Tuesday, 25 March 2014

My Most Freeing Revelation About Prayer

When I first became a Christian, I was perpetually filled with guilt because even though I knew I should pray every day, I didn't.

I had heard of others who would pray for hours every day, and I wanted so badly to be like them... but with those expectations on myself, I fell short and got discouraged. Then it started that I didn't pray unless I had a full hour to put aside for prayer, because I was committed to being THAT holy. Because of my weak relationship with the voice of God, when I did talk to him (on average once or twice a month), I got distracted, or fell asleep within minutes... thus perpetuating the guilt.

I'm painting this picture and sharing with you guys because I just remembered this part of my life, and I'm wondering if anyone else ever felt/feels this.
I want you to know this:

I heard the voice of the Lord in my heart one day, and He simply told me this. "I love when you just say 'hi.'"

I know that's not a crazy revelation. I had heard it in church before. But when I heard it from God, it hit hard, and I felt excitement well up within me. I thought, "In between my hour prayer sessions, I can say 'hi' to God, and that's okay!" I was so excited. It was like a new relationship. In addition to talking to the staunch, stuffy God who would only be pleased with a minimum one hour of prayer, I could ALSO be free to converse with a casual, friendly God who is okay if I just say, "hi."

I didn't realize at the time how wrong I was about the personality of God.

He graciously covers the wrong we find ourselves in, and he is unreasonably proud of us over the small things that we do right.

Yesterday, I was flipping through my facebook posts from the last couple of months, and I was reminded of a post that I made about Noah taking off his shirt all by himself. I was so proud of him! So proud that I shared the news with everyone I knew. I'm generally not that impressed with the action of shirt-removing. It wasn't the shirt falling to the floor that made my heart happy... and conversely, I didn't secretly scowl at the shirt's stretched arms and neck that resulted from the lengthy struggle that preceded the victory. I didn't even remember Noah's frustration and stomping in the height of his shirt-battle.

I remember the high five, the hugging, the hoots and hollers, and the impossibly cute smiles of pride.

I'm a good mom, but I'm not THAT good. This concept of parents being proud of the little things our kids do DIDN'T originate in me. Good parents do this inherently because God did it first to us.

This new concept of God being okay with me was so compelling that I found myself with lots to say to Him. When I started saying "hi" to God, knowing inside that I was without guilt and shame before Him, I wanted to keep talking. I found myself doing something incredibly foreign, and wonderfully freeing.


I started out with what I excitedly referred to as my five second prayers. (And to be honest, to this day, that's where I get my best work done with God.)

If you find yourself struggling with prayer, stop reading this right now, and say "hi" to God.

If that's all you say, that's totally, completely, incredibly awesome!!!

And if you say more... well... I'm not surprised. The TRUE character of God is wildly attractive, and the more we get to know Him, the more we WANT to get to know Him!

I don't care that I still don't pray an hour every day, and I don't think that God cares either... but I DO talk to God about things all day long all the time... a split second here, and several minutes there. (And it's the split second prayers that get me through the day).

The Bible talks about God being the Breath of Life (Job 33:4, Gen 2:7). It might be helpful to look at our relationship with Him as breathing.

You wouldn't last long holding your breath all day so that you could have a REALLY good breathing time just before bed tonight. Just like that would kill you physically, that would eventually kill you Spiritually too. We weren't created to go more than seconds without oxygen... and neither were we created to go without God (1 Thes 5:17). But God doesn't require that. He is happy with a quick breath here, and a big breath there (now we're talking about prayer obviously... please keep breathing regularly, people).

This was an absolutely life changing revelation for me. I now walk free of condemnation regardless of my less-than-super-holy-Christian prayer life. Because God and I talk. It pleases Him, and it gives me life.

I hope that helped you.

"So now anyone who is in Christ Jesus is not judged guilty. That is because in Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit that brings life made you free."           Romans 8:1

Be free. Talk to God. And know that I love you.

Thanks for letting me be part of your day. :)

~ Holly

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Does our SIN separate us from God?

WOW! First... lets just give me a round of applause for doing two blog posts in two days!!! WOOOOT!

Haha. I'm awesome or something.

"Does our sin separate us from God?"

HUGE question... HUGE answer.

I think that the way we answer this question dictates much of how we live our lives.

I think that the answer could be summed up in one sentence... and could also fill volumes and volumes of books. It is simple and wildly complex all at the same time. And therein lies the confusion.

I DO NOT pretend to know all of the ins and outs of this topic. I, too, have a list of questions that I will be asking when I arrive at the pearl gates.

But for now, I hope this can help someone:

Does our sin separate us from God?

The answer is a very simple "Yes" or "No" depending on only one thing.



At risk of sounding preachy, I am not going to miss sharing the Gospel at a potential Gospel-sharing time. So here is...

the Gospel Holly-style:

God made us (and the rest of everything ever), and thought we were the bees knees!

Sin (which is pretty much a Biblical word for disobedience) screwed everything up.

This is how I picture it:

God is perfect. Perfectly perfect. He is the absolute standard for perfection, and nothing imperfect could ever be in the presence of His perfection. It's not because it's mean... it's just because He's perfect.

Kind of like how light and darkness don't mix.
When you turn on the light, you don't see darkness hanging around and trying to get to hang out in the same place as the light. They just don't coexist.

So the simplest version is that when we made a mistake... sin... disobey God... whatever you want to call it, we effectively removed ourselves from God's presence. Again... not because He doesn't like us... simply because our sin just isn't okay in God's presence.

(I should add that Hell was a place created only for Satan and his demons. It was never created for people. However, because we have sinned, and our sin isn't able to enter heaven... well... when we die, we have to end up somewhere... and if it's not Heaven,  it must be... well... think about it.)

INTERJECTION:   If this was the end of the story, then the answer would be quick and easy. YES. Sin does separate us from God. But it's not the end. Thank God.

So here is where the story gets GOOD.

Jesus. Simply put, JESUS is God in sandals... He is perfect in every way, lived a sinless life, and actually, truthfully walked on this Earth approx 2000 years ago, and did such remarkable things back then that He is still the biggest thing going to this day.

Because He never, EVER disobeyed God, He was the first human being in history ever to qualify to go to Heaven. EVER.

Now instead of living His life, doing good things, loving people, and calling it a day, He did something SO much more remarkable. He was perfect, AND He was GOD (remember...? God in sandals. That's a big deal). He knew that going spending eternity in Heaven would be wonderful, but He didn't want to go alone. He wanted to bring every single one of us with Him! So He did what none of us could do... He decided to pay for each of our sins. He took the responsibility of all of our sins. He dealt with our imperfection. And it was pretty much the single biggest event in all of history. (And this is where the Easter story comes in).

(If you want a crazy visual of what this REALLY meant, and what it REALLY took, watch "the Passion of the Christ." Bring your tissues, and brace yourself. It's intense... and you might never be the same... in the best way possible. And when you watch it [even if you've already seen it, watch it again], keep in mind that the entire reason that He did all of that was so that YOU could go to Heaven WITH Him.) - Remember back to when God thought we were the bees knees? I was serious... He is MIGHTY fond of us!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAomWDGOAL4     <------- Here's a link to it on youtube

And that brings us to this moment... the moment where we decide whether or not we want to go to Heaven and accept the work that Jesus did so that we can know God and live with Him forever.

I'm going to lay it out as simple as I possibly can:

You are NOT choosing to be religious... you are not committed to being perfect... and there is no need to even be a good person to accept Jesus. (It's like taking a bath... when you're dirty, you need a bath... if you're just a little bit dirty, or REALLY dirty. Either way, hop in... and THEN you can get clean. Simple. As. That.)

You ARE choosing to go to Heaven... you are choosing to not go to Hell. You are choosing to accept the sacrifice and work that Jesus did so that you can go WITH Him to Heaven. You are choosing to have a relationship with Jesus, God the Father, and His Holy Spirit (Simply put, that's kind of like the part of God that lives in us and helps us out with anything we need - sort of like a conscience. Like a real life GOD version of Jimminy Cricket).

How do you do it?

Simple: Tell God that you want to. And that can be done in any words you want. I'll give you an example of what to say to God if you would like to just pray along with me:

Jesus, I believe that you paid for my sins so that I can go to Heaven and live with You forever. Thank you for loving me. I accept what you did for me, and I choose to go to Heaven and live my life for you. Holy Spirit, I ask you for your help. Please teach me how to live for You, God. I ask for your forgiveness for everything I've ever done wrong, and I thank you for loving me and forgiving me. Please help me to meet people who will help me learn more about you.


WOOOOOOOOOT!!! (In case that was new for you, please let me know... via twitter, facebook, my blog, however... You have an amazing life ahead of you, and I would love to chat and hear your story.)


Does our sin separate us from God?

That depends entirely on if you let it. Naturally, yes. Our sin DOES separate us from God. (If you didn't read the Gospel portion, do a quick check back to the light/darkness bit).

But if you have accepted the work that Jesus did for us, paying the price for our sins, then NO! YOUR SIN DOES NOT separate you from God.

Yes, your sin will have natural consequences... and if you continually choose to disobey God, then you will begin to silence His voice in your life. There are ways to hinder an excellent relationship with God, and continual, unrepentant sin is a great way to do that. But when we are Christians and have accepted the sacrifice that Jesus made, our sin does NOT separate us from God.

This came up the other day when a young girl that I know told me about something bad that she had done. It wasn't world changing, but it was a bad choice, and we both acknowledged that. And then she told me that it separated her from God.

It stopped me in my tracks.

And I wondered how many of us believe this lie.

When I remember back to my early days as a young Christian, I remember some well meaning people telling me that every time I sinned, it's like putting another brick on a wall between me and God. This type of message is preached often, but it is NOT the Gospel!

The TRUTH is that if this brick wall theory were true, then no one would ever go to Heaven. The truth is that only one brick is enough to keep us away from God. And the truth is that Jesus worked WAY to knock down EVERY wall for us to believe that we are building new ones.

And I think that this lie is crippling and shaming so many of us.

If you have not accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then YES. Your sin is separating you from God (read above). But if you HAVE accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then your sin is DEALT WITH!

I picture that when we sin, we walk up Jesus with our brick (the one that with out Him WOULD have built the wall to separate us from God), and we hand it to Him, and fall into His loving, forgiving arms.

The Bible says,

"And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow - not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below - indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39

Our sin sucks. It is not okay. We need to try not to do it. We need to repent. We need to ask God for help. Sometimes, when we are stuck, we even need to ask others for help. We need to read our Bibles so that we know what God says and so that it can renew us, and we need to be part of a Church family that is going to help us do our best.

But we need to believe in the saving power of Jesus! We need to believe that our sin is NOT a big enough deal to separate us from God any more. We need to believe that the work that Jesus did on the cross was MORE powerful than our sin. And we need to stand on that truth because believing and confessing Jesus is what saves us (Romans 10:9-10).

My friend did sin. And so did I when I yelled at my kids this morning. It was not okay, and it needs to stop.

But am I separated from God because of it? Am I building a wall that is slowly undoing what Jesus DID?!? NO! I am not. Praise GOD I'm not. Because my sin list is long, and ugly... and my wall would be blocking out God's goodness by now. But I can tell you from experience that when I have sinned and ran to Jesus' arms for forgiveness and love, and help... I have been embraced with a love so mighty, so powerful, and so pure that it has changed me.

I am not telling the whole story. There is more to this. Like I said, there are volumes and volumes... books galore on this... millions of sermons preached, and I am NOT covering all of what could (and maybe should) be said on this topic. But this is a tidbit. A morsel. A snippit. Hopefully enough to get you thinking... hungry... desiring to learn more about how sin does affect your life.

But as for me and my sin... I know that mine is dealt with, and I am mightily grateful for that!

Thank you, Jesus.


If you would like some amazing free resources on this, here are a few of my favorite places to start:

the BIBLE! The BEST resource out there... it is never wrong, and it DOES tell the whole story. If you don't have one, get one. There are lots of places to get free Bibles in your city. Including a local church in your area. If you have one that you don't understand, get a different one. If it's the Bible, it's going to tell the same story. Some versions simply say it in a different way. (hint* Start reading in the book of John... great place to start.)

An ALPHA course in your area.

http://gatewaypeople.com/sermons - Incredible teaching sermons. Consistent, and I'm confident that they will help you learn the TRUTH.

Your local Christian church.

And me! Like I said earlier, if you want to talk, let me know. I love new friends! And I don't have all the answers, but I know the Guy who does! *wink*wink* hehe.

As always, Be Blessed!

Love you!

~ Holly

Monday, 3 March 2014

52 Things in 52 Weeks – First Update. What I’ve learned.

52 Things in 52 Weeks – First Update. What I’ve learned.

It’s March, and I’m still thinking about my new year’s resolution. I think that says a LOT right there! *patting*myself*on*the*back*
Let me share some of the thing I’ve learned so far:

1.       I am VERY average

The things that I think that I will do that are extraordinary… most of those end up getting lost in the madness of “life.”

2.       Being VERY average is totally OKAY

I’m plagued by a threatening, and wildly distracting voice inside of me that tells me that if I cannot do something perfectly, then I am a complete failure of a person, and that I might as well quit altogether at said activity. THIS VOICE IS LYING TO ME!!!!! And I’m finally hearing it for what it is, and learning what to do with it. I have failed miserably at many of the things on my list, and the glorious thing is that I’m failing with GRACE! I’m also doing really well at other things. I think this makes me normal. Average. And totally okay. (I think next year, I’m going to make one of my 52 have to do with silencing this voice, and believing new things about myself).

3.       I tend to do the things that I ENJOY and don’t do the things I dislike

Yep. I know what you’re thinking… “duh, Holly… I could have told you that.” And I know… this shouldn’t be a new concept for me or anyone. But let me put it this way;
We live in a self-help culture where almost everyone is trying, at some level or another, to better himself. And I actually don’t think that this is inherently a bad thing at all. I am on this bandwagon, and I think it’s very Biblical to try to be our best, recognize when we’re not doing that well, and do what we can to change it.
So why is it, then, that in our self-help culture, where everyone is trying to be the best person they can be, that our world is riddled with sin, adultery, addiction, self-harm, abuse, self-hatred, depression, anxiety, betrayal, confusion, etc. etc. etc. There are a million valid reasons for this… but I think one small part of it is… we have set ourselves up for failure by trying too hard to do the things we SHOULD do, and not so much the things we WANT to do. I want us to have permission to stop “SHOULD”ing on ourselves (*teehee*), and start simply DOING what we like. I know that when I feel healthier, and better about myself, I’m more likely to have the capacity to get up and do the things I “should” do. But in the meantime, I can find lots to do that is healthy, and positive, AND on my list of enjoyed activities.
I hope this makes sense. In a nutshell, I LOVE brussel sprouts, and I DISPISE mushrooms. Both are healthy. I could focus hard on getting more of the uber healthy mushrooms in my diet, or I could just stop driving myself insane, and binge on brussel sprouts because it makes me happy. Happy is okay, and tends to be underrated. STOP DEPRESSIONS WITH A SIMPLE DOSE OF HAPPY. Do something that you like. That’s what I’ve been doing, and it’s HELPING!!!!!

4.       I believe too many bad things about myself

I think this is going to be a blog post coming up… but let me preface it with these questions (and please don’t rob yourself of this opportunity for self-evaluation by giving a cookie cutter Christian answer. REALLY analyze yourself… EVERYONE can benefit from this) :


Even if you know where I’m going with this, think about it… this is such a huge part of how we function as people.

5.       I don’t need to know everything before I do something

I have wanted to write this update for a long time, but I have stopped myself for a million reasons. Most of those reasons sound something like this,

“I’m not qualified to write about this.” “I know 100 people more qualified to write about this than me.” “I shouldn’t say anything until I’ve read a book about it.” “What if I preach heresy!?!”

And actually, every single one of those point are completely true. But they shouldn’t stop me. This is a continual struggle, as is everything else I’ve said thus far. Feel free to pray for me, and encourage me that I’m not the worst. I need it… we all need it. The world is not always kind to us, so we need to be EXTRA kind to each other.

6.       Prepare, prepare, prepare

Most often, the things that I’m most proud of in my life are things that I’ve spent lots of work and time preparing for.
(Yep… I have presented a paradox. This point is going to rival the message from previous points. But I believe in your ability to sort it out in your capable brains.) :D
I find that much of my reason for NOT keeping up with my less desirable goals in my “52 Things in 52 Weeks” is that I was under-prepared in my tracking method. I am now so far behind in knowing exactly HOW well I’m doing that I’m discouraged in even trying. I think the trick is just in finding my footing, accepting the imperfections, and doing something I can be proud of today… or this week… or this month.

In a nutshell,
I’m totally average, and totally okay!
I’m going to do things that I like, and good for me!
My negative beliefs have limited me in the past, but my future is brighter, and I’m learning to be free to think that I AM AWESOME!
I am on a journey to accepting that I am imperfectly perfect.
And it doesn’t hurt to work hard, think a lot, and prepare a bit when it comes to things we really care about.

As always, I hope you were blessed by something here.

I really hope.

Want an example of me walking out a bit of the lessons I’ve learned?

I’m purposely not allowing myself to go back and edit this. I’m just going to post it. Because I’m HOPING that even in its imperfections, it’s good enough. (And I know that if I begin down that road, my insecurities will talk me out of posting, which would be really unfortunate.)

Anyway… I’m off to go do something that I WANT to do… hang out with my handsome hubby, and my beautiful boys (who happen to think that I’m the bees knees… even when I don’t. I WIN!)

Be Blessed

~ Holly