Olivia White

About Olivia White

Olivia's Blog
Olivia Morgan White is a high school sophomore from North Carolina, a blogger at The Contrary Calling, a regular contributor to the Rebelution, and a staff writer for Top Christian Books. When she's not writing or working on school, she's probably practicing viola or doing something related to music.

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How to Live the Soli Deo Gloria Life

Soli Deo Gloria: to the glory of God alone.

It rings through our minds and our hearts as Christians. It answers the ancient question, “What is the meaning of life?” It transforms our entire beings.

And yet, how hard it is to understand the full significance of the glory of God.

How to Live the Soli Deo Gloria Life


What is God’s glory? Why should we seek it? How can we bring glory to our infinitely glorious God?

The glory of God is the Christian’s primary aim. That’s why we need to understand what it means to live for the glory of God.



The Meaning of Glory

God’s glory is his character and nature on display.

John Piper points to Isaiah 6, where the angels cry, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty; the whole earth is filled with his glory.” Though you would expect the angels to say the earth is filled with his holiness, they instead point to glory. Holiness is an attribute of God, and glory likewise belongs to God but “fills” the earth. It’s reasonable to conclude that glory is actually the manifestation of God’s holy nature. We cannot see God’s holiness, but we can see, observe, or witness his glory.

In this way, it makes sense that while we cannot truly add to the glory of God, glory is something that is perceived, and thus we can shape our own perceptions and the perceptions others may have of God. God is infinitely glorious, and yet, we do not always recognize, appreciate, and communicate his glory as deeply as we could and should.

As servants of the Holy God, we should be zealous to understand his great nature more and more and to help others to do the same.



To the Praise of His Glory

So then, how can we do all to the glory of God? What does that look like in our lives?

It starts with an understanding of who he is, soaking in his glory till we are saturated with his perfectly holy nature. We do this through his word. Scripture is God’s perfect revelation of himself to man. It is through careful study and meditation on the words and works of God that we can know him truly and see a full glimpse into the many facets of his glory.

The Soli Deo Gloria Life looks like this: we witness his glory, we delighting in his glory, and we display that glory to the world.

Ultimately, everything that we do can and should be to the glory of God.

Glorifying him essentially means making every moment an act of praise.

There is no specific career, education, or activity that is automatically more glorifying to God than another, assuming they are within the boundaries laid out in his word.

Every act, excluding those explicitly banned in Scripture, can be done with praise.

Many people think that specific choices automatically make you a better Christian. For example, we often assume that doing foreign missions is the best way to bring glory to God. Or perhaps, using our money for charity is the issue. If we want to glorify God in all that we do, will we not set aside all the free time, money, and energy we have to do godly things? Isn’t that what it means to glorify God with our lives, to “make the best use of our time” as Ephesians calls us to do?

But there’s a problem with the theory that simply choosing a specific career, spending money for a specific cause, or living our lives in a certain way will automatically bring more glory to God. In fact, you can do all kinds of mission work, never spending a dime on frivolous expenses, and yet fail to praise God in your life.

We should be wise about how we use the limited resources we have on earth, and if we have the right mindset based on the gospel, keeping our priorities straight, we won’t spend ourselves on possessions or experiences we don’t need.

But there is value and potential for praise in the insignificant, seemingly less holy moments of life, like sitting downtown outside an ice cream shop, savoring an ice cream cone in the warm summer air as the sun rests low over the city skyline.

Even in those “frivolous”, “unnecessary”, “pointless” moments, we can take the opportunity to bask in God’s goodness and to reset our focus. We can set our minds on him and be grateful for what he has done.

As we take the time to slow down, we see things we didn’t notice before. We gain a richer understanding of the world we’re called to minister to in that moment as we watch the people walk down the street, see the cars go by, hear bits of conversation and see the expressions on the faces of the people–our neighbors. Yes, even at the ice cream shop we can be on mission, praying for our city, gaining a heart for the people in it, maybe even sparking gospel conversations as we experience these parts of life within our community.

And God is wonderfully glorified in that.



Where is our heart?

Perhaps this is the real question to grapple with.

Are we obsessed with material possessions, treats to fill our stomachs, and entertainment for our minds? Have they become idols to us? Do they distract us from God and his mission? Or can we enjoy them in a healthy manner, understanding these things as gifts from God, and keeping a mindset of ministry even as we rest from our normal work?

Sometime we’re burnt out. Sometimes we truly need that break. Sometimes we ought to take a minute to stop, rest, and refocus.

Nothing we ever do ought to be without purpose, though, and every choice we make ought to aid us in our goal of glorifying God. But work isn’t the only part of a Christ/centered life, as Martha learned. Sometimes we ought to slow down and simply sit at the feet of Jesus, delighting in his goodness and praising him for his grace.

That’s what I think a meaningful life looks like—doing everything wholeheartedly, whether work or rest, service or Sabbath, ministry or personal devotions, to bring ourselves and others to a fuller understanding and appreciation of our great God.


God’s glory is not stifled into the mold of one lifestyle, nor is it seen only in certain aspects of our lives. His glory stretches far and wide, from the mud huts of Africa and the slums of Brazil to the metropolitan skyscrapers of America.

He will be known, loved, and worshipped across the earth as his glory is made known by the testimony of his people and all of nature itself. He calls us to minister and to evangelize, and to be still and know. In every moment, he is reigning on his throne, clothed in majesty.

May we, his people, approach every moment of our lives with an attitude of adoration and a purpose of praise. When we brush our teeth in the morning till we watch the sun set in the evening, may we live for the glory of God alone.  

By | 2018-07-10T21:27:29+00:00 July 11th, 2018|

What Hurting People Need to Hear

Some of the people who have blessed me most in life are the ones who simply listen.

Instead of trying to offer all the answers they don’t have, they offer an open ear. These are the ones who sympathize even when they can’t empathize, the ones who don’t brush me off or try to change the topic.

I’ve grown up in a family affected by mental illness and special needs. From dyslexia to depression, from autism to anxiety, numerous disabilities have made my family different. And because those caused certain challenges that few people faced, my life was always different.

What Hurting People Need to Hear

It was clear to me. My sister’s mania, my brother’s suicidal tendencies, and my own irrational anxiety were something I’d never seen in anyone else. It was a pain that lay under the surface of my life, a peculiar brokenness that I tried to hide.

As I’ve grown, I’ve realized that, while I’m not free to discuss all the details, the struggles of my life are mine to share. I’ve opened up to some of the people I call my friends, being as honest as possible when the topic of my family comes up, just as it has many nights at church.

“My siblings… aren’t normal,” I stammer, trying to figure out how to put to words the difficulty of mental illness while respecting the privacy of my family.

My friend responded that her siblings weren’t normal either.

I told her about my sister’s episodes of mania.

She said her siblings were crazy too.

Finally, I used the words. “My siblings are mentally ill.”

Blank stares around the room. Empty silence. Perhaps an awkward apology.

That one friend didn’t give up. She still tries to convince me that her siblings are weird like mine. And every time, I try to hold my tongue, to not shout or cry or snap at her and her normal-brained family.

I know she doesn’t intend to hurt me, but she does.

 

Normalization Hurts

Those who normalize a person’s circumstances minimize their pain. Such a reaction says, “I don’t understand, and I don’t care to find out more.” It makes assumptions without checking to see if they’re true. It oversimplifies complex emotions and situations in such a way that implies a lack of interest, care, and love.

The very idea that the monstrous isolating experiences we have faced are just a “normal” part of life digs a crater into our hearts. We find ourselves sad or perhaps bitter that either our well-meaning friends have no clue what we’re experiencing or they simply don’t care. Yet even deeper is the sting of wondering whether our grief is legitimate, of questioning whether we have a right to feel pain over something that seems so insignificant to others.

If our experiences are truly trivial, then surely the pain we feel is nothing but an expression of an over-dramatic self-centered heart.



God Knows and Loves

Thank God, he is merciful and gracious, abounding in steadfast love to us. In reality, all our suffering is “light and momentary” compared to the glory of heaven that he has secured for us by his blood. And yet he doesn’t condemn us for our tears. Rather, he tenderly counts each one.

You have kept count of my tossings;
   put my tears in your bottle.
   Are they not in your book?

Psalm 56:8

Hurting people have an overwhelming yearning to be loved and known. In the midst of our pain, when we feel that no one understands what we are experiencing, it is tempting to believe that if only someone did understand, then their understanding would provide the comfort we crave.

But no human being can fully know and love us. We ourselves couldn’t possibly see the all depths of our hearts or make sense of the yearnings of our soul. This special life-giving, soul-searching, thirst-quenching role is reserved for our Creator, our Savior, our Sustainer and King.

Christ is the answer for hurting hearts. He alone can satisfy our weary souls and promise healing for our minds and bodies. He alone can secure our spot in heaven, where his own hand will wipe the tears from our eyes. He alone gives us life and hope.



Emulate Christ’s Compassion

As brothers and sisters, our role is simply to point each other to him. When we are striving to live as he calls us and to love as he has loved us, then we will emulate his loving, patient, gentle nature as a natural byproduct of our affection for him. We have been blessed with the church so that we might be in community with one another, to love each other as fellow members of the family of God.

We don’t always have to understand. We don’t have to have all the answers. Offering a quick shower of Bible verses or nice life thoughts or a personal anecdote in passing might make us feel good about ourselves, but it probably isn’t what the hurting people in our lives are yearning for.

What hurting people do need is love, demonstrated by the presence of a friend. Perhaps the best way to bless the hurting is to simply sit, and listen, and hear. To break through the shallow relationships of our busy lives and ask the heart-probing, vulnerable, tough questions. To seek to know and understand, but above all, to simply love.

Maybe that looks as simple as a hug or a prayer or a cup of coffee.

Regardless of the differing levels of intimacy we will share with various people in different circumstances, our goal in our interactions with the hurting should be to emulate the compassion of Christ.

Hurting people are not just a burden, and they need to know that. They need to see actions driven by love, not by the “check off the boxes” attitude so prevalent in our busy, artificial culture. They need genuine love and compassion, just as they would find from Jesus himself.

The love we should have for our spiritual siblings is one that will cause us to weep with those who weep and to bear each others burdens. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, and yet the sting of death was so real that he wept with Mary and Martha before doing so.

If the hope of the gospel does not ignore the reality of pain in this present life, neither should we.

We cannot fully love and know each other, but Jesus can. With his Spirit in us, we can spread that love to others as we open our ears and our hearts to the broken. May our love allow us to share in the wounds of the hurting and never neglect to bring them to the healer.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 1 Corinthians 1:3-4

By | 2018-05-08T07:33:45+00:00 May 12th, 2018|

Why Christians Should Be Optimists

I’m not an optimist. Skepticism, cynicism, pessimism–all those lovely isms (that don’t start with opt) would often better describe me.

Seeing the good in life doesn’t come naturally to me, and I don’t have a naturally happy personality.

We all have different personalities. Some of us are optimists, some of us are pessimists, and we all have our unique strengths and shortcomings, right?

Why Christians Should Be Optimists

All the terms and labels of personality types can be pretty accurate in describing who we are, so much so that lots of people–myself-included–become tempted to embrace our nature as our identity. Even the negative aspects of our personality are just part of “who we are”.

But should our attitude towards life really be defined by natural inclination or personal preference?

While it might seem insignificant, God has expectations for us when it comes to how we view and appreciate the lives he has given us. And as Christians, our outlook and our attitude should involve joy.


We are Called to Joy.

Of course, we like to throw pity parties and think of all the ways life has wronged us. Of course we like to live like Eeyore and grump and frump at the gray skies instead of appreciating the rain. It is our nature, because we’re naturally ungrateful sinners.

But how is that compatible with a faith that tells us, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again, I will say rejoice?” (Philippians 4:4)

How is that possible if we are “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2)?

How can we claim to have hope in Christ and yet live as if there is no hope?

Whether we like it or not, we are called to a life of joy. Not just in Philippians but throughout the whole Bible we are repeatedly reminded, encouraged, and commanded to rejoice. Just as Israel was commanded to rejoice in the Lord, even in the middle of the ruins of Jerusalem, so we also should seek joy even in the most broken of circumstances.

Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! Zephaniah 3:14

Over two hundred times, Scripture mentions a form of the word “joy”. Never once does it endorse a pessimistic take on life, but rather it gives us the perspective of hope.


Christ is our Joy.

We can rise in the morning–even the Monday morning–with gratefulness in our hearts because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Our joy is found in him. It comes from knowing him, basking in his Word, and meditating on his goodness. He is the source of all joy.

When we find ourselves sulking over the stress of the day, may we rejoice that he is our rock and our fortress, our strength in the chaos of life and our refuge of peace. When we become blinded by the darkness of this world, may we look for the inherent beauty with which he has created all things. When we can’t find a single thing to be happy about, my we cling to an eternal reality of hope.

Christ has stepped into our world and he has given us a reason to rejoice.

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. Psalm 63:5-8

Personality or Attitude?

God gave many warnings to his people. All the good that we have comes from him. It is only natural that when we choose to reject him and separate ourselves from him, denying his goodness and ignoring his blessing, we will cease to benefit from him.

Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things, therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and lacking everything. And he will put a yoke of iron on your neck until he has destroyed you. Deuteronomy 28:47-48

We don’t get the blessings of a fruitful relationship with God if we choose apathy and ingratitude, taking for granted the wonders that should draw us to worship him. We cannot live as followers of Christ and accept habits that do not magnify him. Pessimism, or any other unjoyful outlook on life, is not an acceptable way of life.

Sure, they may be natural. Sure, we may desire to live that way. But Christ calls us to deny ourselves, and our selfish desires, and follow him.

Thankfully, he is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever… for he remembers our frame; he knows that we are dust.” (Psalm 103)

God extends amazing grace to ungrateful people.


Now it’s our turn to respond in praise.

How radical would it be if we actually opened our eyes realizing this is the day the Lord has made, and furthermore, he has planned it out for his glory and our good before the beginning of time? What if we actually rejoiced and were glad in it?

What if we soaked in God’s Word before the first glance at social media in the morning? What if we memorized Scripture so that we could fight temptation and despair with the glorious hope of Christ? What if we put away our secular media influences for a while and sang to gospel-rich songs and hymns that turn our hearts and minds to God?

No matter what habits you must tear down or establish in your life to get there, resolve today to choose a life of joy. Ask for the Spirit to work in you and soften your heart. Surround yourself with brothers and sisters in Christ, look to the example of the saints who ran before us, and persevere.

Always remember the hope that we have. Rejoice.

By | 2018-03-26T06:12:33+00:00 March 26th, 2018|

The Problem With Praying For Your Future Spouse

I don’t pray for my future husband.

In fact, I am tired of the “Praying for your future husband”, “Writing letters to your future husband”, and everything else in the whole “future husband” trend. I’m tired of seeing so many young women dedicate so much time and effort and a piece of their heart to the mysterious being known as the “future husband”.

Don’t get me wrong; being a devoted wife is a noble calling! But isn’t it a bit naive to believe that every young woman is destined to be married? Some of us may never find a spouse. Some of us may not even desire a spouse.

The Problem With Praying For Your Future Spouse

If God brings the right godly man into my life, I will marry at some point. Yet I have no way of knowing whether this will happen or not. So why should I base my current life on the expectancy of marriage, when marriage is not even a guarantee?

Why presume that something will happen when God has never promised it?

Both marriage and singleness have benefits and challenges, and both may be used to glorify God. We can serve him successfully in either way of life. He may call us to marriage, or he may call us to singleness.

The apostle James warns us that our life is but a mist, which appears for a little while and then vanishes. We don’t know how long it will last. My fear is that one day, we’ll look back, still single, and realize we’ve wasted our lives preparing for something that never was to be.

Our lives are short. Let’s not waste them. Rather than living for the possibility of marriage, why not live fully where we are right now?

Our lives are short. Let’s not waste them. Rather than living for the possibility of marriage, why not live fully where we are right now? Click To Tweet

A woman is made for more than marriage

Perhaps the real reason why we tend to focus on marriage so much is that we have misunderstood our purpose. Godly womanhood does not mean that our only purpose in life is to be a wife. Far from it!

Men and women alike have one ultimate purpose: to praise and delight in God. This was the reason for which God created us, the calling which all people share. A healthy marriage is an honorable way to bring glory to God, but it isn’t the only way. Whether we’re single or happily married, we all can and should glorify our Creator with the lives we’ve been given.

Less relationships, more of what matters most

I’m not trying to say we can’t talk about or focus on marriage, or that godly relationships are somehow bad. What I am saying is that we need to be careful not to take marriage, a gift from God, and treat it as a god itself.

Which is more important, preparing to be a good wife to a husband I may or may not eventually have, or obeying God’s commands to spread the gospel and follow him in the here and now? God must come first in our hearts, even before our husbands. If we truly value Christ above all else, we will desire to please him with all of our lives, not just our relationships.

Considering our hearts

Overall, it almost seems as if we are obsessed with relationships to the extent that we don’t care about other critical aspects of the Christian life. Sure, we can prepare for that marriage that may or may not happen, but would we be okay if God told us right here and now that we would never be married? Would we be satisfied and content in Christ alone? Do we love Jesus more than the man of our dreams?

My concern is that the desire for godly relationships often goes so deep that it subtly becomes idolatry. In focusing so much on how to have right relationships with those of the opposite sex, we’ve neglected our relationship with our Savior and King.

Does the desire for marriage control our lives? Do we prioritize a future husband over the salvation of lost friends and family in our prayers? Do we dwell on what our marriage will look like rather than dwelling on the goodness of God? Do we love our future man more than the people who live around us now and the Man who sacrificed himself for the sake of our soul?

So to my spiritual sisters: let’s not waste our lives pining over a man that may or may not exist. The best way to live is to live for the glory of the one who not only exists, but loved you, knew you, and chose you as family before you were even born. Let’s stop imagining ourselves as “Wife of So-and-So” and start living as “Child of God”.

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By | 2018-01-31T09:01:57+00:00 January 31st, 2018|

In Christ Alone: Taking Christ Beyond the Cross

In Christ Alone Taking Christ Beyond the Cross by Olivia White

In Christ Alone Taking Christ Beyond the Cross by Olivia White

In Christ alone, my hope is found. He is my light, my strength, my song.

Those words have been engrained in my mind ever since I was six years old. At the time, my family went to a small family-integrated church. A few years later, we joined an equally small traditional baptist church, and a few years after that, we found ourselves at my current church, a southern baptist church five times as big as the previous two.

One thing each church had in common is that all three of them chose often to sing this contemporary hymn. In Christ Alone, written by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty, has become one of the most well known of all Christian songs. Most likely, it earned this classic status due to its theologically rich teachings which lie right at the core of the meaning of Christianity.

We’ve heard the song. We know the message. Countless Christians, young and old, sing its anthem.

But do we live it?

Indeed, our salvation is only through Christ. But this theme of “In Christ” applies to more than just our salvation. We depend on Christ for so much more!

In Christ, we have hope

Maybe you’re awaiting a new job opportunity, preparing for your wedding day, or just looking forward to the weekend. And there’s nothing wrong with looking forward to God-given blessings! But the song doesn’t say, “In weekends alone, my hope is found”, or “In a wedding alone, my hope is found”, or “In a new job opportunity, my hope is found”. Nor does it say, “In Christ, my hope is found, but it’s also found in X, Y, and Z.” Our hope must be only in Christ.

Is it okay to “hope” for good things? Or to look forward to special occasions? Of course! But if you find that your contentment and satisfaction is resting on it, you need to seriously ask yourself whether you are placing your hope in Christ alone.

In Christ, we have peace

For the past couple of weeks in the United States, we’ve experienced tragedy as hurricanes Harvey and Irma swept across our coasts, and wildfires up north have burned thousands of acres. Of course, our natural response is to freak out, to fear, and to worry. What calms our fears? A change in the weather predictions? Or the truth that God is sovereignly working through even tragic events for the good of his children and for his glory, and that nothing is out of his control?

Remember the second part of the first stanza?

This Cornerstone, this solid ground, firm through the fiercest drought and storm. What heights of love, what depths of peace, when fears are stilled, when strivings cease, my Comforter, my All in All, here in the love of Christ I stand.

Are we looking to Christ for our peace?

In Christ, we have confidence

Finally, see how we declare our identity and security in Christ after singing of his work on the cross and his victorious triumph from the grave:

And as He stands in victory, sin’s curse has lost its grip on me. For I am His and He is mine, bought with the precious blood of Christ…No power of hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck me from His hand. Till He returns or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

Fellow Christians, we must be satisfied in Christ and Christ alone. Our hope, peace, and confidence are found not in what we can do for God, but in what he has already done for us. When you’re tempted to place your confidence in your own works, turn your eyes to the work of Christ on the cross. See Jesus, bleeding and dying, suffering unimaginable pain and the heaviest weight of sin for your sake. If this is what it took to save you from your sinful self, you have no reason to place confidence in that very same self that needed saving. Our confidence doesn’t belong in ourselves or any other human being or facet of this fallen world.

It’s tempting to “move on” from the work of Christ, to think that now we can do this on our own, now we can do what’s right, now we can have the power ourselves to live this life. But we forget that the only way to have power over sin and confidence before a holy God is through him.

The Christian life is one of daily dependence on God to meet our needs and work in us and through us for his glory. We depend on God for diligence when hours of studying are needed to pass an exam. We depend on God for wisdom when it’s time to choose a job or commit to a spouse. We depend on God for patience when precious little babies turn into crazy kids who drive us to the verge of insanity, and for energy to clean up the million and one messes they make.

No matter what age or stage of life we’re in, we must constantly depend on God, praying for his power through the Holy Spirit. He is the source of all that is good in us, the sovereign Lord over every aspect of our lives. If we want him to work in and through us and shape us into Christ-likeness, we must be ever tapping into the source.

Our justification was an instantaneous act of God. But the impact of that single act should extend to every last second and every last corner of our lives. We are saved through Christ, and furthermore, we live through Christ.

Our worth is found in Christ, our joy is found in Christ, our peace is found in Christ, and our hope is found in Christ, not in what we have or what we can do. And only when we have a right understanding of our constant need for Christ can we truly live as we ought.

We must truly depend on Christ Alone.

By | 2018-01-31T02:31:02+00:00 November 26th, 2017|

Which Jesus Do You Believe In?

Which Jesus Do You Believe In by Olivia White

Which Jesus Do You Believe In by Olivia White

Who is Jesus?

The question that has puzzled people for 2,000 years.

Ever since he came to the earth in the form of a human baby, the world has wondered what to make of him. The scribes and the Pharisees, the religious elite, the ones who studied the Scriptures and should have known better than the rest of the people, rejected him. At first, some thought he might be a prophet. As their hearts were filled with hatred against Jesus, they determined he was demon-possessed. Eventually, they called him a criminal and had him executed. Even after he rose from the dead, they wouldn’t believe he was the Son of God. The Jews refused to give the answer they knew was true to the question, “Who is Jesus?”

Muslims believe Jesus existed and was a wonderful prophet. Yes, he was a messenger from Allah; but that’s all He was to them.

Even atheists or agnostics often believe Jesus existed. Historically, there is plenty of evidence that he was a real man. They’ll acknowledge he existed and perhaps even respect him as a good teacher. There’s no doubt he was crucified under the rule of Pontius Pilate, but his death was merely an unfortunate event, if that. Jesus was just a human…nothing more.

Answering the question “Who is Jesus?” is no light matter. How we answer that question determines our destiny. Everyone has opinions about Jesus, opinions that are either right or wrong. But those opinions matter greatly, so greatly, in fact, that lives may hang in the balance.

It’s true that we aren’t Jews or Muslims or Atheists or Agnostics. We’re Christians. Surely, we have a right understanding of who Jesus is.

Or do we?

There are actually many ways we fail to see Jesus for who he truly is. We often fail to see him as the Son of God, reigning over all, and worthy of our complete dedication. We don’t worship him as we should. There are many false views of Jesus, even from those who profess faith in him . These views include:

1. Life Jacket Jesus

This is the Jesus for when tragedy strikes and you need something to hold onto so you don’t drown. This is the emergency life preserver Jesus. This is when we label Jesus with the words of a fire extinguisher: “Use in case of emergency.” Jesus from this perspective is part time and doesn’t affect our actual everyday lives. We only come to him when we’re utterly desperate because we view Him as our last effort and our last hope.

2. Good Luck Jesus
We have to keep Jesus around, because he promises to give us whatever we want, right? He can give us good things and make our lives great. He can give us happiness and peace and all those wonderful things. We want health, wealth, and prosperity. That’s the real reason we stick around.

3. Vending Machine Jesus

This is the Jesus of those who come to God only to get whatever they want. He’s also known as the Divine Butler. We only care about the things we want to receive from him. If we come to him, it’s not out of a love for Him; it’s because we want something from him.

4. Ticket Master Jesus

Jesus holds the tickets to heaven. It’s easy to purchase a ticket: just go up and ask him for one! By simply calling yourself a “Christian”, you can get an all expenses paid trip to the wonderful land of heaven. Who would miss out on a deal like that?

There are so many other wrong ways we see Jesus. Our selfishness, our pride, and ultimately our sin keeps us from truly seeing Jesus as he is. None of us will have a crystal clear vision of him here on earth. “For now we see as in a mirror dimly, but then we shall see face to face,” as the apostle Paul said (1 Corinthians 13:4).

But we can cultivate a much more accurate view of Christ. If you believe in a Jesus that is no greater than Life Jacket Jesus, Good Luck Jesus, Vending Machine Jesus, or Ticket Master Jesus, you probably have never truly experienced a real relationship with the true Jesus. Jesus is so much more.

Let me tell you who Jesus is to me.

Jesus is my life. He is the author of life, and he is the purpose of my life. I get up in the morning to use the breath he has given me to praise him.

Jesus is my hope. When life is indeed caving in on me, I have the hope of being in heaven with Jesus through his work on the cross to save me.

Jesus is my joy. While I wait for the fulfillment of that hope, I have joy in the here and now because Jesus is with me. Though he is not bodily present here on earth, he has given me the Holy Spirit to live in me and speaks to me through his Word.

Jesus is my peace. Though he does not promise to fix the broken circumstances of this world, he is sovereign over them, exercising his power with wisdom according to his good and perfect will.

Jesus is my comfort. Through his work in redemption and through his work in my own life, Jesus has proved his neverending love to me. I know that he cares about me, and I know that he will do what is truly best for me. Though I might not understand his plans, I know he is worthy of my trust.

Jesus is all of that to me. Ultimately, though, it all comes down to this: Jesus is my Lord and Savior. He paid the price for my sins and brought me out of death and into a new life with him. I owe my whole life to him, so I acknowledge him in his rightful place as my Lord. His will for my life will prevail, and I will spend my life seeking to worship him. Through my obedience and adoration I will praise him. I want to give him the glory due his name.

The purpose of the true Christian is to magnify the name of Jesus. The true Christian life isn’t labelling yourself as a Christian to get whatever you want from God, or to get into heaven, or to have a backup plan in case of an emergency. Instead, the Christian life is one of worship, continually offering up our praise to the King.

Because the true Jesus is not a vending machine or a life jacket. The true Jesus is Lord.

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By | 2018-01-31T02:34:01+00:00 October 6th, 2017|

God is Sustaining You

God is Sustaining You by Olivia White

God is Sustaining You by Olivia White

Sin persistently wreaks havoc on our world. Whether by the piercing whistle of sirens, blinding blue and red flashing lights, shouting, screaming, and crying, or by the daily struggles of sickness, depression, and pain, we are constantly reminded of the broken state of this fallen world. All around us, we see the effects of the curse and of our sinful nature.

At some point or another, we all have faced the question, “Where is God in all of this?”

When we are tempted to doubt or despair, we have two options. We can do just that- doubt and despair- and assume that God really is not in control, or else, he must not be the good and gracious God he claims to be. Or, we can step back and try to look at things from a heavenly perspective.

 

Sovereign God Sustains

Consider Matthew 8:23-27, in which Jesus and his disciples are on a boat when a storm comes along. The boat begins filling with water, threatening to drown them, but Jesus is apparently unaware of the situation as he is asleep. “Save us, Lord, we are perishing!” cry the disciples. Jesus rebukes them, “Why are you afraid, o you of little faith?”

Let us not be those “of little faith”. Let us trust God even when it doesn’t look like he is in control, because we know he is sovereign regardless of whether we understand his workings.

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:16-17)

We must not assume God is just sitting up in heaven twiddling his thumbs until we notify him of our problems.

God is constantly sustaining the universe. He doesn’t just leave it to run on its own. He holds the sun in the perfect position to illuminate and warm our world without scorching us to death. He directs the winds and waves as he wishes. He makes our bodies continue breathing.

If God stopped holding the universe together, boom, we would all be dead. God isn’t the world’s medicine; he is its life support.

 

Sustained for a purpose

Does this make us mere chess pieces, pointlessly watching as the game of life takes place before our eyes? Not at all. Knowing God is actively sustaining us, we can assume he must have a purpose for our lives and a role for us to play. This should radically change the way we live. We are not alive by mere chance. He has kept us on this earth for a reason.

In the most broad sense, we are here to praise God. We must live out this purpose through obedience to his commands, serving him, and putting his goodness on display for the world to see.

The way we live as Christians should send messages to the world.

By sharing our testimony, we say, God’s grace is strong enough to save a wretch like me.

By spreading the gospel, we say, The righteous judge of the universe chose to take our punishment upon himself that we criminals might be redeemed and restored back into a relationship with him.

By fellowshipping with other believers we say, The bond of Christ is not divided by race, personality, age, background, socioeconomic status, or anything else under creation.

By loving our enemies, we say, You may never love me in return, but that’s okay because God loved me while I did not yet love him.

This is the general way in which we all are called to magnify Christ. This is how we can witness to the world around us. This is the role God has assigned to us in his overarching, sovereign, eternal plans.

 

God’s sovereignty should be our comfort

As God is sustaining the human race, so he also has a purpose in sustaining the world and is actively working in it.

He has not left us to come to a miserable end as nations blow each other up until the world is no more. From everyday incidents to world-powers declaring war, he is sovereign over every action and event and is providentially working through them for our ultimate sanctification (Romans 8:28).

God is sustaining the world and he is sustaining you for a purpose. As you live for that purpose, take comfort in knowing no matter what is going on around you, he is still sustaining.

Today I encourage you to ponder this truth. Every breath you take comes from him. Every beam of sunshine or drop of rain has been ordained by him to fall. Every event of your life, whether good or bad, is being used by him according to his glorious eternal plan. Let’s trust that he is aware of our circumstances and will do what is best for our good and his glory.

 

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By | 2018-01-31T02:36:29+00:00 September 16th, 2017|

Do We Need to Clean Up for God?

Do We Need to Clean Up for God? by Olivia White

As I scrolled through my Facebook Feed today, I stumbled upon the words of a fellow Christian blogger:

“God wants to love on you. No need for clean up before approaching him.”

This attitude of “God loves you, so come as you are” is one that is incredibly prevalent these days. While the intentions behind it are likely good, there are problems with the message being conveyed, problems that I want to address. My purpose isn’t to pick on the writer of that quote or anyone embracing it, but rather to point out the two main issues with this message.

 

1. The gospel is about more than God’s love

It would be wrong of me to say that this quote and the message behind it are over-inflating God’s love. God’s love for his children is great, far beyond anything we could imagine! And yes, he created and saved us out of that great love.

But that’s not all there is to the story. You see, when we simplify it down to just “God loves us”, we make it about us when, truthfully, it wasn’t about us in the first place. As a young child, I was taught from the Westminster Catechism that “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” Simply put, we exist to bring glory to God.

Indeed, the Bible affirms this idea. Ephesians chapters one and two combine to make a gospel-saturated, rich portrayal of our identity as Christians. God is shown to be merciful, kind, and full of grace. Yet the apostle Paul doesn’t just say “God saved us because he loved us.” No, he makes it very clear that the goal of our salvation is that God would be praised.

“He predestined us… to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have obtained an inheritance… so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also… were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:5-6, 11-14)

We must understand that while God’s love is unimaginable, it is not God’s sole motivation. God saved us out of love. He loved us by saving us. And he did it that he might be praised.

 

2. God is forgiving, but God expects holiness

This is the root issue of the “come as you are” philosophy: it ignores the holiness of God and neglects his expectations for his followers.

Yes, God forgives our sins. He even knows that we as human beings cannot attain perfection in this life. But by no means does he give us a free pass for sin. Instead, God gives us the firm command: “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16), and we cannot make light of this command.

We as Christians are called to live a life of holiness. Ephesians 1:3-4 tells us, “Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him.”

Holiness is something that we are called to. Holiness ought to be our destiny. Holiness must be our goal.

 

So what?

God does accept us despite our imperfection (assuming we have trusted in Christ and thus had our sins atoned for by his work on the cross) and he certainly does love us. Yet we must not get so focused on the grace of God that we overlook his holiness and our responsibility. We aren’t perfect and we won’t be perfect, but we must strive to put sin to death and live in a way that pleases our holy God. For if we have been saved by the grace of God, why would we want to do that which displeases him?

So then, my exhortation to you is this: Embrace the love of Christ, but acknowledge his holiness. Bask in his grace, but strive for righteousness. Don’t take advantage of God’s goodness, but rather let it propel you to do that which pleases him. Remember the purpose for which you were saved: to glorify your Savior.

 

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By | 2018-01-31T02:38:33+00:00 August 24th, 2017|

The Value of Knowing Christ

The Value of Knowing Christ by Olivia White

The Value of Knowing Christ by Olivia White

The book of Philippians was written by Paul from prison as an encouragement to the church of Philippi. Chapter three gives us some very deep thoughts about what it means to be a Christian.

In verse four, Paul begins to list off all the things he could have placed his confidence in: circumcised, an Israelite, one of the strictest adherers to the law, so zealous that he persecuted the church, considered blameless in regards to righteousness through works. Paul was among the religious elite. He was probably a pretty honored and respected guy.

And here comes the shocker: Paul counted all this as loss for the sake of Christ. Knowing Christ was of the infinite worth to him, so much so that else was worthless in comparison. Paul literally counted everything apart from Christ as junk- so much that he literally threw it away; his reputation, his honor, and his security. He gave it all up, choosing instead to endure extreme suffering because of his public and unashamed faith in Christ.

Paul didn’t mind throwing all he had away. In fact, he believed it would be a privilege to suffer for his faith. Even death itself was hardly a price to pay for the sake of the One who loved him enough to die for him.

Paul realized that he could only be truly righteous through Christ. He didn’t rely on the law anymore because Jesus could truly make him right before God. The law didn’t make righteousness possible; Jesus did.

Paul was willing to even die as Christ had died because he knew he would also eventually receive resurrection from the dead, just as Christ also had been raised from the dead. Earlier he claims that “to die is gain”. Okay, well, death isn’t too bad, because it doesn’t last forever. But how can it be gain? Death brings us closer to being with Jesus and thus to knowing him fully and having a perfect relationship with him.

If we know Jesus, we have a relationship with him. The two things are tied so close together they are practically the same. Knowing Christ means having a personal relationship with him through faith. This was Paul’s goal, the one he talks about in the next section: to know Christ more and more.

What does it mean to know God and to grow in a relationship with him?

When Adam and Eve sinned, they were separated from God, and by extension, so is all humanity. Through faith, Jesus gives us the opportunity to be reconciled to him. That means we can know him as our Savior and Father, we can grow in our understanding of him, and we can continually be growing closer to him. Most people know about Jesus, but only through faith can we personally know him and have an intimate relationship with him.

Knowing Jesus is so important that Paul basically says, “I don’t care about all that stuff anymore (the reputation, the honor, the safe easy life), because the one thing that matters to me is Christ and knowing Him.” Doesn’t it make sense that if someone was really awesome and amazing, you’d want to know them and have a relationship with them? Well, then, it’s really incredible and unbelievable that we get the opportunity to know Jesus; to know God. Because Paul understood the value of knowing Christ, he gave his all to pursuing that goal.

We too must see the value of knowing God and the importance of a relationship with him.

If you don’t have a personal relationship with God through Jesus, you are unrighteous, condemned, and without hope. If you have accepted Jesus as your savior, you already have a relationship with God through Jesus, but like Paul, you must seek to grow it.

How can we know God and grow our relationship with him?

Through the Bible

The Bible is God’s Word, his revealing of himself to us. In order to know God, we must read his Word. The Bible teaches us who God is and it is God’s direction and commands for our lives. God speaks to us through his Word, and we must listen.

 

Through prayer

As the Bible is God speaking to us, so prayer is us speaking to God. A relationship with God involves the blessing of coming before him in prayer. As with any relationship, it isn’t just a one way deal. Though God already knows all our needs and sins and joys and sorrows, he encourages us to pray to him because it strengthens our faith and shows our trust in him. We should want to talk to God.

 

Through following him

Cultivating a relationship with God takes action. As God is actively working in our lives and hearts to sanctify us, we must be actively seeking to please him with our lives and obey his commands. Our faith will grow as we trust God and serve him. Like Paul, we must be willing to follow God at whatever cost, even when it requires sacrifice. If we personally know and love God, we must live for him.

The greatest gift we have been given is the opportunity for fellowship with God through Jesus. Too often we take this for granted. Paul’s words stand as a reminder to us that knowing God and pursuing a relationship with him is the well worthwhile.

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:7-8)

 

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By | 2018-01-31T02:45:30+00:00 July 7th, 2017|

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