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How Do I Desire God?

How Do I Desire God?

I long to write something of worth in a real and tangible way as you pursue your walk with Christ. There is so much information coming at us from different directions, but if we’re honest, it’s not leaving us with the transformation we desperately desire. The world is selling us an identity that fails to live up to its promises. The miracle facial cream does not eliminate my wrinkles, the $120 leggings don’t make me feel better about myself, and the curling wand that promised to turn my hair into locks of gorgeousness is just okay. All in all, we are somewhat disappointed with our collection of “must-haves.” Am I right? We desire something more.

Perhaps this is why the number one question I am asked by Jesus-professing believers since becoming a mentor on the LO Sister app is, “How do I desire God?” We are hyper-aware that the world and all its glitz and glamor are not fulfilling us, and we know in our heads and hearts that Jesus is the answer, but how does that “knowledge” equate to transformation? How do we become people living, loving, and longing to be in the presence of God?

To live, love, and long to be in God’s presence, we must understand that His presence is not about going to the right place. He’s not a formula or a location. We know this is true because of the message Jesus gave the woman at the well in John Chapter 4. Jesus had just told her the truth about her life, and this was her response: “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews say that the place where one must worship is in Jerusalem,” John 4:20. Most likely, she wondered where she could go to be cleansed. In that day, the custom was to go to the temple to be cleansed of sin and to offer sacrifices for your offenses.

The ongoing debate among Samaritans and Jews was over which “temple” was the right one—Bethel or Jerusalem. This was Jesus’ response:

“Woman believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth,” John 4:21-24.

In these four sentences, Jesus disrupts the normal system of worship. It was no longer about going to the right place. He says, “It’s neither that mountain or in Jerusalem.” Now don’t get me wrong. By no means did Jesus do away with the place. Actually, “the place” became more important. Where is the place? We’re getting there; just hang with me. Jesus’ words to this woman speak to our longing for desire. To put it in 21st-century language, Jesus told her that the Father longs for genuine, authentic worshipers who crave the truth in every area of their lives. The Father is seeking worshipers who aren’t simply showing up to cleanse their consciences but to commune with Him. He is love. He is the fullness of what we seek and the ultimate end of our desire; we just haven’t sat with Him long enough to find out. We are far too easily distracted. In truth, we want to desire Him with the least effort involved. We want the fruits of the life He promises without altering our schedules. We settle for Wendy’s while Jesus longs to dine with us by candlelight because there’s just not enough “time” for that. We have places to go and people to scroll. Did I say scroll?

Take a moment to seriously ask yourself this question and answer honestly—what do you desire? What is it you think about most often? What are the things/persons, etc., that you plan your days around? What is the center of your desire? The honest answer to those questions will likely relate to what you consume daily. For example, if you desire the perfect body, your days will probably be marked consuming anything and all fitness. You’ll spend your money on it, you’ll purchase gym memberships and diet plans, you’ll follow health influencers and buy the brands they tell you to. You will think about it when you wake up and when you go to sleep. In other words, you will become what you behold. Whatever it is that you are consuming in mass quantities will shape your desire and become what you worship. To borrow a quote from the pastor of our church, “The only thing that will determine what you become will be what you worship.”

If you want to change what you desire, you must change what you behold. If you want to desire God, then you must behold Him. To behold Him is to spend time in His presence. Where is His presence? Ahhh, where’s the place? That’s what’s so amazing about God. He is not far from each of us (Acts 17:27); oh, no, he makes it super easy for you and me, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body,” 1 Corinthians 6:19. God’s presence dwells within you. You are the temple. Come on. You don’t even have to climb a mountain.

Here’s the truth. God made Himself readily available to us in every way possible. He took on the guilt for our sin, paid the penalty, and now dwells within us to guide us into all truth (John 16:13). The only way you are going to desire Him, the only way you are going to love and long to be in His presence, is to get to know the joy that comes from His presence. Jill, are you saying I have to work to desire God? No, I’m saying that it’s impossible to have a relationship with someone who lives within your soul that you never talk to and, even more important, that you never listen to. The living God is not a place you go to punch your card in. He is the alpha, the omega, the beginning, and the end. He is the diet plan that will truly fill you up. He is the living water that never runs dry, and the only way you will come to believe this is to trust your time with the King of Glory.

Just ask the woman at the well. She went from an empty life, consuming husband after husband and attempting to fulfill her desire for love, to a woman who led an entire town to the presence of the living God. This happens when we sit in His presence. He tells us things about ourselves (usually the stuff we want to keep hidden), but He loves us in our brokenness. As we taste and feel what it’s like to be loved for who we really are instead of who we try to portray ourselves to be, it’s pretty amazing. It’s an authentic love that we can’t help but share. As our desires shift to the King of Glory, a contagious aroma exudes from within us. One heart turned toward the living God is the beginning of revival.

Jill Dasher is the author of the book SHALLOW, drowning in the shallow end of people’s approval. She serves as a mentor on the LO Sister app and is a Christian speaker who is passionate about sharing the freedom that exists when you refuse to live in hiding & freely submit all of your fears & failures to the God who made you. She has a heart for foster care and adoption and takes great joy in serving on the board of Black Mountain Home for Children and Families. She resides in the mountains of NC with her husband and five children.

Our Best Advice: Relationships, Community & Marriage

Our Best Advice: Relationships, Community & Marriage

As we recently shared the first Sisters and Friends episode of the year, I figured it was only fitting to share it with you here on the blog! My mom and I sat down to talk about all things relationships, community and marriage. Here’s how it went!

I wanted to talk to mom about the things that she walked through and learned in her college years because I know many of you are college students navigating that season of life. But even if you’re not a college student, we unpack so much more in this episode to tune in for. 

First off, we dove into discussing mom’s relationship with my dad. They began dating at a young age and quickly decided they were going to get married. However, right before they took the next step, they broke up and soon after, mom went off to college. Mom went into college with a lot going on, such as the breakup, a new city, meeting new people, etc. So, I asked Mom to describe what that was like as she began a new journey with all those emotions. 

Mom mentioned how crazy it is that it’s been 32 years since she and my dad began dating. She was 17 years old at the time and they both instantly knew they were in it for the long haul. They’d been in youth group together and had basically grown up together since third or fourth grade. Because of this, marriage was talked about within the first couple months of their relationship. They decided to get married the following summer, and when they mentioned it to Mom’s parents, it was clear that they didn’t see it as the best idea. After all, Mom and Dad had no plan and no money. They were genuinely living on love. Plus, mom DID have a scholarship for college to Harding University, where her parents had gone. So, her parents had a point. Looking back, mom sees the wisdom in the things they were saying. But at the time it was really difficult. At the end of that summer, mom chose to go to college. Well, Dad had decided that if Mom went, they were going to break up. So, they did, and mom was devastated. She cried all the way to Harding and one of her friends came and stayed with her in her dorm for a few days to console her. 

I love that her friend came and stayed with her because in those moments it is so important to bring community in. And often those are the times that we push community out because we don’t want anyone to see us in a vulnerable state. Mom talked about how vital it was for her to have someone she could truly open up to during that time and help her through a season of major transition.

I asked Mom to talk about the process of her and Dad getting back together. She said that two weeks after the breakup, Dad called her dorm room and said he’d had a change of heart and that maybe long distance wouldn’t be so bad after all. He basically poured out his heart saying he wanted to get back together. Mom said it was a really great regrouping time for them as a couple for her to say “I love you, but there are things that need to change in our relationship.” She used that to encourage anyone who might be in a similar situation. She mentioned that it’s not always the answer to breakup. Sometimes it takes just sitting back and admitting there are some things that just need to be restructured. Well, Mom and Dad ended up getting back together, but Mom did let Dad sit in it for about an hour before she gave a final answer to him. 

The truth is, you need people like Mom’s friend who you can confide in, knowing that they love you and your partner equally and want what’s best for both of you. You need friends who will trust you enough to believe that your partner is a good person, and it might just be a bad moment.

A couple months ago, Christian and I were walking through a really difficult time. A lot had been going on and it was just chaotic. We needed to get back on track, so I suggested that we start taking communion in our house. Well, at the time, we’d been ignoring and not wanting to address many of the things we were walking through. So, our first communion in our house was when everything we had been feeling came out. It was certainly a hard conversation, but I find it beautiful that when we came to Jesus, truth came out. Although it wasn’t necessarily pretty, it’s what needed to happen. I love that because this scripture speaks to the situation so well:

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his faultbetween you and him aloneIf he listens to youyou have gained your brother.” (Matthew 18:15)

Next, we dove into the topic of roommates. Mom’s freshman year of college, she had a roommate she’d never met before, which is extremely common. Many people either move into an apartment or college dorm with someone they’ve never met. Sometimes it clicks and it works, but sometimes it’s difficult. Eventually, mom became really close with her roommate, even though they were a lot different. She actually ended up being a bridesmaid in Mom’s wedding. I asked Mom to talk a bit about what that was like. She only had one semester with a roommate before she married my dad. But she said even that one semester helped her so much because when my brother Will went to college, he’d been planning to room with one of his friends for years. Initially, when he found out he was going to have a third roommate, he was not thrilled. But mom was able to share her experience with him encouraging him to have a positive mindset about the situation! Mom reminded us that in situations like these, you have to trust that through others, God is going to teach you something. Oftentimes, people try to get out of these situations before God has time to work in them. Mom encouraged everyone to give it a full year in college for God to do something, whether it be the roommate, the major, or whatever else you may be having difficulties with. And then if you still don’t think you’re where you need to be, make a move.

You have to give it time for your roots to grow. When I was little, I would take apple seeds and plant them outside my house. But I never marked where they were, so I could never properly water them. I think about how I was throwing seeds in all different places, and I gave none of them time to nurture and grow. I think a lot of us do that. We are unwilling to stay in one place and water that soil and see what beauty grows from it. Because we get frustrated by the process, we just go to the next place and plant new seeds. But you’ll never get the tree unless you stay and water that ground. There’s a process to growing where you’re at. There’s a process to community. There’s a process for most things. Mom talked about how difficult it was when my sister Rebecca moved here from Taiwan. Her first semester was incredibly difficult because she had broken English, wasn’t making friends easily, and was struggling to stay in contact with her family because of the time difference. If she’d been given the option after the first semester, she probably would’ve chosen to go home. But the second semester rolled around and she was thriving. She was making friends, going to prom, and having a great experience. Now, she’s been here for 16+ years and is married with two kids!

Back to the roommate situation, I wanted to mention that not everyone is going to be your best friend. This is something I’ve had to learn as I’ve gotten older. Some people might be a great friend. You can still laugh and have fun with them, and even cry with them. But they don’t necessarily have be your best friend. And then some people will be your best friend, and often when that happens, it just comes naturally. For instance, my friend Laney will always be one of my best friends, and it came naturally. All of this to say, you don’t have to put pressure on any of your friendships to be your very best one. You have to be content and confident in the relationship you do have with your friend. 

I wanted to circle back around to my mom and dad’s relationship. Once they got back together, they got married the following January. So, by Mom’s second semester in college, she and Dad were married and Dad was beginning his first semester in college. The following summer, they actually went to Hawaii with Mom’s parents as their honeymoon, since they didn’t have much money. Three months into marriage, they still didn’t have a set in stone plan, and they were still broke. I asked mom to give us a picture into what that season looked like, the silly arguments over money, and the types of meals they would eat on a budget. Mom mentioned just how tight their budget was. She and Dad worked at a call center for a while. The people who call and ask you for money — that was my parents. Eating out was not an option, except for the occasional Little Caesar’s pizza for cheap. Monday’s menu was hotdogs with hormel chili. Tuesday’s was fried frozen chicken. She remembered one time when she and Dad were in the grocery store, they had $5 left over from their grocery budget and Dad wanted to buy a pack of baseball cards and she wanted to buy a magazine. It turned into a full out fight over who would get to spend the extra money. 

Here’s another example. Some of Mom and Dad’s friends had loaned them a washer and dryer, so they wanted to do something nice in return. They took them to dinner at Shoney’s and it cost $40, which was way out of their budget. Mom said she still remembers the feeling of seeing the check and wondering how they were going to eat for the rest of the week. I love that she mentioned this story, because nowadays I feel like there’s so much pressure on young wives to have it all together. They’re expected to have all the snacks cut in the perfect shape and to be both healthy and perfect. Seeing how perfect other people’s meals can be through social media and other outlets will feel like you’re not doing your role well enough. But sometimes, there are seasons in life when ramen noodles and hotdogs will just have to do. For example, during this season of my life, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a great dinner. Cereal is just fine. Mom pointed out that looking back on the moments she shared, they’re such sweet and fun memories. Take note of all the ways you grow and the things you learn during those times in life.

One thing I love about my parents’ relationship when they were first married is that even though they were broke, they still had fun. It didn’t keep them from being hospitable. Many people think they can’t be fun or hospitable because they don’t have anything or they might not have the “coolest” house. Mom spoke into this topic well. She said the first time they had a couple over in their tiny apartment, she made spaghetti. However, she had no idea how many noodles to make to properly accommodate the amount of spaghetti sauce. So, needless to say, there were plenty of noodles left over. Dad began throwing spaghetti noodles at Mom, which turned into a full on food fight with their friends. There were noodles everywhere, even until they moved out of that apartment. They would have holiday parties at their house and everyone would bring something, which usually consisted of rotel cheese dip and hotdogs. The fact is, people don’t care what your house looks like. They care about being together. 

Mom reminded us that we have to be the one to invite people sometimes. So many times we sit around and get sad because people aren’t inviting us places, but it might just be that you need to invite people to do things. Christian and I found ourselves in the place when we first moved back to Louisiana. I was throwing myself a pity party because we weren’t getting invited to a Bible study our friends were having. But then I had an epiphany — Why don’t I start a Bible study. I could be the one to text and invite them over, and now we’re all great friends! Mom chimed in with some good advice. She said that if someone says no when you invite them, don’t take it personally. Invite somebody else! 

I wanted to mention that Mom was an Art Major in college. While here and there, she’ll use her artistic ability, for the most part she isn’t really using her degree. I think someone needs to hear that because often in college, you think, “this is it.” You think that if you make a wrong decision, you might miss the call of God on your life. I just want to remind you that you cannot miss it if you’re truly following the Lord. I love what 2mama posted recently. She said that if you’re doing whatever you’re doing for the glory of God, then you’re doing what He called you to do. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself now to think that whatever you decide now will determine the rest of your life. It might shape your life, but it won’t be the end all be all. God has your future and God has your now. 

I hope this is all encouraging to you! Here are some questions to think about as we wrap up:

Look at the people around you in your life. How can you steward those friendships well? 

How can you use what you have to have fun and to host well? 

How can you work towards growing in your relationship, even if that means restructuring things? 

Where are you that you actually need to water the ground where you’re standing? Seeds can easily be thrown in the ground, but you need to take some time to be intentional and see growth. 

Staying in Step with the Lord

Staying in Step with the Lord

Have you ever been in a season where you feel like you have no direction for where you are going? Maybe you’ve asked God where He is at. Maybe you’ve felt as if He isn’t working in your life and it seems like you are completely stuck. I’ve been there too, many times in my life. But specifically at the beginning of 2022, I was frustrated with where I was. I was a full-time nurse, about to be a first-time author, ran a small business, was encouraging women through social media, and knew that the Lord was stirring something new within me. I just had no idea what that something new was, and it became all that I could think about.

I honestly was really struggling with being a nurse at the time. Work was draining, my co-worker’s morale was really low, and I had all these other new passions within me. It was getting hard to balance the writing I was doing along with having a full-time job, being a wife, a friend, and taking care of myself. Burnout was really close. I was waiting for the day when the Lord would tell me to quit. I selfishly didn’t want to be doing the hard work as a nurse anymore. I wanted what seemed to be the “easier way.” But deep down inside I still had this feeling that I was still called to be involved in nursing. Every part of me was trying to ignore it. My dream was to be part-time, but that was desired by many people and seemed impossible since we were short staffed so I never bothered asking.

One Sunday morning I was at church and during the last worship set I remember sitting down and pleading to the Lord, “What is next for me?” I began to see a picture of Joshua at the Jordan river, I felt the Lord remind me that the waters didn’t part until the priests took a step into it. It was at that moment that I felt the Lord tell me to quit my job as a nurse. I was hysterically crying as now I knew I heard clearly from the Lord and wanted to obey but now doing the one thing my flesh wanted felt like the most horrifying thing to do. I didn’t know what would come of it. I was stressed about what our finances would look like, and I had no plan whatsoever of what would happen once I wasn’t working, but I chose to be obedient to what the Lord asked of me. The next day I put my notice in for 2 months. Why 2 months? Only the Lord knew.

Fast forward a few weeks and I still had zero clarity on what was next. I found myself asking God, “Okay Lord, you told me to do this, and I still have no idea what you want me to do!” I felt the Lord call me to fast for a day from food. I prayed and prayed and prayed, but still, nothing. The next day I was at work and it was the day to tell my boss what my official last day would be with the new schedule out. As I walked into the office to tell her what my last day would be, she offered for me to go part-time! At first, I was hesitant and thought, “But God, you told me to quit?” and then I felt Him say, “I am giving you the desires of your heart.”

After talking with my husband and family it was evident that this was the next step that God had for me. As I began to work part-time as a nurse God then began to open other doors that filled my time. Looking back, I see God’s hand in every moment, even when I felt as if He wasn’t there.

As I walked through that season of my life, the verse I held onto was, The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9 ESV

 I could have made all of the plans in my head that I thought were best for me and tried to pursue them. But ultimately, I wanted and knew that God’s plan for my life was better than anything I could have ever come up with on my own.

When we choose to surrender everything that feels comfortable and step into the uncomfortable of the unknown with Jesus, He WILL show up. God isn’t always going to give us a list of the steps we need to take to get to where He wants us to go. Most of the time He is a step-by-step kind of guy or even “take this blind step and see what I will do.” But with each step of faith that we do take with Him, we can trust that we are on the path to the most abundant life. I love what Mark Batterson says in his book Draw The Circle, “God wants us to get where God wants us to go more than we want to get where God wants us to go.”

You are on the path of abundance when you are on the path surrendered to Jesus. He will get you where He wants to get you in His perfect timing. He knows every detail of how He will get you where He wants to get you. And in that time leading up to where He is taking you, He is preparing you for what He has for you.

So yes, maybe you are in a season where you feel no direction or clarity. I want to encourage you, instead of asking God for a 5-step plan or just waiting for Him to make a move, ask Him what the next step for you to take is. And then boldly and courageously take that step no matter how scary or daunting or vulnerable it may seem. Sometimes instead of just waiting on the Lord to move, we need to take an action step that says, Lord, I am ready to do what you want me to do. I lay down my plans for my life and submit to your plans for me whatever they may be. If God told you to do it, He will bless your obedience. Just like the priests touched their feet in the water of the Jordan river and then it parted. They had to have faith that God would do what He said He would do. Out of faith, dip your toes in the water, and watch how God will make a way when there seems to be no way!

Believe in the promise that God is establishing your steps. Write it on your heart and remind yourself of it every day. The Lord is establishing your steps better than you could ever do on your own. Not only is He actively doing that now but He is excited about where He is taking you! It will be worth the wait. Waiting on the Lord is NEVER wasted waiting.

Allyson Golden is the Author of the devotional Words Are Golden and founder of the online ministry Words Are Golden. She is also a part-time nurse & on staff at the church in which she and her husband helped plant. Her heart is for women to recognize that their words hold power when rooted in God’s powerful word. She loves to host people in her home, cook yummy meals & learn about the heart of Jesus! You can read more from Allyson on Instagram @wordsaregolden

Right Where You Are Meant to Be This Christmas

I am right where I am supposed to be this Christmas.

Time marched forward on my grandmother’s old bird clock. As the next hour came, a different-sounding bird sang on the clock to remind us time had come and gone. 

When you’re marching towards trying to fulfill a dream, time can feel like it’s moving too fast, like the constant song of the clock. If we could just seize the hour, we’d take hold of the day and get our dreams accomplished, right? Yet, on the other hand, time can also feel slow. Slow like a vulture circling down. When you’re praying for an unmet longing, it can feel like it’s taking too long for those prayers to be actualized. 

In the Bible, Zechariah and Elizabeth knew what it was to long for something.. I am sure time passing felt more like a trail of tears with an unknown destination for them, as they wondered: would their dream of having a baby ever come to fruition?

Have you ever walked alongside a moving walkway in an airport? Travelers are marching by on the moving belt as if it is effortless. Somehow, they are still moving at the same pace as you, even though you are exerting twice the effort because you don’t have a motorized walkway assisting you. As you walk, you feel the heavy weight of the bags you chose to carry, and you wonder why the pace of other travelers appears to be effortless and twice as fast. Why are they getting to their desired destination quicker than you? That’s how it can feel to pursue a dream or wait for something other people have already been given. I have often wondered why certain friends or my peers appear to have gotten everything I want in this life— long before I have.

Zechariah and Elizabeth knew what it was like to feel like time had passed them by when it came to their deepest longings. They were “righteous in the sight of God” (Luke 1:6) but also barren. In that day, being barren was a huge source of shame. Even so, they faithfully served the Lord as their dream of a family melted into the background. I am sure they, too often, felt like they were walking the path of unmet desire.

Remember, Zechariah was a priest. One day it came time for him to fulfill a priestly obligation to enter the inner sanctuary. This was probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. As he entered, he was unsure how God would meet him in that moment.

It is hard to hold desire loosely without feeling like you need to amputate or sever it to move forward. If you have ever encountered unmet desire in barrenness, miscarriage, singleness, or a dream that has died, you might feel a tinge of pain reading Zechariah’s response to the angel Gabriel. The angel Gabriel announced to Zechariah that he would have a son named John, the forerunner of Christ. Zechariah responded with a question, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years” (Luke 1:18). Zechariah had longed to have a family with Elizabeth, but it’s possible that, by this point, he had laid that dream aside.

Consider the angel Gabriel’s response as we look to celebrating Advent this year. He responds to Zechariah: “And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time” (Luke 1:20). Let’s focus on that “appointed time.”

God’s plan would come true at Zechariah’s and Elizabeth’s appointed time. To think about time, it may be helpful to know there was more than one word for “time” in Greek. The Greek language was more comprehensive than English when it came to time. One type of time was chronos time, which was what we think of as our regular hour, minute, and seconds. But the Greek language also named kairos time, which meant “an appointed time.” Here the angel Gabriel was referencing the word kairos time, an appointed time. God’s plan for John the Baptist and Christ would come true at their appointed time.

A wise friend recently told me, “Sometimes it’s just a matter of changing our terminology.” “Huh?” I questioned her. “Yes!” she explained. “You can say the same thing two ways.” She explained further: “One might call having to allocate your money a ‘budget,’ but the more positive way to spin it would be to call it a ‘spending allowance.’”

Two words or phrases can mean the same thing, but one word is focused on limits, and the other phrase focuses on the abundance of it. One makes someone think, “thrifty,” and the second makes someone feel “freedom in how I spend.” So, let’s translate this for us today. We could say God has given us freedom in how we spend our God-ordained minutes. And yet, at the same time, God has stretched his sovereign hand over our time and knows what is to come.

In Greek, both chronos and kairos mean “time.” But the two words mean very different things. Chronos is more familiar to us in English. Everything we do in America is governed by our chronological time or measurable time. We are used to this type of time! There are 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and we have somewhere to be every minute. Kairos, on the other hand, means “an appointed time.” It is explained conceptually as a designated time or right time to do something: an appropriate time, the best time, or God’s timing.

For Zechariah and Elizabeth, the birth of John the Baptist would come at the appointed time. God’s timing is never late, or early, even though it may have felt that way to Zechariah and Elizabeth. But maybe you are like me, and you are thinking, well of course, God has an appointed time for the arrival of John the Baptist and Christ. But the word kairos is used quite comprehensively throughout the New Testament – not only in referring to John the Baptist and Christ. Funny enough, the Bible uses kairos more often than chronos. The word kairos is used over 80 times!

What I want to offer to you this Christmas season is this: We can get so busy living in our chronos sense of time that we miss kairos moments. We have been so indoctrinated with time that we think of it as running out, instead of time that is waiting to be seized. What if we spent our days looking for kairos moments? God’s divine moments. Moments where the sacred intersects with our human lives.

The holidays are notorious for being about the rush. We often make it more about all the activities than seeing God in all the moments. For me, I have already been feeling anxious and run-down about my time. Let’s slow down and savor the gift of Christ. God has placed exact kairos moments in our lives. Are we waiting and watching to seize them? The suitable time to comfort that grieving friend. That opportune time to minister to your child by squatting down, looking them in the eye, and speaking words of encouragement to them. The kairos time to step out into a new job. The kairos time for God to mend your marriage. The kairos time for your little one to be born. Sometimes kairos time will look like meaningful moments, but God’s appointed times for things can also be found in the mundane. The kairos time to bring soup to a sick friend. The kairos time to burst out in worship.  Don’t let chronos time speak to your deficit this Christmas. Instead, look for kairos moments that shouldn’t be missed and are God-ordained. Look for moments to celebrate Christ in every moment this season. Do not miss an opportune time to stop and worship him – the newborn King we have waited so long to meet, in His perfect time.

Mikella Van Dyke is the founder of Chasing Sacred, a ministry that provides resources to help women study the Bible and grow closer to God. What began as a devotional blog became an organization with a team of writers that has since published multiple Bible Study resources. 

This past year, Mikella focused primarily on providing women with resources and tools for deeper Bible Study. Through studying for her MA in practical theology, she fell deeply in love with the process of hermeneutics. Moving across the world from Thailand to New York City to getting married and becoming a mom, Mikella loves to see women in every stage of life engage with God’s Word. When she is not writing, she is spending time with her 5 kids, traveling, and eating every cuisine she can think of.

Why Wisdom is Given Generously

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubt, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” James 1:5-6

Have you ever read this verse and wondered why God chose wisdom as the guaranteed yes? When I read this verse, I was slightly frustrated. Why couldn’t the guaranteed yes be something more exciting than wisdom? We would prefer a promise for healing, a promise for a timely answer, or a promise for financial security—surely these things might provide more practical peace and fulfilling prayer than wisdom. Although wisdom may not sound like the ideal answer from the Lord, I think you & I have an improper view of the value of biblical wisdom. Once we search the Scriptures and understand what is promised to us by this verse, “wisdom” can become the most treasured guaranteed “yes” from our Father. 

The author of the book of James put together a book that seems like a miscellaneous collection of practical Christianity, with commands to remain steadfast, be impartial, watch your tongue & be mindful of how fleeting life is. But if you read this book with the wisdom literature of the Bible in mind (Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, mainly), it’s easy to see that James is teaching his readers to live in light of the “wisdom from above” that he defines as “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, and sincere” (James 3:17) and every “practical” point that he makes finds its roots in Old Testament wisdom principles. So, when James tells us in chapter one that this “wisdom from above” is given generously to all, what does that mean? Why can wisdom be so freely given? 

As James did, let’s look back at Old Testament wisdom in the book of Proverbs. Proverbs is a book of practical wisdom that is meant to teach readers how to “fear God, and turn away from evil” (Proverbs 3:7) and most of the chapters deal with day-to-day issues. However, just because the author of Proverbs is teaching us how to be wise doesn’t mean he isn’t teaching us about Jesus. In chapter 8, wisdom takes the stage and defines itself:

 “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His work, the first of His acts of old. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth…when He established the heavens, I was there; when He drew a circle on the face of the deep, when He made firm the skies above…when He marked out the foundations of the earth, I was beside Him, like a master workman, and I was daily His delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world, and delighting in the children of man” (Proverbs 8:22-31). 

Who does that sound like to you? Who was, according to John 1, “in the beginning with God” who “all things were made through”? Who delights in the works of the Father, rejoicing in the world and the people He created? Jesus does. He holds all things together, He is before all things, and He is the fullness of God sent down to us.

Paul sees this in Scripture and includes it in his letter to the Corinthians. 1 Corinthians chapter 2 says this: “But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.” Wisdom describes Himself in Proverbs chapter 8 as standing next to the Father in creation. John tells us that Jesus was in the beginning with God, by whom He made all things (John 1). 1 Corinthians tells us that Christ is the power and wisdom of God. So, what is Biblical wisdom? The person of Jesus Christ! How AWESOME is the Bible? Jesus was the One who was with God in creation, He is the power of God, and He is God who put on flesh and dwelt among us. To know Jesus, then, is to know wisdom—He is wisdom itself!

James says that God gives wisdom generously to all without reproach. Why does God promise to give us wisdom when we ask? Because He gives His Son freely to all who ask! Because “all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). The Father has not withheld Jesus from us, and Christ is the “wisdom and power of God”, so if Christ is not withheld from us, then the wisdom found in Him isn’t either. When we accept the gift of salvation in Christ, the forgiveness, kindness, love, and grace of God are freely given to us. The Holy Spirit becomes a guide and a friend, as we walk through life seeking to know and honor Him. And, as we look to God for wisdom on how to live a life that brings glory to Him, He is always giving us more wisdom because He freely gives us Jesus.

When we ask God for more wisdom, He bursts at the seams to say yes because we are asking for more of Jesus—and that is a prayer He bled and died and rose again to say “yes” to. There is nothing in this world that can restrain His love toward His children. Let us seek wisdom with all of our heart, and rejoice in finding it at every turn as our Good Father answers “yes” to our every need for Him. 

My name is Sam Arp and I am a college student in Charleston studying writing!  I just really love studying and teaching the Bible & seeing people come to know Jesus for who He really is. 🙂 

WTG: Our Best Couples Advice

WTG: Our Best Couples Advice

What’s up, friend! I’m so excited to share this Sisters + Friends episode with you! This one features some of mine and Christian’s best friends, Freddie and Parker Amos. I’m sure you already know Freddie, as she’s been on the podcast and is our counselor at Live Original. But her husband Parker joins us in this conversation as well and it is so great! 

We talked all things relationships, marriage, friendship and more. Christian and I kicked off the conversation by addressing a little tiff we had earlier that morning. Long story short, it led me to my first piece of marriage advice: Do not start on the defense. Remember you are on the same team working toward the same goal.

I then asked if Freddie or Parker had any relationship advice to give from any of there communication flops. Freddie answered by saying it varies for her and Parker. She said that for her, she has to assume that Parker is going to respond while having her best interest at heart rather than assume the worst in her. She also has to remember that it’s not just about her when they’re trying to resolve something. It’s about their marriage and also what will be best for Parker rather than assuming she knows what’s best. 

It truly is so easy to assume what is best instead of bringing it up. It’s also true that we often do wait to address an issue and I have found that the longer you wait, the more the problem multiplies. This could all be resolved by taking time to address the problem even though it might not be fun. 

We then began to tell the story of how we all met and became friends. Christian and Parker were kind of the OG’s. Without their friendship, Freddie and Parker wouldn’t even live in Louisiana. Parker said the first time he remembers meeting Christian, they were in high school. Parker lived in Auburn at the time and Christian was still living in Florida. They met at a rush event for a fraternity that they were both considering rushing at the time. He knew Christian as the “cool surfer dude from Florida.” This was so funny to me because when I met Christian, I thought he looked like a hot lifeguard haha. 

Christian chimed in and said it took a few months for Parker and him to become good friends because he was still in his crazy phase and Parker was not. But they ultimately became friends through church. They developed such a deep friendship, and I always say that Christian and I probably wouldn’t have started dating without Parker. I asked Christian to take us back to the conversations he had with Parker leading up to when he began pursuing me. 

This is a great example because often when people start pursuing someone, they keep quiet about it or it’s not actually much of a pursuit at all. It gets isolating and bad. But Christian had his friends as a part of mine and his relationship before we were even in one. 

Christian mentioned that he typically is an indecisive person. So he needed people in his life to speak into this relationship. He and Parker talked through what mine and Christian’s relationship would look like, how Christian would lead, etc. Parker gave Christian plenty of dating advice during this time, and eventually, it became Parker’s turn. He began dating Freddie!

Parker began sharing about the beginning of his and Freddie’s relationship and what that looked like. They met during their freshman year of college at an event called the Oaks Retreat at Auburn. Parker said that when they met, he remembered her by her unique name and her super cool lifted jeep. He quickly found out she had a boyfriend, so he kept his distance. But eventually, when they broke up, she became pretty vocal about the interest she had in Parker. Everyone was so excited when Freddie and Parker started dating. It’s important to note though, that once Freddie broke up with her ex boyfriend, she and Parker didn’t immediately start dating. They took some time and space before jumping into another relationship. It’s also important to be intentional about not bringing baggage from past relationships into a relationship with the person you’re going to marry. Not that some of that won’t come in somehow or need to be addressed, but it is important to still take that time and space before jumping into a new relationship. What I saw with myself is that I kept repeating the same cycles in my relationships. The reason I didn’t fall into the same situation with Christian is because, for one, he led better than anyone else I’d dated. And also, the Lord had truly prepped my heart after my last breakup by reminding me to just slow down. 

Freddie went on to share how cool it was that when she met Parker, her heart desired both Parker and time to herself. The Lord was so kind to grant her both. He allotted her the time she needed outside of a relationship, and at the right time, began her relationship with Parker. Parker mentioned how in college, everyone is seemingly trying to find the right person instead of being the right person. If we would just focus on being the right person God’s called us to be instead of looking for that person first, it would all work out much better. He sees their story as a great example of God displaying this concept. 

I would say this to people as a practical piece of advice: Listen to the sermons and podcasts on dating. Read the books on dating. Do all the things. I did this before I met Christian, and it truly got my heart posture right. I think it’s great to prep for the relationship way before you ever get into the relationship. I believe this shows God that while you are surrendered to His plan for your life, you’re also preparing for what He has for you. 

Another topic I wanted to address was community. We’ve talked about community in dating, singleness, and other seasons, but I wanted to talk about community in marriage. Often, when people get married, they begin to isolate themselves, which is a very dangerous place to be because you definitely need couple friends in that season. I remember at Freddie and Parker’s rehearsal dinner, the amount of friends who stood up and spoke so much life over them and blessed them was such a beautiful thing. Many of those same friends are still walking through life with them. For Christian and me too, all the people who spoke life over us and encouraged us are still walking through life with us. It’s so important to hang on to those relationships. 

So, I asked Freddie and Parker what it looks like for them to be in community in marriage. Parker talked about how they both prioritize each other having individual friendships too. For example, Parker having a friend like Christian to encourage him and hold him accountable will allow Parker to be a better husband for Freddie. When he is in community, he is healthy as a husband. He mentioned the importance of prioritizing this, because isolation leads you to believe that you are the only one walking through a situation. Community will help you pick up on the things that might seem a little off in your relationships. They’ll call you out and hold you accountable, even when you aren’t willing to be honest about what’s going on in your life. 

Also, when you’re dating someone, you don’t want to say anything negative about that person and lead your friends to think poorly of them. Even though you might love your person, we’ve gotta be real … your friends can turn on a dime, am I right? They can think your person is the best one minute and the worst the next. So, when you’re married, it’s important that you don’t throw your spouse under the bus or talk bad about them. But instead, bring your friends in to speak life into your relationship. At that point in your life, you should have friends that trust and love both you and your person enough, to where if you say one thing, they won’t automatically think of you as a bad person who talks negatively about their person. They’ll actually be more concerned about how to fix the problem at hand in the best way. 

Christian then reiterated the idea that you can be in community, but not actually be open and transparent. For example, that same morning, Christian and I had a little argument, and we told Freddie and Parker about it. As it turned out, they had actually had an argument of their own that morning too. They could’ve kept it to themselves when we were sharing about ours, but they didn’t. They let us in to what they were walking through. And that is what true community should look like. Your struggles actually help each other. 

Christian and I used to get really bummed about not having community with other couples. In fact, we would get our feelings hurt when we weren’t invited to other people’s small groups. For those looking for community and feeling like they just can’t find the right group, I would encourage you to start your own! Christian and I recently started a Wednesday night Bible study at our house that has been so fruitful. Sometimes we have to look at the things we’re complaining about and think, “Actually, can I fix that problem?” This was certainly a situation that Christian and I could fix.

Next, I addressed a big topic in relationships: comparison. This is so important to talk about because it is so prevalent. The minute you get discontent with who you’re with because you compare them to another person, it will mess up your entire relationship. There have even been times in mine and Christian’s relationship when this topic surfaced. When we had Honey, I remember saying things like, “Oh, other people’s husbands are so helpful.” Looking back, I was comparing Christian, in a sense, to how helpful other husbands were, even though I would never want to be married to any of those people. I love Christian and I’m so attracted to him. Even more than just that, I love everything that he is and how he serves our family. But because I compared him to someone else’s husband based on one thing, all of a sudden I started getting mad at him for little things that he wasn’t doing. I’ve just seen the potential for this topic in our marriage to be such a destructive thing. It wasn’t that I was comparing him in a physical appearance, but I was comparing him in terms of helpfulness. Typically, when we think of comparison in relationships, we think of females comparing themselves to others. And while that does lead to discontentment in who we are, we don’t think about comparison affecting an entire relationship, especially in a marriage. 

Freddie chimed in by mentioning how important it is to avoid comparison in relationships. Instead of allowing ourselves to make excuses, we should remind ourselves, “Actually, my relationship is so important to me and I’m going to prevent myself from letting my eyes wander.” Like Freddie said, things don’t change when you’re even in a serious relationship with the person you do love. You still have to protect yourself in the same ways. 

Christian and I had just been listening to Ben Stuart’s message on David and Bathsheba, which I highly recommend if you’ve never heard it before. One thing Ben talks about is the fact that God gave us curiosity. But he reminded us to make sure we’re using our curiosity in healthy and beautiful ways because it leads to innovation. He said that if we are lazy with our curiosity, it can lead to sin. 

When Christian and I are watching a show and it looks like things might be about to get inappropriate, Christian gets on his phone and won’t watch whatever is happening on the screen. I appreciate this so much because it shows that Christian isn’t concerned with being curious about the screen. But instead, he only has eyes for me. I think many people believe that we don’t have control in an instance like that. And we do, but we have to fight for it. 

At Christian and Parker’s Bible study in Auburn, week after week, guys would talk about how they were trying to quit porn. One week, they finally put their foot down and asked the question, “Are we actually going to quit?” So, I asked the guys what that looks like for a man who admits he struggles with porn to actually take hold of something like that? Christian said that a lot of it starts by finding the common denominator. For someone, it could be late at night before bed, making the effort to not be on their phone. For someone else, it might be not taking their phone when they go to the bathroom. Covenant eyes is also a good idea. It’s a locked down browser that only allows you to search certain things. You have to be aware of which situations you struggle with the most. You have to go much further than just “Yes, I struggle with it.” You have to ask yourself, “Why am I struggling with it?” and “What situations do I let myself go there?” 

Parker made the point that your fight with lust does not end once you get married. If anything, it increases, because the enemy wants your eyes to be anywhere except your spouse, especially when you’re having conflict and things get hard. He said that with any sin, you have to ask yourself, “Is this better or is Jesus better?” It’s definitely a fight, but that’s why it’s vital to have people who can hold you accountable. 

Everyone talks about how everything changes when you get married, but we wanted to talk about some of the things that don’t change. When I was pregnant with Honey, everyone told me that my whole life was about to change. Well, there were actually a lot of things in mine and Christian’s lives that didn’t change once we had Honey. We’re still who we were before. We still have friends over. We still travel. So, that’s not necessarily always true that everything changes when you get married or have a baby. A lot changes, but not everything. I think some people have this idea that all their problems will change when they get married. Freddie mentioned that getting engaged, married, or having a baby will not solve your problems. Those things will actually challenge you a lot in your relationship. 

I asked Freddie and Parker to mention some things they thought might change when they got married, but that have actually stayed the same. Freddie began sharing about struggles, whether it be sin or body issues. Marriage does not come in and make all those things better. It actually makes them harder, because it’s no longer secret to you. Parker sees those struggles all the time. But you have the option to either stay in your sin, or change something. 

This led us to talk a bit more about the struggle of comparison. When my parents first got married, my dad used to get really jealous for my mom if other guys would look at her. A lot of people might have thought that he wouldn’t be jealous anymore once she had a ring on her finger. But when you have a deep lie inside of you, a ring doesn’t just change that. It changes when you decide to let the Lord heal that in your own heart. If you think anything other than God is going to heal a sin in your life, it’s not going to happen. Only God can take a sin and redeem you. 

Parker said that when he got married to Freddie, he didn’t think he’d have time to do all the fun things he loves. But he still gets to hunt, fish, have time for music and all the things. It’s even better now because he gets to share all those things with Freddie. He said it’s important to find someone who’s going to encourage you in the things you love, as that’s what Freddie does for him. 

Marriage is a serious thing. It takes intentionality and God being at the center of it. Then you will be able to be the best version of yourself for your spouse. It’s such a beautiful and fun thing, doing life with your best friend. For a culture that doesn’t value marriage, it’s very sad to see. Marriage is one of the greatest gifts that God has given us, as well as having children. A lot of people think that when you have kids, your life is over. But in some ways I think that our life began once we had Honey. And in so many ways it made Christian and me who we are. 

These things that God designed and gave us in life, like marriage and family, are such beautiful things and the enemy will 100% be after your heart in them. But if you just follow the Lord’s leading on those things and are intentional about following His voice, you will find so much fruit in it all. At the same time, if you’re single and just don’t desire that yet, rest in the place God has you. God has you there for a reason. Singleness is a beautiful thing too. Paul actually said it’s better that you stay single. There’s beauty in all things that God creates. Being able to be content where you’re at brings so much fruit and blessing.

If you want to hear our full conversation, be sure to listen HERE!

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