quietly walks into church and slips into the back row, hoping that no one will notice her, yet, at the same time, craving some type of affirmation from the people around her. Makeup is caked on her cheeks in a feeble attempt to cover her blemishes. Her outfit, jewelry, and hairstyle are a clumsy mimicry of others–they do not truly represent who she is. She is sure that everyone is judging her. Once her friends come and sit beside her, she begins to constantly compare herself to them. She’s not nearly as pretty and put together as they are. Suddenly, she hates how she looks. She hates her personality. She hates the family that she comes from, the house she lives in, and the things she can afford. Before she realizes it, the church service is over, but she cannot remember a word that was spoken. She finds her parents and leaves as quickly as possible.

Her friends and family are so supportive. They tell her she should love herself; they tell her she is beautiful; they tell her that she is good enough. But she refuses to believe them. They’re just saying those things to be nice. They can’t really mean them. She needs to work harder to measure up, so she decides to spend more time in front of the mirror. She works tirelessly to perfect her makeup and to lose more weight. She scours the internet to determine what is cool and stylish. She strives with all her might to look and act the right way, but, no matter how much effort she puts in, the same emotions rule her life. She will never be good enough.

So many girls have these same day-to-day struggles. We choose to believe this endless cycle of lies and end up hating ourselves for it. Our parents and mentors tell us that we are beautiful, Christian media tells us that we need to love ourselves because God loves us. But that is exactly the problem. The reality is that we already love ourselves more than we should. We are the ones that we think about the most, take care of first, and obsess over. We are the ones that we are constantly pouring our time, money, and effort into. Like a teacher of mine once said, the girl who walks into a room and is worried about what everyone thinks of her is the most selfish person in the room because her thoughts are consumed with herself. The problem with girls who “hate” themselves is actually that, in a backwards sort of way, they love themselves too much. We are choosing to be controlled by our emotions, to believe lies about ourselves, and to live in a relentless torrent of negativity, selfishness, and misery.

Most Christians do not realize that insecurity is actually a sin. We ignore the fact that we choose to be insecure. At its core, insecurity is ungratefulness, selfishness, and discontentedness with God’s plan for our lives. Bethany Baird and Kristen Clark, authors of the book Girl Defined, put it best:

“One of the biggest reasons we, as women, feel insecure with our physical appearance is because we take our eyes off Christ only to place them on ourselves. We become self-focused instead of Christ-focused. That is the root of all insecurities” (Girl Defined, pg. 122).

The concept of self-love has dangerously crept into the world of Christian literature. The idea that “we can only love others if we love ourselves” has spread like wildfire. People like the idea of putting their own needs and desires above others’. Of course we like the idea that we have to love ourselves first, but this goes against the whole point of the Gospel! We are not worthy to be loved because we are dirty, sinful people who are in desperate need of salvation. Trying to love ourselves more will just leave us unsatisfied because we are inadequate to even fulfill our own needs. Accepting our sinfulness and brokenness as a positive thing is not okay. Thankfully, there is a solution. James Beevers of Desiring God hits the nail on the head:

. . . the temporary relief we might feel by self-love cannot compare to the overwhelming relief of true love and acceptance by God. The “self-acceptance” of the children of God is not an active striving to love ourselves more. Rather, it is coming more and more to see ourselves as God sees us: sinful, guilty, inadequate humans who have been washed clean and declared righteous by faith in Christ (Romans 3:24).

True self-love is acceptance of ourselves as redeemed people. Yes, we are loved and accepted, but it is precisely not because we are worthy in ourselves, but because Christ is worthy. Only when we accept the reality of redemption can we find freedom to look outwards. When our gaze is bent inward on ourselves, we fail to love God and cannot hope to love others.*

What if the desperately insecure girl from the story above spent as much time nurturing her inner beauty as she does her outer beauty? What if she focused on pleasing Jesus more than pleasing others? She may still struggle with the same thoughts and emotions, but, if she chooses to continually shift her focus off of herself and onto Jesus, she will slowly become more and more confident in who she is in Christ. That type of inner confidence eventually reflects in how a person dresses and acts. If you “hate” yourself–that is, if you are consumed with how you look and feel–Christ offers you freedom from the toxic spiral of constant insecurity. Self-love creates a faux confidence–a mask behind which the most insecure girls in the world hide. If you purposely shift your focus from yourself and onto Jesus, you will experience satisfaction, joy, and security beyond all comprehension.

 

*https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/do-you-love-yourself-enough

My New Identity

Faith

“God can give you a new name,” the camp speaker declared over the group of teens. “You no longer have to be defined by the old name that once controlled you.”

By the end of the week, over a hundred teenage campers were on their knees surrendering their old, negative labels to God and asking Him to show them their new names. As a counselor, I not only saw campers’ lives changed, but I also saw other counselors step into God’s purpose for them. God re-defined my identity that week too. So many things in my life began to come together and make sense after God gave me my new name. Even though my name is deeply personal to me, I would like to share it with you in the hope that you will be encouraged to evaluate your identity in Christ as I was.

At the beginning of the week, the camp speaker had all the campers, counselors, and staff write down a negative label that they have lived under. Mine were “wimp” and “goody-two-shoes.”

Ever since I can remember, I have hated doing new things. Whether it be the camp zipline or meeting new people, I was almost always the last in line to try out something new. I was the girl who was terrible at sports, afraid of bugs, and avoided mud at all costs. I always felt like a failure because I could never measure up to the expectations that people had for me. I was a wimp.

As a pastor’s kid, it wasn’t long into my childhood that I gained the label “goody-two-shoes.” I always had a great Sunday school answer and tried really hard to make good decisions and do the right thing. As I got older, people became bitter toward me because my life was so “perfect.” I didn’t have to go through anything terribly hard as a child, like family problems or the loss of a loved one. Even though I have had hard times in my life, overall, my childhood was pretty idyllic and free of pain. My life was “perfect” and I was a “goody-two-shoes.” But I wanted to help people; how could I ever relate to them?

I folded up my paper with these words scribbled on it, not even realizing the impact that I had allowed them to have in my life. At the speaker’s cue, I tore up the paper and thrust the pieces into the air. I was done with being a wimp and a goody-two-shoes.

With these thoughts encompassing my mind, God clearly revealed to me my new name: capable. He said, “Miriam, you are capable of trying new things, even if they’re out of your comfort zone, for my glory. You are capable of relating to other people and of making a difference in my kingdom. I gave you your childhood for a purpose, and I gave you your personality for a purpose–to serve me.”

I was humbled to the point of tears. Suddenly, so many things made sense.

I have always had a hard time making friends. Ever since I was a little girl, I have never been able to understand why God always kept me on the sidelines in social settings. The friends in my life came and went, and I was often the one left behind. Through the lens of my new name, my struggle with loneliness began to make sense. I am capable of reaching out to people who have struggled with the same things that I have. The reason that I was always on the margins as a kid is because that is where God wants me to minister. My own loneliness is the very reason why I have a heart for the people who are left out and left behind. As I pursue my teaching degree and pinpoint my purpose as a teacher, I feel continually called to help kids who are pushed aside because of social and learning disabilities. I want to show them how loved they are by God and how valuable they are to society, whether they realize it or not. I am capable of being a good teacher who values every student that God puts in my path. I am capable of ministering to the lonely and forgotten. I am capable of trying and succeeding at new things, by His power and for His glory. By God’s unfailing grace, I am capable.

I wanted to share my story with you because I’m sure that you have an old label hanging over your head too, whether self-imposed or given to you by someone else. I speak from experience when I say that it is so freeing to let God rid you of that title and give you a brand new one. You have a purpose too, and your identity is not in that old label. I am no longer a wimpy goody-goody with no skills or experience to use for God. I am a capable, valuable child of the powerful King of the universe who is sovereign enough to use my struggles and skills to give me a new purpose ministering for Him.  What’s your new identity in Him?

For the Days When You Feel Like a Failure

Faith, Lifestyle

I woke up last Monday feeling discouraged and drained. Another week was beginning, and I just wasn’t sure that I had enough energy to start it. As I thought about the week ahead, I felt irritated. The things that I do on a weekly basis suddenly seemed fruitless. I put hours into preparing material for my girl’s Bible study with little response from the girls. I work almost every day, so I have very little energy or willpower to get anything else done during the week. It seemed as if my life is just going in circles with no outcome, and I felt like a failure. Frustrated, I opened my journal and began to write out a prayer to God:

Monday, June 18, 2018

God, this morning I feel like a failure. I feel like I’m failing to communicate your truth in my girl’s group, on my blog, at work, and in life in general. How to I get through to people about your love for them? . . . I want to communicate well for your honor and glory, but nothing seems to work.

What else was there to say? I felt as if God called me to serve Him and then left me in the dust. Out of duty, I opened my Bible to read my daily chapter, ending up in Hebrews 11. I wanted answers, and there, right in the chapter that I happened to be on that day, the answers glared up at me from the page. God heard my prayer, as self-focused as it was, and willingly responded.

In the ESV Bible, Hebrews 11 is entitled “By Faith.” The chapter begins by explaining what faith is (v.1) and why it is important (v.6). It then goes on to give examples of people of faith, such as Abraham, Sarah, Moses, and Joseph. There were a few things that all of these people had in common: 1) they lived with an eternal focus (v.14), and 2) they continued to serve God even though they all died before they saw the fruits of their faith (v.13). Reading this chapter, I realized that I had been approaching ministry with the wrong attitude. Once again, I was trying to take the weight of serving God on my own shoulders. Of course I felt like a failure–I was failing to rely on the strength of God and I failed to focus on my eternal hope and reward. Serving God without remembering the reasons behind it will always leave us feeling discouraged and drained. We need to serve while looking to the reward, which will be in heaven.

My God is faithful and compassionate, always by my side even when I fail to acknowledge His presence. By simply opening His Word a few times this week, He encouraged me to “not become weary in doing good” (Gal. 6:9). He knows exactly what we are each struggling with and draws us to the perfect passage from His Word to hear from Him about our struggles. When you feel discouraged, ask God to encourage you, and open His Word to hear His answer. He will always come through.

“And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should no be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:39-40, ESV).

The Power of Today

Faith, Lifestyle

Last Monday, I sat in front of thirteen young girls, passionately describing how the Bible changed my life. I encouraged the girls to make a daily appointment with God and to keep it just as if it was a date with a friend or a significant other. I preached about the importance of daily quiet time, when in reality my own quiet time had been sporadic and unfulfilling. Inwardly, I felt a bit like a hypocrite.

I went into the week fully intending to set an example for the girls by faithfully keeping my daily appointment with God; I ended the week feeling like a discouraged, unmotivated failure. But, thankfully, God’s Word is so powerful that it can speak to even the biggest hypocrites and failures. Even though I read my Bible very few times this week, God spoke to me through His Word every time I opened it. As I plunged through the first few chapters of Hebrews, there was one word that stuck out to me: “today.”

Throughout the first few chapters, the author of Hebrews repeatedly reminds his readers to obey God today. In some versions of the Bible, the word “today” is capitalized or put in quotation marks. This signifies the urgency of the author’s call to action. TODAY if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts (3:15). Exhort one another as long as it is still TODAY (3:13). Even those unproductive days when I feel tired and unmotivated, today is a day in which God can work in my life if only I choose to listen to Him.

When I think about using my days for God’s glory, I think of my friend Nicole. She is the most joyful person that I know. When everyone is complaining about the weather or finals or whatever, Nicole is purposely seeking out the positive in everything. She praises God for the weather, says that her homework is enriching and fun, and rejoices that finals are almost over. Even when I called her this past week when she was in the hospital for some testing, she was still looking at the positive and thinking of other people instead of just herself. Nicole knows the meaning of seizing the opportunities of today.

Someone once said, “Today is a good day to have a good day.” Any day can be a good day if we choose to make it one. If we choose to listen to God’s voice today, we can be blessed and encouraged. If we choose to help and encourage other believers today, we can not only bless them, but also be encouraged to make Christ-like decisions ourselves. Today is a day that God wants to work in our lives if only we will listen to His voice, and it all starts with opening our Bibles and listening to what He has to say.

Tonight, when I once again sit in front of my group of girls, I can tell them that I have been inconsistent and unmotivated in my time with God this week. I can be honest with them about my shortcomings, but I can also tell them about the power of God’s Word to speak to us despite our sinful attitudes. I can share with them what I have been learning about the urgency and power of today. My God is so amazing that He can even use my sinful laziness to teach me lessons that change the way that I live for Him. Today, I will choose to listen to His voice. I can’t wait to see what He says.