enough


All of You is more than enough

For all of me, for every thirst and every need

You satisfy me with Your love and all I have in You

Is more than enough.

(Enough, Chris Tomlin)

 

Have you ever tried to survive by just drinking water?  You can have as much water as you want, but you can only have water.  Nothing else—no food or other drinks.  Just water.  Or have you tried to survive by living off of only one specific food?  Like only bread, or only rice?  Probably not, unless you’re doing a 30-hour famine.  We know that it’s nearly impossible to eat or drink only one thing and be healthy.  The human body needs a variety of nutrients in order to be healthy.

The same is true for our souls.  Have you been trying to live off of only one aspect of God?  Maybe you’ve only accepted the part of God that forgives.  Maybe you only accept God if you forget about the side of Him that says to honor Him in everything you do—not just Sundays and youth group.  Or maybe you are okay with God in everything except loving your enemies.

But the truth is that we need all of God to be spiritually healthy.  True, some things about God don’t look appealing at first glance; such as we need to actively serve Him otherwise we aren’t truly following Him.  Or that we need to have faith when everything is falling apart and God seems to be nowhere close because He is faithful even when we can’t see Him.  Or those who are “good people” but haven’t accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour won’t receive the eternal reward.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

(2 Corinthians 12:9a)

God says that His grace is sufficient for us.  It’s enough for us to live our spiritual lives off of.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

(Romans 3:23 – 24)

We are all justified by the grace of God.  We are made whole through Him.  If we accept all of God, He will accept all of us, just as we are.  It’s not enough to just accept a part of God.  It’s all or nothing:

 I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot.  Would that you were either cold or hot!  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

(Revelation 3:15 – 16)

God requires the whole of us and He requires that we put our faith in all of Him, not just the areas that suit our needs.  He is enough for us.  Is that true in your life?

like a roaring lion


All the time, we hear about specific afflictions the Church is suffering in second- and third-world countries: persecution. We hear about many countries where Christianity is illegal, and for those who dare to practice it anyway, the consequence is imprisonment, torture, or death. We as the Church in North America do not know these struggles through experience, but we pray for the persecuted church, that they will be strengthened; that they will not turn away from Christ or be tempted; that Satan will not win in his efforts to impose countless hardships, destroying the Church.

This is all well and good. We should pray for our suffering Christian brothers and sisters:

Remember those in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.

– Hebrews 13:3 (ESV)

But have you ever considered yourself not safe from persecution? Probably not. Why would you? It is almost impossible for us to be tortured because we declare Jesus Christ to be our Lord, since we live in democratic countries which have laws enforcing freedom of religion.

But that does not make us safe from our common enemy, Satan.

In not-so-far-off countries, Satan has found the perfect thing to make war against the Church with: persecution. In North America, he cannot implement this tool easily; but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t try to destroy us at all. So what does he do?

Just look around you. Everywhere you see things advertised: the latest iPhone, tablet, or Xbox game. The newest clothes, vehicles, makeup. Addictions such as drugs, alcohol, pornography — it’s all available to anyone who wants it. The industry of North America literally feeds off of our human selfishness and addictions. Not that buying things (in moderation) is bad, but it is a tool Satan uses against us.

Jesus himself said,

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.

– Mark 10:25 (ESV)

Now, I’m not saying (and neither was Jesus, if you look up this verse and read the next few with it) that rich people have no chance of getting to heaven. I’m simply saying that selfishness is a big issue for Christians (and anyone). Satan is aware of this and uses it against us at any chance he gets.

Satan finds each of our weakest points then appeals to our sinful human nature to trap us in sin. Although we may have all of our physical needs met exceedingly, we may face some of the greatest temptations because we have so much.

Physical blessings can really be a curse because it opens up the door to greed and selfishness.

Selfishness is a major sin that a lot of people overlook because it isn’t really visible in the sense of, “Oh, he swore. He sinned” or “Oh, he stole. He sinned.” It’s more of a sin that causes other sins (example: selfishness caused him to steal, since he wanted that thing so badly). Selfishness can drive us to commit other sins.

But this problem isn’t only in the world; it’s also in Christians. And it’s mainly Christians that Satan targets.

2 Timothy 3:2 – 5 (ESV) says this:

For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure, rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

What does Paul mean by “denying its power”? The power of God is evident in our changed lives as Christians. We are set apart by and for God, and when walking with Him, we will be different than the world. The power of God is the power to change us and make us holy through Jesus Christ, who was sacrificed and took our sins away. The appearance of godliness is in going to church, for example; but if you don’t live like a Christian in every aspect of your life (not just Sunday morning), you’re denying the power of God because your life does not give testimony to it.

Essentially, Satan uses ourselves against us. He appeals to our naturally-selfish nature, easily convincing us to live for ourselves. And I’ve quickly learned that it’s always a struggle to deny one’s self. It is not easy. It requires constant prayer and it is impossible without the power of God. We cannot change ourselves and trying to do so only results in failure — something Satan wants us to feel. This is also becoming more and more clear to me. If Satan can convince us that we will never be able to live the perfect Christian life, then he’s won because we will give up and turn away from God.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

– 1 Peter 5:8 – 9 (ESV)

We know that Satan is always looking for our weaknesses and trying to turn us away from God, but what do we do about it? We are told on several different occasions to stand firm in our faith. When Jesus was tempted in the desert by the devil, He fought with Scripture.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (…) Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

– James 4:7 – 8, 10 (ESV)

God promises that if we flee to Him, Satan will leave us. Without God, we’d be toast.

There will always be times when we fail. I do every day. But God forgives and welcomes us back with open arms — if we seek Him.

Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.

– Psalm 144:1 – 2 (ESV)

God is our shield; in Him is the strength that the devil will never overcome.

real missions


What is the point of missions? To help others as Christ commanded, yes. To bring others to Christ by showing his love to others, yes. But while we as teenagers go to school and part-time jobs knowing that we don’t have the power to end world poverty all at once, we forget something very important: our mission field.

Helping the impoverished living overseas is very important, and as teenagers we have many opportunities to do so — Operation Christmas Child, as an example. Countless foundations to contribute to, such as Compassion and Gospel for Asia. Youth missions trips all over the world. It’s important to be Christ’s light to the world and to go to “all nations” sharing God’s love for us.

But too often, we define “missions” solely as assisting the impoverished in second- and third-world countries, or even those on the streets of Toronto. And that is missions. But while offering financial assistance is important, it’s not as important as sharing the gospel of Christ. Unfortunately, not everyone will have the opportunity to travel overseas contributing to building or financial projects. But too often we stop there. We know we aren’t able to go abroad, so we give as much as we can from home, helping these foundations to further their causes.

And that’s great. We should all give to others selflessly. Christ, in fact, commands us to do so. But I’m talking about our mission field. The mission field that seems especially reserved for us as teenagers and that we encounter every day: school. Part-time jobs. Sports and other extra-curricular activities. There are so many different opportunities for us to witness to others.

I’m sure you’ve been told that before: “Witness to others!” But that’s an intimidating word to hear. Most of us mildly freak out when our youth pastor tells us to “witness” to all of our friends (or non-friends). Some of us just brush it off as a non-option. Or we do both:

Witness?! I’m not going to whip out a bible at lunch tomorrow and start telling my friends they’re going to hell unless they repent of sins they don’t even know that they have! No…I would definitely be bullied…and God wouldn’t want that, so…they’ll just see how nice I am, wonder why I’m so nice, and ask to come to youth group! That’s one problem solved.

It seems a little weird, but a lot of the time, that’s how we think whether we realized it or not. Witnessing is a scary thing, especially in a world that is so secularism-oriented. And with a lot of people not even remotely interested in a saving grace, it is incredibly difficult to witness to others.

As someone once said, “Preach the gospel always — and if necessary, use words.” This is a good reminder that “witnessing” doesn’t mean preaching to your friends at every turn. Actions really do speak louder than words. You may be the only Bible your friends ever see.

So how, exactly, do we go about this “silent witnessing”? I mean, be good, yes — but specifically, what should we do? Romans 12:9 – 21 gives a detailed list of “Marks of the True Christian”:

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

This is a wonderful passage to turn to whenever we don’t know how to react to a situation. I have turned to it many times because it’s kind of like a Christian basic behavior 101.

My point is that most people see how you act or react to something first. And a lot of the time, people say one thing then do another. It seems that a person’s word isn’t of much worth any more; most people will be impressed by your actions way before they’ll be impressed by your words.

I want to challenge you to focus on being Christ to everyone you meet — not talking about Christ. If the opportunity arises for you to share your faith, by all means do so! But let your focus be on being a Christian, not persuading others to become a Christian. Trust me; people do notice.

fear not


Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish. You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all. For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” … I am the one who helps you, declares the Lord; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. 

(Isaiah 41:10 – 14)

modesty matters


As Christian teen girls in today’s society, it is extremely difficult to be modest yet dress attractively. It doesn’t help that all of our non-Christian friends give no regard to modesty or that media all around us is telling us that it doesn’t matter. Top that off with your pastor telling you one thing, your parents telling you another, and then all the different resources out there giving you specific guidelines when it comes to what exactly is modest, and you’re downright confused. It’s easier to say to just forget the whole thing and do whatever you want — all the different Christian influences in your life can’t agree anyway on what exactly is considered modest and what isn’t, so why bother?

Well, I’m here to tell you that there’s a great “resource” out there for you! It’s actually a survey filled out by 1 500 Christian guys ages 12+ that allows you to make modesty decisions based on what you know of a guy’s perspective.

In case you haven’t heard of the Rebelution Blog, it’s a blog by Alex and Brett Harris that they released to start a revolution encouraging teens to “Do Hard Things.”

One of the “hard things” they helped a teen girl do was to put out a modesty survey for Christian guys to take and to help girls know what guys are thinking when it comes to the decisions girls make about modesty. As I mentioned, 1 500 Christian guys of all ages were surveyed (mostly teen guys) and were asked very specifically what types of clothing they thought were modest — everything from bathing suits to jeans to jewelry to shoes.

This may be a little hard to see, but this is an example of how a survey result would look. You can select a statement and see how many guys strongly disagree, strongly agree, etc. This result states, “Guys notice whether a girl dresses modestly or not.” As you can see, 66.9% of all the guys who did this survey strongly agree, and 29.4% agree (together that’s 96.3% of all guys agreed who did the survey!).

Here’s another one…

Modesty is an important quality for your future wife to have.” Altogether, 95.4% of the guys who took this survey agreed.

As you may (or may not) be able to see in these pictures, you can also select a filter and put the results through that. So say you only want the guys’ opinions who are 17 years old. Just select that on the sidebar of the survey and you’re good to go. : )

I hope you’ll put this great resource to use, as it can help you define what is modest and immodest. At the very least it gives you a true guys’ perspective and allows you to make your decisions on that.

However, I can’t talk about modesty in dressing without mentioning having a modest spirit. Guys notice this too!

A modestly dressed girl can still be a stumbling block because of her attitude and behavior.” How many guys agreed (strongly or otherwise) with this? 93.8%.

Character, intelligence, and personality are more important than physical beauty.” Remember, this is from the guys themselves! 91.1% of all the guys agreed with this statement.

This reaffirmed for me that character really does matter. Why? Because it lasts, and it’s what truly satisfies. Remember that and seek God first.

Blessings!

Emily

worship his holy name (for real)


Have you ever been to church or youth group and found your friends (or you!) and you’re in the middle of worship…but no one’s singing?

I see more and more that young people are less and less interested in worshiping our God, especially when we’re around our friends. You go to youth group and worship is just extra social time; you whisper with your friends, giggle, tease, talk.

Have you ever thought about how God feels about this? I mean, sure, our leaders tell us to be quiet and respectful and not talk because they’re leaders and it’s kind of their job…but what about God’s opinion? We go to church or youth group once or twice a week and sing three or four songs. But if we spend that time talking to our friends or singing the songs but really not meaning it or taking any of the lyrics to heart, what does God think of that?

It doesn’t seem like a big deal that people talk during worship — until you put it into perspective.

God creates man. We sin, breaking God’s plan for us. We are doomed to eternity without God unless we make sacrifices to purify ourselves. God sends his only Son to die for us to take our punishment that we deserve for our sin. Then when we go to worship him, we can’t even focus for fifteen minutes on giving him praise he deserves so much we can’t even express it in words.

Do you think God is sad when he sees that we don’t give much meaning to our worship?

I challenge you to make your worship very real by focusing on God as you worship. Make it a time of prayerful worship. Worship was always meant to be meaningful, deliberate, and a time for one-on-one time with our Saviour. I challenge you to make your worship for real.

rapture ruckus: all things new


This weekend, I was introduced to the band Rapture  Ruckus. They’re from New Zealand and they’re kinda awesome. : ) Here’s two of their amazing songs from their new album, Open Your Eyes. The first one, All Things New, has  a really upbeat verse but I love the chorus. And the second one, “Hold On,” is really good too. Enjoy! : )