Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I am an intern at my church; I work with the high school students. Tonight, we had worship and the message together with the middle school students, and one of the middle school girls came up to me and she said, "Ashley, you are so pretty."

I looked back at this beautiful little 12 year old girl and I said, "Thank you! But, (Her name), my dear, are beautiful as well!"

Without skipping a beat, this petite, gorgeous little bright-blue-eyed, blond-haired girl said to me, "I am not pretty. I am not pretty at all." 

My heart broke.

The worst part of this story is that this is not even close to the first time I have had a girl come up to me and tell me that they don't think they are pretty, or that nothing about themselves holds any beauty. 12 years old, 15 years old, 16 years old, 18 years old, 22 years old, I've heard it all. I even struggle with it at times!  I dealt with and learned a lot tonight working with the high school students, but that moment stuck out to me the most, and I wanted to take this opportunity to look at how our loving Father defines beauty, because His definition is the only one with any value whatsoever:

Psalm 139:14

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

GOD CREATED YOU! If God created you, do you really think He would create something that is not beautiful? He is the author of beauty, and the author of beauty formed you and knit you together in your mother's womb (Psalm 139:13)! His works are wonderful. One of His works was making you, and hello-- you are wonderful! You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

1 Samuel 16:7
The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.

The world focuses on what people look like on the outside; God focuses on what people look like on the inside. Why do you listen so much to what the world has to say? Don't you know that the only real opinion that matters is the Fathers?! You can take the girl with the best looks of all the earth, but if her heart is not good, she is not truly beautiful. Beauty is the way you treat others. Beauty is living like Christ. Beauty is Christ. You're truly beautiful when your heart is for the Lord. 

Proverbs 31:3
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Charm can be deceiving. Your looks will fade. What isn't deceiving, and what won't fade is a woman that fears and respects the Lord. God says that deserves praise! He praises and finds joy in girls that love Him, He doesn't care about how charming or how great their clothes and make up are! The Lord praises that. Let's focus on what brings Him joy.

1 Peter 3:3-4  Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.

God would rather have you spend time in a relationship with Him than see you spend countless hours on your outward appearance. A gentle and quiet spirit (Spirit of God) is unfading. It's beauty never fades! This is great worth to God. Not all of the other things that we compare ourselves too. Those don't matter. And guess what-- people are attracted to sweet spirits, much more than they are attracted to good clothes.

Genesis 1:27 -
So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them.

You're create in the image of God! God- the author of salvation, creator of the very grass we walk on! Everything beautiful that you have ever laid your eyes on, God created. He created you like Him. Wow. How could you think differently?! 

Ephesians 2:10
For we are God's masterpiece.

God calls you His masterpiece. Out of all creation, YOU are the ultimate masterpiece. I have my breath taken away with creation all the time. Seeing a blanket of snow laid upon every piece of the land in the winter- that is breathtaking. Overlooking the ocean as the sun sets- that is breathtaking. Watching the leaves change in the fall- breathtaking. Yet, those aren't God's masterpieces. We are. We are breathtaking. 

Bottom line: True beauty comes from God. He thinks you are beautiful just the way you are. He created you the way you are for a purpose, and he delights in His creation. Don't believe any other lies, instead let these words abide in your heart and listen to the truth. Seek God. That's what is truly beautiful.

Friday, April 8, 2011


So often do I come in contact with people who are just on the edge of the fence when it comes to their faith. Don't get me wrong, there have been times in my life that I have struggled in who I was, times where I have been weak, but nothing tugs at my heart more than a lukewarm Christian. When you have accepted Christ, and you have tasted the sweetness of His love and mercy, how on earth could you be lukewarm with that? With this verse, I challenge you to examine yourself. What kind of seed are you? I pray this verse will spark something in you to jump off that fence and run into the direction of your Heavenly Father, and come to the realization that your obedience and application of the Word of God is not to give you a set of rules to live by, but to give you life to the fullest. A victorious, meaningful life that brings glory to the Father. 

Luke 8: 5-8, 11-15: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants.  Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown." 

This parable that Jesus tells helps us to identify where we stand, and the obstacles that get in our way of teaching us the deep things of God. Before we highlight each seed, keep in mind that the seed is the word of God. Each of the places (or rather, people) hear the word of God, but only one produces a harvest.

  • The seed along the path.   "Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved." Luke 8:12.  Take notice that these people are the ones who hear the word of God, but are not saved. Once you are saved, the devil has no power or ability to take away the word of God from a believers heart, but when you are not a believer, he does have ability due to the choice of that person not to believe. It's kind of scary the image that Luke 8:5 gives with the birds coming and eating the seeds up. Satan is like a bird ready to devour anyone who hears the word yet does not believe or accept Christ. For those who hear the word and don't believe, their end result is to be devoured. Those are Satan's easiest victims. He desires to snatch the Word away before it can sink in and change lives.
  • The seed on the rock. "Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away" Luke 8:13. The seeds on the rocky ground don't just receive the word, but they receive it with joy! This kind of seed reminds me of almost a face-value relationship with the Father. They love to listen to the word and it sounds great when things are joyful and good, but they are in no way grounded in His word. Once things get sticky, or tough, they check out of the whole "Christian" thing. Hey, guess what? In the times you struggle, Gods glory and power will ALWAYS prevail! It is such a shame that these seeds stray away from God when times get hard, because those are the times God wants to use and show them that His word is true and that it works! He works! He is God! These seeds never get to see that, and they never get to see the faithfulness and power of God because they stop believing.    
  • The seed that fell among thorns. "The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature" Luke 8:14.  Distractions. Distractions are what get in the way of these seeds, and it's our biggest challenge. Pleasure, gratification, enjoyment are made the chief goal of life. This distracted hearer of God's word chokes on his own appetites! The things that they want become more important than a relationship with God, and they are CHOKED! Please be very careful with your appetites and distractions; you don't want your harvest to choke and die and never produce fruit. Having your focus on bringing glory to the Father is by far the best treasure you could ever receive. It would be a shame to let your own selfish desires and appetites get in the way of  your inheritance of the Kingdom, for those are only earthly things, yet the treasure God gives is eternal. "No human mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him" 1 Corinthians 2:9. 
  •  The seed on good soil. " But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop" Luke 8:15. Hearers who don't just hear the word, but they retain it, persevere, and in result produce a crop. How do we retain the word? Well, retaining the word is by being in the word, chewing on its meaning, and letting it abide in your heart. Memorizing scriptures, giving God's word a place to dwell inside you. Once you internalize God's word, it, in result, will be externalized and you will be able to see it's works, His works. It will no longer be what we do, but it will be who we are. Remember though, its not always going to be easy, but when the word of God abides in us, we are able to persevere, and when we are able to see the plentiful and abundant harvest that the good soil brings forth, there is absolutely nothing else like it. "It yielded a crop a hundred times what was sown." God will bless you more than you could ever imagine when you retain His word.
Isaiah 55: 11
So is my word that goes out from my mouth:
   It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
   and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. 

God promises that His word will never return to us void. His word will give us the power to accomplish the things we most desire and His word will carry us to achieve the purpose for which He has sent us. The choice is up to us to decide whether or not we will hear His word, accept it, and allow it to dwell in us.  Isaiah reaped a hundred times what he had sown. God blessed him because he was obedient and pleasing to the Lord.

Now, which seed are you?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It's time to take up your cross.

"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it." Luke 9:23-24

I'd like to kind of break this verse down and look at it in a couple different lights, because it is so powerful:
  • I was reading Beth Moore's "Jesus- 90 Days With the One and Only" and she said a very profound statement: All Satan needs to have momentary victory over a disciple is for us to have in mind the things of men. When we think like men, we become our own authorities, which, before we know it, can quickly lead to Satan's authority. Jesus has made it very clear: In order to follow Him, we must deny ourselves. In my opinion, I don't think Jesus is only just referring to our selfish desires and sins, but I believe He is saying, "Stop being your own authority. Give it up, let Me take control." In order to follow Him, that's exactly what we must do: follow. He is the leader. We are His followers. Have you not already realized you can't do it by yourself? It's time to deny our right to be our own leaders, and allow Christ to step in. 
  • What is so beautiful about Luke's version of this message over Matthews is one simple word: daily.  This is a daily battle, a daily decision, a daily struggle. Every day you are given you have a choice to make: you will either deny yourself and carry His cross.. choosing to follow Him, or you will choose to do things your own way. When I think about this part of the verse, I think of us as being a part of a marathon. In a marathon, we need perseverance. At some points during the race, we are feeling great about ourselves, like nothing can defeat us or bring us down. Then at other times, it is a struggle. We just want to stop and give up. No one said it was going to be easy, but each day calls for perseverance to continue to "fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7). Keep up your endurance. Take up His cross.
  • The last thing I want to highlight is the promise Jesus leaves us with. Although this race has its tough times, we can be encouraged by the promise Christ gives. He has made it very clear: If you aren't willing to take up your cross and make the daily decision, you will lose. However, the moment you decide to let Christ have the reigns, your life will be saved and you will have life to the fullest, most abundant way possible (John 10:10). 
Stop thinking you can do it on your own. Don't let your own pride get in your way of following the Savior who loves you more than you could ever imagine. He's on your side, you just have to be on His.

The purpose of this blog.

Because I know that we weren't meant to keep the good news to ourselves, I have decided to create a blog to record my thoughts and realizations that come to me along my journey with Christ so I may share the truth with others. My heart is on fire, like a flame ready to spread to the ends of the earth. This news is so good, I would be selfish to keep it to myself. My prayer as I begin this blog is that I may be used as a vessel for Christ to speak to others, inspiring them and empowering with with His goodness and His truth, and that you may understand the love Christ has for you.

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead that put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."  Matthew 5:14-16