The Battle Raging Inside

Worthless. A failure. Incompetent. Stupid.

Maybe these are words someone has called you. You know people don’t have to use those exact words; it can be implied in the tone of voice they use, and the way they look at you.

What makes them even worse is when they are reinforced over time. Months and years can pass, with these painful things being burned into your conscience.

But they are all lies.

This is the spiritual battle we face every day, inside of ourselves. This is the fortress, the stronghold that the devil has built up in our minds. And he likes to make his home there, inside that fortress. He doesn’t plan on leaving. He feeds you those lies; that you’re worthless and incompetent. But they can seem so true when they are coming from inside you.

We are given amazing weapons of God that are mighty. We use them to stand against the evil one, defeat his lies, and force him to submit to the Holy Spirit.

The Armor of God; Ephesians 6:10-18

“10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

We should cover the battlefield with prayer. If we don’t, we’ll soon fall behind in the spiritual war. Jesus is our example, and He always found time to pray.

Remember when He was in the Garden of Gethsemane, right before He was betrayed? He told His disciples to watch and pray, while He went off by Himself to pray fervently.

And they fell asleep. That same night, Peter denied the Lord 3 times. I’d like to think, had he been awake praying, he would’ve been ready for that spiritual battle. He would have proclaimed that he did know Jesus. He didn’t know the power of prayer.

God wants us to surrender the keys to the fortress to Him. Not only that, He will will empower the Holy Spirit in us, so we can demolish the stronghold. Then we can take those lies and compare them with the infallible truth of scripture.

Because you are worth God sacrificing His son to save you. You are not a failure, you are serving the Lord with joy. You are not incompetent or stupid, you read the word and practice wisdom. You are a chosen child of the King, that has a unique testimony that is priceless.

Don’t let hate, pain, or sorrow become the stronghold you keep inside. Be firmly founded on the Rock of our Salvation, Jesus Christ.

Love in Christ,

Ariel

Check out my inspiration:

5/22/16 Sermon by Pastor John Nunnally

 

 

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On the Bright Side

 

It has been brought to my attention, that some people do have things go according to plan.

I was a little shocked, to be honest.

In my life, things don’t go according to plan all the time. Things I order online can get lost, or they send the wrong thing. I am a bona fide red light magnet. I have to allow 5 extra minutes whenever I go anywhere.

And I always pick the longest line at the grocery store. 😉

I’m not being cynical at all. These are just really common occurrences in my life, so I look at them as facts.

Things go crazy, life is turned upside down. But where is your focus when everything comes crashing down? A lot of times, my focus is on me. My troubles, my decisions, and how and when it will all end.

But that is where anxiety creeps in. When you are so focused on all the what-ifs, you lose sight of the big picture. Worse than that, you lose sight of the One who has the complete picture.

So here is your chance to take a step back, and try to see things from a new perspective. Yes, the little things in life will get to you. They will frustrate you so much that all you want to do in sink into self pity. But look up, and see that the Light is still shining.

Light of the world

John 8:12 “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Let His light shine on your circumstances, and you’ll see that they are not as dark and bleak as you had thought before. Even on your darkest, saddest days, His light still shines. Will you walk away from it, or towards it? Reside in the light of His Presence, and know the peace that passes all understanding.

 

 

heart ~Ariel

Bible reference: Bible Gateway

Picture: Pinterest

Think About It

Philippians 48

Philippians 4:8 NIV

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

This is the way to control our thought lives. We must be willing to take every thought captive, and submit it to the will of the Holy Spirit.

Believe me, I know it is hard. But it becomes easier with practice.

What do you focus on? What gives you the most happiness? What are your doubts?

Whenever I become down or depressed, I take time to be alone, and pray. Then I ask God, are the things I’m telling myself true? Is what that person said about me true? Is that thought lovely?

He will tell you, if you take time to listen. I am so grateful God gave us a guide to live by. Some people may argue that the Bible isn’t relevant to modern day. They would be wrong. The truths and promises laid out in God’s word are timeless. We get to learn about the history of our faith, and the people God chose to lead the way. And most importantly, we learn about salvation through Jesus Christ.

Our God is timeless, trustworthy, and omnipotent. He is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.

So a mind and heart focused on Him is pure indeed.

Whenever your thoughts get out of control, take a moment and give them to God. Ask Him to replace your thoughts with His. Be filled the joy that comes from knowing that He loves you.

No matter what.

In Christ,

Ariel

Verses found on Pinterest and Biblegateway

Who Are You?

"Just be yourself. Let people see the real, imperfect, flawed, quirky, weird, beautiful, magical person that you are."

Who are you, deep down?

Are you the person you had always hoped you’d be?

Why or why not?

I have always been one to support authenticity. You, being you. I don’t get hung up on what other people think of me.

But that wasn’t always the case.

I’m a recovering people pleaser. I still love to bring a smile to a person’s face, and do all I can to make their day brighter. But my goal in life isn’t to win the affection or attention of others.

My goal is to please and bring glory to God, every day. I used to think this was really hard to do. After all, how do you please the One who is holy and fully righteous?

You please Him by using the gifts and abilities He has given you to show His love to people. You please Him when you go out of your way to help someone. Spend time with Him in prayer and quietness. Realize that he delights in you!

“The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
Do you believe that God loves to rejoice over you? That you are His beloved child?
The opinions of others will never change the fact that God. Loves. You. You don’t have to live your life trying to gain approval from the world. If you are seeking the Lord and His will in your life, I can assure you that you will see His love and peace fill your heart and soul.
Are you ready for that?
In Christ,
Ariel

When Plans Go Awry

We plan, we muse, we decide. We think we know exactly what will happen, because we were so meticulous and disciplined in our efforts to plan the ideal day.

But at the end of the day, it’s not up to you.

It’s not up to you at the beginning of the day either.

I struggle with this, but you know what? I’ve gotten so much better.

Because when my plans go awry, I know God’s plan must be better.  He knew He had to derail my plan, so that I would follow His. It’s not that I’m always stubbornly walking in a different direction, but rather I don’t always see that my way is not compatible with His.

And then there are times when you realize the evil one has tripped you up… making it hard to find the narrow road again.

Plans change, but God does not. I want that fact to reassure you, not scare you. We can fully trust God because He is unchanging, and promises to work things together for the good of those who love Him.

Now, my daily hope is that God will guide me in the plan that He has for me. I want to be so close to His heart, that my first reaction is to be kind, loving, and understanding when things turn upside down.

Don’t fall into the pit of complaining and negativity when your plans fall apart. Once you get down there, it may be hard to dig yourself out. I’d like to challenge you to see it as an opportunity; to follow a new path, meet new people, and show God’s love to those you may not have even seen today, if it weren’t for Him taking the wheel.

Every time I surrender, and remember that God’s got this, I am filled with peace.


No matter where I am. No matter who I am with. No matter how many plans fall to the wayside. When my focus is on glorifying God with my life, He will turn my topsy turvy life right side up… and fill my heart with joy.

 

Praying you realize God’s plans for you are good, and that He will give you everything you need to press on.

In Christ,

Ariel

The Beauty of the Past

I just spent an amazing weekend helping my Upon the Rock Camp family put on a fundraising banquet. I have been a part of this camp since I was a camper. This is my 16th summer knowing and loving this family and the camp they have been building.

It reminded me how much I miss them, and wish that camp wasn’t such a long drive away.

You know what touched me the most about my visit? The fact that the girls, 15 and 14, remembered a lot of fun things we had done together, at camp and when I lived with them as a camp intern, really made my heart happy.

We reminisced about crazy camp stories, campers that tested our patience, and how we all felt like family.

They even named an action after me… called the sassy Ariel; using your index finger to show just how opinionated or serious you are about the matter at hand, and is also a friendly warning not to mess with the person speaking. 😉

We laughed and laughed, but eventually it was time for me to go. As I drove away early Sunday morning, I had tears in my eyes. I miss them, and wish the visit had been longer.

Even the sunrise seemed to bid me farewell:

20150426_060522

I want to ask you to remind someone about a great memory you have of them. It can be from years ago, or more recently. The fact that you remembered them will touch their heart in ways you can’t imagine. Go brighten someone’s day by showing you value and enjoy them!

heartAriel

He is calling, will you answer?

“Make every effort to accept as your calling the life I have assigned to you… If I have called you to a situation, I will give you everything you need to endure it–and even to find joy in the midst of it.” Sarah Young

Life; here and now, is what He has called you too! I always thought of my “calling” as something specific that would happen in the future. But He calls us every day! To rise up, face challenges, and bring Him glory. We are called to represent the light of Christ in this dark world.

I’ll admit I get caught up in my hopes for the future… and sometimes miss out on the blessings of today! God has called us to live in today, not worry about tomorrow. There are many people you will come into contact with today. How will you show them the love of Christ?

It’s true, loving others and reaching out will take you out of your comfort zone. It’s easy to fall into a routine, day in, day out. But His calling on your life remains. When you know the love of Christ, His spirit in you should make you eager to share it. His love is so deep, there is enough to spread throughout the whole world… so how about we start with our own little corners of it?

The situations at home, work, and within ourselves may be challenging. But when we are focused on God, He gives us everything we need to endure it, and even find some joy in the midst of it!

My current situation has me in a period of waiting… which is so against my nature. I like to go places, meet people, and experience new things. God has shown me that I needed this slow time to reconnect with old friends, build new friendships, appreciate my family, and grow closer to Him. He has been, and will be, my Joy!

Inspiration for this post is from the devotional “Jesus Today” by Sarah Young. I highly recommend it!

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

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

Camp Craziness

Photograph by Tessa Powell

Photograph by Tessa Powell (Counselors at Upon the Rock Christian Camp, overseeing archery with 8 year olds)

Oh. My. Goodness. Camp was crazy. There were barely 2 minutes to close my eyes and rest, before I needed to jump out of bed and motivate some campers.

My prayer was that God would be glorified through the amazing people that served as staff for Upon the Rock Christian Camp.

God answered a hearty “yes” to that prayer! I had the privilege of being on a 3 woman counseling team that worked well together. We watched over and guided 6 little girls for 5 days.

We did archery, funyaks, Bible time, and campfire (to name a few). We were never on time to anything, but managed to get to Bible time every night (Must have been God’s will!). I was always protecting, loving, praying for and playing with these dear girls.

I was bone-tired, 3 days in.

It was a humbling experience for a girl that loves God, children, the outdoors, and the life-changing nature of Christian camp.

But this was part of God’s plan. I had tried to do it all, but He wanted me to be emptied of myself; my expectations, my plans, my energy.

That is when He filled me. Once I was empty, He filled me with His love, grace, and joy so that I could pour into the lives of the campers. Not on my own strength, but His.

It was the most challenging week of my life, but also very rewarding. One of my campers was asked “What was your favorite part about camp?”. She replied “I learned what it means to quench the Spirit’s fire.” My jaw dropped. Her answer wasn’t art, campfire, or getting her hair braided. Jesus had touched her heart; and that, my friends, is what makes all the effort and tears worth it.