If We Say We're Christians, We Need To Check Our Hearts

If We Say We're Christians, We Need To Check Our Hearts, And Not Just On Sundays

Just because you grew up in church doesn't mean you're saved.

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This past weekend, I got the chance to be a part of a retreat for a bunch of pastor's kids (PKs). It was a lot of fun because I got to take part in the sermons like a student, but I also got to pray over students as a leader. It was really cool to see this whole group of teenagers who have been a part of the church their entire lives worship God. It really made my heart soar.

Then, I heard some of them talk.

I heard a few of the students talk about getting drunk and how cool it was. I overheard them say that they "didn't care." It made me wonder if they "didn't care," does that mean they don't care about being a good role model? Because I saw plenty of kids younger than them who looked up to them.

So, to the kid I overheard talking about how often you get drunk, that's not cool, man. It doesn't make you cool to party like that. And it especially doesn't make you cool to talk about all of that in front of the ten-year-old boy that I know you knew was watching your example. There are enough bad influences in this world without him needing that from you, too.

Just keep that in mind.

And, by the way, this same kid who bragged to his friends about getting drunk was one of the kids I saw in both services worshiping the Lord without surrender. And I only have one thing to say to that:

Check your heart.

Just because you grew up in church doesn't mean you're saved. Just because your parent is a pastor does not mean that you get a free pass into Heaven. Just because you've memorized Scripture in clubs like Royal Rangers and MPact girls does not mean that you are living the Word.

Please, check your heart.

James tells us in James 2:14, 17:

"What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don't show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?... So you see, faith by itself isn't enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless."

If you're sitting here saying that you believe and that God is your Savior, but you're also sitting a few feet away an hour later telling someone about how cool it is that you can get drunk so often, I'm sorry but your faith isn't enough. That is definitely not what James would classify as a "good deed."

And while we do need to check our hearts about who is watching us and what we talk about around others like that, it is more than that.

We need to check our hearts about what we are watching, listening to and reading. What we put into our minds is what is going to come out, so we need to make sure it doesn't compromise us morally. We have to check our hearts because I promise you, if you feel even an ounce of doubt in your heart about something, you most likely shouldn't be doing it.

We also need to check our hearts with how we interact with others. I, myself, am guilty of losing my temper with people and snapping. I lose my patience and get an attitude. I need to check my heart when I am put in situations like that. We must become aware of what our "sin triggers" are and where we can guard our hearts against things that will set us off like that.

God wants us to be close to His heart, not following our own.

Our hearts will lead us astray at times because our feelings get stuck in the middle. Rather than following just our feelings, we need to follow where God is taking us. When we press in and want to see His heart, not just for our lives but also for those around us, He will open our eyes to things much bigger than ourselves.

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God's Letter To The Struggling College Christian

Don't give up on me because I haven't given up on you
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Dear Struggling College Christian,

Life can be tough, especially in college; you're at that age where you're not exactly an adult but also no longer a child.

You're somewhere in between, possessing just enough freedom to do what you want while still being held responsible for the decisions you make about your future. You're always stressed out. You're going to get hurt, you're going to feel like dropping out or changing your mind, and you're even going to want to turn your back on me, your God, but I want to tell you this: your suffering is not in vain.

SEE ALSO: I Am Christian Millennial And I Do Not Hate You

I want you to know that everything you are going through is a lesson. It's all building you into a better person, a better you. The things you've asked of me, the things you've told me you wanted – those are things you have to be prepared for and you still need a bit of tweaking.

The future, though bright, isn't all sunshine and roses.

The path has twists and turns, cracks are in it, fallen logs in your way, and most of the time you're not going to be able to see straight ahead of you. The weather is going to be unpredictable. The hailstorm is going to knock you off your feet and the twisters are going to send you spinning into confusion, exhaustion, and doubt.

But with the strength that I am trying to build up in you, you'll find that you know exactly where to find shelter when the storms break down your door.

You'll find that the lessons you learn from trying times are exactly what you need to fulfill my plans for you. You've read Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28 hundreds of times, but there is a verse in the Bible that you may have never paid attention to.

Ephesians 2:10. It reads: “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

The most important part of this verse is one simple word: beforehand. So while you're crying and stressing about what job you're going to land after you graduate, if you're going to marry that person you've been with for years, or if you even want to be majoring in what you're currently majoring in, I already have a plan laid out specifically for you. You are my child, my creation and you have a purpose.

However, while knowing these things is great, it is all pointless if you don't do. So here's what I want you to do: do not give up. Have faith in me. You believe in me, so why not believe in me in your darkest moments? That's the reason you became a Christian, right?

Because I'm the one person you know that won't forsake you. You know that I love you, and you know that I'm here for you, so prove it. I know it can be hard when you're pulled in a lot of different directions by your social life, your academic life and your extracurricular activities not to mention your family life and your own personal sanity, but take a few minutes out of your day, every day, to talk to me.

Tell me your fears and your desires. Remember that you can ask me for and about anything. I'm always going to give you an answer, whether it's a yes, no, or not right now. After that, I want you to stop worrying and fight on through the darkness. You are stronger than you think.

My Child, enjoy yourself while you are young: don't stress over the things that you can't see. Don't give in to the depression, the anxiety, or the stress; things that are not of me. Don't let yourself forget about me or believe that I'm not there when I am and know that my plan is set in place for you.

All you have to do is walk in it. Trust that this is all for your good. But most importantly, remember that I love you unconditionally–at your worst and your best. Life can be tough, but you are tougher simply because you are mine.

I've got you,

God

Cover Image Credit: Google Images

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This Bethel Album Will Lead You Into Worship

This album certainly does lead you into worshipful posture of praising the Father intentionally, holding nothing back.

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Psalm 98:4 reads, "Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!" The new Bethel album, "Victory" declares a joyful noise towards God's name. I have found myself repeatedly coming back to this album, and specific songs since its release. I hope my recommendations entice you to enjoy it as much as I do!

1. Raise A Hallelujah 

What a joyful declaration to begin the album with! I was already a fan of this song, and I am over the moon because it brings such praise to our Father. "I'm gonna sing in the middle of the storm, louder and louder, you're gonna hear my praises roar". This song reminds we are not alone in the storm, nor should we feel defeated. I had someone once share with me, "whatever is over our head is already under Jesus' feet", and that is the reason to rejoice in the hardest and darkest moments!

2. Goodness Of God

He is so good, isn't he? Why not sing about it! "Goodness of God" is one of my favorites off the album, one of the ones I listen to each morning as prepare for the day.

3. Ain't No Grave

Molly Skaggs, daughter of country star Ricky Skaggs, declares deliverance from the grave, and reminds that "there ain't no grave gonna hold my body down", because of Jesus' sacrifice for all! Her voice is perfect for this song, tuned along with the melody of the Bethel performers.

4. Stand In Your Love

"My fear doesn't stand a chance when I stand in your love". AMEN! This is such a catchy song, and that's not a bad thing! It's such a good reminder that we don't need to live in unhealthy fear. Such an uplifting song, and definitely worth a listen!

5. Victory Is Yours

Our God is all powerful, and is deserving of our daily praise. His very breath is breathed into our lungs, each time we inhale and exhale. How marvelous is that?

6. There Is A Name

I feel this song is a truth, in that, in our daily lives, Jesus should be at our core. Busyness seems to prioritize our days when He should be who we revolve around. In college, I find it can be difficult to be vocal with my faith, and I imagine in a corporate job environment, it can be the same. But with Him at our center, it should be easier to get out of our comfort zones and obey what He asks of us. Like in the song, "His power can't be questioned or contained".

7. Promises Never Fail

"I am standing on every promise that You make, I will see it come to pass in Your name, Oh Jesus, I will trust every word I hear You say I will see it come to pass in Your name." Such a good reminder that God's promises will never fail. Whatever he promises will come to pass.

8. Praise Is The Highway

Praise can be shown many different ways, but one of the most common is through song. Praise leads us to comfort of lifting our voices to Jesus, in the calm and in the storm. Praise unifies us with others, as we sing to the Lord in our congregations. I really feel tuned in when I listen to this song, with my heart resting in worship.

9. Drenched In Love

Probably one of the best from this album. I just can't stop listening to this song! It leads you into joyful worship. You can't help but smile and sing along!

10. Every Crown

This is one of my absolute favorites off this album. I find myself singing it to myself while working because it stays in my head. Every time I hear it, I feel drawn to my knees. I envision nations carrying crowns they've all made or acquired, climbing a seemingly endless staircase, to then place at the very feet of Jesus in an exalting posture. It's such a beautiful picture, and I can't wait to one day do just that!

11. How Great A King

"Yours is the victory" – Amen! How great He is! All I can do is quote this one, because it speaks for itself.. "For all you are, and all you've done, we lift you up". This is another one that leads you straight into worship and adoration of the King's sacrifice for us. "Oh, what a price You paid, trading the highest place, laid down Your crown for me, how great a King".

12. Christ Is Risen

Leading you with a worship-filled spirit, this piece builds the anticipation, through the instrument beats, of our returning King. I can't help but revisit lyrics, "oh death, where is your sting?" How exciting!

13. Living Hope

I first heard this song performed by Phil Wickham, and fell in love with it. Everything about this song is worshipful. Such a lovely melody and perfect lyrics. Can I just declare, "Jesus Christ, my living hope"! Yes and Amen!!

14. Endless Alleluia

Such a great reminder that every thought and action should be filled with an "endless alleluia". So often we carry our lives and go about our own business, not allowing God to move in the daily part, when it should be quite the contrary. Our lives should be living out an "endless alleluia".

This album certainly does lead you into a worshipful posture of praising the Father intentionally, holding nothing back. Every time I hear some of these songs, I can't help but "raise a Hallelujah". I'm thankful for the freedom I have to worship Him openly. The gift of worship, in any form, is such a gift, that we should not neglect.

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