Fighting for Control

Control. We are all grasping for control: in the big things in our lives and in the little things in our lives. I see children, teenagers, and even some adults acting out because in their topsy-turvy lives their behavior is the only thing they can control. After a year like 2020, you don’t have to look very hard to see people fighting for control in their lives. Maybe you’re one of these people fighting for control.  

One thing that tends to look the same is that as things continue to spiral out of our control, we tend to do a couple things. We either fight harder, trying to grasp onto control again or we give up and let the feeling of helplessness weigh us down. I think a lot of people have tried both options. I know I have. Neither one does much to help. 

Grasping for control in our lives can look different for each of us. We try to control our finances, our diet, our bodies, our education, our relationships, our sleep schedule. You name it and we’re trying to control it. Sometimes we try to control different situations and scenarios. I tend to overthink situations before and after they occur. Before I’m thinking of all the possible ways things could happen and after I’m thinking of all the things I should have said differently. We plan and prepare and do everything we possibly can and yet…. Life throws a curveball and what little bit of control we seemed to have gained has slipped right through our fingers. Your car breaks down, your family member is sick, you lose your job, your child is acting out, you get an unexpected bill… one thing right after another. Again. And again. Sometimes we place all of our hope and trust in earthly temporal things hoping and trusting if it works out, everything will be right and in control again. 

Control. No matter how hard we try, how far we reach, it’s always just beyond our grasp. Sure it might seem like we have control for a little while or in certain situations. But in reality, we as humans, can control nothing apart from the choices we make as we react to the world around us.

So we can continue to fight harder in the battle for control, we can give up and let the hopelessness wash over us… or we can choose option three: surrender.

Surrender.

Surrender and the term “giving up” may seem like synonyms at first glance, however I promise you they are not.

Surrender can be defined as a laying down of arms and submitting to authority. 

Stop your fighting. Stop striving in your own strength. Stop. But don’t give up hope. Don’t let grief, anxiety, and stress overwhelm you. 

Picture this with me: gather up everything you’re trying to control, the big things and the little things. Imagine holding all of your problems in your hands. Maybe you have so much you need to load up your arms, maybe you need a backpack, or a cart just to hold everything. You’re probably a little overwhelmed holding all your problems. Look at everything you’re holding and everything weighing on your shoulders. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could set it all down? 

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you.

1 Peter 5:6-7

Let’s take a moment and analyze these verses from 1 Peter. 

Humble yourselves – You need to choose to make yourself low, of less significance. This does not mean you’re going to beat yourself up, think the least of yourself, and look at all of your flaws and shortcomings. This means you’re acknowledging that you are not strong enough to do it on your own. You are not so strong, powerful, mighty or grand enough to carry all the burdens weighing you down.

Under the mighty hand of God – in submission (yielding) to God, who is mighty

Therefore –  as a result

So that he may exalt you at the proper time  – In God’s timing, not yours, you will be lifted up and elevated

Casting all your cares on him – “Cares” are the things you give serious attention to, the things you worry about, and all those things that you haven’t been able to let go of in your mind. Take every single one of your worries, your struggles, everything that is weighing you down and give it to God. The word “casting” literally means to throw something forcefully in a specified direction. So you are not to just hand your cares over, you’re not to be holding them out in your hands waiting for God to fix it, and your not to be clutching them tightly. Cast them upon God. Literally throw your worries at His feet in prayer.

Because he cares about you – In this phrase “cares” is a verb defined as feeling concern and having serious interest in something. However, it also can be defined as to look after and provide for the needs of. He (God) cares about you. The Creator of the universe has taken a serious interest in you. He will look after you and provide for your needs.


Will you put your trust in yourself, your family, your finances, your political leaders, your job or in other earthly things OR would you rather place your trust in our sovereign, immutable, good God?

You might be thinking in your head,
“I trust God. But it’s not that easy. I still get worried. Have you looked at the world?
I a m s t r e s s e d  o u t. ”

Something I’ve realized is that sometimes when we are seeking control, we are seeking for it to come from another person or the “stability” of a certain situation. For example, many people across the United States were placing their faith for a good and better future of the nation in a candidate. With President Biden having been inaugurated some people feel crushed and in despair. They worry and fret about their future and the future of the United States. On the other hand, some Americans feel a sense of joy and hope for things to come now that President Biden is in office. If President Trump had won the race we would have people on both sides as well. Those elated and those crushed. The feeling of hopelessness comes from placing your trust in someone and a political system that are actually not in any sort of control at all. Likewise, the joy and hope placed in the political system and its leaders is also fleeting because this too shall pass. Romans 13:1 tells us that  there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God, therefore God is the one in whom we should place all of our hope and all of our trust because He is in control. God is in control of every aspect of every thing.

There is nothing that surprises God and nothing occurs without Him allowing it to happen.

 Surrendering control is hard. But the great thing is that we, humans who can control nothing, can surrender to the One who controls everything. God is sovereign. This means He possesses ultimate power, He is supreme ruler, in absolute control.

Lamentation 3:37 says, “Who is there who speaks and it happens, unless the Lord has ordained it?” 

Practically, how does one do this? One cannot literally take their worries, make them tangible, and actually lay them down at God’s physical feet. 


“Pray without ceasing”

1 Thessalonians 5:17

Surrender looks like prayer. Steady. Constant prayer.

When you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, all of those cares and worries start pressing down on you, be intentional in immediate prayer. You might not even have the words to say, you might not know what needs to happen, what will happen, what should happen, etc, but that is okay, because not only does God know every minute detail, God holds it all in the palm of His hands. 

So I urge you to do a few things:
1. Do not give up.
2. Surrender.
3. Confess your worries and your attempts to grasp onto control
4. Confess if you’ve placed idols in your heart in the hopes your idols will provide control and peace around you.
5. Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray when praying is the last thing you want to do. Pray when you have no words to say. Pray when you are happy and hopeful. Pray when you are crushed and broken. Cast all of your cares upon Him because He loves you beyond all measure.

Lay it down at the feet of the One who holds it all and surrender control. 

Here I am
All my intentions
All my obsessions
I want to lay them all down
In Your hands
Only Your love is vital
Though I’m not entitled
Still You call me Your child

God You don’t need me
But somehow You want me
Oh, how You love me
Somehow that frees me
To take my hands off of my life
And the way it should go
God You don’t need me
But somehow You want me
Oh, how You love me
Somehow that frees me
To open my hands up
And give You control
I give You control

I’ve had plans
Shattered and broken
Things I have hoped in
Fall through my hands
You have plans
To redeem and restore me
You’re behind and before me
Oh, help me believe

Somehow You want me
The King of Heaven wants me
So this world has lost it’s grip on me


Tenth Avenue North – Control (Somehow You Want Me)

Scripture Writing: The Supremacy of Christ

This month’s free scripture writing and Bible reading plan is all about the Supremacy of Christ.

Supremacy is defined as the state or condition of being superior to all others in authority, power, or status. As you read and write through this month’s plan we pray that you will be in awe of Christ and His unmatched supremacy.

Click HERE for a download of the color version and HERE for a download of the simple b&w version.

Go Ye: Scripture Writing + Bible Reading Plan

Did you know that if you are a Christian, God has called you to be a missionary? Not all missionaries go overseas and witness to people in the far corners of the earth; although that is necessary and very important. However, some missionaries never leave their home town. Jesus commands His followers to go and make disciples. For some Christians our “go ye” looks like being a witness to your family, to your little ones, to your coworkers, to your friends, to the stranger you pass on the street. For some our “go ye” looks like handing out gospel tracts or doing street evangelism, or going to a foreign country. And for others our “go ye” looks like being a faithful prayer warrior and financially supporting others in their missionary work.

A missionary is defined as a person sent on a mission. If you are a Christian, Jesus has given you a the most important mission: share the gospel.

Your workplace? A mission field in need of the good news of Jesus.
Your family? A mission field in need of the good news of Jesus.
Your children? A mission field in need of the good news of Jesus.
Your neighborhood? A mission field in need of the good news of Jesus.
Your shopping center? A mission field in need of the good news of Jesus.
Your social media accounts? A mission field in need of the good news of Jesus.
Your community? A mission field in need of the good news of Jesus.
Every continent. Every country. Every province/state. Every city. Every town. Every village. Every tribe. Every nation. All people of all languages need the good news of Jesus.

You are called to be a missionary right now, right where you’re at.

Download the plan here or the b&w version here!

Valerie loves going on adventures, spending time in nature, and getting lost in the wonders of God’s creation. She works in the 6th grade resource room at the local middle school, co-runs a faith-based youth mentoring program, and is actively involved in Bible camp ministry. Valerie loves mentoring other women, teens and children. She has an obsession with pens and stocking up on beautiful journals. Valerie’s greatest joy is sharing Jesus with others. Her greatest desire is to know Him more deeply and make Him known. You can find her on Instagram @valerieeejayyy

Finding Peace

In today’s culture you hear the word “identity” a lot. People are searching for their identity. I’ve noticed it is becoming relatively common for someone to put (she/her) after their name on social media so that you know what gender pronouns they are identifying as. Some people deny their chromosomal identity and choose to identify as a different gender. Some put their identity in their political party. This time of year specifically a lot of people search for their identity in material possessions. Christmas gifts consisting of the latest Apple Watch, the must-have pair of shoes, and that designer winter jacket.  It is easy to get tricked into thinking that designer clothes, a fancy home, the latest tech, and a new car give you an identity of importance and make you feel like someone who matters. We look from left to right searching for identity, coveting what others have, thinking if it brings them “peace” it will bring us peace too.

“If I just change my hair color, have a flat tummy, and add a few tattoos I’ll feel better,” we think.

“If only I had clear skin.”

“If I just do this or if I just get that then my soul will be satisfied and peace will reign in my heart,” we grumble so easily.

The search for one’s identity starts at an early age. Working with youth, particularly middle-schoolers, this is extremely evident to me. Flashing back to my own time in middle school I can see how I was desperately trying to find my own identity. The different phases I went through and the depths I reached just to simply “fit in.”

It all boils down to a search for identity.

In middle school and even high school I tried to find my identity in my music. I was very into emo and pop punk. I wore a lot of black, had a few Paramore band t-shirts, and loaded on the black eyeliner a bit too heavy. I listened to the heartfelt, screaming, moping, sounds of Taking Back Sunday and obsessed over bands who fit the genre. I attempted to find my identity in my brand of clothes or my brand of shoes. I needed a cell phone because I wanted to fit in and all the other kids were getting the latest and best flip phones.

This did not bring me peace.

I still yearned for more. 

My senior year of high school I was desperately trying to find my identity in the “cool” crowd. I wanted to have lots of friends, I wanted to be popular, and I wanted to be liked by everyone. Chasing my identity through the approval of the eyes of my peers led me to decisions I deeply regret. I wanted to be “in” so I was willing to do anything even if I knew it was wrong. My “friend” group and I ended up betraying one my closest friends and bullying her behind her back and to her face. We had code words and would openly talk about her in her presence. We were unkind. We were cruel. In my race to identify as popular, I broke a friendship, shattered trust, and was consumed with guilt. 

I could feel the Holy Spirit tugging at my heart: “This is not who you are…”

I tried to ignore it and I tried to quench the Spirit. Despite having believed in Jesus Christ as my Savior at a young age, I ran from God in my teenage years. I am thankful for God’s patience and mercy with my stubborn heart because as I continued to search in all the wrong places, it was God who revealed my true identity to me. 

Identity is important. When you know who you are in the depths of your heart there is a peace that overflows.

God revealed my identity to me through the pages of His Word and through the character of His heart. 

THE IMPORTANCE OF IDENTITY

We know identity must be important if it is something everyone is searching after. Identity is so important that in the very beginning of time Satan attacks the identity of God and God’s image-bearers: Adam and Eve and the rest of mankind. In Isaiah 14:14 it says that the “shining morning star,” Satan, said to himself, “I will ascend above the highest clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” Satan wanted to be just like God. This is a direct attack on God’s identity and character as there is no one like Him.

There can be no one like Him. He is God alone. He alone can create everything out of nothing. 

Again in Genesis Satan attacks identity.  The serpent, Satan, first attacks God’s character by insinuating that God is a liar, that God is deceitful, manipulative, and selfish. Satan tells Adam and Eve that they would not die, but that they instead would become like God and that God did not want them to be like Him. But in reality, God’s Word is truth (John 17:17), God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18), Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44), and he is crafty and cunning in his deception (2 Corinthians 11:3). 

Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘you can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘you must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.'” “No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman. “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” The woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Genesis 3:1-6

Satan has been attacking the identity of God and of God’s children from the very start.

You can be sure that he is still out there prowling around like a roaring lion seeking those he can devour, those he can deceive, and those who don’t have their armor on. (1 Peter 5:8, Ephesians 6:10). It is vital that we are rooted and grounded in our identity so that we are not deceived and searching for it in all the wrong places.

STEP ONE IN KNOWING YOUR IDENTITY:

Plot twist! It’s not actually about me or you at all. It’s about knowing the identity of our Creator.  I used to not give much thought to God’s identity. He is God. What more did I need to know? The answer is more, so much more.

God is:
Creator
Almighty
Provider
Faithful
Gracious
Truth
Merciful
Sovereign
Loving
Righteous
Just
Judge
Father
Unchanging

Honestly, that barely brushes the surface of who God is. 

In a conversation with His disciples, Jesus reveals to us that His identity is important. You can read the text I’m referring to in Matthew chapter 16 beginning at verse 13. Jesus asked His disciples who people were saying He was. They told him people were saying he was John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the other old testament prophets. Then Jesus asked His disciples who they said He was and Peter responded, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Even though it wasn’t time for the world to know who Jesus was, it was vital that His disciples knew He was the Son of God. 

“Who do you say I am?” This is the very question Jesus asked His disciples and it’s the question I’m asking you:

Who do you say Jesus is?

Is He a man? Is He a prophet? Is He the Messiah? Your answer to this question is the key to finding your own identity. Who the world says Jesus is and who the Jesus of the Bible is are two very different people. The enemy has worked hard, and still is, to corrupt the identity of Christ. It is vital that you return to the source of truth, the Bible, if you don’t know the answer to the question above, are unsure, or have doubts. 

STEP TWO IN KNOWING YOUR IDENTITY:

READ. 

YOUR. 

BIBLE.

You won’t know who you are until you open the Book and read the Words given to you from the one who created you. Ephesians is a great place to start. I encourage you to grab your Bible, a notebook, and a highlighter. Look for phrases like “in Christ,” “through Christ,” or “in Him.”

You will find that in Christ you are blessed with every spiritual blessing, adopted into the family of God, lavished in grace, redeemed, forgiven, an inheritor, chosen, sealed, alive, and so much more!

Ultimately, it’s not about me at all. Did you catch the “in Christ” part?

Without Christ I am wretched. Without Christ my good deeds are the equivalence of dirty rags. Without Christ I am bound for an eternity in Hell. 

In Christ I am a child of God, I have been saved, redeemed, set free from the burden of sin, but not for myself and my own selfish wants and needs. I have been set free to give Him glory. I have been set free to give Him praise. I have been set free so that I can share the Gospel of Peace with all who cross my path.

I’ve claimed my identity in Christ. I am at peace. There are times that Satan tries to deceive me and the world tries to suck me back in. I have to choose to remind myself that peace does not come from online shopping, being liked by everyone, having the best of the best, my relationship status, the way that I look, or anything other than Jesus. Peace is found in Christ. God is the God of Peace. My identity is secure in Him. 

Immovable. Unshakeable. Peace.

Valerie loves going on adventures, spending time in nature, and getting lost in the wonders of God’s creation. She works in the 6th grade resource room at the local middle school, co-runs a faith-based youth mentoring program, and is actively involved in Bible camp ministry. Valerie loves mentoring other women, teens and children. She has an obsession with pens and stocking up on beautiful journals. Valerie’s greatest joy is sharing Jesus with others. Her greatest desire is to know Him more deeply and make Him known. You can find her on Instagram @valerieeejayyy

Scripture Writing: The Righteousness of God

This month’s plan is all about God’s righteousness.

Righteousness is defined as the quality of being morally right or justifiable.

Download this month’s free scripture writing + Bible reading plan here or a simple b&w copy here!

Valerie loves going on adventures, spending time in nature, and getting lost in the wonders of God’s creation. She works in the 6th grade resource room at the local middle school, co-runs a faith-based youth mentoring program, and is actively involved in Bible camp ministry. Valerie loves mentoring other women, teens and children. She has an obsession with pens and stocking up on beautiful journals. Valerie’s greatest joy is sharing Jesus with others. Her greatest desire is to know Him more deeply and make Him known. You can find her on Instagram @valerieeejayyy

Verse Cards for Anxiety

I have learned that one of the best and most important things I can do is to ground myself in the truth of God’s Word. This is especially true when I’m going through a difficult time and anxiety is rearing its ugly head. One way I ground myself in the truth of God’s Word is to meditate on and pray scripture, knowing that God’s Word is truth and that He cannot lie.

I have found that having verses readily available for a certain topic is so helpful. I’m hoping that you will find these verse cards to be an encouragement to you, especially when you’re struggling. Each verse card was carefully chosen to help in battling anxiety. At the end of the set of verse cards are some prayer prompts to help you pray through the verses.

Read these verses.

Pray them.

Pick one a day or one a week to focus on. Print them out.

Place them around your house.

Save them to your phone.

Stick one on the mirror.

Put one by your sink so you’ll see it while you’re washing dishes.

Put them in your car.

I hole punched mine, put them on a ring, and they now hang from the mirror in my car. Everyday on my way to work I have a verse to focus on and pray on. Let us know how and where you use your verse cards!

Click here for the PDF download or you can download the images below.

How to Study Your Bible: The Bare Bones Method

Whether you’re new to the Christian faith or you’ve been a Christian for a long time and want to dig into God’s Word, but you’re not really sure where to start: this is the post for you. It can be so overwhelming trying to read your Bible or choose a devotional plan/book, especially if you’re a beginner.

I have been a Christian for the majority of my life, yet it wasn’t until my late teen years when I actually learned how to study my Bible and formed a habit of reading my Bible on a daily basis. I remember getting devotional books when I was a preteen and I was never successful in using them to form a habit of getting into the Word daily. I also remember many, many times trying to read my Bible starting in Genesis, making it my goal to read the Bible chronologically and I never made even made it through the first book. Yet, I could sit and read a fiction novel for hours. Go figure. My problem was that I kept trying the same methods… and they just weren’t methods that worked for me. Devotional books and plans can be great, but there are literally thousands of them and choosing one can sometimes be overwhelming.

My goal is to teach you how to spiritually self-feed, to study your Bible without the use of anything but your Bible, a notebook, and a writing utensil. No extra commentaries, no study books, no devotional plans.

How the Bible is organized:

If you’re already confident in your knowledge of how the Bible is organized, feel free to skip this section. In order to study your Bible, it really helps to understand how your Bible is organized so that you can use it more efficiently. The Bible is comprised of 66 smaller books and those 66 books are split into two sections: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament was written prior to the birth of Jesus Christ and the New Testament was written after the birth of Jesus Christ. It takes a while to get used to where each book is located and some of them are pretty tiny, so utilize your table of contents if you need to. Each book in the Bible is divided into chapters and each chapter is further divided into verses, thus making it very easy to find information. Another key piece of information that is helpful to understand are Bible references. For example, the reference Romans 3:23 tells us that the verse we are looking for is in the book of Romans, chapter 3, verse 23. Bible verse references are always written in this manner with the title of the book first, then the chapter number, followed by a colon, and then the verse number.

Supplies needed:

  1. A Bible. Personally, I prefer and recommend print Bibles, especially for beginners. I still use Bible apps, but not nearly as much as I use my physical Bible. My favorite Bible translations to use are KJV and CSB, but ultimately the choice of translation you use is your choice.
  2. A pen, pencil, marker, crayon, or literally anything that writes. I have a bit of an obsession with writing utensils and office supplies in general, but writing with a beautiful ink color or an aesthetically barreled pen just makes the experience that much more enjoyable. I love having pens in bright colors for my notes and for underlining in my Bible. However, sometimes I use just a plain old boring pencil. If you have a Bible with a smaller font size I would suggest using fine tip pens for underlining.
  3. A notebook. It doesn’t particularly matter to me if my notebook is spiral bound or if the binding is sewn. I really love buying the super cute notebooks (I might love it a little too much, honestly). It may sound really silly, but when I have a beautiful notebook it motivates me to actually use it and read my Bible.

Some additional supplies that I like to have for this study method, but are not necessary include: gel highlighters, a dictionary app, and a timer.

The Bare Bones Method:

I call this the Bare Bones Method of studying your Bible because it gets rid of all the extras. I still use devotional books and scripture writing plans, but the Bare Bones Method is like my meat and potatoes. When I need to switch things up or get back to the basics this is typically the method I choose.

Where to start? I recommend starting in 1 John or one of Paul’s smaller New Testament books like Ephesians, Philippians, or Colossians. 

How to start? I recommend doing your best to find a space free of distractions. Put your phone on silent or do not disturb. I know some people recommend completely turning off your phone or leaving it in another room, but when I first started with this method my phone came in handy for two things. The first thing I used my phone for was a timer and the second was my dictionary app for when I came across a word I didn’t know or was unsure of its meaning. 

Step 1.

Before you begin your time, start off with a prayer. Ask God to help you be faithful in committing time to Him each day, to teach you, to speak to your heart, to understand, to be focused, and to help you apply what you read to your life.

Step 2.

Take note of the time you’re starting or use a timer. You’re going to read chapter 1 of the book you chose for 15 minutes. Depending on which book of the Bible you’re in and which chapter you’re in, reading for only 15 minutes may be enough time to finish the whole chapter or may be not even a fraction of the time you need. If you finish the chapter before the 15 minutes is over, then begin rereading or meditating (to think deeply or focus your mind) on a specific verse you read or theme of the chapter. If 15 minutes is not enough time to complete the chapter note down which verse you ended on or feel free to go beyond the 15 minutes if you want to finish the chapter.

Step 3.

During your 15 minutes, you are going to slowly read through the chapter. While you’re reading, take notes of what stands out to you and underline/highlight verses that God uses to speak to your heart. If you find yourself reading and realize you’ve read 10 verses but you have no idea what is being discussed, go back to verse one, take it slower, and focus. If you really don’t understand it, it’s okay. Acknowledge that you don’t understand it and ask God to help you understand.  I have a list of things I try to keep in mind and look for when I’m reading to help me process what I’m reading. 

  1. What does this tell me about God/Jesus/the Holy Spirit? 
  2. Is there a sin I need to confess? 
  3. Is there a promise from God?
  4. Is there a command I need to follow?
  5. How can I apply this to my life?

When I come across any of those five things I note it down in my journal/notebook. For example: If I was reading in 1 John 1 I might write in my journal, “v5 God is light. There is no darkness in Him at all.”

Step 4.

Pray over the verses you read. Pray the verses if that’s applicable.

Modifications to The Bare Bones Method:

Doing this style of Bible study does not always have to look like the 4 steps I described above. Feel free to modify it and make it your own. Adjust it so it works for you.

Here are some modifications I’ve made in the past:
  1. When I first started with this method setting a timer was SO beneficial for me. It really helped hold me accountable and prevented me from rushing through my devotions to just get them done. Eventually, I increased my time to 20 minutes However, after a while I no longer needed the timer at all. 
  2. Read 1-2 verses at a time. Examine them for key ideas, promises, attributes of God, look for commands, applications, etc. Note it down.  Then pray over the verse(s). This method really gets you praying throughout the duration of your devotional time rather than just a prayer at the beginning and/or end.
  3. On day one of a new book, instead of reading just one chapter, read through the whole book. Set aside your notebook and just read to get an overview of the book. Then on day two start with chapter 1 and take notes. This works really well for the smaller books, however, this would be a difficult modification for longer books like Matthew, Acts, Job, Isaiah, Psalms, etc.
  4. Write out and/or memorize a key verse from your chapter of the day.
  5. Start the book out with the intention of looking for a keyword/theme. For example: in the book of 1 John I might read with the intention of looking at the theme of love and highlighting that word each time it appears.

The modifications really are endless. Find what works for you, experiment, play around, and adjust things. 

If you’re interested in another Bible Study technique check out our Scripture Writing + Bible Reading plans on the Radiantly Brave Blog!

Valerie loves going on adventures, spending time in nature, and getting lost in the wonders of God’s creation. She works in the 6th grade resource room at the local middle school, co-runs a faith-based youth mentoring program, and is actively involved in Bible camp ministry. Valerie loves mentoring other women, teens and children. She has an obsession with pens and stocking up on beautiful journals. Valerie’s greatest joy is sharing Jesus with others. Her greatest desire is to know Him more deeply and make Him known. You can find her on Instagram @valerieeejayyy

Scripture Writing: Prophecy Fulfilled & Yet to Be

Download this scripture writing plan Here or a simple b&w version here!

This month’s scripture writing takes us through the books of Matthew and 2 Thessalonians.

Check out our previous scripture writing and Bible reading plans:
James: How to Live For Christ
Patience
Prayer + Praise
Salvation: In Christ Alone
Keep Thyself Pure
Looking to Eternity

Valerie loves going on adventures, spending time in nature, and getting lost in the wonders of God’s creation. She works in the 6th grade resource room at the local middle school, co-runs a faith-based youth mentoring program, and is actively involved in Bible camp ministry. Valerie loves mentoring other women, teens and children. She has an obsession with pens and stocking up on beautiful journals. Valerie’s greatest joy is sharing Jesus with others. Her greatest desire is to know Him more deeply and make Him known. You can find her on Instagram @valerieeejayyy

Tossed By The Wind

Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God – who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly – and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind.

James 1:5-6

Are you tossed by the wind? The wind is strong and forceful, but you don’t have to let it move you.

Do you know what you believe and why you believe it? Do you have doubt flooding your heart? Maybe you’re not sure what to believe with misinformation and conflicting information constantly presenting itself.
Do you doubt God and His plan for your life? Do you doubt His sovereignty in this world of chaos?

There is a lot of wind right now. Sometimes it feels like a gentle breeze and other times it feels like hurricane force winds. Either way, the question remains: Will you be tossed?

Pick any topic and you’ll find people on either side and you’ll find the people who are easily swayed. Some topics are arguably more important than others and compromising may not be a huge deal depending on what the topic is. There are silly topics like whether or not pineapple belongs on pizza and then there are more serious topics like who to vote for in the election. There is one topic that stands above the rest: your faith.

I was watching a television show the other day in which a character stated the Bible was not meant to be taken literally and that the majority of scripture was metaphorical. They were even so bold as to say that the Bible was inspired by God, but not actually dictated by God. They mentioned the idea of God inspiring the words written, but they did not believe that the actual words were God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). If I did not know what I believe and why I believe it I could easily be tossed by the wind. The inkling sometimes pops into my brain, “I don’t think God actually means…” and that my friend, is a dangerous statement that could lead me down a dangerous path. If I begin to question His Word, it wouldn’t be long and I would be questioning God’s character and my faith in general.

But I do know that scripture is God-breathed. I know it’s true. I know that there are things I don’t understand in the Bible, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It doesn’t mean the whole book or chapter is a metaphor. What it means is that I am human. My understanding may be lacking or skewed, but God’s word never is. If I find something in scripture that I think conflicts with another part of scripture, it’s not the scripture that’s wrong. Instead, it is me and my perspective that is in error. John 17:17 tells us that God’s Word is truth. It does not say bits and pieces are true or that you can feel free to pick and choose what you think is true. God’s Word is truth. All of it. So if you are lacking understanding or wisdom, ask God for understanding and wisdom. He gives wisdom generously!

Be Rooted

Back in the days of the New Testament Galatian believers were being deceived. In Galatians 1:6-7 Paul writes, “I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from him who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are troubling you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.” I’ve experienced times in my life where I was being turned away from truth and I didn’t even realize it, which is why it is vitally important to know what you believe and why you believe it. There are people who will purposefully attempt to sway you and also people with pure intention, but still walking in error.

You say you believe salvation is a free gift and cannot be earned. Why? What if I showed you my good deeds? I’ve never been in trouble with the law, I do community service, I go to church, and I am a good person. Would you be tossed if I told you that by my works I was earning my way to heaven?

You say you believe that God is good. Why? What would you say if I pointed out every flaw, every tragedy, every little thing that didn’t go right? What if I told you God was not good or loving because a good God surely wouldn’t let such awful things happen in the world. Would you be tossed?

I could keep throwing out scenarios, but I won’t. Colossians 2:7 says, “So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to walk in him, being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude.”

If you don’t want to be tossed you must have roots. Think of a big tree that has withstood the wind for many years. Why doesn’t it blow over? It is deeply rooted. We must be like the tree planted by the river of water. Our roots must run deep to the source of living water: Jesus. Read your Bible. Get to know your God. Get to know your Savior. It is okay if you don’t understand everything. As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you.” 1 John 2:27a.The Holy Spirit will teach you. Don’t stress it. I’ve also learned that I can read a verse a bunch of times, but then one day it just hits different. Be patient with yourself. Show yourself grace. You don’t need to understand it all right at first, I mean, there is still stuff in the Bible that is way over my head and I’ve been a Christian for the majority of my life. Don’t let it discourage you. Ask God for wisdom and understanding. Keep digging your roots in a little deeper day by day.

Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

Hebrews 10:23

Stand Tall

The tree that is deeply rooted is not afraid to stand tall. When the wind comes with a vengeance the tree whose roots run deep will not be plucked out of the earth. The tree that is deeply rooted is unashamed to stand tall. Are you like the tree, deeply rooted in the truth of God’s Word?

Don’t be afraid to stand in your convictions. Don’t be ashamed of your stance on the immutable truth of God’s Word.
This does not mean getting into heated debates and arguments with those who believe differently than you or are in error. Ephesians 4:15 says, “But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into him who is the head—Christ.” We are to speak the truth in love; not in anger or self-righteousness. The Bible also tells us to be gentle in correcting others. I know from personal experience when someone is harsh or rude in their correction towards me it often turns me off from actually listening to them and taking to heart what they are saying. In the quest to stand tall it is also important to have a teachable spirit. You don’t know it all and I most definitely don’t know it all either. So inevitably the time will come when I am the one who has misunderstood God’s Word or am the one who is in error. But it is so vitally important to go back to scripture. If someone tells you something, don’t believe them just because they’ve been a Christian longer than you have. Go back to God’s Word. Does it line up? If you’re not sure then ask God for wisdom.

A Prayer

Dear God,
I pray that you would help me to dig my roots in deep to You and Your Word. I pray that you would help to discern what is true and what is false. Help me to bravely stand unashamed in my convictions. Lord, help me to grow in every way so that I may be more like Christ. I pray that you will help me to be gentle when expressing my stand, but I also pray you will give me a teachable spirit. God, help me to stand firmly in the truth of Your Word so that when the wind inevitably comes I will not be tossed.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

Valerie loves going on adventures, spending time in nature, and getting lost in the wonders of God’s creation. She works in the 6th grade resource room at the local middle school, co-runs a faith-based youth mentoring program, and is actively involved in Bible camp ministry. Valerie loves mentoring other women, teens and children. She has an obsession with pens and stocking up on beautiful journals. Valerie’s greatest joy is sharing Jesus with others. Her greatest desire is to know Him more deeply and make Him known. You can find her on Instagram @valerieeejayyy

Scripture Writing: James

James: How to Live for Christ is a 5 week scripture writing and Bible reading plan. This plan is a little different than our other scripture writing plans, but they say variety is the spice of life. Instead of reading a different chapter each day, you will read the same chapter everyday for a week, write out the specified verses for that day, and you will have a memory verse for the week.

Download the plan HERE or a simple b&w version here!

Valerie loves going on adventures, spending time in nature, and getting lost in the wonders of God’s creation. She works in the 6th grade resource room at the local middle school, co-runs a faith-based youth mentoring program, and is actively involved in Bible camp ministry. Valerie loves mentoring other women, teens and children. She has an obsession with pens and stocking up on beautiful journals. Valerie’s greatest joy is sharing Jesus with others. Her greatest desire is to know Him more deeply and make Him known. You can find her on Instagram @valerieeejayyy