Spring is in the air!

Today’s blog post starts off our new series in April focusing on Spring and Renewing your Faith!

A few weeks ago the weather outside was absolutely gorgeous. The sun was shining, birds were singing and I could sit outside in my long sleeve shirt with my face to the sun (sunglasses on of course) and not shiver in cold.

I had about another half hour before my next class, and I decided while sitting on the bench in the sun, that I would spend those 30 minutes in prayer. So there I sat, in the middle of McGill’s MacDonald campus with students going back and forth, praying silently (that’s where the featured photo is from!).

AND IT WAS AMAZING!

My soul, my mind, my spirit, my heart, EVERYTHING, felt refreshed and re-energized. I went to class floating on a cloud and the rest of my day was so peaceful. Not because crazy things didn’t happen or that I wasn’t busy (spend more than 5 minutes with me and you’ll realize how insanely busy my life is), but because I got to spend those 30 minutes talking with my Father, Lord and Savior.

Everyone will tell you that an important part of any relationship, whether it be friendship, romantic, professional or otherwise, is COMMUNICATION. You need to talk with people around you so that you can not only learn to interact efficiently and meaningfully with each other, but so that you can begin to understand each other better as well.

New Year’s is not the only time where you can begin new things in your life. Spring is in the air and the entire world is beginning anew after winter (although let’s face it, our winter this year sucked). Why can you not also start fresh whenever you want?

I encourage you to spend time communicating with your Father. Try to find times where you can pray by yourself. As you talk with Him more, you open yourself up so that His Holy Spirit can fill you and reveal what God is trying to communicate to you.

It doesn’t have to be 30 minutes, start small with 5 or 10 minutes. You can pray during a break, you can pray in your car or on in the bus or in the metro. There is no limit to where and how long you can pray other than what you decide for yourself.

Matthew 7: 7-8 (NIV)

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Our Father is faithful and holds to His promises.

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Refocus – Community

Hey y’all!

So far in REFOCUS:

  • We’ve looked at how we need to Dump Distractions in order to better focus on God.
  • We’ve seen that we need to Pray Profusely in order to communicate with God.
  • We’ve talked about Godly Goals and how we can sometimes lose sight of why were we doing them in the first place.
  • And finally we’ve seen how it is necessary to go through a Digital Detox and unplug from the world so we can plug back in to God.

The factor that I believe is essential to all Christians and the thing that ties all of the Refocus blogs together is

COMMUNITY

As Christians, we are called to be in community with one another in order to:

  • GROW

Being surrounded by fellow Christians pushes us to continue to grow in our faith. It is very difficult to stay static in your faith when you are continuously cocooned (growing and changing community of others who share and understand your faith.

Romans 12:4-5

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

  • be held ACCOUNTABLE

I don’t know about you, but when I know that I am accountable to someone, and that I need to be able justify and explain my actions or decisions, I tend to make very different choices. When living in community you are held accountable for your actions because it is no longer only you who is affected, but also everyone in your group as well. You become responsible for yourself and others and it makes a world of a difference!

  • have SUPPORT and ENCOURAGEMENT from fellow Christians

Now it is all well and good to want to grow and to have people who will hold you accountable for your actions, but you also need support in order to do these things. We were not meant to be alone. We are built to live and thrive in community with one another.

Hebrews 10:24-25

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

God did not leave Adam alone, but created Eve:

Genesis 2:18

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Jesus was not alone but had his twelve disciples

The twelve were not alone, but travelled with others to spread the message and establish Churches.

Churches are a community of individuals who come together to worship God.

And so on and so forth… We are called to live in COMMUNITY and NOT ALONE and I urge you to find YOURS. Find a place where you are loved, where you are supported and encouraged, where you are held accountable to others and where you are able to grow in your faith!

PS. Here are more great verses about community: http://dailyverses.net/community

Refocus – Digital Detox

At a meeting on Saturday our meditation spoke of distractions that keep us from focusing on God. So when I heard the term “Digital Detox”, I was inspired to write this next installment of Refocus on the digital distractions in our lives.

Quick Recap: 

  1. Dump Distractions: when you spend time with God, your ENTIRE focus should solely be on Him. 
  2. Pray Profusely: pray all the time, with humble hearts because it is how we communicate with God.
  3. Godly Goals: sometimes we place our focus on godly things but our focus is not on God; take time to work on your personal relationship with God.

And… back to this week!

We live in a very technological/digital world. We have small devices where we can call others, message others, Google search, find a map to guide us and about a million other small things can all be found at our fingertips! But sadly, we also live in a world where:

This has become the norm…

Couple TextingImage source: http://home.messiah.edu/~jk1454/ptsn1.html

Instead of this…

291975_242445205793054_3141399_n

Image source: https://senioryouthcamp.wordpress.com/2014/08/03/countdowntocamp-just-one-more-week/

I have THREE questions and challenges for you to think about,

Question 1: What is the first thing you look at when you wake up in the morning and before you go to sleep?

The common answer: our phones. But when we really think about it, can we really expect to hear God and live by His word if we do not begin and end our day with Him? If He is not a constant part of our daily lives?

Question 2: Would you survive one day, 24 hours, without your cellphone?

For some of us, the answer may be no. And although we may occasionally have legitimate and good reasons such as work reasons, waiting for a call from a friend or family member, etc… A cellphone is not one of the five essential nutrients that we would expire without.

Question 3: What are you posting online and what does it say about you?

The digital world is not only composed of the devices we use but also what we do with them. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, etc… all these social media sites are a window into the person we are. What we post or re-post says a lot about us not only to our friends and family but also to anyone who stumbles upon our internet profile.

Challenge 1: I challenge you to look at God’s word first when you wake up and before you go to sleep.

Challenge 2: I challenge you to turn off everything with a screen for 24 hours (you’ll be asleep for approximately 6 of those hours so that leaves you with only 18 😉 ).

Challenge 3: I challenge you to go through a Digital Detox and take a closer look at what it is you are posting online and what it is saying about you. Does your internet profile reflect that of a disciple and representative of Christ?

We are still in the midst of Lent, it is not too late to think about going through a Digital Detox and giving up or cleaning up your internet profile and digital world.

Refocus – Godly Goals

Hello again everyone!

I’m back with Refocus this week where we are continuing to look at why we sometimes lose sight of our faith and the things we can do to restore it. Last time I talked about Praying Profusely and how we should pray all the time with humble hearts because it is how we communicate with God.

Today, I would like to talk about something that we don’t really consider a distraction: godly goals.

Isn’t it awesome to be part of your youth group? Isn’t it awesome to have responsibilities at church? Isn’t it awesome to organize events for your youth? Isn’t it awesome to be part of the worship team? or teach the younger kids? or help organize church events? (insert “Everything is Awesome” song)

Aren’t all of these things, and more, good things? Even, godly things?

Sometimes we do all the right things and say all the right things but we let all the “right things” distract us from God. Don’t get me wrong, all these events we may be planning, and people we may be mentoring and things we may be participating in may all be good things, things that glorify God.

In my own life, I am on the Senior Camp Planning Committee, I am also a youth leader/adviser person for FFBCM Youth and I am also helping start a youth group at my Church. In the past week or so, I have been so busy with all these different responsibilities and I could not have felt more far away from God.

Sometimes we place our focus on godly things but our focus is not on God.

I am so busy planning, organizing and about a million other things, and I lost sight of why I was doing all these things and for whom I was doing them.

I want this post to guide you, to push to reflect upon the many things you are a part of and to refocus not on what you are doing, but why you are doing it and for whom you are doing it. Refocus on God and your relationship with him.

Do not give away so many pieces of yourself to all these responsibilities and forget that you are in need of nourishment as well. That you have a personal relationship with God that needs to be cared for. 

Even Jesus took time away from his ministry to spend time alone with God and pray. 

Luke 5:16 (NIV)

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

And it’s okay. IT IS OKAY. You are allowed to be overwhelmed and I encourage you to admit it and take time for yourself to refocus on your personal relationship with God. 

Refocus – Pray Profusely

Hey y’all!

Refocus is back this week where we are continuing to look at why we sometimes lose sight of our faith and the things we can do to restore it. Last time I talked about Dumping Distractions and how we should put aside the things that consume our lives and focus solely on God when we spend time with Him.

This week I want to talk about Prayer and when should we do it? how should we do it? why should we do it? Many questions but all with answers (I hope)!

prayer clipart

Q1. When should we pray?

Answer: Pray Profusely, i.e. ALWAYS

Colossians 4:2 (NIV)

 “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”

Prayer is not only an action, it is also an attitude. Yes, you read right! AN ATTITUDE. This attitude means that we are:

  • In constant communication with the Holy Spirit
  • Constantly asking God for His guidance
  • Always praising God and giving thanks for His work in our lives.

Q2. How should we pray?

Let’s look at what Jesus said,

Luke 18: 9-14 (NIV)

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

To me, this means that we are never “too good” for prayer. We should pray HUMBLY and not seek to exalt or praise ourselves in the eyes of God. We should pray knowing that everything we do comes from God.

Q3. Why should we pray?

Prayer is how we communicate with God. When we put time aside in our day to meditate on God and His word, we should also take the time to talk to Him.

We are a generation that loves our technological gadgets, we constantly text, tweet, Facebook, phone call, Skype, instagram… whatever you use! Is it really that hard to pray and talk to God?? 

  1. We don’t need a laptop, computer, phone, tablet, etc…
  2. It doesn’t cost us any money.
  3. The line is never busy; we never have to wait for God to be free to talk to us.
  4. God is always available 24/7.

The only things we need to give? our TIME and FOCUS.

Refocus on God and your relationship with Him by taking the time to PRAY… PROFUSELY!

Refocus – Blurb

Have you ever lost something that you could simply not find again? Keys, coins, one pair of your favorite socks or even a book, jacket or sweater?

What about your faith? Have you ever lost sight of your faith or what you believe in and why? 

Sometimes we find ourselves not quite sure what we believe in anymore or doubtful of the truths we have taken for granted all our lives. Especially after a busy holiday season where much of our time is spent relaxing, doing our own thing and often hanging out with family and/or friends, we sometimes forget to hang out with God too. 

Over the next few Mondays I’d like to take a look at how we sometimes lose sight of our faith and little things we can do in our everyday lives to help us refocus again.