“What do we do when we feel stuck, restless, cornered in our own lives? We can shut down. Or we can begin again.” – Lenna Tankersley
This book has been nothing but a healer in my life. Leena Tankersley wrote this book on “The Brave Practice of Releasing Hurt & Receiving Rest” and I would say it is a must read for a few reasons.
So I am in my early twenties, but have a full time job from 9-5:30 and then I am also a full time graduate student online through seminary. I love to read these kinds of books, but between work and school, it is so difficult to find time to sit down and read. Thank Leena, because these chapters are only like 2-3 pages long, so even though I had a rough and long day, I can sit in bed with this book and take just 15 minutes to read through one chapter.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”– Matthew 11:28-30
Another reason this text has impacted my life is that there is a lost art of releasing hurt in this day and age. So many people would rather cling to the pain and the disappointment and the tears, when that is not how God intended for our lives to be. Through our trials we are supposed to be rejoicing, and that only comes with releasing the hurt and embracing the grace God gives us on a daily basis, heck an hourly basis.
I am a manager at my job, and I work at a shipping store. It is amazing to see and hear all the life stories that these people open up about, just when you ask them how fast they want their package to its destination. I knew that there were people in this town that were hurting, but I don’t think I understood the full intensity of that statement until I started working here. If only people would find that releasing the hurt and grabbing hold of God’s grace for them would turn their life from a downward spiral to a more than fulfilling lifestyle.
“Breathe and begin again.” – Leena Tankersley
I don’t know about you, but just when I read that statement, I just take a deep breath and feel an indescribable peace start to come over me. I’m not sure if that is because I have been following Leena on her journey and learning from her, or if it is because I have created such a freedom filled relationship with Christ.
Whichever the reason is, I hope that you too would grab this book from the shelves and start “The Brave Practice of Releasing Hurt and Receiving Rest.” That is my prayer for you, every day.
“Always we begin again.”– St. Benedict
Written by: Jesse Burnett
“Emmanuelle, I hope you do not get married late in life.” These words were spoken to me by a family member and this simple sentence triggered my thought process. All I could think in that moment was, “Why would they say that to me? Did they not think those words could hurt me?” For some those words would not hurt but for me it brought up years of hurt feelings. I am 22 years old and for 22 years of my life I have been single (I discount the only romantic relationship I had in 6th grade that lasted a week.). I have had few “almost boyfriends” and “what ifs” but no one who committed to idea of me as a romantic partner. Recently, I became more aware of the pressure that women around my age have to find a partner. It’s called “Ring Before Spring” where a young woman has until the Spring semester of her senior year to land an engagement ring. I never fit into this picture and the question I was always asked was, “Why?”
In high school when romantic relationships became more prevalent and acceptable I started to feel the pressure. I wanted a boyfriend just to have a boyfriend. I thought if I had a boyfriend I would be cool and people would think that I am loved. Desperate for a boyfriend, I would catch feelings for any boy who was kind to me and when I realized the feelings were one-sided I would cry myself to sleep and listen to John Mayer because I thought I wasn’t loved (I was a very dramatic teenager). This became a cycle: I would like a guy, nothing would happen, cry, John Mayer and Blue Bell Ice Cream, and repeat. Each time I repeated this cycle I didn’t realize I was creating a deep insecurity and low confidence because of a false idea I had. I began to ask myself, “ Am I not good enough to be pursued? Do I need to put myself out there so guys know I am single?”. My thoughts then turned to, “Maybe I should lose some weight and apply more makeup. Maybe If I wear this tight shirt guys might notice my body”. Looking back, I thank the Lord for my singleness. No boy could ever heal my heart or love me the way I need to be loved. The love I was seeking for can only come from the King of Kings.
“You are absolutely beautiful, my darling there is no imperfection in you.” -Songs of Solomon 4:7
This verse is the love I wanted and the love I receive from Christ. I am His bride and so are you.
“My sister,my bride, you are a locked garden - a locked garden and a sealed spring” - Song of Solomon 4:12
I know our season will come. And when it comes we will be ready.
Written by : Emmanuelle Ekibolaji
Have you ever just looked at the town or city that you live in and feel really small? Like, you realize how many people might be around you at that moment, and it is almost a surreal number. Then, have you ever thought about the different roles (or jobs) people have and how that also makes you feel really small. There are so many different jobs around us, and they are all important, and dare I say, necessary for survival.
Imagine this, you move to a small country town that only has one grocery store that everyone buys their food from. Well, if you have a decent amount of people coming in and out of that store, you need a decent amount of people to serve them in that store. But the store would not have any products if farmers did not plant their crops or if package houses did not exist, or farmers did not milk their cows. And these farmers would not have their seeds or animals if someone else didn’t harvest seeds or breed animals. Everyone depends on everyone. That’s just the way in which a town functions.
Maybe it’s just me, but that’s something I think about. Often.
The same thing goes for a group of believers.
“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” - Romans 12:4-5
Each member of the church, which is comprised of everyone who is a born-again believer, makes up this “one body” that Paul wrote about in Romans 12. There are many spiritual gifts that people may possess, everyone has a different gifts. Some people can be more service oriented, some more teacher oriented, or some more prayer oriented. There are many different types of gifts that God gives us, and each one of us need to work together in unity to make sure the “one body” can function properly. Without teachers of the Word, there would be no salvations because no one would understand what it was that God has done for them. Without servants there would be people who are hungry and clothless. Without prayer warriors, life would be more of a struggle because we would lose a necessary connection with Christ.
“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” - Romans 12:16
Just like a town relies on everyone else in the town, so does the Body of Christ depend on all of its members. We have to be willing to work with those that we don’t necessarily like all for the Kingdom of God. We push away our pride and our comfort to be willing to do what it is that Christ calls for us to do, and we rely on the “one body” to help us along the way. And it is not always the situation in where the “one body” helps us, but we also have to be willing to step in and be that help someone needs within the Body of Christ.
“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another,” - 1 John 4:11
The human body does not run because of only one organ or ligament. We cannot live with just a heart and no blood veins. God knows every cell that makes up your body and He created them to all work together in perfect unity. The hands move when the brain sends a signal for it to move. The heart pumps blood throughout your body without you purposely making your body do it. You also can breathe without having to think about it. That is the same way that a town functions or the Body of Christ functions. We all work together, but we have different tasks and roles to making one solid “body”.
So how are you going to help serve with the Body of Christ today?
Written by: Jesse Burnett
I want to start off this blog asking you a question. Do you have a hater? Someone who does not wish well for you? I am pretty certain that half of the world has heard the quote “Hater are my motivators” or “Kill them with kindness”. Most of us hear this quote and instead of operating in kindness we operate in this vengeful feeling. You know the feeling? When someone steals your idea and gets all the credit and you think “ I’m gonna let them have this one but, next time I will make sure I get the praise” or If someone says something rude about you and your first reaction is anger but, you fake a smile and give this person a cold shoulder for a month. You can be one of the two people, “Woah that’s me” or “ I would never think that way”. Whether we like it or not we are all humans and the only perfect person was Christ. I found out recently that I was that person operating out of quiet malice instead of kindness. In pursuit of growing in my faith and adopting true kindness in my life, I looked in my bible for someone who showed kindness to a hater or someone against them.
I found myself in 2 Samuel 9. I would encourage you to read this passage to understand the true context of this post. The passage begins with David looking to show kindness to someone in Saul’s household for the sake of Jonathan and God. For those who are not familar with David’s background, David was anointed to become King when there was already a king on throne. This king at first loved David because he would sing beautiful song to him but, jealousy and hate consumed this king and he wanted to kill David. This king was named Saul, his son named Jonathan who was a good friend to David. When Johnathan heard that his Father was against David. Johnathan saved David from the wrath of King Saul. So now, this story takes place after Saul and Jonathan have died in battle and David is now king. David in remembrance of Jonathan's help returns the favor to Jonathan's son.
Many things have happened to Mephibosheth and I find that in a lot of case we are just like him. Mephibosheth was disabled and was not able to use his legs. In this time, society looked down at people who were disabled and they were typically not allowed to go certain places and were viewed as less than average. Typically, people at this time would have looked at Mephibosheth and viewed him based on his circumstance and associate it with the way King Saul lived . The story goes as far that Mephibosheth was named after his circumstance. Mephibosheth means to be scattered, broken and, shamed. For years Mephibosheth lived in the shame that his grandfather jealousy and bitterness caused in his life.We as children of God do the same thing when it comes to our past.
In this story, I feel that the children of God are just like Mephibosheth. The world recognizes us based on our circumstances causing us to feel broken and shameful for who we are. We can identify ourselves as a “dead dog” but, we are much more. David serves as an ambassador of Christ blessing Mephibosheth not because of Saul but because of Jonathan. David kindness came at a price. He had to put aside his pride and remember the kindness that was once shown to him. Is that not the Gospel? Jesus giving up his life ( which costed him) for us because we were living under the curse which is the law. Jesus considered us on the cross, David considered Mephibosheth, Who are we considering? As ambassadors of Christ we should consider others, even when it doesn’t seem like they deserve it. We don’t deserve the grace of God but, our God is so kind he gave His Son away freely.
2 Samuel 9:9-10 reads “Then the king summoned Saul’s attendant Ziba and said to him “ I have given to your master’s grandson all that belonged to Saul and his family. You, your sons, and servants are to work the ground for him, and you are to bring in the crops so your master’s grandson will have food to eat. But Mephibosheth, your master’s grandson, is always to eat at my table”...”
After reading this story I learned what true kindness looks like. I asked myself will I be kind to others, even when they hate me? Will I be an ambassador of Christ when I am under attack? Will kindness shine through me when I am surrounded by bitterness. True kindness will shine even when we are surrounded by darkness because of God. David said in 2 Samuel 9:3 “ Is there anyone left of Saul’s family that I can show the kindness of God to?”. To David his kindness was all about God and, that should be the desire of our heart. To want our kindness to be representative of the Gospel and Jesus Christ, to set ourselves and others free from the identify the world has given us and, for kindness to be a warm welcome to a seat at the King’s table. Be kind even to those who treat you terribly. Be kind to those who do not care about you because, you do not know who is in close proximity to that “hater”. That person may needs a little bit of the kindness you share.Let this be our constant prayer.
Written by: Emmanuelle Ekibolaji
I am coming to realize the inner depths of my soul. The things that are not pure are literally
being exposed and the thing is, I asked for this. I asked the Lord to come into my life and
remove everything that was not from Him. I knew that sin would be removed but, I did not know
if my heart knew that it would be an uncomfortable experience. That my sin would be exposed
to the light. I would be seen for who I really am. Recently the issue has been brought up due to
a terrible decision I made. I have confessed it to the Lord and now I am more worried about
others opinions of me and being exposed for the sinner I am. I am in the season in my life that if
I am not in the right mindset I can easily believe that I am not worthy. Fall 2017 I transferred to a
new university after graduating from a junior college. I was so happy to start my life in a new
town and finish off my schooling. I moved out my small hometown and moved to the city of
Houston. I thought everything was going go easy and that everything would fall into place
because this is what God wanted for me. As soon as started attending classes at this school I
learned that this was going to be a battle. I spent most of that semester crying in my dorm,
praying for a miracle because I realized I could not afford it. The end of semester comes around
and I am short some money and God provides some money that I misplace two years ago. I
walk into the office at the school to pay off this money and they tell me “umm… you owe this
amount”. The amount was bigger than I expected. I could not produce this money working two
jobs on campus. When I tell you I broke mentally, my mind went into shock. I felt my heart break
I mean I felt it within me. This situation was truly painful. My roommate found me an hour later
crying under my bed praying because, I did not know what to do. I questioned everything. I did
not know why I was brought to this school. Why I allow myself to make friends here when I
would have to leave. Why I allowed myself to have a crush who goes to that school and most
importantly if I really heard from God that this was the place for me.
I was in a weird transition in life that I could not run back to my hometown because I had
no where to stay and I could not stay at the school I once attend. It still hurts writing this. I ended
up not going back Spring 2018 but I went back to campus every Thursday for bible study.
Ashamed of my circumstance I did not tell truth about my circumstance to people when they
asked me. I lied because I was afraid I would be seen as a nobody. I was afraid that I was not
worthy to be in these peoples presence. That I was overall dumb for trying. It is wild the lies that
our placed in our hearts and what we believe. A verse that has truly help me during this time in
my life is Deuteronomy 4:29-31.
But from there you will search for the Lord your God, and you will find him when
you seek him with all your heart and all your soul. When you are in distress and all these
things have happened to you, in the future you will return to the Lord your God and obey
him. He will not leave you, destroy you, or forget the covenant with your father that he
swore to them by oath, because the Lord your God is a compassionate God.
I have confessed to God for the lies that I told people in an attempt to cover my shame but I am
scared to let them know the wrong I have done because I want to be accepted. Overall my
problem is that I want to be accepted and I fear rejection. I do not want to be seen for my
shortcoming. I want to be seen for Emmanuelle. Somehow I forgot in my brokenness God will
use it for His kingdom. I want to be look at and seen for the good in me, knowing it is from God
because I am not good. The only reason why anyone would think I am good is because God
has qualified me. Right now I am trying to teach my heart to understand that. My worth should
come from God and God alone. I truly hope that the people I have done wrong truly forgive me
but, if not I am not defined by that. For those who struggle with acceptance I pray your heart is
rooted in Christ. Everything will be okay. God is a compassionate God, and He has not forgotten
Written by : Emmanuelle
Burnout. It happens all the time. Especially when you are one of the core members of a church plant. I have my hand in many sections of the church and it is starting to catch up to me, almost 9 ½ months later.
I used to have two different spots on my universities campus where I went to encounter God. One was right on campus and the other was a 10-minute drive off of campus and up a mountain. One was more convenient than the other, but the one that was less convenient was the one where I encountered God the most. There is something to say about this.
Being a Christian should not be about convenience. Christianity shouldn’t be sharing the love of Christ when we feel like or, or when it doesn’t conflict with our schedule. Christianity is allowing time for the unexpected to happen, and actually pray for the unexpected, don’t dread it occurring.
You see, I experienced burnout because I wasn’t spending the needed time with my Prince of Peace, with the One who can keep me from getting burnt out. I now have a new spot back at home, where it is just like the old one, but you can see so many more mountains, and all you have to do is drive up there. The only issue is that it is a good 25-minute drive from my home, that is out of the way and inconvenient. But you know, I have been telling myself for weeks now that I was going to go up there and spend some time getting closer and seeking out the wonder I had in God before I lost it in all the to-do lists of being a leader in the church. It wasn’t until I reached the point of being burnt out that God insisted that I meet Him at the top of that mountain.
When I was up there, I brought along my prayer challenge book that has a section for almost any situation that you will go through. I went to the section on “Rest and Return” and the bible verse that went with that sections was Isaiah 30:15 which says, “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it.’” That verse is so true. God gives us everything we need, but we sit here and decide that it would be easier if we just tried to do everything ourselves. We stop relying on God and that is when we lose our peace.
When we have time set apart to be quiet with God is when we get our strength to do all the work that we are needed to do. And it is when we are setting time to be quiet with God that we also find confidence when we know where our strength comes from and the peace that comes from that. We cannot let the business and the buzz of what is going on in the world around us distract us from what really matters. Which is our relationship with God. There is nothing else in the world that can give you the same type of peace that is beyond all understanding.
Written by: Jesse Burnette
When I found out that the blog topic for this month is friendship, I honestly got so excited. Godly friendship and biblical community is something I am extremely passionate about because I’ve seen firsthand the importance of the both of them. I’ve walked through seasons of life without genuine community, but I’ve also been so lucky to be surrounded by some incredible people of God who know me, love me, and point me to Jesus in everything they do. These people have played such a pivotal role in my walk with Christ and I want to encourage you to find people who will do the same for you.
Here are just a few reasons why godly friendships are so important:
You may be thinking, “I want these types of friends, but I don’t know how to find them!” Trust me, I’ve been there, and I know they’re not easy to find. But I know this, God will bring you biblical community and Christ-centered friendships, but we must do our part in the process.
PRAY: Pray for opportunities to find Christian friends. Ask the Lord to show you where to look. Seek the Lord’s wisdom in finding these people and He will be faithful to answer your prayers.
PLACE YOURSELF IN COMMUNITY: Most likely, godly friends aren’t just going to show up at your doorstep one day. Although, God is a God of miracles, so never say never! BUT, we must be bold enough to place ourselves in community. Put yourself out there. Go to that event, attend that bible study, do all that you can to surround yourself with other Christians, and Jesus will do the rest.
Written by: McKenna
Think about a community. A community filled with friends. Friends of a different backgrounds
and upbringings. Despite their differences the love of God is moving creating genuine joy. These
people have your heart because God is with each one of y’all. Now think about that same
community being struck by affliction. Pain, anger, and sorrow is trying to take place were joy
once was. This is how I feel right now about some of my friendships. People I truly love our
suffering and I am seeing how God is moving.
Currently in a few of my friendship I have found that God is asking me to be present.The enemy
is trying to rip away their identity away. Recently in one of my friend groups, a fellow
acquaintance has passed away due to suicide. So many of my friends are left heartbroken.
Questioning the reason behind it all and why life was rip away from us. I have found that I have
no answer to their questions. I can’t find the right words. All I can do is be there as they grieve.
When I feel the pain of one situation sinking in another sinks in. One of my best friends family is
preparing for the lost of a loved one because the doctors have given a couple weeks to her
Two verses that The Lord has shown to me is Philemon 1:12 and Psalm 25:14
Philemon 1:12 says “I am sending him back to you I am sending my very own heart.”
I feel like this is exactly where my heart is and what my heart is feeling. Whenever affliction occurs tell The Lord these words that loved one that friend is your heart and you are giving it all over to God. My heart has and is crying out to My Heavenly Father. I am asking him to show himself. I am
crying out to Him and I know He hears me. I have seen these couple weeks that he is showing
himself in comfort of the Holy Spirit. Life will be hard, It will try to break us. That is one reason
why God wants us to have community/friendships.
Psalms 25:14 says “The friendship of Jehovah is with them that fear him; and He will show them his covenant.”
This psalm is how we should walk in our faith and show it in our friendships.
When we see pain in our friends and experience empathy we should remember God’s promises
and know our gifts. That helping hand, Loving hug,Comforting voice, The words you needed to
here, or maybe just being present in these times. We have a God who will deliver them. When
life is given a time frame always say BUT GOD. God is in control.
Let us be a symbol of His hope in the brokeness. Do not let pain define your life because, God
has something good for you. In the pain take comfort in God. Find a community or friendship
that can uplift you and hold your hand during the hard times. Remember Philemon 1:12 “ I am
sending him back to you I am sending my very own heart” . That is your heart is pure and God
sees that. I believe God will show himself to you in these times just press on. Remember the
truth of your identity. You are loved,chosen,set apart, and redeemed. The enemy hates those
facts and will try to steal your joy. Psalms 25:14 says” The friendship of Jehovah is with them
that fear him; and He will show them his covenant.” God will always keep his promises. You are
blessed and will be blessed. Speak these truths in your life daily
Written by : Emmanuelle
The words read failed in the right-hand corner of the paper. “You are a failure” You always fail at these things. You are worthless.” These thoughts rang in my head as I stared at the sheet of paper in my hand. I had just taken a four-hour exam that held my future. This has got to be a mistake. How in the world did I fail? I studied half a year for this. I folded the paper quickly and shoved it in my purse. I stepped onto the elevator and the thoughts continued. “Everyone knows you were taking this test today, you can’t tell them you failed. They are forever going to see you as a failure. You will never amount to anything.” I reached my car and collapsed in the seat. How did this happen? I just threw my entire future away, by failing this test. I had just failed my licensing examination and I had no clue how I was going to move forward. I called my parents and told them the news while sobbing. I ugly cried all the way home.
Failure is something I had not experienced in a long time. I was furious. I was furious with myself and furious with God. I could not believe he would allow me to fail this. I prayed so hard and studied harder than ever. For once in my life, I felt like God had failed me. It pains me to even write those words but that is truly how I felt. I had never been so upset. This was my future and I felt like I was following where God wanted me. Not to mention I paid a lot of money for the examination. Days went by and I began to distance myself from the Lord. I stopped attending my young adult group and paying attention in church.
One day, God spoke to me and he whispered gently, “I am going to use this failure.” It was painful to hear but this verse came to mind. “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you” Hebrews 13:5. I had memorized this verse long ago when my grandfather shared this verse with me when he was going through cancer treatment. With that simple whisper “ I am going to use this failure.” I began to adjust the way I had been thinking. I realized I had bought into the lie the enemy had told me “You are a failure and God failed you.” Yes, I did fail, but my worth is not based in my performance on an exam, even a national one. God did not fail me. He was with me every step of the way and he has something better for me. I want to encourage you if you are in a time where you feel like you completely blew it. God is not finished with you yet. He has not left you. He is walking with you in this time. Remember he will never fail you and will never leave you. I challenge you to memorize this verse and every time you feel defeated or doubt God’s faithfulness pray this and repeat it over and over until you truly believe it with your whole heart.
How God is using my failure/ lessons learned:
These are a couple of things I have learned from my failure. I challenge you to reflect on your failure and see how God is using it. God has a purpose for everything and every struggle we go through. So, take this failure and let God use it for his glory!
Written by: Rebeccah McCully
Failure. It is something we all deal with and can be incredibly devastating, even debilitating at times. There were times in my life where I felt like the Linkin Park song, “In the End” was my anthem. I felt like I would try to do better, try to succeed even harder just for nothing to happen and all of my efforts to amount to nothing.
If you know my story, you know that I struggled with an eating disorder as well as a few anxiety disorders. At the time, I felt that these were my greatest failures. I wasn’t doing well in school, I was thinking about dropping out of college, I almost quit my job because of this—I had truly felt that I had failed not only myself, but my family, and most importantly my God. I truly believed that God was letting me suffer as punishment for not being a good enough Christian, or not trusting Him fully.
I remember one Sunday in church, we began talking about this concept of the “wilderness”. When we are walking through the wilderness in life, we are looking everywhere but to God for answers. We need to stop and look to Him to be our light and our path. This struck a chord with me and that day I decided to stop trying to dig my way through the wilderness but to stop and look to God to be my protector and guide my path as I was on my way out of this very dark and scary place.
I began counseling and seeking wisdom from professionals, it was there that I remembered that God takes our darkest moments and redeems them as a means of making His perfection, grace, and mercy known to the world. He did just that! My recovery wasn’t linear, please hear me on that. I still have days where I feel like I am stumbling over stray branches or taking wrong turns. There are still days that are hard. However, I am remembering that the Lord is consistently taking that time of “failure” and turning it into a time of incredible redemption and faith. Every time you take two steps forward, praise Him. When you take a step back, praise Him. When you go rolling backwards down the hill, still praise Him. He is making a way for you and using every failure as a means of bringing glory to Himself in the period of redemption.
“Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19b