I don't know if you've tried archery before, but it's pretty important to look at the target when you release the arrow. If you look away your arrow is likely to go AWOL. (side note: if you haven't tried archery, you should - it's fun).
Let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end.
Paul talked about how important it is to look ahead when you're running a race. If you look behind you, you actually slow down and start veering out of your lane.
King David said, my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign Lord (Psalm 141:8).
In Matthew chapter 14 Jesus sent the disciples on ahead of him in a boat one day and he walked on water to catch up with them later. Peter asked Jesus if he could walk on water too and Jesus said, 'come.' Peter started walking on the water toward Jesus! But then he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the wind and the waves. He became afraid and began to sink. Have you ever thrown yourself into something full of enthusiasm and expectation, only to get distracted by discouragement and doubt? Did you take your eyes off Jesus and start to sink? The good news is Peter didn’t drown - Jesus reached down and saved him. He reaches down to help pick you up too. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Don’t let fear and discouragement keep you from living your best life for him.
I have a confession. I am writing a book - it will be a girl’s guide to life, body, mind and spirit. There have been times when I have been distracted by the wind and the waves - they took the form of self-doubt, the sheer enormity of the task, tough questions that I didn’t know the answer to and other hurdles. I believe that if I keep looking to Jesus for wisdom, strength, patience and perseverance I can walk on water (or at least publish this book).
What is your walking on water challenge? You might have a sin you need to deal with, a relationship to repair, a difficult situation to endure, an illness to survive, a mental health challenge to overcome, a goal to achieve. Whatever it is, fix your eyes on Jesus!
Binging is a word you hear a lot - we binge on chocolate, fast food, Netflix, social media, alcohol... I know a lot about binging, I used to have an eating disorder. I know for a fact that in most cases, neither binging or completely denying ourselves is good. God intended us to have balance in our lives. There is nothing wrong with chocolate, fast food, Netflix or alcohol as long as it is part of a balanced life (and you are over the legal drinking age).
Luke 9:23 says, Any of you who want to be my follower must stop thinking about yourself and what you want. When we binge, we are thinking only of ourselves and how to gratify our selfish desires. So how do we stop?
Ephesians 5:18 talks about binge drinking. Paul said, Don’t be drunk with wine, which will ruin your life, but be filled with the Spirit. Here's my paraphrase for the 21st century, Don't binge on wine, chocolate, chips, Maccas, cake, Netflix, Instagram or Snapchat. Instead binge on the things of the Spirit - reading and studying your Bible, prayer, worship, giving thanks. You get drunk on wine by drinking too much of it, so it follows that you become filled with the spirit by feeding it - reading the Bible, praying, meditating on God's Word, singing songs of worship, giving thanks to God for all that he has done for you...
Often binging is triggered by certain emotions or feelings such as despair, hopelessness, depression, guilt, shame, pain... Ironically, binging usually increases these feelings, rather than relieve them. One of the most effective ways of getting our minds off of ourselves is to do something for someone else. Being kind to someone else can be a great release valve to those negative emotions. In Ephesians 4:32 Paul instructed us to Be kind and compassionate to one another. Next time you feel yourself spiralling towards another binge session, do something for someone else - ring or visit a friend (don't just text or message them), make someone a nice card and send it to them, help your mum with the chores, play a board game or computer game with your brother or sister, write positive, encouraging comments on people's social media posts, bake a cake and take it to your neighbour...
It's obviously a bit more complicated than what I've outlined above but next time you feel yourself spiralling out of control and tempted to binge on [insert your weakness here], fill up on the spirit instead of chocolate and be kind to someone. It might not solve all your problems, but it might help.
I enjoy some amateur photography and snapped this wildflower recently. I like how the flowers are in focus and the background is blurry. If I tried to get everything in focus the wildflower would get lost in the rest of the landscape. Life is a bit like that. We need to make Jesus our focus and keep our eyes on him. Sometimes we're so focussed on ourselves and what's happening around us that we lose sight of Jesus and he kind of blends into the background.
Hebrews 12:2 says, We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete. So how do we keep our eyes on Jesus?
This is a couple of years old but it's a really important message and not just in the United States, but the whole world.
I’m on holiday in Queensland at the moment and it’s been pretty wet since we arrived. That can be a bit of a downer if you’re a tourist, but if you’re a farmer the rain is great. Practically everything you eat and drink relies on the rain. You also don’t get rainforests without rain. So rain can be a good thing - it depends on your point of view or attitude.
Life can be a bit like that - if we change our point of view and see challenges as opportunities for growth, we will be less upset by them. We will also learn valuable life lessons like patience, resilience and persistence, like Paul pointed out in Romans 5. It's hard to learn these lessons in the sunshine - we need to go through a few challenges.
Last April we got a rescue dog, Kevin. We think he had been a stray because he would steal food at every opportunity and hunt for scraps on his walks. One day in September last year he became unwell so I took him to the vet. They gave him a scan and found he had several foreign objects in his stomach. They turned out to be two corn cobs and a plastic stopper. If they had not been removed he would have died so he had surgery and we nursed him back to health.
Just like our physical health can be harmed by what we consume, our mental and spiritual health can be harmed by what we consume too. What you watch, listen to, read and the people you hang out with affect your mental spiritual health. When I was a teenager I loved Dolly magazine but many of the articles went completely against what I believed as a Christian. I was being tempted and led astray by the media I was consuming. Rather than trying to avoid the bad stuff, use your energy to find good stuff - good uplifting songs, magazines like Bella Rae and Teen Breathe, family friendly TV shows and movies.
There are some pretty cool temples in Cambodia and the food is delicious but the highlight of my trip was the people I met and the relationships I formed. In the western world we get pretty distracted with our grades at school, how many friends we have, how many likes we get, the clothes we wear and how we look. We forget about the things that God said are important. In John 13:34 it says, I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other just as I loved you. It's hard to love each other without forming relationships. The whole reason God put us on the planet was to love him and to love each other, not to be famous or beautiful or successful.
I've just returned from a trip to Cambodia to visit our sponsor children. We visited the centre for a week and did lessons with the kids, listened to them read, played frisbee and helped them practice their English. It was hot, we sat on tiny plastic chairs or the tiled floor, we had no electricity for several days but it was such a great time. These kids live in the slums, some of them only eat once a day, they don't have mobile phones, computers and televisions, they don't have access to good health care... They don't have much, but they are grateful for what they have. Even though they are poor, they are rich. Many of these kids love and follow Jesus. Even though they don't have much now, they will inherit eternal life with God and that's worth more than all the money in the world. James 2:5 says, God chose the poor people in the world to be rich in faith. He chose them to receive the kingdom God promised to those who love him.
Short and sweet inspirations for Christian teen girls.