Tag: bible

The Secret to Discovering Your Purpose

There are three things you cannot walk on campus at my university and not see:

  1. The color purple (it’s everywhere, seriously).
  2. Someone doing the “lopes up” sign (kind of like “love” in sign language, except it’s supposed to be an antelope).
  3. The slogan “FIND YOUR PURPOSE” (plastered on every banner, building… even the website).

Every time I read that slogan… “Find Your Purpose”… I wonder how many people come to GCU searching for purpose, but walk away with a mere diploma in hand.

Purpose is a hot topic amongst ALL Christians (not just the students at GCU), and rightfully so. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard:

I just don’t know what my purpose is.

I am waiting to hear from God about  ____ before making this decision, because I’m not sure if it is His plan for me.

I really want to major in  ____, but I just don’t know if that will be fulfilling God’s purpose for me.

I want to date _____, but I am afraid being with them is not God’s plan for my life.

If you are surrounded by Christian culture, I KNOW you have heard at least one of these thoughts before. Chances are, you’ve even thought one or two of them yourself. Sometimes it seems like determining God’s plan for our lives is like plugging numbers into a massive math equation, and if we don’t choose the right number for the right variable, we will have screwed up for God’s plan for us.

Here’s the bottom line: Nothing you accomplish in your life will give you purpose.

Crazy, right? In a culture that tells us that college degrees, wealth, or even raising a family will give us purpose, we have to realize that none of those things can ever fulfill us. So of that’s the case, what IS God’s purpose for us?

God’s purpose for you is simple… it’s exactly what Jesus told His disciples in John 15.

Your purpose is to love God, be loved by God, and to love others.

That seems like a simple concept, but I think the disconnect lies somewhere in finding where God’s plan for our lives intersects with His purpose for us.

Instead of asking the question: What is God’s plan for my life?

We should be asking: In what ways has God equipped me to love?

I think the key to discovering God’s plan for us is by pursuing the purpose He gave us of loving Him and loving others. However, Jesus never called us to pursue a passive love, but rather an active love.

This is why I believe that discovering God’s plan for our lives is found through an action-oriented pursuit of purpose, rather than a passive waiting game for God to “reveal” His plan.

I have found a greater sense of purpose for my life after implementing the following 4 action-oriented tips to pursue God’s plan, instead of waiting for it… and here they are!

4 Ways to Find Your Purpose:

1.)  Don’t Stay Sitting

If you feel confused about God’s plan for your life, the worst thing you can do is to stay sitting where you are at.

The key to discovering God’s plan for your life is by discovering what your God-given gifts and passions are.

For a long time, I was afraid to try anything new for fear of rejection or being embarrassed. It took me way too long to realize that the only way I could discover the talents that God gave me to give to the world is by going out and living in it. Find activities to explore and things to involve yourself in, because once you find the things you are gifted at and passionate about, you will likely feel more direction on the ways God might be calling you to love others. For example, when I realized I was both good at and passionate about writing & encouraging people, I decided to create this blog, with the purpose of loving people because of my love for Jesus! See how that works?? 😉

2.) Surround Yourself With Community

God works through people, so if you are not surrounding yourself with people, you are missing out on your purpose.

Surround yourself with a community of like-minded people who are willing to encourage you & push you into opportunities of growth. Surround yourself with people with differing perspectives, so that you can learn from them and they can learn from you. With hurting people so that you can comfort them. With joyful people to be encouraged by them. With difficult people to inspire them. With younger people to share wisdom with. With older people to glean wisdom from. Just surround yourself with people, and love them well. I guarantee you will instantly feel a heightened sense of purpose.

3.) Find a Ministry Opportunity

One key to discovering God’s plan for your life is by finding a way to live out your faith. For several years, I felt really purposeless as a person and very dry in my faith because I wasn’t doing anything with it. That’s when I started leading Wyldlife, a Young Life ministry for junior high kids, and my life slowly began to gain a greater purpose.

Ministry doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate… if you’ve found a way to intentionally show a specific group of people Jesus by loving them really well, then you’ve found a ministry opportunity.

Great places to look for these opportunities are churches, schools, organizations, the workplace, or even your own home. Just identify a group of people you have a heart for, and love those people both selflessly like Jesus did.

4.) Eliminate Distractions and Persevere

This might be the last point, but it’s very important, so hear me out.

The world wants to do all that it can to make your feel purposeless, or that God is “withholding” His plan from you.

There will be people who tell you lies about who you are. There will be failures you encounter that cause you to question why you do what you do. There will be thousands upon thousands of other people and their accomplishments to compare yourself to. Whatever you do, PERSEVERE.

Even though God’s purpose for each of us is love, His plan for you is unique… there is no one else with the same set of talents and passions that you have, and no one with the same heart.

Eliminate anything that distracts you from pursuing your purpose, and remember that only YOU can fulfill God’s plan for your life.

I hope that these 4 tips encourage you to pursue your purpose, and give you a greater sense of direction on what God’s individual plan for you might be! Remember:

Stop searching for your purpose.

Know your purpose.

Now, pursue it.

<3, Britt

To the Girl Who Feels Inadequate

Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt inadequate.

I think if every girl reading this were all sitting in a room together, we would be sitting in a sea of raised hands.

I mean really, haven’t we all:

Felt inadequate in our relationships.

Felt inadequate at our job.

Felt inadequate in school.

Felt inadequate in ministry.

Felt inadequate as a person.

It’s crazy how the slightest hitch in our lives: a word that feeds into insecurities, an unplanned event, or an “off” day can drastically impact our feelings of inadequacy.

Even a thing as small as burning a batch of brownies.

I work at a coffee shop, and part of my weekly responsibilities include baking the brownies we sell in the store. A few weeks ago, I put a batch of brownies in the oven, set a timer, and walked to the front of the store to continue serving customers. About half an hour later, my manager walked up to me and asked, “Brittany, does the oven usually start smoking when you bake brownies?”

After running to the kitchen and turning off the oven that was, in fact, smoking, I removed the batch of brownies, realizing I had set the oven to 400 degrees instead of 300 degrees.

The brownies weren’t just burnt, they were scorched. Yikes.

Burning the brownies was not a big deal. All I had to do was whip up another batch, throw them in the oven, and take the extra two seconds to verify that the oven was set to 300 degrees. However, it was the way burning the brownies made me feel that was the issue. Feelings of:

“I am a terrible employee.”

“I can’t do anything right.”

“I’m just not good at what I do.”

All those ugly thoughts…. from one batch of brownies.

I think our problem is this: Our feelings of inadequacy come from hyper-focusing on situational things. We come to the conclusion that because we’ve done one thing wrong, we suddenly have become inadequate in that general area of life.

I am inadequate in my relationship BECAUSE I said something hurtful that I can’t take back.

I must be a failure at relationships and undeserving of love.

I am inadequate in my job BECAUSE I didn’t hit my sales quota this month

I must be awful at my job and the weak link of the team.

I am inadequate in school BECAUSE I failed this exam I studied really hard for.

I must be stupid and incapable of pursuing this degree.

I am inadequate in ministry BECAUSE nothing impactful happened in the small group I was leading this week.

I must be incapable of pouring into the lives of those around me and leading people to Christ.

Therefore, I must be inadequate.

See the common theme?

When we tie our circumstances to our character, we will continue to feel inadequate every time we make a mistake.

The truth is, we will always feel inadequate in something if we equate our worth to what we do instead of who we are.

There will always be someone prettier, smarter, more energetic, more caring, and more enthusiastic than us.

But they can never be you.

The reason we feel inadequate is because we focus on WHAT makes us adequate instead of WHO makes us adequate.

Instead, we should say:

I am adequate in my relationships BECAUSE I am a child of God.

I am deserving of love.

I am adequate in my job BECAUSE I am a child of God.

I am not the weak link.

I am adequate in school BECAUSE I am a child of God.

I am smart and capable.

I am adequate in ministry BECAUSE I am a child of God.

I am capable of loving others and leading them to Christ.

Therefore, I am adequate.

You are adequate. Today, start believing it.. then start living it.

Abiding, Pruning & Bearing Fruit: John 15:1-11

A few summers ago, my best friend and I were taking a road trip while I visited her in Boise. On our way, we drove by a small farmer’s market on the side of the road that we decided to stop at to buy some fresh fruit to eat while we were hammocking by the lake. Best. Decision. EVER. These blackberries were hands down some of the sweetest & juiciest I had ever had.

If you’ve ever eaten fresh fruit before, you know what I’m talking about. If not.. You’re missing out!

Anyway, the reason I bring up these killer blackberries is because fruit is something Jesus calls us to produce (not eat, bummer) in the Bible. Bearing fruit, in fact, is a process that brings great glory to God… definitely something we should interest ourselves in.

Jesus tells us in the book of John that there are three steps to the process of producing great fruit: abiding, pruning, and finally, bearing fruit.

Read John 15:1-11 to follow along!

 

STEP 1: ABIDING

How many times do you wake up, look at your insanely hectic schedule for the day , and think: “I’ve got this!”

I’ve been there. It’s easy to get caught up in checking off a to-do list.

But then, as you lay in bed to drift off to sleep, you realize that not once today did you rely on Christ as you navigated your day full of work, school, friends, family, meetings, interactions, and choices. And then you realize why you feel empty.

Jesus calls us to a different posture of productivity. In John 15:4, Jesus says: “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”

Being productive is great! We have the wonderful ability to glorify God with our time, resources, and involvement in various relationships and responsibilities. Here’s where problems arise:

If we are not abiding in Christ, and are instead abiding in ourselves, we are not growing, because we are disconnected from the vine. And when we are disconnected from the vine, we are not bearing fruit.

So what does abiding in Christ look like?

Slow down for two minutes, and ask Jesus to work in and through you during the day. Cultivate the characteristics of love, joy, and kindness in the tasks you complete, instead up just checking them off a list. Make the tasks you complete less about what you do, and more about how you do them.

John 15:7 says,  “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

Let the truth and love of Christ overflow into everything you do, and when you feel overwhelmed and empty, simply ask to be filled, and He will fill your soul.

 

STEP 2- PRUNING

So now that we are abiding in Christ, we are ready to grow and bear fruit. So what happens when we are living for Jesus and something happens that throws our hearts off track… perhaps a death, a break-up, a divorce, or a lost job… and everything in us wants to ask God this question:

“God, if I am being obedient and following you, why would you allow ______ to happen to me??”

I think the answer to that question lies in the idea of pruning.

John 15:2 says that “Every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.”

After a little research (since my knowledge of pruning is limited to none.. I’m guessing yours might be too), I’ve discovered how interesting this reference is in understanding of the process of bearing fruit.

Pruning, by definition, is “to cut off undesired twigs or branches” or “to rid or clear of anything superfluous or  undesirable.”

So, what is pruning in the context our lives?

Pruning is getting rid of the undesirable things in our lives that prevent us from growth. Relationships that hinder us from seeking Christ, job opportunities that will eat away at the time we can devote to our ministry opportunities, or anything that can be removed from our life that will snap us into the perspective of our deep need for God and our inability to bear fruit on our own.

When does pruning happen?

In the context of real life fruit, pruning is done in the winter, which is the season that grapes do not grow. In the context of our lives, wouldn’t it make sense that we would see pruning happen in the seasons of our lives with little to no growth? The times where we are simply following Christ, but not being fruitful in Him, are the seasons during which we have the most potential to grow.

Lastly, one of the most fascinating things I read about pruning is this:

The mistake people make with pruning is not pruning hard enough. In fact, light pruning does not create an environment for adequate fruit growth, whereas heavy pruning creates the greatest quality of grapes.

So, why is ____ happening to you if you are bring obedient and following Christ?

The pruning experiences you go through are the moments you grow through. In other words, we grow through what we go through. And that’s how we bear the BEST fruit.

 

STEP 3- BEARING FRUIT

So, you’re abiding in Christ, and you’ve been pruned to experience growth… now what?

You are now prepared to bear fruit.

John 15: 8 says that “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.”

One of the ways we can glorify God is to bear spiritual fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You know, the fruits of the spirit? In this context, those aren’t just some intangible characteristics, but rather, the direct result of abiding in Christ and experiencing pruning in our lives.

These qualities are what make our lives plentiful. They are what makes Christianity attractive those who don’t know Christ.

But ultimately, the evidence of these characteristics in our lives are what glorifies God.

 

So today, maybe you need to be reminded to let go of your control over your own life.

Abide in Christ, not yourself.

Maybe you need encouragement that this hard season will not last forever, and good will come from your pursuit of Christ.

You will see growth after you are pruned through the hard times.

But ultimately, remember that Christ is glorified by the fruit produced in our lives.

Serve lovingly. Live joyfully. Speak kindly. And never lose faith.

<3, Britt.

Hopes vs. Hope… Is There a Difference?

This Christmas season, I’ve been thinking a lot about hope.

I hope for a lot of things in just a single day.

I hope to pass my accounting quiz.

I hope to make it to work on time in rush hour traffic.

I hope to help run a successful Wyldlife club every Thursday.

I hope for a lot of long-term things, as well.

I hope to be successful in whatever I choose to pursue.

I hope to have a husband and a family.

I hope to travel through Europe.

I know I hope for a lot of things, and I’m sure you do too. This time of year especially, the world is hoping for something… whether that be good news, a family member to return home, or simply for Christmas itself. We spend a lot of time consumed by waiting, praying, and hoping for things to happen in our lives, and often become disappointed when they don’t happen just the way we plan.

After thinking about hope, I’ve come to this conclusion:

I think that we blur the lines between our HOPES and our HOPE, meaning what we are hoping for, versus who we are hoping in.

So, first things first… what is hope?

The dictionary says that:

1.) hope (n.) “the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best”

2.) hope (n.) “a person or thing in which expectations are centered”

Definition 1 depicts hope as a desire, or a want for the best case scenario to occur.

Definition 2 depicts hope as a placement of trust for the outcome of all circumstances in one, single thing.

Both definitions explain hope, yes, but which hope is Biblical, fruitful, and fulfilling?

The Bible says that:

“His [Jesus’s] name will be the HOPE of all the world” (Matt. 12:21)

“And the Scriptures give us HOPE and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled” (Rom. 15:4)

“We who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the HOPE that lies before us. This HOPE is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls” (Heb. 6:18-19).

Hope is not a thing. It’s not a wish, it’s not a magic genie, and it’s not something that should be sought after frivolously.

Hope is person, and that person is Jesus. It is  found when we seek Him, pursue Him, and tether ourselves to His love and goodness.

When we are walking side by side with Jesus, our hopes begin to align with His plan for us.

We realize that many of our personal hopes have become obsolete, and our goals and desires are more closely aligned not with what we thought we once wanted, but with who God created us to be.

I still hope for things (like I listed above) and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. We all hope for things. In fact, the Bible is filled with people who hoped for things.

Abraham and Sarah hoped for a child.

Moses hoped Pharaoh would let his people go.

Ruth hoped for Boaz to be her kinsman redeemer.

David hoped for better, less desolate circumstances.

Mary and Martha hoped Jesus would heal Lazarus.

Paul hoped to be released from prison to continue sharing the Gospel.

Each person on planet earth has hopes and dreams and things they want out of life. But very few people have hope placed in something beyond these goals.

The difference between HOPES and HOPE is this: Our HOPES become possible when our HOPE is in Jesus.

The stories we read in the Bible are about REAL people who had real hopes and dreams, not much different from us. Even though some took time and unlikely circumstances, their hopes became reality because they placed their hope in Christ, and not the things they were hoping for. When the things we hope for align with the One who our hope is in, incredible things begin to happen. Eyes are opened, miracles occur, and lives are changed.

I know that this Christmas season, you are hoping for something, and I want to assure you that that’s okay. But maybe it’s time to shift your focus from what your hoping for, to Who your hoping in. Perhaps your hope will be affirmed, or maybe your focus will be re-directed and your heart will be fulfilled once again.

But one thing is for certain…

True HOPE in Jesus will never leave us dry or unsatisfied, because God can be trusted to keep His promises.

He is good.

<3, Britt

Reasons Why Listening is Powerful

Just a week ago, I talked to my middle school kids at Wyldlife club about the story of the bleeding woman found in Mark 5. I quickly found that condensing this story into a five minute message would be a challenge, and this that this Biblical account is rich, powerful, and worth re-visiting and looking at in depth.

The main theme of the story is simple but powerful: Jesus wants to listen to you.

The Biblical account begins with Jesus disembarking a boat after a long journey, when he is approached by a synagogue ruler, Jairus. Jairus frantically begs Jesus to come with him, requesting him to heal his daughter, who had fallen ill and was nearing the point of death. Jesus obliged and followed Jairus through town.

However, on his way, Jesus was engulfed by a large crowd. In the crowd was a woman who had been bleeding out for twelve years. She had spent nearly all she had paying doctors to fix her condition, but she had only progressively gotten worse. This woman was living in pain, in shame, and in poverty, and was in desperate need of a miracle.

It was the woman’s first instinct to reach out to touch Jesus’ cloak to be healed… of course it was. But little did she expect the response she actually received.

“And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my garments?’ And his disciples said to him, ‘You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you said, ‘Who touched me?’ And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.'” (Mark 5:30-34)

In the process of Jesus’ encounter with this woman, Jairus’ daughter died. Although we later see Jesus raise the daughter to life, the fact that she died is crucial in understanding the weight of this story.

This story teaches us two incredible truths about Christ’s character:

1. Jesus stops to listen to us. 

Jesus was in the middle of completing something incredibly important, but in the midst of his busy day, he stopped for a sickly, poor woman who was healed instantly upon touching his cloak. He did not have to stop for the woman, she would have been healed either way, but he stopped because he wanted to. Which leads me to my next point:

2. Jesus makes the “unimportant” people known.

For Jesus to stop for anyone, let alone an unclean woman who was likely looked down upon in her town, was societally unacceptable. In the Bible, we see Jesus stop for the outcasts time and time again. Jesus cared little about what was societal praised or accepted, but instead, focused on loving people. In this instance, Jesus completely postponed curing the synagogue ruler’s daughter, even to the point of her death, to tell the bleeding woman her faith healed her, and to go in peace. These words and this interaction with Jesus undoubtedly changed the woman’s life forever. Not only was she physically healed, she was spiritually affirmed.

So how does this affect us?

Truths about Jesus’ character should affect us both in our relationship with Christ and our relationship with others. This means that:

We should realize that we worship a God who is personal and listening to us.

Even if we feel like our problems are trivial or unimportant, or that other people have “bigger problems,” Jesus is equally invested in our lives and is listening to each of us. We can go to Jesus with all our problems, and know that he is listening and genuinely involved in the trajectory of our lives. He is accessible 100% of the time, and he has our best interest in mind.

We should be treating others with the same genuine interest and respect that Jesus showed to the bleeding woman.

We, much like Jesus, live busy lives filled with checklists of places to be and important things to complete. I would beg to differ that Jesus was even MORE busy that us, since he was a celebrity of his day and was in incredibly high demand by all those around him, not to forget to mention he was also God in the flesh. Despite all that, Jesus stopped. Jesus stopped to make someone feel important.

Why aren’t we doing what Jesus did? Why aren’t we stopping our busy days to listen to a friend struggling with something, visiting a family member who we haven’t seen in awhile, buying a meal for the homeless person on the street corner, or even smiling at a stranger who seems to be having a bad day?

Why aren’t we stopping our days to show people their value?

We certainly aren’t Jesus, and we can’t physically or spiritually heal someone with our presence. But what we can do is this: listen & provide hope. Listen to people’s needs, their dreams, their hurts, and their stories. Then be that consistent voice of encouragement in their lives.

I think if we all stopped for a moment and lived like this, we would be surprised at how unimportant our busyness is, and realize how much value is found in simply stopping and listening.