Walking With Child Like Faith| By Bethany Anding

Hurricane Katrina was one of the most devastating natural disasters in history. Homes were flooded, and trees were knocked down on lawns.

This was a rough time for me, not because of the disaster taking place in New Orleans, but the disaster taking place in my family. My parents were separated. I did not really understand what was going on. I just knew it was bad. I knew deep down that things were going to get better; I just was not sure when.

Christmas of 2005 – I remember it like it was yesterday. My dad called my mom saying he wanted to see us for Christmas, and that he would cover her airfare. So, we packed up and went back home to New Orleans for the holidays. I remember my dad giving me a big hug Christmas night. As I was hugging him, I could feel his throat tighten up because he was crying, due to losing me and my mom. This was the moment that I knew in my heart of hearts that my dad genuinely loved us.

After Christmas, I stayed with my dad, and my mom went back to North Carolina. A few days after my mom left, my dad told me to get in the car because he had a “big, big Christmas present” waiting for me. Trustfully, I got in the car, and we drove to the airport.  

“Why are we at the airport?” I asked my dad.“You’ll see!’ He responded.

So, we got out and waited inside the airport until I saw my mom coming up the escalator with all her bags. I knew at that moment that all my prayers about my parents reconciling had been answered. I was ecstatic and on the verge of crying.

The point of me telling this story was to show an example of child like faith. Children believe what they are told. Sometimes it is good while other times, not so much. Regardless, as people grow, they begin to build walls in their hearts, blocking things the Holy Spirit may have for us, because it may seem “illogical” or “unreasonable”. 

Now the obvious question would be “Where do the walls come from?” 

Well, when we are hurt by others, the devil likes to put thoughts in our minds such as “they just want to hurt you, you should never talk to them again!”

If one chooses to believe the lie, they build an imaginary wall in their mind. Eventually, as the process repeats itself, these walls turn into a prison that holds the person who built it captive.  Not only does it trap them, it locks people out who want to love and minister to them. It also prevents God from doing a work in them. It blocks the wounded person from receiving healing from God that they need.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting arguments that exalt itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.” 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (NKJV)

This means that we must shut down the lies of the enemy by fighting with the weapons of our warfare (meaning the sword of the spirit, the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, and so on). I believe it is very important to hold up the shield of faith when the enemy tries to argue that God is wrong, or that He does not love everyone unconditionally, that some are loved, and some are not. The enemy wants everyone to believe that because one is going through a rough situation, they are no longer worthy to be in the presence of God. 

This is where practicing faith comes in.  When people choose to not look at their circumstances, and choose to believe the promises of God, that is when the walls come down.

When the walls that were created from a place of hurt come down, the hardened heart created long ago by the enemy can then be healed by God. Once the wounds are healed, a pure heart of flesh remains, where there was once a heart of stone.

I will conclude with a word that was given to me in a rough season. I went up for an altar call one day, and a pastor came up to me and told me he saw me in a field of flowers as a little girl in a white dress. I was holding hands with Jesus and dancing with Him in the field. He confirmed something in me that I was questioning. He proceeded to tell me that I was not a reject or an outcast, that I was God’s girl. That day a healing took place in me. Strongholds were broken, and I caught a glimpse of that childlike faith I had lost sight of so long ago. It was almost as if God took all my broken pieces and put me back together the way I am supposed to be. When I am in a rough season and questioning my faith, I always look back to that day. The day God restored me.

How Bad Do You Want It?| By Chelsea Verdin

What does desperate faith look like?

For me, it is the story of the paralyzed man in the gospels. 

“A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’” Mark 2:1-5 (NIV)

Most recently, after hearing this story for what seemed like the millionth time in service, I could hear Jesus ask me, “How desperate are you? How far are you willing to go?” 

It was kind of like a “what would you do for a Klondike bar” moment. 

What would I do to meet with Jesus? How far would I go to see His glory? How desperate am I for His presence? 

I was baffled, and honestly, I wanted to say “Lord, I would do anything, go anywhere just to be with you.” 

That was my heart’s intentions and cries because of how much I love Jesus, but as I have looked at my life, I have seen where I have fallen short. It has made me reevaluate my desperation for Christ.

You see the level of our desperation depends on the level of our want. How bad do we want it? 

If a drug addict can sell everything they own for something that ultimately destroys their body, then why are we not more desperate for Christ who is good and ultimately the giver of life? 

Maybe our problem as Christians is not that we are addicted to Christ’s goodness and the work of His glory, (it is very easy for most of us to pray about things we need or want), but maybe it is that we have not spent enough time with Jesus to have developed an addiction for more of Him. Just more of what He can give us.

Just as the four friends who carried their friend on a mat showed Jesus their faith, we must also be willing to go the extra mile in our actions. They could have spoken their desperation and later brought Jesus to their friend, but that was not good enough for them. They needed Jesus to see him, to see their hunger, to feel the intensity of how badly they wanted their friend healed. When our actions match the intent of our heart, we have stepped into pure desperation.

Those friends could have seen the crowd and the impossibility to get through, but they reasoned in their minds that turning back seemed more impossible than getting to Jesus. We have to come to a point when we are so utterly desperate for the presence and glory of Jesus that the impossible seems logical.

We have to be willing to climb those mountains, dig those openings, and lay ourselves paralyzed by the world, but desperate to sit at the feet of Jesus.

Your Will be Done| By Zuzana Niedelova

Looking for a job can be lots of hard work. Most of us have been there. Our enthusiasm at the beginning slowly drops and changes to discouragement, and suddenly, we are only a step away from frustration.

That is what happened to me a few weeks ago. After a dreadfully difficult season, I came to a point when I was applying for any and every job that I came across, but nothing seemed to work out in my favor. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, an ad popped up in my browser saying a Christian youth working organization was hiring.

The position seemed like all I ever wanted – working with young people from various backgrounds and organizing projects to bring a bit of Jesus into their lives. It would even work around my part-time studies and the other job I do – perfect. So I applied and started praying: 

“Lord, I’ll be honest. This job looks amazing, and I’d absolutely love to do it, but if it’s not something you want for me, make it clear. Your will be done!”

The time went by, and I still had that prayer in the back of my head – you know the best, Lord, do your work.

A day before the application deadline, I was hanging out with a friend who happened to be looking for a job too. She was a youth worker as well. As her friend, I told her about this opportunity. Long story short, she got the job, and I did not.

Did I know it was not the most strategic move? Of course I did. Did I help her find the application and figure out what to do? You bet I did. Was I upset when she told me she got the job? Well, how could I be?

Throughout the whole time I was praying, “Lord, I trust you, do it your way.”

So when I had that chat trying to convince her to apply, I knew it was not lowering my chances to get the position.

I knew if God wanted me to work with those specific young people, I would. If He had someone better than me, great! I would not want to be in God’s way of blessing others. So when she came to me with a deep regret in her eyes and told me she was offered the position, I was filled with joy, not only because she needed this kind of change, but because God’s will for the place was to use my good friend who I became so proud of.

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10 (NKJV)

Often, it is so easy to pray for God’s will to be done here on earth, but how many times do we actually trust Him as strongly as we proclaim we do? To be honest, my reaction surprised me a little bit too. I thought I would have been hurt much more if I had not gotten the job, let alone if my friend got it instead.

But you know what? It does not matter.

It does not matter because if we pray for God’s will to be done, we give up all of our expectations, humble ourselves and choose to trust no matter what happens.

We give up the right to think we know what is the best; we are willing to follow God even if it does not match our own plan. Praying for God’s will to be done does not mean everything will work out for us, but we can be sure it will work out for His Kingdom, if we only trust Him enough to rejoice in that.

Take a minute now, close your eyes if you can and pretend you are all alone. Forget everything you need to do or what you have just done. It is only you and the Lord.

Can you see how good He is?

How mighty and loving He is?

That He is on your side?

Are you going to trust him and pray for His will to be done, leaving your hopes and ideas behind? Do not worry. He is a good Father, and He is holding you in His mighty hand. His will be done.

Leap of Faith| By T’eoria Murray

“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is evidence of things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)

In the summer before my senior year of college, I felt a tug on my heart to commit to a year of full-time ministry. As I sat before God in my devotions each morning, I heard Him whisper, “Take this leap. I’ll catch you.”

My breath caught in my throat every time I thought of it. The idea was ludicrous. I was an international student. What about my plans to move on to medical school? I was an only child and from a single parent home. How would my family feel about this break in my education? It just was not reasonable. I must have gotten my wires crossed. But the gentle, insistent urging would not go away. 

One morning, I went to a youth Bible study where the speaker got up and simply read Hebrews 11. I would read this chapter myself at least a dozen times, but that day I saw it through different eyes.

I saw each scene in my mind’s eye as the chapter laid out example after example of how faith played a role in a believer’s life. By faith, Abel offered a sacrifice, Enoch was translated, and Noah prepared an ark on dry land. Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. Barren Sarah was able to conceive a child, becoming an ancestor of a great nation. Abraham offered Isaac back to God, being as ready to return the promised son- his only son- as he had been to receive him. Isaac blessed his sons. Moses chose hardship with his Hebrew brothers over a life of sinful ease with the Egyptians. The Israelites walked through the Red Sea on dry ground. They marched around Jericho and saw the walls fall flat. Rahab believed in their God and was delivered from the destruction. 

Gideon. Samson. Jephthah. David. Samuel. 

“By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight.” Hebrews 11: 33-34 (NLT)

These heroes of the faith held on to God’s promises because they trusted Him. They saw by faith what God saw, often only in part. However, they trusted the heart of the Father, that He would not lead them where He would not sustain them. Of course, this did not always mean a happy ending in this life. 

“Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword… destitute…oppressed…mistreated. They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.” Hebrews 11:36-38 (NLT)

The apostle Paul continues that while their faith was commendable, they did not see the complete fulfillment of God’s promises. That is because this story is still being written. It continues with those of us who are still carrying on the faith, still holding the banner of Christ in a dark and troubled world. I decided to accept God’s call to dedicate a year to Him in missions and felt a peace and assurance beyond any I had ever experienced. 

The next year was one of triumphs and hard lessons, close fellowship and intense conflict, numerous joys and frustrations. With a team of nine other young people, I was able to travel across the United States ministering at schools, churches, and juvenile detention centers. The year culminated with two unforgettable months in Guyana where dozens of people accepted Christ and were baptized. The experiences of that year will stay with me forever. 

What is God calling you to do for Him today? Is He asking you to make a sacrifice? Abel did that, and his faith still speaks to us today. Has He placed a project on your heart that does not make sense to anyone else? Noah obeyed and his family was saved. Does He seem to be asking you to give up a cherished dream? Abraham obeyed and God provided. Is He calling you to be a voice for an oppressed group? Moses was faithful, and he led Israel out of slavery to the borders of the Promised Land. Has He brought you face to face with what appears to be an impossible obstacle? The Israelites obeyed Him and saw Jericho’s gigantic walls collapse. 

If God has called you to take a leap of faith, do not deny Him the opportunity to work in and through you. Take a leap and His arms will be there to catch you.

“God will make this happen, for He who calls you is faithful.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24 (NLT)

God Keeps His Promises| By Tori Savoy

Promises sometimes can feel like empty words. When you are going through the valley, it can be hard to see the promise of the mountain top. So many times we wait so long we begin to think that the promise just does not exist.

I have been here several times in my life. Have you ever prayed for something for so long that you finally give up praying for it? You begin to accept the situation you are in instead of believing God will turn it around.

God has given me several promises in my life, some of which I am still waiting to see come to pass. However, no matter how many times He has come through, I still doubt those unfulfilled promises.

If you have been following my story, you know the last several years have been a battle with my health. I have gone from doctor to doctor trying to get answers. It has been the hardest road, but God promised He would be glorified through it.

Many have been touched by my health story, but I kept asking God, “When will I be touched? When will my healing come?”.

One thing He has taught me through this process is that He did not bring me this far to leave me here.

“‘Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?’ says the Lord. ‘Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?’ says your God.” Isaiah 66:9

Just because your hard season is lasting a long time, does not mean that God has abandoned you or forgotten His promise.

He recently told me my season of struggles was coming to an end. With the progress I had been making in my health, I truly felt this was going to be the end of my health struggles.

A few days later, I saw my doctor who informed me that my thyroid levels were doing much better, and it was time to lower my medicine dosage. Everything else came back doing much better, and she said I was headed in the right direction to recovery. My healing had finally come after years of prayer.

I know when you are in the middle of waiting for your promise it seems like the sun will never come up. Sometimes it feels like you will be waiting the rest of your life.

Do not give up hope. Sarah waited years for her promise of her child, but it came. The Israelites waited in captivity for the promise of a deliverer.

Your child is coming. Your deliverer is coming. He hears your prayers and knows your heart. He did not bring you through the valley to not take you up the mountain.

“Lord, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God.” ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭38:15‬

Being Still in the Midst of Anxiety| By Jasmine Beard

Heart pounding, thoughts going a mile a minute, scared, terrified for no apparent reason.

I was 18 when I had my last major panic attack. I was leaving college and was headed on my way home when I was hit with sheer panic and confusion. It may have been 8 years ago, but I still remember my thoughts directly after the incident. I thought:

“what’s wrong with me?”

“What is this?”

“Will it happen again?”

“What if something really bad happens when/if it happens again?”

If you cannot tell, I was a bit of a worrier at that age, and if I am not careful, I can still go into a cycle of worrying, fear and eventual panic attacks. I like order, plans, and control, but life is simply not predictable.

Honestly, anxiety makes sense in our world because of the sheer pressure we put on ourselves and on other people. My days are filled with ever ending lists, juggling jobs, ministry, bills, starting a non-profit organization, trying to maintain a normal social life for a 20-something  year-old woman, and much much more, but I will spare you.

On top of all of our ever growing to-do lists, throw in unplanned life happenings, and it can turn some of us into the biggest worrywarts and anxiety-ridden folks. I cannot tell you the amount of acquaintances, coworkers, friends, and relatives I know who battle anxiety on a regular if not on a daily basis.

One day recently in the midst of my ever growing lists and unforeseen situations, I heard the Holy Spirit whispering to my heart for a slower pace and for a season of rest.

If you are anything like me, you cringe when you hear that word. I cringe not because I do not want to rest (because trust me, I really do, like really.) But my question was, how?!

How was I supposed to rest when my world was spinning? That’s when Psalms 46:10 began to ring in my ear, it says:

“Be still and know that I am God…” Psalms 46:10 (ESV)

I have always loved this passage of scripture, but up until recently, I have never dug deep into the meaning of this.

Most of us have heard this scripture before. Maybe when you read it you picture yourself waiting quietly and expectantly waiting for a whisper from Heaven. Although that is not a bad thing, when we dig deeper into this scripture we learn that the Hebrew root of be still is not “to be quiet”, but rather “to let go”.

This may sound crazy if you are a planner, a doer, and maybe even a worrier like me. Even with knowing scriptures like “who has ever added a day to their life by worrying? (Matthew 6:27)”, I still find that worry can be my initial reaction instead of faith.

Maybe you feel like that today. You worry about the big stuff and even the little things that maybe do not matter as much. I want to encourage you to let go of your anxieties and worries and place them into the hands of your Heavenly Father.

It is all little stuff to Him and fails in comparison to how BIG our God is.

So let’s position in our hearts to be still and to know…..

To know that God is making a way for that light bill to be payed.

To know God is making a way for your baby to be healed.

To know God is making a way for you to get that raise at work.

To know that God is making a way for YOU.

He is making a way that allows you to let go of every anxiety, worry, and pain, and for you to trust Him at His word that “He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

Remember that God is walking through every step of life with you holding your hand, longing to carry your burdens and guide your every step. Let go of the pressure you place on yourself. You are not called to carry the weight of your burdens one little bit. Just let go and know that God is trustworthy and faithful to work all of our anxieties out all on His own if we just trust Him.

“Many put their hope in chariots, others in horses, but we place our trust in the name of the Eternal One, our True God.” Psalms 20:7 (Voice)