Amidst these troubles

Do you lack focus on your Christian life? Maybe you’ve walked with the Lord for a while now and you’re thinking how to continue amidst the difficulties, heartaches and sorrows that you’ve been encountering. Maybe you’re in a really bad and hopeless place. You wonder if things are ever going to change for the better and if there even is a way out.

Just recently I was told something of my past. I heard a very unpleasant thing of my late mom’s past which still might have an influence on my life personally. I’m not sure if I would have liked or even needed to know what was told to me. I’ve talked through my bad childhood memories with many professionals and I’ve already moved on with my life. But still it hurts when your past comes knocking and you thought that there wasn’t even a door left anymore to those memories.

Another thing that came knocking on my door recently were my chronic mental illnesses. They haven’t been so active knocking on my door these past years but now they obviously wanted to remind me that they are still here. You see, I’ve chronic illnesses that need medical treatment every single day. And I was only 20 years old when I was diagnosed and got my medication for the first time. And now it seems that I need to take yet another detour on this path to finding a job. I think I need to attend this program where they help people with different kind of sicknesses to find a job and offer professional help for them, especially in the area of vocation and working. Even though I’m very grateful that my country offers stuff like this for free and that this really seems like a God’s provision for me it is still hard to realize that you can’t do all things in the same way as other people can. It hurts to have a condition that affects your ability to work.

I don’t know what’s your situation like now. Maybe everything is fine and pleasant or everything seems to be falling apart and you don’t know what to do. Whatever the case, I would like to share something that the Lord put on my heart a while ago. He showed me a wonderful verse in the Book of Acts. The Book of Acts is a book about the first events in the early church and the people who were involved in those events. For example, the apostle Paul is one of the leading characters in the latter parts of the book. However, in Acts chapter 2 we read about how the church is born by the baptizing of the Holy Spirit and how Peter preaches boldly about Jesus and nearly 3 000 people respond and are converted and added to the church: “then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them“(Acts 2:41 NKJV). The very next verse, verse 42 of chapter 2 says this about those who were added:

“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

Even though this verse speaks about the response of 3 000 new believers to the preaching of the Gospel I believe that we can still glean insight from it for our topic. We can also continue doing what we know we need to do if we lose focus for our Christian life or are going through hard time in life. We should continue to press on God. We should continue believing that our God is good. We should continue going to church where we can share life’s burdens with our brothers and sisters. We should remember that Christ lives in us and that He’s everything we need. We should continue carrying our burdens to Christ for he cares for us (1 Peter 5:17). Peter further exhorts us:

“be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Peter 5:8-9 NKJV).

Paul encourages us also in the book of 2 Corinthians to look further than only this life:

“Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NKJV)

Our God is in control “and we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28 NKJV). Hold unto Him who loves you and keep on going!

 

 

 

New Year’s resolutions vs. God’s promises

So, we’ve started a new year and 2016 is finally here! You’ve probably made several resolutions for this year and are excited to see how things will start evolving for you. You’re probably either succeeding in keeping your resolutions or you might have already given up on them altogether. Why do I say that? I’m happy you asked!

You see, I haven’t made any New Year’s resolutions. (Why?!) Well, because I know that my heart would sink into a deep pit for the first failure on keeping my resolutions. I don’t know about you but to me there’s just something wrong in a concept of me making promises to myself to do something differently or better. Of course, I guess it really depends on what kind of resolutions you make. Growing up, when I wasn’t a believer yet, I remember that one of my New Year’s resolutions was to go outside every day. You know, to get some fresh air and exercise every day. There’s nothing bad in that promise itself. But I just remember thinking that now that I’ve made this resolution I must need to keep it and it started to take a lot of space in my thought life. I would start performing. I don’t remember how long I was able to keep that resolution but the idea faded eventually because I realized I wasn’t able to continue doing it every single day as I had promised myself.

Maybe you readers have way better and more realistic New Year’s resolutions than I used to have. Maybe you’ve considered thoroughly what you can really commit to and are happy that these new changes are starting to look like God’s provision for you! Good for you! I’m happy for you! Maybe the Lord has really spoken into your heart about some of the changes He wants to do in your life through these resolutions. Great! Go for it! I’m just saying that I don’t want anyone to be in a “performance trap” where they need to just perform so that those resolutions can become true in their lives. Maybe you readers don’t even mind little “failures” and are just able to continue with the plan! That’s awesome!

But let me just share my heart with you. I want to trust in God‘s promises for my life this year too. You see, I can make promises for myself but at some point I’m going to fail. Yes, we should continue on a good path even after a failure and trust that God will lift us up again. But why should I make promises for myself when God has already made much greater promises for me? I will certainly fail but God and His promises will stand forever. For the record, I believe that we as Christ-followers should plan what we’re going to do. I made plans for this year after asking the Lord’s guidance for me. For example, I wrote down what kind of a job and ministry opportunities I would like to have, what books to read and how to stay healthy. But still Proverbs 16:9 offers us this counsel: “a man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps”. I also reflected back on 2015 and saw that the Lord had been faithful. Psalm 119:90 says that “Your faithfulness endures to all generations”. I guess my point is that ultimately God’s promises for me are much better and grander than any of my self-made resolutions to do something better.

 

A New Year’s story and God’s promises

Once again one year is soon coming to an end. I don’t know what kind of year 2015 has been for you. To me personally, this has been a pretty good and stable year. So many things are so well in my life at the moment. I’ve been able to basically just enjoy my life for the first time in 16 years! Wow! That’s just amazing! I’m SO grateful for God for who He is and what He has done in my life.

But many years haven’t been like this for me.

You see, I had a wonderful childhood until my parents got divorced when I was 10 years old. In the middle of the night my mom woke me up, said she’s gonna divorce my dad, got me and herself into a taxi and we drove to a new apartment. For the next six years I lived with a mom who struggled with mental health problems, had multiple boyfriends and many times ended into the hospital because of an overdose of alcohol and medication. Many times I needed to be a mother to my mother. I moved in with my dad when I was 16 or 17 years old. When I was old enough to buy alcohol and go to the clubs I went all in. I graduated high school with pretty good grades but there was just so much pain inside of my heart. There was so much pain that one time I tried to commit a suicide, with alcohol of course.

Then I met Someone. Actually, I had known about Him since I was a little girl. I prayed to Him and I had faith in Him. When I was 15 years old I went to a Lutheran church confirmation camp and I met Him again! This time I knew His Gospel was for me. I had a couple of months prior to the camp betrayed my closest friends. So when the youth pastor preached the Gospel for the first time I knew immediately that I needed forgiveness for my sins. After the camp I attended Lutheran church youth group for several years but me and my friends weren’t really living according to the saving faith proclaimed in the Bible. So when I turned 18 it was all about partying for me. I abandoned my faith.

But, praise be to God, that’s not the end of the story.

After high school I moved to US to work there as an au pair in a family. And it just so happened that the mother of the family was a believer. I said I want to go to church with them. It really amazed me to see people in the church having genuine faith in Jesus and that they were actually living according to the Word of God. It was there, in an other side of the world, that I finally surrendered my whole life to my Jesus. And guess what? He was right there to receive me with open arms! Like the father of that Prodigal Son receiving his Son whom he thought he had already lost. It was in February 2010 that I was born again into the Kingdom of God!

But after a sinner turns into a saint the Enemy is right there. Before my year in US was over I became very depressed. I needed to return home earlier than I had initially planned. When I got back to Finland all the pain in my heart begun to come out in a form of mental illnesses. At age of 20 I got diagnosed with four, yes four, different mental illnesses and I probably need to take medication for them for the rest of my life. Even though I was saved at age of 20 I was still suffering day and night with my illnesses for about 4 or 5 years.

So, I don’t know what kind of year 2015 has been for you. Maybe everything is just fine or you’re having your 16th year of suffering. I just want to encourage you all that Jesus is always with us. He is wooing us to become His bride. He knows everything and He knows you better than you know yourself. He is worthy of our praise and adoration. He is wiser than any of us.

New Year is always about resolutions and our plans, dreams and expectations. But we never really know what the New Year will bring. Maybe we’ll have yet another year to just enjoy life. (How nice that would be, right?) Or we might face something that will challenge us and our faith in ways we have never imagined. Or everything in between. Or everything.🙂

I would just like to pass out some of God’s promises to you as we start a new year. Isn’t that exactly what we need? We need to know that Someone already knows what will happen and that Someone also knows us and knows what’s best for us. Let’s trust in Him this becoming year!

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'” (Hebrews 13:5)

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, the thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

 

Update & website recommendation

Hi dear readers! It’s been a while. I know. It’s been quite a while. Part-time job, homemaking and serving at my home church has kept me busy these past several months. At the moment I’ve more free time in my hands.

Here is a good website I would like to share:

http://www.wholemagazine.org

They have a beautiful website with inspiring and thoughtful posts. I follow their website regularly.

Enjoy!

An article on singleness

I’ve been thinking lately the topic of singleness. Again. (And the topic of marriage occurs obviously in my mind as well.) So singleness. The dreaded s-word. (Actually one of them because another dreaded s-word is submission, right? Just kidding.) Anyhow, I believe that as a single you might quite often ponder your marital status. Here a just a few questions I’ve had in my mind as of late:

– Will I be single for the rest of my life?

– When will I get married if I do?

– How could I best use my time as a single person?

This isn’t an exhaustive list. You may have more questions in your mind. I surely do. I came across this good article on singleness a while ago and I would like to share it with you:

http://matthiasmedia.com/briefing/2013/08/satans-lies-about-singleness/

Regarding this article keep what is good for you and toss the rest.🙂

P.S In case you’re wondering why I don’t update my blog more frequently the reason is that now I’ve part-time job! Praise God! I waited to get a job for almost 10 months. God is so faithful. He gave me a job that I really enjoy! I don’t have a permanent contract so I don’t know how long they want to keep me there. But it’s going very well and I already have a good reputation at my work place so let’s hope they want to keep me! I will still keep this blog but probably I won’t be able to write so often as I would like and I’m also probably going to write shorter posts in the future. Anyhow, stay tuned for my future posts! 

Love the Lord your God

In this post I would like to write about something very important concerning our Christian lives: loving God. As Christians I hope we would never say that we don’t love God. We acknowledge everything God has done for us on the Cross and that causes us to worship and love Him. In fact, 1 Corinthians 16:22 says that “if anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed”. So of course we love God. But what does it actually mean to love God?

In the Gospel of Matthew in chapter 22 we read about how the Pharisees gathered together and sent a lawyer to ask Jesus a question to test Him. The lawyer asked Jesus which is the great commandment in the law. Jesus replied quoting Deuteronomy: “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind“. Deuteronomy 5:7 also says that “you shall have no other gods before Me”. And in John 14:15 Jesus says that “if you love Me, keep My commandments”.

So in light of Scripture loving God means putting Him to the first place in our lives and in our hearts. We ought to read His Word and obey it. We should grow in our walks and become more like Christ. Jesus also says in John 15:16 that “you should go and bear fruit”.

I think loving God in our lives requires an action. After all, what is love other than showing love in our actions? Do you really want to spend more time with God? Then go ahead and have your devotionals. Talk to Him. Open your heart to Him. And then live in the mundane faithfully for the Lord. Are you really in this because you love the Lord more than anything else?

Thoughts for New Year

Happy New Year 2015! I hope you all had a great Christmas. I had wonderful time with my family during the holidays and New Year’s Eve. Now it’s time to get back to blogging.🙂

New Year is obviously well known for resolutions, new plans and expectations. We all long for something new every January. And hence, we make all kinds of plans to “start a new life”. We’ll start eating healthy food instead of junk food. We join the gym. We promise to read the Bible more and pray more. We promise to give more money to the Kingdom work. We promise to help those in need and be more others-focused rather than selfish. And of course we’ll clean our house more often and certainly we’ll cut our social media time to only a fraction of what it is now. And I almost forgot. Our children won’t need Internet, TV or video games anymore because I’ll promise to plan more creative activities for them every day!!! Ah. new life… I’m so ready for it. Let it come!

Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with New Year resolutions in and of themselves. If the Lord is leading you to make some changes this year please be obedient and follow Him. In this blog post, however, I would like to take a bit different approach to New Year. (As I often do.) I’ll share with you that I’m not going to make any New Year resolutions. Instead, I’m going to offer a prayer and confession:

“Dear Jesus, I know that I’m not able to keep even my own New Year resolutions. I’m able to “be a better person” for a while but I know that at some point I’ll go back to my old habits. I’m a sinner and I need Your grace for this New Year. I know that I’m not able to change By my own willpower. I need You, Jesus. It’s only by your grace that I can have my sins forgiven in Your precious blood and that I can only change as You, Father, are making me into the image of Your Son. Please help me and guide me this year Lord. Amen.”

I need more of Christ this new year. I don’t need to so much change my habits but let Lord change my heart. I don’t need to make many resolutions and promises for myself I just need to trust God and hold fast to His promises. Each and every passing year we’re just called to draw closer to God and get to know Him better. Let us do just that this new year. Jesus is everything we need and He desires that we fellowship with Him. Isn’t that the very reason why Jesus came to this Earth and died for us? He died so that we would once again have fellowship with our Creator. Praise God! Because of Jesus’ finished work on the Cross He has made peace with God and men. Hallelujah! Let us enjoy the presence of our God this year.