A Truly Social Gospel

A Truly Social Gospel

It isn’t lost on me that many of the same churches that invite me to proclaim “His glory alone” on their stages today would have been closed or opposed to me just one hundred years ago. The arguments for segregation and racial supremacy have been in the mouths of Christians since the founding of this nation.

It’s no surprise that some of the best gospel preachers in American history were slave owners and openly defended the institution of slavery.

These alleged Bible believing Christians had so segregated the gospel to the sweet by-and-by that it never caused issues with how they treated human beings in the bitter now-and-now. Their rendition of the gospel spoke strictly to the salvation of souls. It allowed individuals to maintain an eloquent gospel, care less for their neighbors, and sleep fine at night.

The legacy of this can be seen in modern platitudes like “it’s not a skin issue; it’s a sin issue.” Sin makes skin an issue, so it’s not an either-or. It’s a skin issue because it’s a sin issue. Platitudes like that are just nice ways for people to avoid wrestling deeply with the complexity of the works of the enemy in the world. The segregated gospel of the Christianity of the Land allows the evils of the land to live side by side with the gospel itself, not transforming the evils but partnering with them.

A gospel that is disconnected from reality has permitted Christians to keep their prejudice, inactivity, apathy, and lack of care for their neighbors while remaining in good standing with the church.

I believe it’s clear that too often we have not been preaching the whole gospel but only pieces of it. The gospel within Scripture is a full gospel. It is not truncated to tight theological aphorisms that point only to future reward. Nah. Jesus’ gospel is about invading the messiness of reality, today.

Perhaps the best way to think about the gospel is simply the Kingdom of God. Mark 1:14- 15 says, “After John [the Baptist] was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee, proclaiming the good news [gospel] of God: ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’”

The terms “Kingdom of God” and “Kingdom of Heaven” are found over a hundred times in the New Testament, most densely in the Gospels. And though I love the phrase “gospel of grace and forgiveness,” I love all the more the way the Bible uses the phrase “gospel of God.” The gospel is God big. This opens things up.

The Kingdom of God is God’s undisputed reign. According to the Bible, this heavenly rule is mediated on earth through Christ, and when Jesus says to pray that things would be “on earth as in heaven,” He envisions the Kingdom of God, moment by moment, situation by situation, breaking through the darkness of this world. After His death and resurrection, Jesus is not waiting to be Lord. He is Lord now and currently sits at the right hand of the Father, reigning and ruling as we speak, slowly yet certainly seeing to it that the Kingdom of God overwhelms every single aspect of this world. Wherever the works of the enemy are found, the Kingdom of God is hawking them down and making them bow to redemption. I love it!

We, as believers, are to be microcosms of this cosmic redemption. We have been saved and redeemed, and now the purifying work of the Spirit is making us fit for this coming glory. The Spirit is moving us toward a perfect state. This is the destination of all creation. All creation will reflect the Kingdom of God in its perfection. This is the coming of the new heaven and new earth. This is the gospel—a gospel that is as big as the Kingdom of God, creating right relationships with God, with our neighbors, and with the universe. The Christianity of the Land rightly puts a premium on piety and the individual’s soul being rescued from damnation, but the Christianity of Christ is not satisfied to stop there. There is no such thing as a personal relationship with Christ that does not include personal care for others. The conditions of the soul are connected to the realities of the body.

The gospel is a profoundly human message. I don’t like using the popular church phrase “soul winning” because the Kingdom is not winning souls; it’s winning people. The gospel is for human beings, which are bodies and souls. Jesus did not come to save half of you. He came to save all of you. The redemption of humankind, therefore, is the redemption of both body and soul. The gospel of the Kingdom always goes further. What we see in the Christianity of the Land is the tallying of converts. But the New Testament is not after converts. The New Testament is after disciples. Conversion is a moment where you pray a prayer or confess that you need Christ, which is great! But discipleship encompasses an entire life.

When Christ commissions His disciples, He tells them to teach “them [all nations] to observe everything I have commanded you.”7 Being baptized into the Kingdom, therefore, means not only being made holy and counted righteous before God but also caring for The New Testament is not after converts. The New Testament is after disciples. our neighbors and the needy because this is key to the “everything I commanded you.”

For far too long, we have been comfortable neglecting the social dimensions of the gospel. But the gospel casts a much wider net than how we have often understood it. So when people say, “Just preach the gospel,” I say, “Amen.” But we need to preach the right gospel, because the right gospel includes not only my salvation and circumstances but also those of the people around me, because the Kingdom of God encompasses the entire cosmos.

Preaching the gospel means overcoming the works of the enemy wherever they are found. Societal injustice is not a side issue. A gospel that does not care about societies is not the gospel at all. In other words, social dimensions are not merely implications of the gospel; they are inherent to the gospel. Proclaiming the gospel is indeed the Kingdom of God invading this world. So wherever we run into the reality of sin and systems of oppression, the gospel demands that those things bow down to Jesus. If the gospel fails to address these things, it is no longer the gospel from the Scriptures, because the gospel from the Scriptures moves toward the redemption of all things. This implies that we be active in the societies we live in.

Brothers and sisters, faith is evidenced by what we do. Our actions give a far more accurate reading of our hearts than our words do. We cannot have a solid faith in God, excel in personal holiness, truly belong to Jesus, and yet be disconnected from social expressions of the gospel. There is no gospel in Scripture that is disconnected from a social dimension because there is no Christian walk in the Bible that is disconnected from other people.

As John writes, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and yet hates his brother or sister, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother or sister whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”13 Hate and disregard, as evidenced by injustice, are indeed dangerous, but I promise you this, my brothers and sisters: love is even more dangerous.

6. See Mark 16:19.

7. Matthew 28:20

13. 1 John 4:20

Adapted from Dangerous Jesus: Why the only thing more risky that getting Jesus right is getting Jesus wrong by Kevin “KB” Burgess, releasing in March from Tyndale House Publishers.

Kevin “KB” Burgess is a Dove Award–winning rapper, speaker, and podcaster. With four full-length albums to his name—including 2020’s His Glory Alone, for which he won the Dove Award for Rap/Hip-Hop Album of the Year—the multi-hyphenate artist is an inimitable force on today’s scene. He has become a No. 1 hitmaker and has received critical acclaim for his studio releases with placement on Billboard’s Top 200 Album Chart and top 5 on Billboard’s Top Rap Album Chart. KB is cohost of the popular podcast Southside Rabbi. Furthermore, HGA—a movement he spearheaded made up of multiethnic urban men and women from all walks of life—has amassed a loyal following around the globe. Although KB wears many hats, his greatest joy is being a husband to Michelle and a father to their three children. Visit him online at whoiskb.com.

The Best of You: Boundaries and The Spectrum of Toxicity

The Best of You: Boundaries and The Spectrum of Toxicity

As you consider your relationships, recognize that healthy behavior and toxicity exist on a spectrum. Very few people are totally toxic, and no one is entirely healthy. This means that expressing your voice requires nuance and dexterity.

You don’t want to come down with a hammer when a flyswatter is needed. You also don’t want to let someone who is using toxic strategies twist your best efforts.

There’s no one-size-fits-all response when it comes to using your voice and setting healthy boundaries in your relationships. As you consider the many ways to respond to others, consider the example of Jesus.

Jesus navigated through complex relationships with unbelievable skill. Sometimes he left people in order to nourish his own soul. Sometimes he headed straight into hard conversations. Jesus was full of compassion, and he also held people responsible for their behavior. Jesus stood up to bullies, even as he ached for them. He didn’t shy away from calling out people who were hurting others. Jesus even got annoyed with his friends, and he let them know when they’d let him down.

Sometimes Jesus expressed grace. Sometimes he expressed anger. But most of all, Jesus spoke up on behalf of those who were hurting. And you, dear reader, may be the one who is hurting. Sometimes a kind word is needed. Grace will mend the hurt. Other times you will need to advocate for yourself and speak firmly. Finally, there will be times when it’s wisest to walk away entirely. In these situations, the best way to use your voice is to show what you mean through your actions.

How do you gauge what response is required? First, assess where your particular situation falls on the following spectrum.

People who are healthy fall on the right side of this spectrum. These are people with whom communication is possible. You can discuss conflicts or ruptures that occur within your relationship. They’re aware of their blind spots and have a strong sense of self. There is room for conversation and negotiation of boundary lines. In fact, the ability to communicate constructively on behalf of what you need is what makes a relationship healthy. You might not see eye to eye on every single thing. You might even disagree or experience disappointment. For the most part, though, you can arrive at a place of harmony as you negotiate the boundaries of the relationship.

Next, let’s look at the middle of the spectrum. These are the folks who consistently commit boundary fouls but who also have good qualities. For example, you may have a mother-in- law who genuinely cares about your children. At the same time, she won’t respect the boundaries you’ve set when she interacts with them. She’s not toxic, and you want her in your life. But you may have to constantly remind her of certain boundaries or develop workaround solutions to manage behaviors that just won’t change. Likewise, you may have a dad who only talks about himself, or a friend who likes to gossip. They’re not toxic and you can find ways to be together, but your ability to go deep may be limited.

Next, there are folks who show up on the left side of the spectrum. Sadly, these individuals are living out of the worst of who they are. Their choices in response to their painful stories have gotten the better of them, making it impossible to engage with them in healthy ways. As a result, they may demonstrate toxic behaviors toward you that cause great harm. For example, they might attempt to belittle or criticize you, manipulate your decisions, or guilt-trip you. They don’t want what’s best for you. They are worried only about themselves.

Finally, there’s the extreme left side of the toxicity spectrum, which represents those who are abusive. Such people may intentionally try to harm you physically, damage you with words, or gaslight you to make you feel crazy. Folks who are spiritually abusive will try to get you to think God is on their side. These actions on the left side of the spectrum are major boundary violations. Their behavior cannot and should not be tolerated.

Here are some examples of strategies someone might use to gaslight, control, or manipulate you.


  • “I didn’t borrow your phone. Why are you always blaming me?” (In fact, they did borrow the phone.)
  • “I’m not drinking! You have trust issues.” (In fact, they have started drinking again.)
  • “I never said those things. You must have misheard me.” (In fact, they did say those things.)
  • “I’m not mistreating you. You have an issue with authority. You need to pray and ask God to change your heart.” (In fact, they are mistreating you.)


  • “You don’t really care about me.”
  • “I know how busy you are; I guess you don’t have time for me.” • “If you really loved me you’d . . .”
  • “If you really loved God, you’d . . .”


  • “I forbid you to see that therapist/friend/family member anymore.”
  • “If you break up with me, I’ll tell everyone who you really are.”
  • “You can’t survive without me. I own the finances.
  • “God has given me authority over you.”

Make no mistake, these are big red warning lights. You can’t change the other person. So, you must learn to protect yourself. When it comes to toxic behaviors—words won’t work. With toxic behaviors, very word you say is going to get stuck in a web of confusion. In these cases, actions speak louder than words ever will.

To learn more about how to break free from painful patterns, mend your past, and discover the healthy relationships you crave, check out my new book, The Best of You.

For over two decades, psychologist and author Dr. Alison Cook has earned the trust of thousands of women through her practical, wise, and compassionate approach to becoming a whole person. Her most recent book is The Best of You: Break Free from Painful Patterns, Mend Your Past, and Discover Your True Self in God (Thomas Nelson).

Originally from Wyoming, Alison studied at Dartmouth College, Denver Seminary (MA), and the University of Denver (PhD), where she specialized in the integration of theology and psychology. She and her husband, Joe, are the parents of two young adult children, and are currently based in Boston.

Why LO Began Showing Up On College Campuses

Why LO Began Showing Up On College Campuses

“People are searching within themselves for the answer, when they just need JESUS!”

“My campus DESPERATELY needs Jesus, everything secular is so glorified, yet everyone feels empty.”

“We need a place for young women to come together to grow closer to the Lord and each other.”

“I think that there are so many young women who need to hear that they are worthy. And that God is the true king. I find myself trying to constantly reassure my friends that they are worthy and loved by God.”

“Our female community lacks community and unity. The female student body desperately needs to feel loved and seen, we need to feel as though there are people out there praying for us.”

This is a glimpse into what female college students had to say when Live Original asked, “Why do you want us to come to your campus?”

Hey guys, it’s Liv! I just want to start by saying, that we get it. We know firsthand that college can be a time of searching. Searching for community. Searching for answers of our life purpose. Searching for a true friendship. Searching for fulfillment and encouragement. Searching for balance. This season of life can have a lot of unanswered questions, and it can begin to overwhelm us if we let it.

For many, This is the first time you are on your own. You have the freedom to make decisions for yourself. It’s the beginning of a journey where you get to choose what’s next. From what’s for dinner to what you want to be involved in in your free time. You get to dictate the next steps. It’s exciting, and can be even a little scary.

Liz and I both had pretty different outlooks and approaches when it came to college. In my freshman year of college, I was ready to jump into every campus event that took place. I was excited to rush and join a sorority, and I lived about 5 minutes from campus. I absolutely loved the fact that everyone around me was in a similar stage of life as me. I could relate to pretty much everybody in at least one way, being a student. To me, we were all connected in a way and I was ready to fully step into my new life as a college student. Liz on the other hand was really only interested in the school aspect of college. Liz wanted simply what we all were there for, to get a degree. There is absolutely nothing wrong with either approach and a lot can and will change throughout 4 years of college.

No matter the person, this season will come with struggles, important lessons, and chances are you will graduate knowing a lot more about yourself than you knew before. For me, I found that one way a lot of the other students hung out was by “going out”. My sorority events seemed to be more fun if I had a few drinks with my friends before, and it was more fun to go to the local bar on a Friday night then to be home by myself. So, I did that for a while. At the time it seemed fine because it felt like the thing to do in college, but the next morning seemed to always come with a headache and lot of guilt. It felt like I could either have a social life or not, and if I wasn’t okay with living the “college life” then I wouldn’t have a life at all. My freshman year was a weird time filled with church on Wednesday night, Bible study on Thursday, and a party on Friday. I didn’t want to choose, so I thought I’d just do both and it was exhausting.

My sophomore year of college, God placed my high school friend, Liz back in my life at just the right time. We instantly grew close and our friendship was truly just what we both needed. Turns out, we each had some struggles we could relate on, and some struggles that were unique to each of us. Even in our unique struggling, we helped each other  not feel alone in them and there was so much beauty in that. The beginning of our friendship consisted of a lot of late night conversations, a lot of listening, laughs, and a lot of encouraging one another. It was just what my soul needed.

I could have never imagined how Jesus planned to use our friendship. Liz and I learned so much from each other and grew with each other throughout college. Now, we get to work together and visit colleges with girls that are walking through a season we just came out of. Even if I wanted to, I could never pinpoint the amount of times Jesus was preparing us in every moment separately and together for what he has now set before us.

Liz speaking! Yes, yes, and yes to everything Liv just said! College is such a pivotal point in life. So many decisions and so much freedom — and it’s a bit overwhelming deciding how to use all that newfound freedom. My second year in college, I experienced heartbreak. I was on the struggle bus big time during that season. Struggled to find Godly friends, trust God’s timing, what to do with my life, and so on. It took months for me to figure out who I was without a boyfriend. What were the things I liked to do in my free time? Who did I want to spend time with? Needless to say, I did a lot of searching. And I just can’t help but think that someone reading this can relate.

In my lowest point, I remember thinking that I had two choices: run to temporary fixes (such as partying or jumping into a new relationship) or run to the permanent source of life — Jesus. I think this is true for each of us in any given situation. We can either run to or from Jesus, but either way, we’re running towards an eternity. Thankfully, I chose the path toward Jesus. And I tried my best to run toward Him full force, though it wasn’t always the easy choice.

I learned a few things in that season that stuck with me. I learned that no matter how we perceive our circumstances, God is always in the midst of them doing a new thing. I read a quote once that said, “Flowers grow best in the valley.” And I clung to that quote, because it reminded me of how God does the same for us. Whether you’re dealing with a breakup, loneliness, lack of confidence, or poor performance in school, He sees you in the valley. And if we let Him, He will use our valley season to grow seeds in us that will increase our faith.

Sometimes it feels impossible to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we have the light Who holds our hand every step of the way.

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” (John 8:12)

One of my prayers in that season was for all that God was doing in my life to not just affect me, but those around me. God answered this prayer tenfold by opening the doors for “LO on the Road”. Through this ministry, Liv and I have had the opportunity to travel to college campuses and encourage friends with Truth and relate to them by sharing a bit of our own stories. We have been blown away by God proving this to be His plan each time we sit in a room full of girls ready to talk about Jesus.

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

This verse is the heartbeat behind LO on the Road. Our goal is to reach girls, whether they are on fire for God or aren’t sure where to start. Our prayer is to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and that it would have a lasting impact.

But we want to encourage you with this: You can start right where you’re at. Gather some friends together, no matter how big or small of a group, and make your time about Jesus. Whether it’s going through a Bible study from the LO Sister app, studying a book in the Bible, or going through a sermon series. Whatever it is, just be in community with one another.

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20).

Email us at ontheroad@liveoriginal.com for more information on us visiting your college campus 🙂

POV: You’re Apostle Paul

POV: You’re Apostle Paul

You and me?

We have work to do.

You—meaning, a follower of Jesus who has experienced the goodness of God yourself.

Me—meaning, your fellow sister in Christ, who believes with all her heart that only in Him, a free life is possible.

Whether we realize it or not, every person in pain is longing for what our Savior has to offer. Those who are hurting, those who are hopeless—they need to know that there’s a way out.

And, it’s up to us to let them know that there is a way—The Way.

His Name is Jesus.

And, if there’s anybody who knows the importance of spreading the gospel to all people, even if it means taking the gospel to some unlikely, controversial places, it’s the man I’m featuring for today’s post. This man didn’t just know the world needed the gospel, but he did something about it, presenting it to those who were typically excluded from it.

You know him.

You love him.

He’s probably the writer of one of your favorite verses.

You guessed it!

Today, we’re talking about Apostle Paul.

Not only that, but we’re going to take a look at his ministry from his point of view.

After all, his story is incredible. The minute Jesus called Paul to ministry in Acts 9:15, the Lord made it very clear that Paul wasn’t just meant to preach to the Israelites—God’s chosen people. No. Paul was also called to preach to—brace yourselves—the Gentiles.

Let me tell you why this is so significant.

The Israelites often viewed the Gentiles as the outsiders, enemies, those unworthy of the grace of God. And, the worst part is that they felt they had biblical reasons to justify their viewpoint. When God made a covenant promise with Abraham in Genesis 15, promising Abraham that his descendants were going to be as many as the stars in the sky, we see later on in Scripture that God called these descendants Israelites. Not Gentiles.

Get the picture?

In other words, the Israelites lorded their covenant promise over those who weren’t descendants of Abraham. They overlooked Gentiles, excluded them, outcasted them, shunned them—

—so when Paul came on the scene with a clear call to minister to Gentiles, the Israelites were terribly upset.

But, that didn’t bother Apostle Paul. No way! In fact, he was way too bothered by the fact that the Gentiles were out there giving their lives to gods who didn’t even have ears to hear them with when they could be praying to the God who not only hears them, but talks back too! And, it upset him in such a way that he did something about it—going above and beyond any other apostle, letting the Gentiles in on the greatest love story of all.

And, boy did he pay the price for it.

Because of Paul’s pursuit of the Gentiles, he was misunderstood, mocked, whipped, beaten, stoned, persecuted, and unjustly imprisoned many times. In fact, much of his life was spent in chains for the sole purpose of preaching the gospel. And, thankfully, we don’t have to be uninformed about what life was like for Paul in prison. The Bible gives us an exclusive, inside-look of what prison life was like through the readings of many of his letters—his most famous one being addressed to the Philippian church.

It’s ironic, if you study it. He wrote the book of Philippians in chains for preaching the gospel, and yet scholars call Philippians ‘the happiest book in the Bible.’


Well, let’s take a look inside!

You can’t get past the first chapter of Philippians without feeling like you’re reading a gooey, sappy love letter. Read it for yourself! The whole first chapter is littered with “I love you’s” and “I’m praying for you’s” and “I thank God for you all the time’s.”

Which makes no sense at all.

I don’t know about you, but if I was in prison for an unjust reason and the guard allowed me one five-minute phone call to my church family—

Let’s just say I wouldn’t be reminding them about how much I love and long for them with the tender compassion of Jesus Christ, as Paul wrote in Philippians 1:8. You kiddin’ me? My phone call would instead sound more like:

“Get me out of here!”

“Start a GoFundMe, so you can bail me out!”

I would tell my church family to get #FreeYana trending on Twitter!

Be honest!

Wouldn’t you?

Because you didn’t do anything wrong! You were simply bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost, to those society (and, even the church!) might’ve overlooked. You don’t have reason to be in jail. You deserve justice!

But, Paul? That wasn’t what he expressed to the church at Philippi.

Instead of trying to work out a plan to break out of his prison cell at midnight, he instead commanded them to not be anxious about anything, to pray and petition with thanksgiving, as written in Philippians 4:6.

He wasn’t worried about them coming to bail him out. No, Paul was more worried about their thought life. He told them in Philippians 4:8 to fix their thoughts on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. That was his instruction.

He wasn’t wallowing in self-pity, going into detail about how unfair it was that he was in there and something oughta be done. Nope! Paul said he can do anything through Christ who gives him strength, whether he was chained or free. He didn’t mention his need for anything either. He assured them that God was going to supply all of his needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

I mean, HUH?!

It doesn’t make sense, does it?

How is it that Paul could be wrongly imprisoned, persecuted, misunderstood by his own brothers and sisters in Christ and still…have joy?

Well, I’m writing this post today to tell you the answer—the secret sauce to Paul’s perfect peace.

You ready to find out what it is?

Here it goes…

His perspective.

Paul had the right perspective.

And, if you read Philippians 3:12-14, you’ll find out what that perspective was, that his eyes were fixed on one prize and one prize only:

Jesus Christ.

And, because Jesus Himself was the only perspective Paul had, he was able to endure every trial, tribulation, and obstacle he faced as he spread the gospel. And, it was his perspective that made every problem worth it.

Dr. Matthew Stevenson puts it this way:

The problem isn’t always the problem. Instead, the problem is your perspective of the problem.

And, when you run into problems spreading the gospel, a poor perspective is the last thing you need. In fact, the wrong perspective will keep you from enduring, from pressing on towards the prize, as Paul said in Philippians 3.

Therefore, if we’re going to do what Paul did, something we’re all called to do anyway—bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to all people, not just the ones who look like us, think like us, talk like us, but all people—then we must have the perspective that Paul had.

That perspective being Jesus—only Jesus.

And, if Paul was willing to endure chains, persecution, and being misunderstood for the sole purpose of spreading the good news, with the right perspective, we can, too.

At twenty-two years old, Ayana is an author, a blogger, and the host of “To Be Heard” Podcast. In 2018, she self-published her first novel, titled, How I Fell in Love with Myself, and self-published her second novel, titled, My Name is Anxiety in 2022. She is a former English & Journalism major with a previous education in writing from a program based in New York. As she continues to pursue a career in writing, she aims to bring relevant messages of faith, redemption, hope & self esteem to you & others around the world.

Follow Ayana on Instagram @ayanasymone

Four Corners

Four Corners

I recently attended a women’s retreat and we played a game called Four Corners. They asked several questions and the corners of the room represented a different answer to each question. After a question was asked, we would all walk to the corner that represented our answer to see who in the room would pick what answer (I promise there is a point to explaining this).

I will never forget the moment that God used a simple game at a retreat I wasn’t even planning on attending to reveal a life-changing truth to me. One of the questions asked was, “If you could have a super-power, what would it be?” I found myself torn between two of the four corners, flying or teleportation, and I said it out loud. The girl next to me responded, “Choose flying. If you teleport, you will miss the journey.”

As I wrestled through making my decision, her response changed the trajectory of my walk with Jesus in the best way. God used it to identify a tendency within me that was hindering me from experiencing the fullness of His perfect plan. I used to always want to take the shortcut because it was more convenient. I realized at that moment that if choosing the shortcut means missing the journey, it isn’t worth it. Even if I did ultimately end up where I was supposed to be, I would be lacking what He desired to produce within me in the process.

There are two lessons I pray you learn from this story:

The first is this – Never underestimate who and what God can use to speak to you.

Don’t try to limit a limitless God to fit within the box of your expectations. He just might use who or what you least expect to reveal Himself in an undeniable way. Spend enough time in His presence to recognize His voice even when He speaks to you in unexpected places and through unlikely circumstances or people (or games, lol). When you do recognize His voice, stop to listen and allow the truth of His word to interrupt your plans, bring correction to your way of doing things, and lead you along the path of His perfect plan. When you feel Him tugging on your heart or addressing an area of your life that needs to be adjusted, no matter where you are or what you’re doing, take note and let it move you to action.

His presence is with you wherever you go; not just in church on Sunday morning, in your weekly Bible study, or when you are doing your daily devotions. He knows what you need, He knows when you need it, and His delivery is always perfect even if it’s different than our expectation of how He would show up.

When He speaks and what He speaks won’t always be at the most convenient time or comfortable to hear, but it is always intentional and always for your good and for His glory. A perfect example of this is Moses and the burning bush…

“There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up.” (Exodus 3:2)

God will show up in the midst of your ordinary life in extraordinary ways so that it’s undeniable that it’s Him speaking. If you will listen and apply what He is speaking, you will live continually amazed by Him doing what only He can do in and through you.

He is in everything; live aware.

The second is to choose the journey of following Jesus over the convenience of taking the shortcut.

Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

Decide, sincerely, that you would rather take the long way with Jesus than the shortcut without Him. The truth is, the shortcut (convenience) will end up costing you in the long run. It’s dangerous to chase the fulfillment of the promise without walking through the process. The process isn’t painless; but it grows, matures, and produces steadfastness within us along the way. The process prepares you for the promise. This is the beauty in what is at times painful, and it’s absolutely necessary.

Don’t just say that His way is better, live like you believe it’s true. Let your life be a reflection of your wholehearted trust in Jesus. When you are torn between the corners of life and tempted to choose convenience over His way, always choose His way. I can assure you that no one knows what’s best for you like the One who knows you best, and living for Him is what you are made for.

Life will present you with countless choices – big, small, and everything in between. Don’t make a decision for immediate gratification like the world does, even in seemingly small, insignificant choices. Don’t be directed, distracted or swayed by the opinion and process of man. I can assure you that there were a lot more people standing in the teleportation corner than the flying corner, but I stood in the flying corner, sure and confident of the choice that I made.

When making a decision, be led by His voice and the truth of His Word. If He is directing you to take the longer way, trust that He goes before you and that His plans for you are good. Let your confidence be in His faithfulness. Set up camp in the midst of His promises for those who love Him and walk according to His Word. To live in those promises requires the continual application of the truth of His Word to our lives. It requires that we trust that all of it is true, not just some of it.

I find myself praying this prayer often lately, that I long for nothing more or less than all of what He has for me. You’ve probably heard the quote about how life is more about the journey than the destination. It’s the journey that shapes us and helps us arrive at the destination of who God has called us to be.

I don’t want to miss a thing when it comes to what God has prepared for me. I want whatever will most reveal His glory through me.

When God used a mindless game at a girl’s retreat to remind me to not miss the journey He has for me, I never would have imagined that I would be sharing it with you, but He did, and here I am.

You might not always know where you are headed, but your trust isn’t in where you are going, but the One who is leading you step by step. He sees the full picture when you feel stuck in the right now. Let the reward of following Him outweigh the temptation to settle for the shortcut.

Walk in His way, friends. The best is yet to be!

“Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, he will still be with you to teach you. You will see your teacher with your own eyes. Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left.” (Isaiah‬ ‭30‬:‭20‬-‭21‬)

Maddie is a (new) wife, worship leader, and writer. Her passion is pointing people to Jesus, following wherever He leads, and encouraging others to do the same. A few of her favorite fun things are rainy days, road trips, coffee shops, flower trucks & gold confetti. 

Keep up with Maddie on Instagram @maddiee_joy!

A Content Heart Starts in Singleness

A Content Heart Starts in Singleness

For the majority of college, I was single. And I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t always patient during singleness. I was the one in the friend group that was consumed with dating and obsessed with finding a boyfriend. I struggled with being single. I don’t really like to even say struggle because it sounds like it was a burden to be single. The only reason it was hard for me is because I made singleness hard. I didn’t like being single, therefore I didn’t like the Lord putting me in a season of singleness. I wanted a boyfriend because the whole world told me that a boyfriend gives you security, love, acceptance and companionship. I wanted a boyfriend because I didn’t want to be lonely, insecure or isolated. All my friends were in serious relationships and it seemed that their lives were much better than mine because they had boyfriends. For two years, I lived in this belief that a boyfriend would solve all these problems. Two years of obsessing over the hope of having a boyfriend one day. I was mentally exhausted from the constant search and need for someone else to give me the security and love I so desperately wanted. 

I vividly remember sitting at the counter of my college house reading and journaling when I had this thought, or rather God planted this thought in my mind. 

I was so tired of feeling sorry for myself for not being in a relationship. I knew that a relationship wouldn’t fill me, but I was acting like I was depleted and deprived because I wasn’t in a relationship. My beliefs were not lining up with my actions. God so lovingly showed me my inconsistencies. I was wasting my thoughts by being overwhelmed with desire for a relationship, so much so it decreased my quality of life. I decided to change my thoughts. I wanted to live everyday like it was my last day of being single. I was going to enjoy it even if somedays I had to force myself to see it as good. One day I would hopefully be in a relationship that would turn into marriage and I would never be single again. I wanted to make myself proud of the way I lived in it and didn’t want to waste what the Lord had me in. If you really stop and think about each day, we have no idea what it holds. It could be the day that changes your life. But instead of waiting on the day that changes everything, I want to live my life freely and confidently not waiting on a day to come. 

As I looked to the positives of singleness, contentment grew within me. I learned how to spend time with Jesus. Not just read my Bible, pray a little, and move on, but ACTUALLY spend time with him and enjoy it! I looked forward to being in His presence every day. I received all the security, acceptance, and love I needed from Him. My heart was slowly aware that the things I desperately wanted, I had in Jesus all along.

As I became more content with my season, the Lord gave me more peace in my heart about the unknowns of my future. He removed the way I idolized a future husband and provided me with deep satisfaction in Him. 

The day I started dating my now husband, I had peace leaving my season of singleness. I knew I had been obedient in learning all the Lord wanted me to grow in. 

I am grateful for my season of singleness because it taught me to be content in every season.

It created a heart posture within me to be satisfied in the Lord rather than my circumstances. Rushing from one season to the next is harmful. It steals the lessons of love, satisfaction, and being fully present with the Lord that He wanted to teach me. 

Being fulfilled by the Lord’s presence then produced satisfaction in the season I’m in now. 

Being single is wonderful, dating is wonderful, engagement and marriage are wonderful! But if you ignore contentment in singleness you will be dissatisfied in dating. You’ll want engagement, and in engagement you’ll want marriage. In marriage you’ll want kids, then you’ll want to be empty nesters. It’s an endless cycle of always wanting the next thing. 

It’s a trap that we can so easily fall into if we do not posture our hearts to be content in our current season.

It can be dangerous to view singleness as a season of waiting because of what it does to our hearts when we label it that way. Waiting can imply that your life is missing something and you are looking to that thing hopeful it will fill whatever is missing in your life. “I’m waiting for God to move in my life.” “I’m waiting for Him to give me an answer on what He wants me to do.” “I’m waiting on Him to give me a boyfriend.” When we “wait” on God to act, move, or provide and it doesn’t happen on our timeline, we view it as a punishment. In reality, we were never actually waiting on God, we were wanting God to move when we say so. 

Sure, you might feel like you are waiting for a boyfriend. But what are you wanting a boyfriend to fix in you? Fix in your life? If you never had a boyfriend, never got married, would you be content with your relationship with the Lord to fill you? 

Instead of waiting on God to give you a boyfriend, be with God in your singleness. There’s so much more at stake than your desire for a relationship. The Lord is forming in you contentment, satisfaction, and a sole desire for His presence to fill. I believe these lessons are best taught in singleness and that’s why the enemy wants us to rush out of it. If we never learn how to be content and satisfied in the Lord we will always look to something or someone else to fill us. This is why singleness is so valuable! You cannot learn that only God can fill you until he is all you have to fill you.

There will be a last day of singleness for you. So, make yourself proud of the way you lived it out! 

Focus your purpose in singleness to be closer to God, to soak in his presence, and learn how to be satisfied where he has placed you.

I promise that when you allow your heart to be satisfied in Jesus, you will lack nothing. The longing for a husband won’t change, but you will be content in where the Lord has you. Your heart’s ability to be content now will cultivate a heart of contentment for every season to come.

So, to my friend that is single today, wondering when and if her husband will ever come into her life: focus on your heart posture. Learn to be satisfied with God in your singleness, its so much more important than having a boyfriend.

Freddie is a recent grad from Auburn University with her masters in clinical mental health counseling and is on staff with LO as a counselor. She loves long walks, spending time with friends and family, and helping people find their confidence in who God made them to be!Follow Freddie on Instagram: @yourfriend_Freddie 

About Sadie & Live Original

Sadie Robertson Huff is well known for her engaging smile and energetic personality, but there is a lot more to the 25-year-old star of A&E’s Duck Dynasty and runner up on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars season 19


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