Don’t Give Up

Have you ever been told that you cannot achieve anything? Have bullies told you that you are a loser and worthless? Have people mocked your dreams and tried to stop you from bringing your dreams to reality? Or, have you allowed fear of failure or fear of rejection stop you from moving forward?

I have!

Bullies have called me names, told me I was a loser. People who were supposed to be my “friends” mocked my dreams and what I wanted to achieve. I have allowed fear of rejection to stop me in my tracks. But, not anymore! It doesn’t matter what people say about me. Greater is He who is in me, than he who is in the world-1 John 4:4. No longer will I be sitting on the sidelines, but I am getting on the field, ready to play the game. I am ready to do what God has called me to do.

The same thing goes for you. Greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world. It is time to stop sitting on the sidelines, being a benchwarmer…it is time to get on the field and be all God created YOU to be. It is time to look at the opponent (the enemy) straight in the eye, and tell him to get behind you because you are moving forward with full force, not looking back. With God on your side, who can stop you? What may seem impossible to you, is possible with Him! You are meant for so much more.

Sure, getting on the field will be challenging at first. When you walk in the calling God has for you, it is great and exciting, but nerve-racking at the same time because of the unknown. That is why we have faith and trust that God will work out all things on our behalf. Romans 8:28 [NKJV] says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God…” In junior high and high school, I played basketball. I remember the first time I got on the basketball court facing our school’s rival. I was excited to be one of the 5 starters, but I was nervous at the same time. I was usually the one who started the game. I thought, “What if I mess up?” “What if I knock the ball out of bounds?” “What if I get hurt?” Then, the referee blew his whistle, I looked up at the ball, jumping as high as I could to slap the ball to my teammate…those first 10 seconds, I was a nervous wreck…but once the game got started, I loved it.

I believe that is the same with all of us. We are excited to do what God has called us to do, and sure it can be challenging; but, we don’t have to let it stop us. God would not lead us somewhere that would bring us harm. He would not put us in a situation we cannot get out of. God would not make us do something if we could not handle it. What kind of father would do that to his child? The Bible says in Psalm 84:11 [NKJV], “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

Never allow fear to stop you in your tracks. Don’t allow the naysayers, the critics, the judgers, the bullies, the hypocrites stop you from achieving your dreams. I truly believe that Jesus’ return is so near, closer than we think. Let that be your motivation to do what God has called you do. Let that be your motivation to accomplish all that you can. Don’t hide your talents and gifts from the world because of what people said about you. Jesus mentioned in a parable about the master giving his servants talents (Matthew 25:14-29). As the master left, he gave each servant a certain amount of talents. They didn’t know when the master would return. When the master returned, he asked the servants what they did with their talents. Two of them invested their talents and the third one buried it in fear, not investing at all. Woe to the third servant! Don’t be like that servant, hiding the gifts and talents that God has deposited inside of you. You are capable because God will give you the strength to achieve it.

I am preaching to myself too! There have been times where I have let fear stop me, but I am dusting the dirt off my shoes and I am going ahead full force, walking on that field! Regardless how many rejections, no’s, judgments thrown my way…I will not stop! We would not have Disney World if Walt Disney gave up because of the multiple “no’s” he received. We would not have “I Love Lucy” if Lucille Ball quit theater because she was told she lacked talent. We would not have Physics if Albert Einstein accepted his teachers calling him stupid. Do you get my point? Don’t give up. Ever. You are here for such a time as this. You are God’s masterpiece created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them-Ephesians 2:10. God has great things in store for you that you cannot imagine. 1 Corinthians 2:9 [NKJV] says, “But as it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those love Him.” God has great things prepared just for you!

Will you join me on the field?

 

 

 

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It’s Your Choice

In life, it can be easy to get caught up in the turmoil of this world and be overwhelmed. It can be easy to complain about the circumstances we are in. When life seems to get tough, it can be easy to become negative. I am not trying to sound harsh here, but we have a choice! We have a choice to let those issues upset us, to become negative, disgruntled, angry, and complain. We also have a choice to not get upset; rather stay focused, positive, determined, keeping our eyes on Jesus, and expecting better days ahead. See, I believe that God looks at our heart and how we respond to Him, even when life is difficult. If your life is peachy right now, I guarantee you, there was either a moment you faced adversity or will you face it in the future. I want to encourage you, regardless what you are dealing with, choose to focus on God and rely on Him in every situation…good and bad. Not good or bad. But, good AND bad.

As some of you may know, if you have been following my blogs and Twitter, I wrote a book titled, “Bullied Yet Victorious: How I Overcame Fear with Faith.” It is about the bullying experiences I went through and how God helped me to overcome. I am passionate about helping teens realize they can be ALL God created them to be, they have a purpose, and God loves them greatly. Bullies don’t determine their future, God does! They are victorious! Why? Because of what Jesus did for them on the cross. It doesn’t matter what people say about them, what matters is what God says about them. While the world may be calling them stupid, ugly, pathetic, worthless, idiot, a loser…God is calling them His child, blessed, worthy, valuable, priceless, beautiful, smart, overcomer, and victorious.

Back in April of this year, I was given the privilege to share my testimony and story at Texas Christian University (TCU) of how I was bullied and how God helped me to overcome. One of the Sociology professors invited me to speak to her class. After my speech, there was a Q&A time. The students asked wonderful questions, but one in particular stood out to me. One young man said, “Clearly, you believe in God and you relied heavily on Him when you were bullied. But, if God is an all knowing God, why did He not stop you from being bullied? Why did He allow you to go through that?” I paused for a second and looked at him directly saying, “That is a good question! Why do bad things happen to good people? It is through adversity our character grows the most…” I truly believe that. Jesus said in John 16:33 [NKJV], These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” I don’t believe God intends for these things to happen, why? Because He loves us so much! Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world. But, I do believe He looks at how we respond to situations and whether or not we grow closer to Him. I don’t view the tough situations I faced in life as God punishing me. I view them as an opportunity for my character to grow and let me tell you…my character has grown!

More times than not, I hear Christians say, “Well God did this to me…” “God, where are you? You are to blame for this” or “God, why are you doing this to me?” and they act like something mysterious happened and God is at fault. When I faced bullying, not once did I blame God; but, I did ask God, “Why me?” And now I know why…to be able to share my testimony with others of how God helped me to overcome bullying, the power of perseverance, and the importance of relying on Him. You have a choice to make, are you going to blame God or are you going to rise higher and overcome the situation? Choice means: “the act of choosing; the act of deciding or picking between two or more possibilities.” It is your choice to magnify the problem or rely on God to bring you through the storm. It is your choice to stay defeated or trust that your brighter days are ahead, that God will bring you out victoriously and stronger than before.

So, my question to you today is: what is your choice? Are you going to rely on the Word of God and grow in your relationship with Him? Or will you become disgruntled and remain defeated? God didn’t call us to be mediocre and become stuck where we are at. We are destined for greatness and He has amazing things in store for you. He has a purpose for your life. The Creator of the Heavens and Earth, loves you so much, do you really think He wants you to be defeated? Of course not! He wants you to come out of the situation you are in victoriously. He is cheering you on! Don’t stop or lose focus, but remain dedicated and determined to keep persevering. Galatians 6:9 [NIV] says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” God is with you and for you, He will NEVER leave you or forsake you. So why doubt? Hebrews 13:5-6 [NKJV] says, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

I encourage you today to rely on the Lord. I encourage you to walk with confidence, shoulders back, head held up high because you are a child of the Most High God. You can overcome anything that comes your way. You will come out of your situation victoriously. Remember, it is through adversity our character grows the most. Expect God to do great things in your life. He has amazing things in store for you that your eyes have not seen, ears have not heard, or your heart cannot comprehend-1 Corinthians 2:9.

It’s your choice!

 

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You Are Victorious

Do you know that you are victorious? Do you know that God has a purpose for your life? So often, we can become consumed with our life and the circumstances that surround us, we can easily feel defeated. When we focus on ourselves, then it robs us of the opportunity to be a blessing to others. But, what if I were to tell you that when you face bullying, you are still victorious. That probably sounds impossible. You might be thinking, “How on earth can I be victorious when people are being mean, calling me names, saying hateful things about me?” Well, you are!

In my book, “Bullied Yet Victorious: How I Overcame Fear with Faith”, I share the bullying incidents I went through and how God helped me to overcome. I am telling you, there is power in standing on God’s Word. He is faithful, just, and true. He honors His word. God has truly protected me. There is power in prayer. God hears your prayers. Our prayers may not be answered right away, but that doesn’t mean that God is in denial. We are overcomers! Why? Because of what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross. If God is for us, who can be against us? He promises in Hebrews 13:5-6 that He will never leave us or forsake us.

 

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”” –Hebrews 13:5-6 [NKJV]

 

In the eighth grade, I was severely bullied by a classmate who also happened to be a teammate. We were on the same basketball team. Lilly had so much going for herself. She was smart and athletic, the teachers and coaches absolutely loved her. However, she began to follow the wrong crowd at school. She began to believe the lies that were said about me, she joined in on the bullying, and became the main bully. For example, in math class, Lilly sat behind me and whispered to me, “Your hair looks so perfect, I hate it. Snip, snip.” She pulled out scissors from her backpack and placed them on her desk. She began moving her scissors in an up and down motion as if she were cutting my hair. I didn’t trust her! I turned around in my seat, watching her. “Snip, snip” she said. “Ashley, turn around and face the front of the class,” the teacher said. As soon as I turned around, I felt my hair move and the class began snickering. “Snip, snip” Lilly said. I don’t think she actually cut my hair, but the psychological torment was hard to handle. Five days a week, I had to face this girl. She was mean and ruthless to the point one time during basketball practice she punched me in the nose.

I say all of that to say, that I overcame those harsh words that were spoken over me. I overcame the attacks and managed to persevere. One of the greatest lessons I learned is that it doesn’t matter what people say about me, what matters is what God says about me. Same thing goes for you, it doesn’t matter what people say about you. What matters is what God says about you. While people are calling you names, God is calling YOU His child, blessed, priceless, worthy, valuable, beautiful, overcomer, and victorious. The reason I titled the book “Bullied Yet Victorious” is because even though I was bullied, I was/am victorious because of Jesus Christ. God’s purpose for my life is far greater. I am a victor and not a victim. God’s approval is worth more than man’s approval.

Know this today, that regardless what you are facing, God has an incredible purpose for your life. Dare to dream big. Don’t allow what people say about you stop you from fulfilling the purpose God has on your life. Don’t allow fear to creep in but boldly declare His word, that He “has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind”-2 Timothy 1:7 [NKJV]. You are a blessing looking for an opportunity. You are more than a conqueror. Dare to believe what God says about you. Be confident, throw your shoulders back, and know that you are here for such a time as this. You are victorious! 1 Corinthians 15:57 [NKJV] says, “But thanks be to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

You are victorious!

 

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Called To Greatness

Did you know you are called to greatness? Have you ever felt like there is more to this life than what is going on now? I believe that we are all called to greatness and to do extraordinary things in this world.

To better understand what greatness means, I Googled the word ‘greatness’ to see what the definition would be. That’s right, I used Google…because you know, Google knows everything! The word greatness means: the quality of being great, distinguished, or eminent. To break it down further, the word distinguished means to be successful and great respect, while eminent means being famous or respected, the presence of a positive quality. God can use us in extraordinary ways. I am not saying to try to be famous, but we should have a positive quality about us that people see Jesus and see His goodness. But, never sell yourself short. God can use you in extraordinary ways. I believe God wants to use His children in great ways. Why? Because He loves us and wants the world to see His goodness through us.

However, never allow doubt, fear, or inadequacy stop you from fulfilling the purpose God has for your life. You may feel like you are inadequate or can’t be a world changer. You may feel like your past is hindering you from moving forward or you may be thinking, “How can God use me?” But, this I know, God doesn’t remind you of your past; rather, He reminds you of your future. God likes to take the ordinary and turn them into extraordinary. He uses the ordinary in extraordinary ways. The Bible is full of examples. Take Moses for an example. In Exodus 3-4, Moses was tending flock and led the flock to the back of the dessert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. An angel appeared before him, and behold, a bush was in flames but not consumed. The Lord spoke to Moses and called him to lead His people (the Israelites) out of Egypt. God showed Moses various signs and reassured Moses that He would be with him as he spoke to Pharaoh (ruler of Egypt). However, Moses tried to make excuses as to why he couldn’t talk to Pharaoh. He felt like his speech wasn’t good enough. Even though God told Moses He would be with him, Moses still felt inadequate. In Exodus 4:10 [NKJV], it says, “Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but, I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”” God reassured Moses by saying (in verse 11 & 12), “…Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”

Never doubt your abilities. God showed Moses His power, and used Moses in significant ways. What God did for him, He can do for you. With God on your side, who can stop you? God will help strengthen your abilities and will not give you more than you can handle. Expect God to do great things in your life. You are destined for greatness. 1 Corinthians 2:9 [NKJV] says, “But as it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” Philippians 1:6 [NKJV] says, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

God has an amazing purpose for your life, what He started in you, He will complete. People may not understand and may be jealous of where you are headed. There may be people or friends in your life who may try to bring you down to their level. There may be some naysayers who will use their words to bring discouragement and bully. But, always remember this, God holds your destiny. Don’t allow what people say or do stop you from moving forward. You are a blessing looking for an opportunity. God’s favor surrounds you like a shield according to Psalm 5:12. My grandpa (who was a pastor) taught me from a young age that when saying my morning prayers, declare that I would not let people, things, circumstances, or worry rob me of my joy that day. Same for you, don’t allow people, things, circumstances, or worry rob you of your joy today! You are called to greatness! Let your words and actions show it. Instead of making excuses like Moses, know you are able to accomplish what is before you. It is in our weaknesses God is made strong. Instead of walking around all doom and gloom, walk confidently and victoriously, for you are a King’s kid!

You are Called To Greatness.

 

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It Is Time

I don’t know about you, but I am to the point where I can hardly listen to the news anymore. The chaos and evilness that is occurring in America, let alone the whole world, is overwhelming at times. Reports of wars, innocent blood shed, bullying, brink of a financial collapse, prices increasing, propaganda, healthcare being shoved down our throats, IRS scandals, VA scandals, lying, deception, murders…it is enough to make someone want to go hide under a rock! I have come to the point of limiting my news consumption and to focus on other things. However, among the chaos, my question is: where is the Church? Where are the Christians?

In Revelation, it talks about the seven churches. Each church received a warning and urged to repent. One church that was mentioned: the Lukewarm Church. Revelation 3:14-22 is directed to the Church in Laodicea, but I believe it is so relevant for the Church in America today. Jesus said, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”-Revelation 3:15-16 [NIV]. There are too many Christians and too many churches in America that are lukewarm. They are neither cold or hot. You are either for Christ or not. You are either grateful for what He did on the cross for you, or not. You either love Him sincerely or you don’t. It can’t be both ways. What I don’t understand is how some pastors and Christians can be only “Sunday” Christians and not Christians 24/7. IF you boldly profess to be a Christ follower, yet contradict everything you preach…how is that even possible? There are too many pastors and Christians who willingly compromise their convictions to be loved by the world. Therefore, they steer away from preaching about sin and the power of salvation, that Jesus dying on the cross for the world will free them from their bondage of sin, addiction, fear, doubt, anxiety, depression, loneliness, etc. That is too controversial, I guess. No wonder America is messed up!

I truly believe that Jesus’ return is so near and closer than we think. It Is Time for the Church to be the Church. It Is Time for Christians to take their relationship with Jesus Christ seriously. It Is Time for Churches to STOP being so focused on fame and fortune, and get outside their four walls and help America. Something that just absolutely cooks my grits, is when pastors and Christians in churches think they are “too good” to approach other people who may not be in the same “league”, “socioeconomic”, “status” as them. Did Jesus ever do that? OF COURSE NOT!! He was right there with the humble. Jesus reached out to those hurting. He healed the blind, caused the lame to walk, walked among the lepers…Jesus was never “too good” to be around those who were in need of help. I want to ask some of these pastors and Christians, “Who do you think you are? You didn’t get where you are at by your own works. You got where you are at because of God. Don’t forget it!” I wouldn’t actually say that to them, but you get my point. James 2:1-4 [AMP] says, “My brethren, pay no servile regard to people [show no prejudice, no partiality]. Do not [attempt to] hold and practice the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ [the Lord] of glory [together with snobbery]! For if a person comes into your congregation whose hands are adorned with gold rings and who is wearing splendid apparel, and also a poor [man] in shabby clothes comes in, and you pay special attention to the one who wears the splendid clothes and say to him, “Sit here in this preferable seat!” while you tell the poor [man], “Stand there!” or, “Sit there on the floor at my feet!” Are you not discriminating among your own and becoming critics and judges with wrong motives?”

It Is Time for Christians to be Christians. This whole “I will be holy on Sunday” and act like the world Monday-Saturday is sad. People who are not Christians are looking. Those who are trying to make a decision whether or not to be a Christian, watch too. They look to see if Christianity is real. Those who profess Christianity, they are walking testimonies and it would be a shame if their message became tainted and discredited because they were seen at a bar kicking back 5 shots of whiskey, 3 shots of rum, and 2 large glasses of beer, cussing profusely. Or, what is worse…is when you see the worship leader at a church buying a variety of cases of beer. If I didn’t know he was a worship leader, I would have thought no big deal. But, because I knew he was the worship leader, it changed my views of him (I actually saw this happen). You never know who is watching.

As Christians, we are ambassadors of Jesus Christ. When people see us, they should be seeing Jesus. We are called to be light in this dark world. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus-not just saying it but doing it. America needs help! If the Church would just stand on the Word of God and do what God commanded, to love one another…oh my gosh, can you imagine!?! Pastors need to stop being afraid of mentioning Jesus, sin, or America because they don’t want to “offend” people. Jesus said in John 12:32 [NIV] “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” When we honor Him, He will honor us. Christians can help America by electing politicians who uphold values, morals…better yet, Godly principles. Christians can help America by feeding the poor, help clothe the less fortunate, help the widows and orphans. Christians can help guide the youth in America by helping them reach their fullest potential and encourage them that God has a purpose for their life. Christians can stop bullying in the church by helping the bully and the victim. The Church can be a safe haven for those who are lost, scared, or have no hope. When people walk into church, they should be able to experience the love that the Father has for them, not judgment.

The good news: there is hope! It is not too late and it starts with you and me. Together, lets be the change the Church needs. We can start by showing kindness and God’s love to those around us. We can start by sharing words of kindness to those we come in contact with. We can start by encouraging our friends and family. We can start by posting encouraging tweets on Twitter and statuses on Facebook that are uplifting to the Father. I challenge you today to make a difference. Each day, purpose to make a difference in the life of someone else. Like I mentioned before, there is so much evil in this world. But, let us not be shaken and share hope. As hate increases, let our love increase. Together, we can share the faith, hope, and love that we have in Jesus Christ. Jesus said that when we lift Him up, He will draw all men near to Him. Jesus’ return is so near and there is no time to waste. Together, we can be the change and show the world that we are Christians who mean what we say and do.

It Is Time!

 

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For You Graduates

May is the time for graduation. Graduating from high school and college is a huge accomplishment. For you graduating seniors (whether high school or college), you should be so proud of yourself and you should give yourself a pat on the back right now. That’s right, go ahead, take a moment and pat yourself on the back. You did it!

However, after graduation, your life changes. Whether you just graduated from high school, you are preparing yourself for your next journey…college! Whether you just graduated from college, you are preparing yourself for your next journey…life! Graduating from college is a huge milestone but with it comes challenges as you try to figure out your career, your purpose…your life!

Therefore, I want to share with you all some valuable lessons that I learned when I graduated both high school and college.

1. You Have A Purpose

When I graduated from high school, I had a general idea of where I was going to college. But, as time began to crunch, I had to make a decision on what college to attend. When I arrived on campus and my parents helped me to move into my dorm, oh my goodness…was I scared! I knew God was with me, but as an only child, I am very close to my parents. Especially my mom, we are so close like Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. I wasn’t ready to leave them and live 7 hours away. The first two weeks of school was a challenge because I was absolutely homesick. However, I knew I was there for a reason and I chose to look forward for what God had in store. I knew that I have a purpose. Through the ups and downs, I managed to persevere, had amazing professors, met amazing people, and graduated Magna Cum Laude (honors) from college.

After I graduated from college last year, not going to lie….it was hard! I moved back to Texas to live with my parents so I can save my money to pay back my student loans. However, moving back to DFW, I didn’t realize how hard it would be to find a job. I sent out numerous resumes and filled out applications, but nothing was opening up. From August to December, I did not have one interview. I didn’t even receive one “Dear Ashley…Thank you for your interest, unfortunately…” letters. During August through December, it was faith building time in my life. I really had to let go of my plans and say, “God not my will be done, but Your Will be done” and rely on Him. Constantly, I was reminded of Isaiah 55:8, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.” I remained hopeful that God would bring the desires of my heart to pass in His timing. There are still things I am hoping for, but thankfully I found a job in January of 2014. God is slowly yet surely answering my prayers. His timing is perfect!

For you high school graduates and college graduates, don’t get discouraged if your plans fall through. Know that God is working behind the scenes on your behalf. When you feel like life is overwhelming or things are not opening up, remember that you have a purpose. You have hope and a future, Jeremiah 29:11. Don’t get discouraged, but trust that God is perfecting those things that concern you according to Psalm 138:8.

2. Dream Big

When I arrived at college, I had huge dreams. Big dreams actually, that seemed more unrealistic. I was very ambitious when I was in college. I wanted to be a communication consultant, public speaker, a powerful attorney, campaign speech writer, and a United States Senator representing Texas. However, as senior year approached, never would I have thought that I would have been an author. My plans and desires changed. Proverbs 19:21 [NIV] says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” I wanted (and still do) be a public speaker, write more books, and encourage teens who they are in Christ. My heart’s desire is no longer about me, but sharing faith, hope, and love to those dealing with bullying. I know what bullying feels like and thankfully I overcame with God’s help. That is why I wrote “Bullied Yet Victorious: How I Overcame Fear with Faith” which was released nationally on July 23, 2013. My passion is to share with teens that they can overcome bullying; but, more importantly the power of perseverance-to keep going and not give up. One of the greatest lessons I learned is that it doesn’t matter what people say about me; what matters is what God says about me. That is what I want to share with teens. They are overcomers! They are victorious!

These passions, desires, dreams that I have seem so huge…but I serve a big God! What seems impossible to us, is possible for Him. Matthew 19:26 [NKJV] says, “But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”” Don’t give up on dreaming big, but be willing for your dreams to change. You never know, God could change your dreams where they glorify Him rather than yourself. Be open for change, but continue to expect great things to happen in your life. Continue to dream big! If someone has told you can’t do it or you can’t achieve anything…know this, you can! With God, all things are possible. Don’t dream small dreams hoping that maybe God will bring them to pass because they are small…no, dream big! You have a purpose and you are here on this earth for such a time as this. Expect good things to happen in your life.

3. Prepare Yourself

In high school, I had to prepare myself for college. How? I had to study hard, maintain good grades, and study for the SAT and ACT exams. In college, I had to prepare myself for the future. How? By studying hard, learning all I could, internships, building my resume, and learning time management. However, the desires I have…speaking at churches, schools, youth groups, FCA, youth conferences…I need to prepare myself. How? By creating notes, PowerPoints, Prezi, reaching out to ministries/organizations/churches regarding speaking, and building myself up spiritually. More importantly, I am learning to trust God to open doors of opportunity as I continue to knock on doors.

In 2 Timothy 4:2 [NKJV], it says to be “…ready in season and out of season…” In 1 Peter 3:15, it says to be “…ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you…” Prepare yourselves in season and out of season. Don’t despise having time off before you start your next journey, rather embrace it and use that time to prepare yourself. Prepare yourself for the dreams you want to accomplish. Prepare yourself spiritually as well by getting into God’s Word, spending time with Him, praying, and listening…learning to hear His voice.

4. Keep the Faith

Whether you are entering college or leaving college, know that what lies before you are challenges. You will face roadblocks. But, you know what? Keep the faith! No matter what lies ahead, always remember that God is for you not against you. Hebrews 13:5-6 says, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper, I will not fear. What can man do to me?””  When you reach the moment where you want to quit…keep going. Don’t give up, but continue to run the race that is before you. God has an incredible purpose for your life. You don’t have to have everything figured out at this moment, but know that God is directing your steps. Psalm 37:23 [NKJV] says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.” Remain encouraged and not discouraged, everything will be alright. When circumstances surround you, always remember that God will bring you through victoriously. Keep the Faith!

For You Graduates, congratulations on your big accomplishment and remember, you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength (Philippians 4:13). Your journey is just beginning and God has amazing things in store for you!

 

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Tormentors Have No Hold On You

Sunday morning before leaving the house to go to church, I was sitting at the kitchen table sipping on coffee and reading the Bible on my phone. While waiting for my parents to finish getting ready for church, I had time to read Psalm 56. As I was reading the passage, I noticed that Psalm 56 was titled “Prayer for Relief from Tormentors.” In case you are wondering what translation I read, I read from the NKJV. When reading Psalm 56, it made me realize just how applicable this passage is today.

“Be merciful to me, O God, for man would swallow me up, fighting all day he oppresses me. My enemies would hound me all day, for there are many who fight against me, O Most High. Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in God (I will praise His word), in God I have put my trust, I will not fear. What can flesh do to me? All day they twist my words; all their thoughts are against me for evil. They gather together, they hide, they mark my steps, when they lie in wait for my life…In God (I will praise His word), in the Lord (I will praise His word), in God I have put my trust, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Psalm 56:1-6, 10-11 [NKJV]

King David was crying out to God, asking Him to deliver him from his tormentors. Even though there were people after David and they wanted to take his life, he remained confident in the Lord. When reading this passage, it reminded me of bullying. Do not bullies hound their victims all day, twist their words, think evil toward the victim, mark their steps, and gather together? If you are dealing with bullying, I believe you can learn something valuable from this passage. Or, if you are dealing with difficult people in your life, maybe you can benefit from this too.

Regardless of what the people were doing, saying, or planning to do toward David, he kept his faith in God. Even though the circumstances around him appeared overwhelming, David kept an attitude of praise and trust. David praised God’s word.

Often times, it is easy to talk about the problem. And yes, when bullying occurs it is good to talk about it. But, have faith and trust in the Lord. David trusted that God would bring him through. Do you trust God to bring you through too? I have heard the saying that when a door closes, continue to praise God in the hallway until the right door opens. I believe the same thing should happen even when life isn’t too peachy. Praise God and thank Him that you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. Praise Him and read His word…get to know what God says about you. What God says about you is far more valuable and precious than what bullies say about you.

David kept his focus on God. In the good times and the bad times, David praised God and kept his focus on Him. Are you praising God in the good and the bad times? Are you keeping your focus on Him? I know that this is easier said than done, believe me, I know. It is so easy to get caught up in the moment and focus on the problem, rather than focusing on God. However, overtime, I learned that I don’t need to tell God how big my problems are but to tell my problems how big my God is. Don’t think one moment that God doesn’t care or has time for you. He shows no partiality. Whatever you are facing, He wants you to know that He is there for you every step of the way and to call out to Him. He wants to hear from you and trust in Him. What does trust mean? According to Webster Dictionary, trust means: firm belief in the honesty, reliability, etc. of another; faith; confident expectation. People fail all the time and it can be so hard to trust people. However, isn’t it reassuring to know that God will NEVER fail us? We can trust on the reliability of God. Why? Because He is the Creator. He created you and has a purpose for you according to Jeremiah 29:11. He has wonderfully and fearfully made you according to Psalm 139. He has sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for your sins. Why would you not want to trust Him?

Whatever you are facing today, remember to be like King David. Regardless what you are going through, praise God and trust in Him. When people go after you, twist your words, mark your steps, or gather together to plot against you…remember, God is greater. Keep your focus on Him because tormentors have no hold on you!

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