twenty-eighteen: resolutions {GUEST POST: Elise Morris}

As 2017 has come to an end, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on all of the good – and bad – that the year has come with. More than focusing on the past, I am looking forward to all that is going to come with 2018. However, I am making it a point not to stay in the past or look too far into the future, but to live in the here and now: to be present. With this mantra, I have decided on three resolutions I hope to carry with me through 2018.

  1.  Remember that Jesus is the Reason

As we come out of a holiday season that is always accompanied with the common “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” slogan, I have found that it is way too easy – and common – for us to leave Him there. The fact is that Jesus is the reason for everything. He came and He died for our sins so we could live. As Christians, we should be living our lives as a reflection of His love and sacrifice every minute of every day, not just at Christmas time. That is why I am making it a point to remember every day that Jesus is the reason we live.

  1. Give the Grace that has already been given

This year, I am committing to show everyone the grace that God has shown to me. Reflecting on 2017, I have found myself judging people all too often. In some cases, I will judge people I don’t even know and make assumptions about their character before I ever have a conversation with them. In other cases, I make judgments about people I know well based off of their actions or their words. However, I have constantly been reminded that Jesus died on the cross not only for my sins but for the sins of everyone around me. John 1:16 tells us that “out of His fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.” We have ALL received grace even though we don’t deserve any of it. In 2018, I will try my best to give the grace that Christ has shown to me to others, regardless of the situation or my personal feelings.

  1. Share His Love

The most important resolution I have for 2018 is to share the unconditional love of Jesus Christ with everyone that I have the chance to share with. If Jesus gave up His life for me, and shows me grace that I don’t deserve, I cannot help but tell everyone that I come in contact with. I want everyone to know the grace and love that He has to offer, and the joy that comes with being a follower of Jesus Christ.

In 2018, and every year following, I will be a light for Christ. Yes, I am human in a broken world where sin consumes every part of our life. Yes, I am going to occasionally – or often – fall short of my goals and resolutions. However, I follow a King who will never fail – a King who already rose and conquered. I know that with the power of Christ and the grace that He has given us, I can be a vessel for Him and share his light with the world.

Although these resolutions are very personal to me, I encourage and even challenge you to adopt them as your own. I challenge you to remember that Christ is the reason we live every minute of every day, show others the overwhelming grace that Christ has shown to each and every one of us, and share the gospel with everyone you meet.

“Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”

2 Peter 1:2

Happy twenty-eighteen, friends.

Xoxo,

elise morris

Imperfectly Planned is thrilled to share this piece by Elise Morris to encourage you as you start brainstorming resolutions for 2018.

On Imperfectly Planned, our 2018 Focus is {Intentional Living: Honoring HIM through our daily Bible study, routines, fitness regimen, and relationships.}

Email subscribe to Imperfectly Planned at imperfectlyplanned.com or find us on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. Join our journey to a life of intentionality this year! Can’t wait to connect with you.

GUEST POST {Valerie Dowdell}

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity (love), in spirit, in faith, in purity.

1Timothy 4:12, KJV

Perhaps “young people” have the most crucial role in the church.  That is to learn, work, and grow.  Young people are the next church and their role will evolve as they grow into adults.  

It is vital to the existence of every young person to be mentored and their heart shepherded.  2 Timothy 4:2 tells us that pastors are to,  “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”  God sends us pastors to feed the sheep and be an overseer and to watch for wolves and dangers that want to come in and devour.  

Young people must learn how to revere and respect authority. Respect and reverence are crucial when learning and listening to the mind of God.  Show me a disrespectful young person and I will show you a reckless life.  Being teachable is key to being successful.  My heart goes out to my many friends that are teachers.  When sharing with me their heart, their top complaint is a lack of respect that their students have for authority. They are unteachable. Young people must learn how to be teachable and that is to humble oneself and put idle hands to work. Church is a place where our work will never be completed until Christ comes to take His Bride to our eternal Home.  Every minute that goes by, eternity is nearing.  In John 4:35, God says to us, “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.”  God wants us to start serving others for the sake of His Eternal Kingdom, now.  

David Cassidy’s death was recently in the headlines and his last words were so profound: “So much wasted time.”  Each of us could say the same for our own lives.  In many instances, we allow ourselves to be sidetracked and derailed by satisfying our flesh, self-sabotaging, or manipulating others. However, the younger we get plugged into a church, God’s word, and salvation through Jesus Christ;  the sooner we can hide His word in our hearts and follow the Holy Spirit.  

God said if any of us lack wisdom to simply ask for it.  There is no age limit on that bible verse.  If I told you I had the formula for world peace and the cure for cancer would you want to know what that was?  Why certainly.  We all know a loved one that has been touched by violence or the debilitating disease of cancer.  Many times violence scars us emotionally and cancer scars physically.  Of course we would share the cure that would save our sons and daughters. Making an eternal difference is the whole reason God has left us on earth.   

We must share what the root of success is and the secret to joy:

Living inside God’s standards and inside His offering plate.  

It is imperative that we trust God and truly worship Him in total mind, body, and spirit. We must be able to hear God’s voice and discern the spirits.  Listen to 1 John 4: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.  Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:  And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.  Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.   They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.”   

Did you know the part of the brain that promotes rational thinking isn’t fully developed until age 25?  Studies have found that adult and teen brains work differently. The mental maturity is not there for young people in the same way as adults. We must equip our young people with the only thing that will stand with them through the trials of life.   It is important to memorize God’s word early in life and hide it in our hearts for the day of temptation.  There will be no reservations when having the mind and heart of God to live pure and clean as He tells us our body is a temple.  We must renew our minds with His word, and all else will follow.  

In Proverbs 4:23, God tells us everything flows from the heart, to guard it.  “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” God works through the heart, mind, and body.  Satan works on our young people and adults in the exact opposite order.  Satan starts with your mind.  That is why he works through music and visuals.

Satan’s goal is to penetrate and pollute your mind to devour and discourage.  

God calls those attacks fiery darts.  If the devil can get your mind then he can fully control your every move.  

Satan is the master of division.  God brings everyone together in unity, love, and joy.  On the other hand,  Satan’s goal is to isolate you.  God said forsake not the assembly of yourselves together.  There is strength in God’s children coming together, exhorting one another, and loving one another.  The sooner we learn what the full armor of God is, the sooner we will know how to guard our hearts and live successful lives with “real” joy.  We are fooling ourselves if we rely on our friends to lead and guide us in this spiritual walk.  

We must line up all we do with God’s word.  

Then, we must refrain from what we often listen to: gossip poisons, degrading movies and music lyrics poisons, comparison poisons, envy poisons, jealousy poisons, etc. The list is endless.  

How can we know what is good for our physical and mental health if we are not diligently guarding our hearts with the word of God?

Young people have an advantage to learning this because they can walk inside God’s boundaries early in life and save themselves from a life of sorrow.  True joy and freedom is a product of living for God and being active in the church.  God says in His word, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).  There is an advantage in being in the Word of God at a young age.  

As a result of being in the ministry, my husband and I have had the honor of sitting beside many death beads.  Many times people will share regrets and one that always makes the top three is the regret of poor decision making.  Just one month ago, we drove three hours to be with our friend, Henry.  We have been friends with Henry for ten years.  He had a beautiful family and a very full and successful life. Henry did not grow up in a church nor did he spend any of his adult life in a church.  However, he was a kind man with big heart.  But, as a result of poor decisions he had made, he was now on his deathbed prematurely. Henry explained that he started socially drinking which turned into every Friday night with friends and that lead to every day.  Henry said he found himself consuming alcohol from the time he woke up until the time he went to bed.  That type of drinking altered his thinking and decision making which resulted in devastating consequences. He lost his precious family and his health. He looked at my husband and said, “I did this to myself.” He went on to say he wished he would have known God when he was younger and made better decisions.  Henry accepted Christ and was able to live four more weeks as a new creature in Christ.  But oh what wasted time.

It is important for young people to come to know Christ early and to allow the Holy Spirit to lead them into Jeremiah 29:11 for their lives.  God said He has a good plan for every believer!  The devil would have you believe you are not loved, wanted, or accepted.  Young people are vital to God’s work.

I believe it is imperative for young people to be grounded in church early because it is important for them to know how to mourn and be comforted.  Matthew 5:4 states, “ Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” Teen suicide is on a rise and at an all-time high.  It is important for young people to know the presence of “the Comforter,” the Holy Spirit.  If only a teenage girl in my hometown would have known about this Comforter.  She took her life when she was in a state of hopelessness and jumped from a bridge on the busy interstate below.  Every day on my route to and from home, I had to drive over the painted circles below that had been used to mark where her remains rested.  For months my heart and soul mourned the loss of this young girl I never met.  If only she would have been introduced to the Comforter would the outcome had been different?

I just saw on the news where a 10-year-old was bullied at school and felt helpless.  That young child, what I consider to be just a baby, came home and took her life.  At ten years old I still thought life was very wonderful.  I loved my church, I loved Jesus, and I loved His people.  This little girl took her own life because she felt powerless and hopeless.  If only someone could have echoed these words to her ear: “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God,” (Psalm 43:5).  Her precious little mind wasn’t mature enough to know that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary situation.  If only she had been in the presence of the Holy Spirit, God said they “shall be comforted”.  

We must get our young people to God.  They must know true worship.  They must experience the Holy Spirit and they must grow. I compel you to embrace the young people of your church and encourage them to be faithful to God.

God loves the young people of “His” church and they have a vital place in His house.

By: Valerie Dowdell

Taste and See {GUEST POST: HANNAH JONES}

By: Hannah Jones.

Before I even stepped foot on campus my freshman year, I was praying hard for my future suitemates. I remember pleading with God to grant me life-giving friendships. I hoped my “Big Sis” would guide me with godly wisdom. However, I knew that I might not get all of those things. I was aware that my attitude and intentionality in those first few weeks was pivotal.

The moment I decided I wanted to grow closer with the Lord in college became one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I was committed to taking ownership of my faith. For the first time, it wasn’t my parents taking me to church. It wasn’t my mom encouraging me to have a quiet time with the Lord each day. It was up to me. That first weekend on campus, I went to church by myself, and looking back, I am certain that set the stage for my whole freshman year.

Gradually, the Lord revealed to me that He had in fact granted me all the things I prayed for before coming to college. My suitemate became one of my greatest encouragers. We worshipped together daily; singing when classes got hard and homework grew tedious. We left each other notes and verses of encouragement and God used those words of affirmation to feed my soul. My Big Sis, who was in the junior class at Meredith College, encouraged me to check out a campus ministry that first week. In fact, I joined the Bible study that she co-led. She continues to intentionally pour into my spirit and she is honestly the big sister I never had.

The girls in this study became my closest friends. This is my community; my people. I had never experienced Christian community and godly friendships like this until I came to college. These women are the ones that stand by me on my hardest days, share in my joy, and never let me doubt my purpose.

When I think back to those first weeks as a college freshman, I remember feeling uncomfortable. It wasn’t the easiest thing for me to meet new people, share my testimony, and just be vulnerable. However, I am positive that God needed me to feel uncomfortable to mold me and to make me trust Him like I never had to before. I think the important thing for me to remember was that this was a new and sometimes uncomfortable season that wasn’t about me at all. His glory and His perfect plan was playing out through all my insecurity, my brokenness, my fear, and my sin. He wanted me right where I was all along, even in my failure. My time in college, full of ups and downs, was never His “plan b”. It took God molding and stretching me over a period of time to come to that realization. Once I realized this, so many doors began to open in ministry, my major, and in relationships.

Reading this, it might start to sound like I was getting my life together before I came to college, but I can tell you that is far from the truth. Honestly, I was trying so hard to act like I had it all together that I began to even fool myself. I tried to live a Christ-centered life with me at the center. And oddly enough, I still was so shocked when my life seemed to be spiraling out of control. I realized that when I said I was giving God full access to my life, it wasn’t long before I began wrestling the controls away from Him again and again.

If I can leave you with one thing, it’s what I’ve realized most about following the Lord in college: It’s truly all about your heart. Following Jesus requires intentionality. Everyday. Even when I oversleep and I am running across campus to class. Even when I’ve fooled myself into thinking that life is great and I don’t need to give God access to every area. Even when I experience heartbreak or I get in a car accident. He is still sovereign. He is still faithful. He is still so loving. He wants to offer me so much grace, even when I can’t seem to give it to myself.

And- He wants to offer it to you, too. So, taste and see His goodness, because once that happens, college will never feel sweeter.

With love,

Dear Daughter by Design

 

Psalm 34:8

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.

Hannah Jones is a current sophomore at Meredith College, majoring in Dance Education. Her passions are for her family, faith, and the performing arts. This past summer, the Lord laid it on her heart to share all that He was teaching her through her experiences in college. Hannah took a leap of faith into the world of blogging. Dear Daughter by Design was created as a place to share her heart and personal experiences as a Christian girl in college. She wants to encourage other women in their God-given purpose and remind them that they truly are daughters by His design.

To read more of her story, follow her writings at www.deardaughterbydesignblog.wordpress.com