Pursuing God, Part 1

“We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit.” A.W. Tozer

The Lord draws us. Have you felt Him drawing you in? We still have a decision to make; will we pursue God, or stubbornly turn away? He accepts us and wants us, no matter our past.

The amazing part is, even the moment we decide to follow God, we are already held in His hand. He is already guiding us.

Psalm 42:1-2

“1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
    so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When can I go and meet with God?”

“This is deep calling unto deep, and the longing heart will understand it.” A.W. Tozer

When was the last time you felt this way about the Lord? That your soul felt so dry and parched, that all you could think about was going to the Lord and being refreshed by Him? Some days I do long to be with Him, to not only be refreshed but to rejoice in His presence.

Did you know you can receive Christ, without a special love for Him being created in you? You can be saved after giving your life to Him, but still not be thirsty after God. We have been told that it’s okay, now you have your fire insurance and can go back to business as usual.

But where is the fire, the passion of being a Christ follower? Some days the fire may be puttering out, your spirit is dry and needs to be fed from the fountain of life. We do this by praying and seeking the Lord humbly. Read His word, get to know Him and the plans He has for you. When you are willing and ready to obey, His blessings become more obvious, and your passion for Him grows as you see His promises fulfilled in your life.

Sometimes we are so distracted by the miracles and wonders of God’s word, that we forget how personal and real He is. Personalities recognize other personalities in our daily lives. We need to get to know God, the Person.

John 17:3 (NIV)

“3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

“God is a Person, and in the deep of His mighty nature He thinks, wills, enjoys, feels, loves, desires, and suffers as any other person may.” He wants to make Himself known to us by His personality. He communicates to us through our minds, emotions, and wills. The exchange of love and thought between God and the souls of redeemed men and women help us know Him and serve Him wholeheartedly.

Check back next week for the continuation of this study on the book: The Pursuit of God, by A.W. Tozer!It's a bit wordy, but overall a great book. :

This blog post was inspired by the writings of A.W. Tozer, and the quotes are taken directly from his book: The Pursuit of God, chapter 1.

Bible quotes were found on: Biblegateway.com

Book picture found at: Pinterest

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Come to Me and Rest

Sometimes you just want to raise that white flag. You have tried to have a heart of love and peace, but the situation you’re facing never seems to change.

Matthew 11:28 NIV

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

We all reach a point of exhaustion. We are weary from trekking on and on, up the steep mountain passes. The view never clears up, the clouds continue to loom overhead.

So take time to rest. Talk to the One who created your heart and knows you better than anyone. Maybe you think the Lord doesn’t want to be bothered with what you’re going through; but I’m positive that He does. It is not insignificant or unimportant, namely because you are His child, and He cares for you.

When you take time to rest and pray, the clouds may still be there. But know deep in your heart that the mountain peak is still there, and that it is breathtakingly beautiful. And that is your future! We have full assurance through salvation that we will join Christ in heaven someday! Nothing could be more beautiful than that.

What about now, you ask? You don’t want life to be miserable. And it won’t always be this way. What I do know is that God will give you strength. He will give you glimpses of His glory through creation. He will encourage you through the words of a friend. He will answer the prayers of those who are petitioning Him on your behalf.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV

Rejoice always,  pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

No one likes to be told to just be thankful for what you do have. Even more challenging is to thank the Lord for the trial He has allowed into your life.

But I hope you will try thanking Him. Not really for the bad thing happening, just that He is going to create good through it. Thank Him for loving you, for never leaving you. You are going through the refining fire, and it can burn sometimes. Just remember when you choose to follow Christ through it, you truly shine!

I am praying for everyone that reads this. I wish you didn’t have the pain and suffering. I desire to encourage you through this blog, and would even give you a hug and pray with you if I could! If you need extra prayer, leave me a message or comment.

Love in Christ,

Ariel

Time to Trust

Trust.

Commit

Sometimes it feels like I’ve got it down.

It becomes second nature… until things get turned upside down. You get pulled in a million different directions, and everyone and everything is top priority. It’s nice to feel wanted, and you wish that warm feeling would stay.

But it gets pushed out by the demands. Time squeezes you tighter, and breathing gets harder.

But you know it won’t always be so hard. You look back and see times in your life that weren’t this hectic.

I think that’s why God lets us have seasons when He sends us just a few smaller things to trust Him with. So we can learn to walk in faith, one step at a time. He is training us to be able to take the leap of faith He knows is coming down the road.

Being able to commit your life to someone requires incredible amounts of trust. You have to trust that the other person will love you and care for you for a lifetime. When they love and serve the Lord with their whole heart, this is possible. Not only is it possible, I’ve seen it happen.

I’ve seen this love and trust in the marriage of my parents, fiance’s parents, and grandparents. Through mentors, Sunday school leaders, and pastors. Because Christ is in them; and they are seeking the Lord daily. Their bond is deeper because their love is drawn from the Lord; and poured into their spouse.

Christ is selfless, understanding, and encouraging. He also gives reality checks can remove us from our stupor of self-focus. He cares for us so deeply, so unconditionally.

And that is what He calls us to do for our spouse.

I will be getting married soon, and I am so excited for that day! Joe is a man that truly loves the Lord and serves Him with his life; and I am honored to become his wife. The thing that first attracted me to him is the Jesus I see in him; and I know that love and attraction will only continue to grow. I love everything about him, and look forward to a lifetime of adventures with him!

In Christ,

Ariel

P.S. Thanks for being such an encouragement Joe! Life with you is a grand adventure 🙂

The Heart of a Dreamer

To Live

We are the warriors, ready to slay the dragon.

We dream of a world with more laughter and less pain.

We see more than meets the eye.

We are the Dreamers.

As a dreamer, we believe we can accomplish anything we set our minds too. And sometimes, we don’t understand when others give up easily.

Big Dreams, Big Risks

Do they not know that the biggest dreams require the biggest risks? That seeing something come to life takes a lot of sweat and tears?

Have you given up? Maybe you dreamed, and the dream came up empty. You tried, and everything fell apart… or you were too afraid to try. Did someone, somewhere, tell you that you couldn’t do it? That you’d never be good enough, smart enough, or good-looking enough to reach your dream? Please stop believing those lies.

Take a moment to soak this in: God isn’t done with you. He still has dreams and plans for your life.

Deep down, you know it’s true.

You let the dream go, thinking it could never be. But is that hope I see? That little seed of your dream has just been dormant. Now that it is seeing light, it wants to grow. Will you water it? Some days it may seem to just sit there, not growing or changing. But don’t let it wither away. Work at it, fertilize it, and give it sunlight.

Even More Beautiful

When the time is right, God will bring about a more beautiful bloom than you imagined. Actually, it will be quite different than what you thought the seed would produce. But isn’t that what makes it even more beautiful? The fact that you can tell it was not of your own doing, but Christ at work in and through you, bringing your dream into being?

Guess what?! You are not limited to one dream. On the contrary, you shall have many dreams. Not all of them will be your job to see through from start to finish. You will need people to join you in making your dream happen, people who believe in you, and people to make you think outside the box. Then they may take on your dream as their own, and God calls you elsewhere.

Keep Dreaming!

Either way, keep dreaming, keep fighting, and keep believing. The adventure with Christ is a lifelong one… and someday I truly desire to hear “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” from the One who loved me and held my hand every day of the journey.

Are you excited for an awfully big adventure?

 

Inspiration for this blog is from:

You’re Made for a God-sized Dream, by Holley Gerth

Choose to Give Hope

Do you have hope? Hope that the trials and pain you are dealing with will end someday? Did you grow up in a home where you were told you would never amount to anything?

My heart aches for children who are robbed of their childhoods. It could be from abuse, neglect, child labor, trafficking, having to raise their siblings, or poverty. These children have no hope. If no one believes in them, they don’t even know that life can be better. They begin to believe they deserve to be poor, or to be hurt.

Compassion International is a Christian child sponsorship organization.  I happily volunteer to represent them and their mission to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name. I sponsor Balachandar, a boy in India. I’ve been sponsoring him for 5 years. Through my sponsorship, he has education, healthcare, food and clean water… and the opportunity to know Jesus Christ! With that he has hope that lasts. I write to him every month, and when I receive a letter from him, I’m just like a kid on Christmas!

He calls me sister, and I’m very proud of my Indian brother. He is smart, studies hard, loves vacation Bible school, and dreams of a bright future. You can be a dream giver, the one to change a child’s life forever!

I’m praying that God will lead the right people to sponsor Krishnapal in India, and Cristofer in Honduras. These sweet little boys have been entrusted to me to find sponsors for them. I am in no way obligated or paid by Compassion to do so. I am passionate about loving children and giving them hope. Want to join me on the adventure of sponsorship?

You will change their lives… but no one ever tells you how they change yours! You care for and cherish a child halfway across the world, and you’ve never even met them. To know that they need you, love you, and even pray for YOU, is incomparable. It just makes my heart melt.

You may not be able to change the whole world… but you can change the whole world for a child in poverty.

Send me a message if you want to learn more about Compassion and their amazing ministry! Regular blog posts will resume next week.

In Christ,

Ariel

Where’s Your Anchor?

anchor 2

Choppy Waters

You’ve come a long way, and parts of the journey were so much harder than you expected. Sometimes you thought you couldn’t bear the pain and disappointment a moment longer.

What got you through those hard times? I pray that all of you have friends or family in your lives that have helped you shoulder your burdens, lend a listening ear, and just be there for you. I personally recommend having a mentor who is not a relative. They can give you a perspective that is totally new, and get you back on track.

My anchor in the storm is Jesus Christ.

I’ve panicked a time or two as I saw water gushing into my boat. I’m not even a good swimmer, so being surrounded by water (aka trials) could naturally cause anxiety. I wasn’t prepared for this… but God knew that before the storm even came, that I would not feel ready. He knew that I would have to trust Him, and not my own strength.

In Matthew 8, we read of a stormy gale the disciples found themselves in. The disciples struggled with fear and panic during this storm even though many of them were seasoned fishermen!

Matthew 8:23-27 Jesus Calms the Storm

23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

Jesus was not concerned by the waves. In fact, I think He knew they would come. This was an opportunity for the disciples to anchor their trust in Jesus. But their fear caused them to panic.

Even the Wind and the Waves

I’ve felt the rebuke, similar to the one the disciples heard that day. They saw Jesus do a miracle… just think, the wind and waves obeyed Him! The disciples were humbled and amazed. Their faith was strengthened because of it. When God acts, it doesn’t seem to be in our timing, or in the way we expect. Looking back, I’m sure the disciples could see times they could have acted differently, trusted more, or been more prepared.

We can’t undo our past, but we don’t need to. God’s grace covered them, and His grace covers us. We learn from the past so we can have a better tomorrow. We need to live today for God’s glory, and trust Him for tomorrow.

So… where is your anchor?

 

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%208&version=NIV

Do you want joy that lasts?

Joyful journey

Joy.

What is it? Do you think it is the same as happiness? If it was, why do we have a different word to describe it?

God has taught me a lot about joy the past couple years. These have been the most challenging years of my life. I had a difficult job that had me crunching numbers all day (and, as you can see, I prefer writing), moving away to college (and graduating!), and relationships that broke into a million pieces… and left me broken as well.

Wait. I thought this was supposed to be about joy!

It still is. The back story is necessary to show that joy is not the same as happiness. I was not happy trying to develop the math side of my brain, or happy that a close friend told me they’d be there, then broke off our friendship completely.

At those low moments, God wrapped me up in His arms. He gave me peace, and peace’s friend joy showed up too. I decided I wanted them to stay. I love this quote that defines joy:

“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.” Rick Warren

Trusting

Settled assurance reminds me of peacefully trusting God. As a child of God, in the end everything will be alright. It will be way better than alright, it will be awesome! It is a determined choice to praise God. Another way of doing that is thanking Him. Have you tried thanking Him for the trials, such as health issues or broken relationships? Yeah right, you say. Honestly, a few years ago, thanking Him for those things would’ve sounded ridiculous to me too. But not anymore.

Why? Because when I thank God for what He will do through the difficulties, I am showing Him I trust Him. His ways are much higher than mine, and I believe He has a plan for me.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

What Now?

The situation may not change. The friend may never ask for forgiveness, and your health concerns may stick around. What truly changes is our attitude. Thanking God, and therefore praising Him, opens your heart to receive the amazing, incomparable joy that He gives lavishly. Go on and soak it up!

John 15:10-12 

“If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (Jesus’ words)

Thanks for reading! I’m praying that you will be abundantly blessed with the joy of the Lord.

 

References:

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+15:9-11&version=NIV

http://rickwarren.org/devotional/english/the-definition-of-joy

Stopped in My Tracks

Unstoppable.

Invincible.

Determination.

We have a goal so we keep our nose to the grindstone. We persevere, knowing that our efforts will eventually pay off.

All of a sudden, things come crashing down. The deal that we planned on, the friend that wasn’t there when you needed them most, plans that held hope come up dry, and your own health seems to be against you.

You tried so hard. If the goal could have been attained by sheer determination, you wouldn’t be facing this failure.

But I think that’s the point.

I was pressing on toward the goal of being in the best shape of my life. I love the outdoors, and poured that passion into cycling to work. On my way back one day, I took a drink of water, and before I knew it I was flying…over my handlebars. Face meets concrete. Shock sets in. Pain and confusion are foremost on my mind. I unpin myself from my bike, and retrieve my beat up water bottle. I hobble off the path, and sit on a rock. I called in my awesome hero of a dad.

People stopped to help me, and I waved them on, explaining my help was coming. I was so grateful they cared.

I did a self assessment, and was amazed and grateful that nothing was broken. My knee swelled, as did my face. I knew this would set me back on my workout routine, and I was frustrated. I tried so hard! Why do crazy things always happen to me?

That’s Life

It is crazy, unpredictable, and unique to each person. Through my crash, God taught me that I am stoppable, quite human, and that being fast probably shouldn’t be my goal… 😉 He told me to slow down, and look around. Sometimes I’m so stubborn that He literally stops me in my tracks. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. It is always an eye-opening experience, though I don’t really like the pain it causes.

You will never get to live this day again! It is a uniquely beautiful gift from God to you. Being stopped in my tracks made me return my focus to Christ, and not worry so much about my future plans… for I know they are tentative, for God is the ultimate planner and giver of dreams.

So… I’m holding on tight to His hand as He trains me to follow Him: wholeheartedly, everyday.

“I’ve always found that anything worth achieving will always have obstacles in the way and you’ve got to have that drive and determination to overcome those obstacles on route to whatever it is that you want to accomplish.”

Chuck Norris

Bloom and Grow

Abe Lincoln 2

Stop and Smell the Roses

Flowers are lovely. They cheer me up just by looking at them… and let’s be real, I always stop to smell the roses. It reminds me of my Creator, and that He cares about me (us) more than the rose I just had the pleasure of beholding.

Think about rose bushes in the spring. They begin to green up, and the thorns grow bigger. Then slowly, buds form… and one glorious day they bloom! Not all at once, but in stages.

Roses are hardy. And so are we.

Just as roses bloom and grow, the challenges in our life either weigh us down, or force us upward. Resentment, confusion, and sin can stunt our growth and limit our perspective. That is when God gets out His pruning shears. Sometimes I cringe knowing that pain and ugliness will be revealed. But when I remember that pruning brings me closer to God, and allows me to bloom, I rejoice in it.

“Pruning is about more than just looks; proper pruning improves the health of your rose bush (your life), prevents disease and encourages better flowering.” http://www.heirloomroses.com/care/pruning/

Dry Spell

You may be in a drought; you aren’t catching a break, you are unhappy, and you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel… But I hope that you will allow God to change your perspective to see beauty all around you, such as the smile of a loved one, a beautiful sunset, and an encouraging word. The unpleasant may still be there, but that’s when we remember that even flowers have to grow through dirt.

flower through dirt