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Follower

Follower

FOLLOWER

DEFINITION: Someone that follows the opinions or teachings of another and imitates the other.

As someone who grew up in a time when social media was being created and continually growing, I joined each new platform as they were introduced. Once my accounts were established, my attention began to be drawn to how many followers I had. At this point, my idea of following someone or even being followed by someone only related to a number on my social media account. My days would be consumed with thoughts like these:

Has the number gone up today on my list of followers? Did I lose any followers? Who unfollowed me? Why did they unfollow me? Why did that picture get less likes than my others? What about that picture made people like it more? What can I do to be sure that I don’t lose any more followers? What do I need to do to make sure more people want to follow me?

Maybe these are some thoughts or questions that have filled your mind more times than you would like to admit like they have mine. Maybe these are some thoughts that have become like second nature to you and you don’t even realize that you are thinking them anymore.

If this is you currently or has been you before, I want to challenge you today to a question and share some truths that have truly changed the way that I walk through my life here on this earth in the midst of a social media driven culture.

What does it mean to be a true follower of Jesus Christ in today’s culture?

In the same way that my mind used to only think of social media when I thought about having followers or being a follower, my mind now immediately thinks of a couple of biblical synonyms to the word. I now hear the word follower and immediately think about discipleship and the beauty of truly, wholeheartedly following the most important person you could ever choose to follow. I now hear the word follower and immediately think about being an imitator of Christ in all that I do here on this earth.

The question we ought to be asking ourselves in today’s culture isn’t, “Do I have a big following on social media?” The question to ask ourselves is, “Who am I following above all else, and who am I pointing others towards in the midst of my pursuit?”

Now trust me, like many of the good things that we are offered in Christ, I know that this shift in mindset is much easier said than done! I know that this mindset is easy to desire, and a lot harder to put into action. I know this from my own walk with the Lord, and I want to encourage you today that believing in the truth of this new mindset is the first step in walking a life completely, sincerely, sold-out for the growth of the Kingdom of the Lord. Which, by the way, is a calling that each and every one of us is responsible for!

It is said in Matthew 28:18-20, “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Y’all! That wasn’t just a suggestion that Jesus mentioned to His disciples before His time here on this earth with us was finished. That was the greatest commission that Jesus spoke for ALL of us as the body of Christ to get to step into! What a joy it is to know that the Lord has invited us into doing kingdom work alongside Him and that His spirit will be with us through it all until the very end of the age!

So now that we are here, we may be to the point that we can agree that our mindset needs a shift. We may be at the point that we believe that the question we should be asking ourselves is, “Who am I following above all else, and who am I pointing others towards in the midst of my pursuit?” So what next? How do I truly live out a life devoted to following Jesus Christ above all else?

In my personal experience, it takes realizing that this life is out of your control to begin to realize that you need God to lead you through it. Maybe you have been a believer of Jesus for a long time but you haven’t truly been following Him wholeheartedly. I want to encourage you that you are in the right place today to encounter God in a fresh way. Even if you have been running or settling for the lies of this world, you are always in the right place to have an encounter with Jesus Christ. He is simply waiting for you to turn your face to Him and surrender all. And ultimately, for us to truly follow Christ in a way that we become imitators of Him, we must set out to know Him intimately in order to discover how to become more like Him to the people around us.

What if instead of only thinking of our followers on socials for our own glory, we actually viewed each and every number in the same way that Jesus sees and loves them. What if we actually saw each and every number as a human being who can either be pointed towards or away from the cross through the stories, pictures, and captions we choose to post. What if we viewed social media as one of our greatest mission fields to go out and share the love of God with all people we come in contact with. For it is said in Romans 10:14-15,

“How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.”

Lord, may the desires of our hearts be to be the hands and the feet who bring good news to a generation that is desperate for a savior to follow. Lord, may we not care if it costs us followers, as long as we are following YOU!

Lydia Walker is a member of LO Worship and an Area Representative for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Northeast Louisiana. She lives in Louisiana with her husband Reeves and her golden doodle, Teddy. Keep up with Lydia on Instagram @lrd.walker!

His Pursuit Always Has Purpose

His Pursuit Always Has Purpose

I remember one of the first children’s Christian hymns I ever learned in Sunday school. Maybe you know it, too. It goes like this:

Jesus loves me, this I know,

for the Bible tells me so.

Little ones to him belong;

They are weak, but He is strong.

I can still hear my Sunday school class sing this song all together. I sang with such confidence that it was true. I just loved it, and I loved the lyrics. I mean, who doesn’t love being loved? I sure do. I’m guessing you do, too. We all have this desire to be seen, known, and loved.

As we get older and experience more life, opening ourselves up to love can feel absolutely terrifying over time. As Tim Keller explains, “To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything.”

Although I didn’t fully grasp how true these lyrics were at five years old in my Sunday school class, I understand now that the Bible actually does tell us so. The Word of God is full of Jesus’ love for us. And we discover the depth of love Jesus has for us, only then can we begin to open ourselves up to being known and loved by another human being. Jesus first, relationships second. Always.

In John 4, we meet a sweet friend who was looking for water, but needing so much more. We don’t know her name, but we learn a lot about her and Jesus from this conversation surrounding a water source:

A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For the Jews had no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you know the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” (John 4:7–10)

That’s only the beginning of her interaction with Jesus. I encourage you to read the rest of her beautiful story in John 4:11–30. But here’s what we learn about her from her time with Jesus.

She was culturally seen as “lesser than” because she was a Samaritan. Being one meant that she was generally hated by Jews for religious and racial reasons. On top of that, Samaritans were known for having unstable theological beliefs, not fully rooted in Scripture. All of this is the perfect storm for prejudice and cultural tension between these two people groups.

Also, she struggled with shame and isolation. We see in verse six that she came at the “sixth hour,” meaning around noon. Culturally, women would travel in groups in the early morning hours (the coolest time of the day) to draw water from the well. But our friend not only showed up at the hottest hour of the day, but she also came alone.

When we feel shame, we pull away from God and from others. Isolation is one of the biggest tools the enemy uses to keep us in our thought patterns of shame, guilt, and regret. That’s where we find her. That’s right where Jesus found her. And He had something to say about it.

Lastly, she had a questionable past when it came to relationships. “The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You are right in saying, “I have no husband” for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true’” (John 4:17–18).

When we’re not rooted in Jesus, we have no idea what to look for. Our friend here had men give her attention, maybe even fulfill certain desires that she had (to be loved, to be taken care of, to be seen), but she was never truly satisfied because no man could ever give her what she truly longed for. She was looking for a love that stayed. A love that wasn’t based on emotions and feelings but on commitment and Christ. She was looking for living water. And although she hadn’t yet found it, the Living Water found her.

Here’s what we learn about Jesus.

Jesus will take the unlikely path to pursue you. Because of the cultural hostility that the Jews had toward Samaritans, Jewish people typically didn’t travel through Samaria when going from Judea to Galilee. Culturally, the hate was so real that they took the long route just to avoid the entire town. The tension was also real. But see here that Jesus didn’t take the path most others took. Instead, verse 4 says, “And he had to pass through Samaria.” This was a “had to” not out of a place of obligation or expectation but out of necessity to reach her.

Jesus will take any route He needs to take to get to your heart and your hurts. Not only did He take the unlikely route here, but He also waited for her. We see here that Jesus is willing, able, and eager to wait for us. Just like He was with this woman, He’s abundantly patient and never late for an encounter with His children.

Next, Jesus will break any barrier to pursue you. In that day, it’s important that we understand the role that women played in society. They were seen as the lowest class. On top of being not just a Samaritan, but a Samaritan woman, sister-friend didn’t have a whole lot going for her. But we see here that Jesus wasn’t too concerned with cultural barriers when it came to pursuing those He was after.

“Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink’” (John 4:7). Not only did Jesus speak to her, but He humbled Himself to ask her for something. He knew they were going to have a hard conversation, and He wanted her to know that she had a Savior that wasn’t afraid to get on her level and meet her where she was.

Lastly, Jesus will enter into your mess to pursue you. Are there parts of your life that just feel messy? Unhinged? Falling apart? Me, too. Same for our friend here. She had parts of her life that she would probably do anything to hide. But Jesus wasn’t afraid of those areas. On the contrary, those were the exact areas He was excited to dig into with her.

I’m not proud of this, but I’m a pretty messy person by nature. I remember when Ryan and I were engaged, so many people would warn me that living with a boy is messy and that I better prepare myself. I rarely commented back, but I always remember thinking, Actually, I feel bad for Ryan that he has to live with me. Yes, I am the messy one in our marriage.

One of the main messes that I make is what I like to call “my piles.” If you are a pile maker, you know what these are. They are piles of clothes. After trying on multiple outfits a day, I will form a pile in a corner of our room instead of hanging those clothes up. It’s become a running joke because if Ryan sees a pile, he can’t understand how it could be anything but dirty clothes. But with lots of patience, I explain to him that there is a difference between a clean pile and a dirty pile. In fact, most of my piles are clean! Men, right?! Just kidding! It’s a real problem, and I’m working on it 😉

I think sometimes we also compartmentalize the messy part of our lives. We have the “not so bad piles,” the “dirty piles,” and even the “looks clean on the outside piles.” But at the end of the day, a pile is a pile. And Jesus came to enter into our piles, no matter how dirty or put together they may seem. If something isn’t where He calls it to be, He will enter in and address it—even the piles we’re afraid for anyone to see.

That’s what He did here with our friend at the well. He wasn’t afraid to have the hard conversations about her relationships. He addressed the reality of her past without judgment or heaping shame onto her. Just like her pile of past broken relationships, we each have hard areas that Jesus is sitting, waiting, and ready to be welcomed in.

Friend, Jesus will never enter a situation that He doesn’t fully plan to redeem. His pursuit always has purpose. Let Him into the hard piles, the messy piles, and even the piles you’ve come to accept, and watch what He’ll do. This is the best kind of loved. Fully seen, fully known, fully loved.

Morgan Krueger is a Jesus follower, wife, mother, and author who found her voice connecting with women seeking freedom from the brokenness of past shame. Passionate about the redemption found in following Jesus, Morgan aims to keep that at the center of all she does. Morgan works at Faithfully Restored, a ministry that offers the hope of Jesus in the midst of suffering. Her first book, Goodbye Hiding, Hello Freedom: Trading Your Shame for Redemption in Jesus, releases in September 2024.

In her downtime, you can find Morgan enjoying the significance of the mundane, including spending time with her two sons, encouraging women through words, and watching British baking shows with her husband, Ryan, in Franklin, TN. You can connect with her on Instagram @morganwkrueger and at morgankrueger.com.

When Planning Takes A Detour

When Planning Takes A Detour

Plan

plural noun: Plans

  1. noun: an intention or decision about what one is going to do
  2. verb: decide on and arrange in advance

I know majority of us are not a stranger to the idea of “plans” or the word in general.

I feel like I hear this word 10+ times a day.

Whether it’s as simple as “What are your plans for the day?” Or as broad as “What are your plans for the future?”

Or even better, when someone asks you “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?”

Everything in life seems to have a “plan”.

Planning a schedule, a practice, a race or execution of a game, a hard conversation, a test, a result, a response, a date…etc.

Maybe I’ve turned my ear towards the idea of “plans” in this season of my life more than ever. I’ve never been much of a “planner”

Well, unless it comes to how many hours before I race I need to eat food so I’m not seeing it twice (lol).

But, seriously…

I’m about to start my senior year of college, and last year of collegiate athletics, and the question I’m receiving most is…

“Well, Allie! What are your PLANS for after college?”

And ya know what, to be transparent…

I don’t have one!

Sure, I have hopes and desires on my heart I know the Lord sees (Psalm 37:4). I’d love to put that hard worked degree to use, get married to my love, have a family, and continue to work towards goals.

But I’ve also learned this year (more than I thought I lifetime could teach me) because I’ve seen it unfold in my life…

It is truly GODS PLAN that prevails, not always what we have in our mind.

That does not mean He does not care what we have on our hearts, though.

Proverbs 19:21 —

“Many are the plans in a persons heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

I saw my sister’s life flip upside down this year. A big part of our lives flipped upside down, too.

Just weeks before she was going to be getting engaged to her high school sweetheart of 7 years, God brought him home after a hard fought battle with cancer. I’ve shared about Ben in blogs before. A faithful servant and fearless warrior.

Ben had plans, just like the rest of us. Plans to become a doctor (he was so smart and driven), plans to marry my sister, and many wonderful hopes and dreams most 22 year olds have desired for themselves. And that is good! It is good to have desires and work for things, and plan for the future to an extent. Ben was such a planner, but He was never “unrealistic” and ALWAYS more confident in the plan God had for Him. Never once did He doubt Gods plan for His life. Even in sickness. I want to live more like that. With a confidence like that.

And yes, God had different plans. Do I understand why it had to be this way? Or why the things Ben worked for didn’t come to fruition? Well, most of the time, no. 

It is hard some days to sit and wonder what could have been, and in my human thinking, in my eyes, what should have been.

God does have a plan…. But when that road has tragedy it is very hard to go,

“Oh yeah, God has a plan!”

I am sure many of you reading can relate.

This is where faith comes in and is tested. Where hope must stay alive, and confidence in Our Jesus must outweigh the doubts of evil.

Ben is not physically still here with us, but I know Ben is alive, new, healed, and in the paradise of Heaven with Jesus. The safest place to be.

Gods plans are NOT to discourage us. Even when life can be hard and scary to understand sometimes.

We aren’t always going to understand, but we are called to trust. He will provide strength. (Isaiah 41:10)

I believe it will all be revealed to us one day, maybe just not always on this side of Heaven.

We live in a fallen world. Horrible, unjust things happen. Usually, those things don’t fall into our idea of “ideal plans” we picture for our lives.

Romans 8:28 —

“God works ALL things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.”

It does not say, ALL THINGS ARE GOOD. We can name 1,000+ things that are NOT.

But, even if, He is still good.

Romans 8:18 — Paul writes,

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.”

Thankfully, we know from Jesus’  life that there is  purpose to our pain we walk through. God doesn’t waste anything, including suffering.

He doesn’t always remove us from trials, because He plans to use them.

  • God didn’t rescue Noah by stopping the flood — God kept him safe in the water.
  • God didn’t save Daniel from the lion’s den — He protected him from the lions mouth.

2 Timothy 2:11-12 

“Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him.”

Jesus joins us in the suffering, but we will also rise with Him in victory.

Pain that we endure in our life is not God’s punishment. Jesus Christ paid that price on the cross. 

We serve a God of love, grace, truth, protection, and power.

A God who will finish what He started.

What He says He will do, HE DOES.

What He says He can do, HE PROVES.

What He says He can heal, HE TRANSFORMS.

ALL hurt, confusion, damage, distress, doubt, failed plan, and death —

HE CONQUERED ON THE CROSS.

The blood of Jesus Christ covers it all.

EVERYTHING that has left you hurt in this life of sin, will be made right in the throne room of Heaven when we meet face to face with Him.

A game changer perspective God is teaching me is turning my “whys” to TRUST that God is making all things work out for HIS glory and not our own.

Why would I spend my time caught up in the 1,000 “Why’s” of why it didn’t go the way I perfectly pictured?

Ephesians 3:20 —

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

If my Jesus can do IMMEASURABLY MORE than I can EVEN IMAGINE — going beyond what the human brain can bear… why would I doubt the plans God has for me?

Why would you doubt what God has for you?

As Christ followers, if you are currently reading this, you are Earth bound, serving your purpose here for His glory, while ultimately working your way HOME bound.

Where all is made right.

Eternity with Jesus.

There is protection, prosperity and purpose, in every part of Gods plan. 

Trust it. Believe it. Receive it. Live it.

I love you, friend!

LOVE, AW

Why (and How) I Got Social Media Sober

Why (and How) I Got Social Media Sober

Pull up a chair, friend. This might get worse before it gets better.

Let’s be honest for a sec. How are you feeling about this online world? This culture we’ve created with all of these dings and pings and endless scrolls? Do your thumbs hurt? How about your heart? Are we having any fun yet?

For most of us, the answer to navigating a digital existence comes in the form of balance, moderation, a catchy meme. We spout off cheerful sentiments, encouraging ourselves and everyone around us to take a digital detox and embrace our authentic being, the one that exists beyond filters and followers. We hide our phones in drawers. We preach the importance of fostering real, deep connections beyond the online realm. We say we are more than our internet personas; we are complex, wonderfully flawed beings with stories that can’t be contained in a grid.

And then we hop back online to upload a selfie into a 1,080-pixel square.

(Ask me how I know.)

Once upon a time, my livelihood relied on maintaining a social media presence. As an influencer, I was successfully running a six-figure platform by writing and photographing multimedia campaigns for Target, Martha Stewart, Pinterest, and hundreds of other brands you know, use, and love. I taught digital workshops in a boutique studio in Singapore, modeled a slow fashion campaign in the Taj Mahal, and twirled pasta with Maria Shriver and Hoda on The Today Show. But with every post uploaded, captioned, andshared, a niggling feeling would creep into my consciousness: Is this healthy for us? Is social media good for our souls?

Consuming the rotten fruit of manipulative social media algorithms (it’s called Apple, after all) left me feeling much like a drinker might describe a morning hangover: frenzied, anxious, foggy, directionless. My patience for the real world—unwieldy and unpredictable and raw—wore thin. I didn’t want raw; I wanted perfect. I’d trained myself to desire only filtered and fun and free, and in moments where life felt like anything but, I found myself reaching for my phone under the table, in the car, in the drawer—just like grabbing a flask to take the edge off.

Throughout bouts of reflection, I’d spend my time teetering between the desire to give up social media altogether and a running justification for the hours I spent curating, cropping, and perfecting an online persona. Technology isn’t evil! I found myself saying. It’s just a tool! Think of all of the positive opportunities for connection and knowledge and joy it brings!

But then, a gentle nudge: Daughter, do you not think the enemy can use tools?

My wise pastor often notes that the enemy doesn’t want us to worship him. He wants us to worship ourselves. He wants us to be so distracted and frenzied and busy that we try to “fit” prayer into a quick pre-meal ritual. He wants us to be so prideful and confident in our accomplishments and feeds that we forget our need for a Savior. He wants our minds to be so knowledgeable and fact-filled and Siri-educated that there’s little space left for wisdom. And he wants our lives to be so comfortable and tidy and picturesque that we fail to remember an important truth: happiness isn’t a fruit of the spirit, but self-control is.

As I slowly began to look at social media through that lens, I found clarity. Building a platform on social media isn’t a sin. But building an idol is. And I wonder: every time we snap another selfie, caption another moment, or curate another highlight reel (#blessed), are we flattening this abundant life we’ve been given into the reels of a TikTok page? Are we plastering God’s handiwork under the @handle of our own name? Are we worshiping our own lives, or—perhaps worse—hopping on to Instagram to worship someone else’s?

Once I began to look at it that way, it was hard not to picture the enemy crouching at my door, gaining footholds with every “like.”

So I walked away. One platform at a time, I stopped using the accounts I’d built; ones that, in total, reached over one million people. You might wince at that number, and there was a time I might have, too. Think of the collective impact! The influence for good! The money and opportunities you’re losing!

But I know firsthand of the far greater fruits gained. In the absence of sharing, cropping, and publishing every living moment, I find that I am no longer preoccupied with becoming the author of my life. After all, that gig belongs to a far better content creator than I: God.

Want to begin your own personal journey to tech sobriety? Start by deleting all apps from your smartphone. Turn on parental controls (you can find out how here!). Try changing your phone background and wallpaper to a black screen instead of that cute beach scene from last summer. Notice what happens when you take away personalization from your device. How does your device feel when it becomes a phone, not your phone? Reflect, then revolutionize.

And remember: you’re not alone. If you’re feeling the burden of heavy tech usage, you’re in good company. There’s a better way to live, and girl, someday, I’ll tell you all about it over an iced coffee we won’t have to ‘gram first.

Deal?

Founder of global tech-free movement The Opt-Out Family, Erin Loechner is a former social media influencer who walked away from a million fans to live a low-tech lifestyle—and is now teaching others how to do the same. Her cutting-edge work has been praised in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the Huffington Post, as well as on the Today Show. When she’s not scrawling on her trusty steno pad, Erin, her husband, and their three kids spend their days chasing alpenglow, reading Kipling, and biking to town for more tortillas.

Yahweh-Shalom

Yahweh-Shalom

Hey friend! We are so excited to share that one of our very own LO Sister App members, Logan Dalton, is on the blog today! To find out more about your chance to be featured on the Live Original Blog, join us in the app here 🙂 Now, enjoy today’s blog from Logan!

Being a young person, especially in 2024, can be tough some days. Just turning on the news or talking about current world events with others triggers anxiety for me because the hopes and dreams I have don’t seem to fit in with the direction the world is moving towards. And that scares me because it feels like there’s so much of life that I have yet to live. I don’t know yet what it’s like to be working the dream job or to meet that special guy and date, get engaged, and get married, as well as the other major life stages every person hopes to live to.

It’s always fun when my friends and I daydream about our futures and where we’ll be in the next few years. We always say, “surely we’ll be at this milestone by this year.” That “surely” part of the daydream tends to make me feel uneasy because of the uncertainty behind my dreams. Being a type A, planner, detail-oriented girl, uncertainty is definitely something I’m okay with having less of in life. But Jesus called it. John 16:33 (TPT) quotes Jesus,

“For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world!”

Jesus prefaced with this in the same verse,

“And everything I’ve taught you is so that the peace which is in me will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in me.”

I don’t want to go through each day feeling anxiety and weariness for what’s to come or for what may never come. There is no room to thrive and live in emotions like that. Jesus must be my Prince of Peace, not just as a lyric to a Christmas song, but as my firm foundation for every day of the year.

God promises us in Isaiah 54:10,

“‘For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”

Even when things in life that seem as certain as mountains shift and change, the Lord’s love remains steadfast and will never leave you. He stays in a covenant of peace with you that nothing in this world can ever break.

A few verses in Judges, chapter six, speak to recognizing the Lord as the only true source of peace.

22 “When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the LORD, he cried out, ‘Oh, Sovereign LORD, I’m doomed! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!’ 23 ‘It is all right,’ the LORD replied. ‘Do not be afraid. You will not die.’ 24 And Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and named it Yahweh-Shalom (which means ‘the LORD is peace’). The altar remains in Ophrah in the land of the clan of Abiezer to this day.”

There were a couple of simple takeaways the Holy Spirit pointed out to me from these verses.

  1. Gideon may have seemed a little extra, but he was direct and genuine. Get honest with the Lord. He can handle your honesty! Your emotions will not catch Him off guard.
  2. The Lord brought Gideon back to reality and He spoke simple truths over Gideon. Don’t overcomplicate it when the Lord encourages you.
  3. Give God the glory and remember His character and promises, even if the promise has not yet been fulfilled. Gideon glorified God and remembered His promise by building an altar to God.
  4. The altar Gideon built remained for a long time, and who knows how many people encountered that spot and learned of what God did for Gideon? When God speaks to your fears and anxieties, the word He speaks over you will remain a testament for the rest of your life that will bear witness to others about God’s faithfulness.

God wants me to experience His perfect peace now, so I need to choose it even though the world around me is anything but peaceful. I don’t have to wait for the rest of the world to be peaceful before I can choose peace and experience it myself. Yahweh-Shalom means “the LORD is peace”. Don’t forget that!

You Don’t Have to Hide in Shame

You Don’t Have to Hide in Shame

Not that long ago, my life looked anything but godly. I spent my college years like a walking stereotype: the semi-goody-two-shoes Christian girl who goes to college, joins a sorority, and turns into a party girl.

I have quite a few things in my past I’m not proud of. I made choices that caused me and others a lot of pain and heartbreak, and I made mistakes I sometimes wish I could undo.

You’re not reading a blog by a gal who has done it all right. In fact, you’re reading a blog by a gal whose past should disqualify her from writing about God at all.

For years after, I lived in shame.

I felt like if anyone knew my mistakes, they would write me off. When I compared my past to others’, I felt like mine was so much worse. And when I slipped back into old habits, I beat myself up for days.

If you’ve ever felt this way, you’re not alone. In all the hiding, and sometimes self-hatred, it’s easy to start believing that God couldn’t redeem any of it. Then it becomes even easier to believe that where you are right now is a direct result of what you’ve done.

But while shame threatens to steal your past, it does not get the final say in your story.

Romans 8:1 reminds us what is true: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”

In Christ, you are free from having to hide in shame.

In Christ, you are also free from God’s judgment.

He took on our sins—past, present, and future—so we can have a relationship with God that never ends (Romans 5). We don’t have to be afraid of God; we get to be close to him.

While we can know in our heads that this is what the Bible says, it feels more challenging to believe in our hearts that it’s true. So if we find ourselves stuck in shame or believing we have to earn the blessings we long for, where do we go from here?

We turn to what’s true. We open our Bibles and find out what God says about the lies we believe. I’ve found three simple steps to do this:

1. Acknowledge what is a lie. If it contradicts God’s Word, it’s not true. Sometimes we need a friend to remind us of this, so send the text or make the phone call, and ask someone you trust if you’re believing a lie.

2. Replace the lie with what the Bible says is true. (And there’s no shame in Googling to find a verse if you don’t know where to start looking.)

3. Repeat the truth until it feels real. Which sometimes feels crazy, but eventually it sticks. And then the next time the lie creeps back in, the truth more quickly comes to mind.

If you start there, I think you’ll find when the enemy whispers in your ear that this is all your fault or you’ve missed it or it’s too late, you can tell him and yourself the truth:

God’s goodness does not change based on your decisions.

He is sovereign (Proverbs 16:9; Colossians 1:17).

He loves to redeem His people’s pasts and mistakes (Ephesians 1:7-9).

It’s the crazy, doesn’t make sense, upside-down grace of an empty grave that turns the most broken things into beautiful ones. I’m in awe that the most messed-up parts of our stories can actually be used to give God even an ounce of glory.

No matter how bad, shocking, or gross your past or current sin seems, God loves you too much to leave you feeling shame. When you surrender your life to Jesus, there is no more room for shame (Romans 8:28). It does not belong, and you can live free.

He provides a way out for every mistake and every intentional wrong if we confess and repent of our sin (1 John 1:8-9).

When we run to Jesus and put our faith in him, he provides a place for us. A place where we are no longer the guilty ones but the righteous ones because of his righteousness. A place where we are safe from the consequences of sin and death.

Friend, this is the best news. Regardless of your past mistakes, Jesus offers a refuge. He has prepared a place (John 14:1-3). There is no wrong you have done that cannot be forgiven. He is safe. All you have to do is run to him. He is closer than you think.

If we were sitting across the table from each other at a coffee shop, I’d tell you all about my college years: all the things I thought I’d never be able to say out loud, much less say without feeling ashamed. I’d recall how many times I thought I had messed up too much for God to love me.

Then I’d tell you about the small ways Jesus pursued my heart until he eventually got louder than I could ignore. I’d pull out my first journal with the pink flowers on it, the one that is tearstained and well-worn. I’d show you how he radically changed my life between my junior and senior years of college.

I might get a little teary as I reflect on all he has done to rescue me from myself, and how he continues to rescue me now, even years later. And then I’d look you in the eye and say, “He can do the same for you.”

God takes messed up people and accomplishes his purposes through them anyway.

So here is my challenge as we end this: Say the thing you are afraid to say out loud. To God, to a friend, or to a counselor. Say it aloud because that’s not who you are anymore.

When you live like you’ve been redeemed, living in the light and inviting others to do the same gets a whole lot easier. The enemy knows you’re dangerous to him if you’re no longer in the dark. And you, my friend, were made to bring light.

Meghan Ryan Asbury is an author and speaker who is passionate about helping people find and live out their God-given callings. She’s worked in ministry both on college campuses and internationally as well as with Proverbs 31 Ministries. Her first book, You Are Not Behind: Building a Life You Love Without Having Everything You Want, releases in September 2024. When she’s not surrounded by friends, you can usually find her reading a book or doing something outdoors. A Florida beach girl born and raised, she and her husband currently live in Nashville, Tennessee. You can connect with her on Instagram @meghanryanasbury and at alwaysmeghan.com.

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