Welcome to my blog!

So the truth is that trying to survive in our world as a woman is hard enough at times but toss in some Christianity and you got yourself quite a challenge. My name is Miranda and welcome to my blog. I recently married the love of my life and went from the single life to the newly married adventure. I'm sure my upcoming writings will dive into this new and exciting stage of my life. Sometimes life is quite funny, sometimes it's downright entertaining, and sometimes it can get a little bit more serious. I love God and want to live a life that pleases him but that sometimes is easier said than done. :) So join me as I walk through the trials, struggles and joys of life when the only thing that works is a little chocolate and a lot of faith.

Monday, April 25, 2011

What Does It Take? Part 3

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."


Following Christ is not a cake walk. Let's be real. If it was that easy so many people would do it, there wouldn't be backsliders, fence sitters, wide road runners or luke-warmers out there. The truth is if we are aiming to live this Christian life and follow in Jesus' footsteps, it’s going to cost us something.

Hear the Word of God in Philippians 3:7,8-14

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

I think about some of the things in my life that I truly value and there is always a price that was paid. In order to truly appreciate it, it had to cost me something. For instance, my car-Al, God blessed me with him but I work hard to maintain him, to take care of him and to pay for him. Want to talk non-materialistic? How about every good relationship that I have-family, friends, co-workers...it costs me time, effort, patience, money...I literally invest part of my life into those relationships and get back as much as I put in and more.

So what does it cost you to follow Jesus? Here are a few I have thought of but I'm sure there is more. Following Christ will cost you:

1. Your Time - You can't build a relationship with someone without spending time with them. The same is true in building your relationship with Christ, you need time in prayer and time in the Word.
2. Your Talents - Well if all good gifts come from God, and He made you, it would stand to reason that your gifts and talents also came from Him. If He gave them to you, it was for a purpose, yes to enjoy them, but also to serve Him and bless others through them.
3. Your Treasure - Let's face it, you invest in the things you love. In order for God's Kingdom to grow and for us to follow in Christ's footsteps and reach out to others, it will take money. The question is not whether you will invest in something. We all invest in something, the question is which investment gives the greatest return.
4. No more excuses - Sometimes, we think that following Him is inconvenient, takes us out of our comfort zone, there are more important things to attend to first...excuses! To follow hard after Him, we have to do it in spite of the constant stream of obstacles. Believe me, there will always be a convenient and legitimate excuse.
5. Taking the hard road - it requires effort and courage to follow Christ. I mean you may encounter ridicule, embarrassment, accusations and opposition. Not to mention that you may endure trials, tribulations, hardships of all kinds...sounds appealing doesn't it?

Unfortunately a lot of people will say that life is not for them. It costs too much. What do they get out of it? Let's see, eternal life, fulfilling your purpose, helping other people, being light in a dark world, bringing hope to those who are lost, waking up everyday knowing that you are in the grip of grace and never alone, having peace that passes all understanding, joy...and the list goes on and on.

However, despite the many rewards both in this life and the next, there are those who aren't willing to pay the price...
Are you?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What Does It Take? Part 2

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."


What exactly does it mean to take up your cross? Well first of all it gives the impression of carrying a burden, a not so pleasant experience and something hard. Any suffering that we endure for the sake of Christ is part of taking up one's cross and accepting the trials and tribulations (for we are assured that they will come), is also a part.

Look at what it says in Philippians 2:5b-8 "...have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:Who, being in very nature God,did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!"

Jesus is our example for sure. Taking up the cross involves several things beginning with commitment. Being a Christian means not being ashamed of the Gospel but willing to proclaim it even when it's not convenient or comfortable. It means standing for what you believe even when it's not popular. It will involve making hard decisions and choices sometimes. It will involve sacrifice. The cross should be the banner over our lives not the other way around.

I read a play recently where a young woman (we will call her Jane) got saved and went to the popular 'cross shop' to get a cross. The crosses there were fancy, pretty, flashy, designer, small, big, on chains...you get the picture. Any kind of cross you wanted. Jane learned that many of her friends had gotten their crosses there. It wasn't the kind she had envisioned and was directed to a different shop. Here there was only one kind of cross-big, heavy, plain and wooden. They were free too, just had to be carried. There was no denying that cross. So she picked it up and began to carry it every where. Her friends noticed the huge cross and commented on it. They were actually a little embarrassed by her. Jane thought all Christians were supposed to carry their crosses and asked where theirs were. One by one they pulled out their tiny flashy crosses on their necklaces or inside their pockets. They explained that they had traded those huge crosses for ones that were more convenient. They could pull them out when they felt comfortable and that way they didn't make other people uncomfortable either. This didn't make sense to her, she wondered what was the point of claiming the cross only to hide it? Over the next few months, Jane realized that carrying the cross changed a lot of things in her life. Places that she had gone, things that she had done, people she had hung out with, choices she made all began to be determined by that cross and she started fitting things in according to how they worked with the cross, not the other way around. It wasn't an easy walk, but Jane found that she needed it, she began to depend on it and people noticed it. The cross she carried was beginning to affect the people's lives around her...one by one...in some way.

I think that was as good an example as I have read anywhere about what happens when we pick up our cross and begin to let it shape our lives. There is no way that we will not begin to become more and more like Christ who humbled Himself...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What Does It Take? Part 1

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."


So from this passage it is clear that Jesus was given us direct instructions for godly living. He said that in order to come after him we must do 3 things. The first thing is to deny yourself.

Well, to be honest it is here that the battle of the flesh and the mind have front row seats. To deny means both to withhold something as well as to refuse to recognize something. In following Christ, we have choices to make that would mean keeping things from myself that would not be glorifying to God and also actually refusing to even acknowledge my desires as most important.

By nature we are sinful. There is a day by day (in my case minute by minute) battle of what should I do? how do I handle this situation? would God care if I did this? What if I really want to do this even though I know it's not the wisest decision? Are the consequences worth it?

The truth is that there is an inner struggle to gratify the things of the flesh while at the same time desiring to please God. I don't think I could possibly say it as well as the Message tells it in Romans 7:15-20, 25

"What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can't be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God's command is necessary. But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it, I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time...The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different."

Now if that doesn't describe us, well at least me anyways...I'm not sure what will. Can I be real for a minute? Recently I literally crashed into this struggle in a way that I never had before. Here I thought this Christian walk was supposed to get easier Sheesh! no such luck! I was overwhelmed by the desire to do something that would have felt amazing at the moment but would have had repercussions that I hardly wanted to think about.

My thoughts on this whole business of denying oneself,is this- I believe that God uses situations to remind us that just when we think we have it together, we realize how desperately in need of a Savior we really are. I'm not sure I will ever stop learning that lesson now.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Coming soon to a blog near you...

I'm excited to share with you a personal study based on Matthew 16:24 "Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." I'm actually going to speak on this to the women tomorrow but I was really challenged by it. So naturally I want to tell you how some personal experiences made this verse very very real to me. So sometime over the next few days you can be expecting to read about a place in my life that I hadn't really been in before. Until then...be salt and light! :)


Miranda Tom