My 2020 word of the year: Prayer. Why do i have a word of the year? Because i want to give a greater focus to an area God reveals to me, to devote more time to it, or to redefine whatever it is that i am focusing on. Choosing a word to focus on for an entire year will lead to new discoveries in that area, finding strengths and weaknesses, and new ways to apply it to my walk with God.

On New Year’s Eve i was visiting a church in Hopelchen, Campeche, and part of what they were doing was letting people pick up a slip of paper with a verse on it featuring a promise from God. My verse ended up being 1 Peter 3:12: For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are attentive to their prayer… This isn’t telling me that God will answer all of my prayers in 2020, but rather that He is attentive to them; He hears them and pays attention. What a delight that is, to know that God sees tiny little me on this tiny little earth and hears my prayers, even the ones i barely whisper in my mind. He pays attention to that! Isn’t that wonderful?

This verse didn’t immediately lead me to choosing Prayer as my word of the year. i prayed about it some more, and eventually it just clicked into place. This was it. My prayer life isn’t very strong at this moment, my belief in the power of prayer is on shaky ground, and God often changes the one doing the praying more than the one being prayed for. i know this will challenge me if i surrender this part of my life to God’s control, and growing pains are inevitable. But as with anything in God’s control, it will lead to a better place and changes for the better.

i am currently a student at a Bible school in Mexico and they’ve got us involved in a few prayer programs. One of them is prayer groups for the whole semester (3 months). There’s 6 of us in my group and we meet once a week. We are to pray for each other, get to know each other, and just be there for other during this time. i am looking forward to getting to know these ladies better and learning how to be sincere and intentional in my prayers with them. Another program they have is prayer partners. Every two weeks we draw a random name and pray for that person for the whole 2 weeks. And we can do it anonymously, in person, through notes, however we feel led to pray for that person. On top of that, i have some wonderful ladies around me here who deeply believe in the power of prayer. i hope to learn much from them, to be more open to pray out loud and often, and to believe that prayer matters.

Let’s take a moment to see what Scripture says about prayer. This is what ultimately matters and is truth, not my current feelings on the matter. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 makes a powerful start with this, “Pray without ceasing.” Don’t give up when your prayers are not answered, keep at it! And don’t give up when they are. Pray in praise and thanksgiving for what God has done. Then, in James 5:16 it says “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” We should pray for each other, and not just in the privacy of our hearts. Pray OUT LOUD. We should be talking to each other about our areas of struggle and then praying for one another in that moment. Because let’s face it, so often when we say “I’ll pray for you” we end up forgetting about it and then just don’t. So pray right away, out loud, and without ceasing.

This is something i want to change about my prayer life this year. To pray out loud and to pray often. To pray out loud even when it’s just God and me, not to always keep it in my heart. i would liken only ever praying in silence (which by itself, isn’t bad. But let’s not just leave it there) to only ever texting a friend. Yes, you still communicate but how much more personal and effective isn’t a phone call? It establishes a deeper connection, emotions come into the voice, and even physical emotions like hand gestures or smiles and laughter.

i’m getting excited just thinking about all the possibilities and opportunities for this. And let’s face it, Bible school life is so busy and fast paced that one has to intentionally set time aside to have one-on-one time with God. A friend’s sister had told her before she left, “Don’t forget about Jesus while you’re at Bible school.” That’s something i am trying to take to heart for myself. Because doing spiritual schoolwork isn’t that same as spending time with God.

Word of the year or not, our prayer life is something we should always be working on. It is our way of communicating with God, it lays our heart open before Him, it’s an encouragement to those we pray for and with, and it releases what we’ve been holding in during the day/week/month. It draws us nearer and deeper.

Let us pray.


Jesus, the Son of David

Last Sunday in church, our pastor had a message that pertained to the shepherds the angels appeared to when Jesus was born. i’m sure he had some very good points, but my mind was chasing rabbits down a different trail. Because our pastor read both Luke 2 and 1 Samuel 16 in tandem throughout his sermon, i started thinking of how David and Jesus were alike. So my notes for that sermon are not about that sermon at all, but rather the first outline that would later become this post. We’ll jump right to it, but first a disclaimer: i am new to this and to theology (i can’t even definitively define the word yet), but i love seeing connections between the Old and New Testament, i love seeing the Bible as one connected story, and i love seeing God’s promises in the Old Testament fulfilled in the New. If i let God lead and do my best and you extend me some grace, i’m sure this will work just fine.

Firstly, let’s look at why Jesus is called the Son of David. In 2 Samuel 7 God promises David, through the prophet Nathan, that his throne and kingdom would be established forever. Even after the line of David falls and Israel is exiled, this promise still stands. God is still promising to send Israel a king of the house of David. Isaiah 9, verse 6 and 7, “For a child will be born for us…He will reign on the throne of David…from now on and forever.” Also, Isaiah 11. i just love how this chapter starts. “Then a shoot will grow from the stump of Jesse…” A shoot is a new growth and a stump is the dead remains of a tree. So from a seemingly dead stump (Jesse>David) a new shoot will grow. God is reminding His people of His promise here, telling them not to give up hope! He can bring life and growth where there is none, He. is. not. done! The promised King is still coming, have hope! And He keeps reminding them. Jeremiah 23, Ezekiel 34, Zechariah 9 to name a few. Then, in Matthew 1:1…

“An account of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:” The first thing Matthew does is establish Jesus’s lineage, all the way back to Abraham. And he calls him Jesus Christ, and later the Christ. Christ means “anointed one”. Going back to 1 Samuel 16 we see that Samuel anointed David as the one God had chosen to be king over Israel. So David was physically anointed by Samuel as God’s chosen, and Jesus, the Son of David, was the Christ, the “anointed one.” He is the one God had sent to His people, the one He had promised them, us! Christ (Greek) and Messiah (Hebrew) both mean the same thing. Then we have Jesus or Yeshua, the name God gave to Joseph in a dream. This means “to save, rescue, deliver,” or as a noun, “Salvation.” How amazing is that?? So loosely translated, Christ Jesus becomes “the anointed one is Salvation.” God is in the details, y’all! This one, this baby born to this virgin, this is the King and the Savior God had been promising to His people! He is the Son of David and He will establish an eternal kingdom! God remembered His promise and, in the right time, He fulfilled that promise.

i’m already awed and i still have quite a list to get through. Next up, we have their kinglyness….or lack thereof. When Samuel came to tell Jesse that God had chosen one of his sons to be king of the Israelites, Jesse trotted out 7 of his sons before he even mentioned an eighth. A young shepherd boy he hadn’t even bothered to call in from the field. But when David was eventually fetched, God said “this is the one I have chosen.” The last one to be considered is the one God chose. Read 1 Samuel 16:8: But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his [Eliab’s] appearance or his stature because I have rejected him. Humans do no see what the Lord see, for humans see what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.” God was after David’s heart, not whether he looked like a ruler. And what about Jesus? We know He had a humble birth (born in a stable, not even we are that humble), a simple life before His ministry (He was a carpenter), and there is no mention whatsoever about him being handsome or good looking. Judas had to point Him out to the mob when he betrayed Him, He didn’t stand out in any particular way. Jesus and His life were not what you would expect of a king, it was very humble and down to earth. He was humble and meek, yet carried the authority of God. As was David; he started out as a simple shepherd but God placed a king’s mantle on his shoulders.

Both Jesus and David were born in Bethlehem. Jesus, the Son of David, the one prophesied for generations to sit on the throne of David and establish an everlasting kingdom, was born in the city of David. i’ll say it again: God is in the details. David was a shepherd; Jesus is the Shepherd. David protected his flock from a lion and a bear; Jesus shelters us from the lions and bears (metaphorically) of this world, He leaves the 99 in order to find and rescue the 1 lost sheep. David was the first king chosen by God; Jesus is the King, the King of Kings. It would be easy to just write off some of these as coincidence, but i don’t believe in coincidences where God is concerned. He is too awesome for that. It’s a coincidence when you and a friend both wear a blue shirt to lunch; it’s not a coincidence when Israel’s first king and the final, eternal King have similarities.

One final thing i want to highlight. David unified the tribes of Israel into one nation. God promised David that He would gather His people together, establish a place for them, and give them rest from their enemies. (2 Samuel 7) God’s people were united into a strong nation with rest from the fighting and struggles they had known. But even this was temporary. Israel eventually fell again, kings after David did not follow his example, and the nation fell apart.

Then…Jesus. The promised Messiah, the Son of David. He did what no king on earth could do, what no sacrifice or good intentions could do. What David could not even do. He reunited God’s people. Not so much with each other, but with God Himself. Until the death of Jesus, people were separated from God because of their sin. People needed a high priest to offer a yearly, blanket sacrifice for the whole of the people, to offer atonement for one more year. But upon Jesus’s death, what happened? The veil behind which the high priest offered that yearly sacrifice, that veil that separated the presence of God from mankind, that veil tore in half, from top to bottom. i haven’t found anything definitive, but that veil was huge and it was thick. Human hands did not do that. God tore the veil. He removed that which separated us from Him. Because Jesus was the Perfect sacrifice, daily or yearly sacrifices are no longer needed. Jesus, upon His death and resurrection, reunited us with our Heavenly Father. We can now freely go before the throne of God and make our requests made known to Him. Jesus is our High Priest and the only mediator we will ever need again, and He dwells within us. Because the blood of the spotless Lamb covers us, our sin does not separate us from God. We have been redeemed.

What’s something you’ve learned or delighted in about Jesus this Christmas season? In this time, celebrate Christ and all He is to you, to the world. Because He is all of this and more. So, so much more. He is our Friend, our Savior, our Redeemer, our Shepherd, our King, and, praise God, He is the Son of David!!


Let’s Make it Personal

Early on in my Christian walk i struggled in many ways to become a better Christian. i bought devotionals and tried to read the Bible through (still haven’t read it completely, by the way), i was desperate to grow closer with God. Only problem was i had no idea what that looked like. The idea of a personal relationship with God, of seeing actual growth or the lack of it in my life seemed outlandish. i thought that was only for the select few, the ones that were “obsessed” with God and the Bible. So i tried to find my own version of that. i think deep down my intentions were good – i wanted that relationship – but i was missing a key point: i wasn’t making it personal.

i thought the right formula of repentance, praying, study books, and church would get me where i needed to go. And when i didn’t get results, i concluded i had missed a step or just not applied myself enough. It was because of this seeking that i started attending a Bible study in January 2018. i hoped that spending an evening a week with fellow believers and intentionally studying God’s Word would give me knowledge and tools i was missing. i still remember a conversation that clearly revealed one of my misconceptions. i said something along these lines: if i wasn’t consistent with my Bible readings, God wasn’t close to me. Anyone else ever feel or still feel this way? That if you don’t do certain things (read, pray, go to church, etc.) God will not be close to you, that He’ll pull away and you’ll have to run after Him again?

i don’t remember the exact moment when the scales fell from my eyes and i saw things clearly; it was a gradual realization and happened over several months. But i got a reaction when i said that; my teacher challenged that statement and i took that home with me. It resonated within my heart and began to challenge what i believed about my walk with God. Studying the Bible changed for me. It was no longer a search for that mystical moment where i would just discover the answer and suddenly i’d be filled with love for God and knowledge about Him. It became, along with prayer, a source of communication and communion with God. It was no longer about getting Him to love me, it was about getting me to love Him.

1 John 4:10 says, “Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loves us and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” There’s a lot to unpack in this and the surrounding verses, but for the topic of this post we’re going to be focusing on the first half. “Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loves us…” Our relationship with God isn’t about getting Him to love us or accept us or welcome us; He already does, so much more than we can ever fully comprehend. Rather, it’s about how much we can love Him. How much of ourselves are we willing to give to Him, how much are we willing to surrender? Our job isn’t trying to earn His love and grace; we already have that in abundance. Our job is to seek Him with our whole heart, to desire – earnestly – to know Him personally and intimately.

And the best way to do that is to spend one-on-one time with Him. Just you and God. Take time with God outside of your church, family, friends, or spouse. Because if we want a relationship with Him instead of just knowledge of Him, we need that time. And because of the Holy Spirit living within us, we have access to deeper knowledge and understanding of God, without someone else to walk us through it. Don’t misunderstand, teachers and mentors are very important to our walk, but they should not be our source. Go straight to the Word, by yourself!

Let’s look at another verse. “As for you, the anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you. Instead, His anointing teaches you about all things and is true and is not a lie; just as it has taught you, remain in Him.” 1 John 2:27. God will reveal Himself to us, and He is a very capable teacher. When we open ourselves up to Him and truly dive into the Word, His Spirit will reveal the truth to us. 1 Timothy 2:3 assures us of this, God desires for everyone to be saved and to know His truth. Not just those who have achieved a certain level of devotion, but everyone.

That means you now, not the you that reads their Bible twice a day every day, not the you that always has a burning desire to pray and talk to God. We’re human, even the most devout among us struggles in their relationship with God. Don’t wait until you achieve the rank of “Devout Christian.” Because you won’t achieve that without making it personal first, without the halting steps and stumbles of a newborn baby. That’s okay, everyone was there at one point in their walk. We get past this stage by continuously returning in all our brokenness and failures, by showing up to that time with God, no matter how many times we feel like we’re starting at Square 1. Because each time you do show up, you’re taking another step. And in time, you’ll be looking back and marveling at the things God has taught you.

Psalm 56 – A call for God’s Protection

It’s been a hot minute since I posted. With the Bible school I’m attending only being 3 months out of the year, they jam as much in them as they can, so that doesn’t leave much time or desire for extracurricular writing.

But I felt led to share something so here I am. I’m pretty isolated from the world out here, but news of the Corona virus and tendrils of the anxiety surrounding it have not escaped us. Schools in Mexico are being closed, an exciting event at Bible school was cancelled, and then there’s all the whispers of borders closing and the fear level rises. Will we be able to go home in 2 weeks time?

This morning, as I was working on my journey through the Psalms, I read Psalm 56. And as I read it, I became aware of how appropriate it was for the situation the world is in currently. With a burst of inspiration, I set about rewriting the Psalm by changing words or phrases here and there. Once finished, the Psalm was not David praying for relief from his foes, but us praying to God for relief from this virus. Without further ado, here it is.

1. Be gracious to us, God, for a virus is invading us; it spreads and threatens us all day long.

2. Our attacker invades us all day, it arrogantly multiplies and spreads against us.

3. When we are afraid we will trust in You.

4. In God, whose word we praise, in God we trust; we will not be afraid. What can a mere virus do to us?

5. The media twists the news all day long, all their words to us are alarming.

6. They stir up strife, they frighten, they limit our freedom while they seek to destroy our peace.

7. Will they escape in spite of such actions? God, let this be a call to repentance!

8. You yourself have recorded our pleas, put our tears in a bottle. Are they not in your book?

9. Then our attacker will retreat on the day we call. This we know: God is for us!!

10. In God, whose word we praise, in the Lord, whose word we praise.

11. In God we trust, we will not be afraid. What can a mere virus do to us?

12. We were bound by our vows to You, God, we will make our thank offerings to you.

13. For you rescued us from an eternal death, can you not also keep our health from failing, so that we can walk before you in the light of life?

Let us not be afraid during this time. We have God on our side and He is bigger than anything in this world. This virus, like Satan, can only harm us physically. This body is only temporary anyway, we are promised a new and perfect body one day in eternity. Let us hold on to the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding and circumstances.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7

Fear is not from God. He wants us to rest and trust in Him. He is still in control. We should comply with any rules placed on us and try to be cautious. It’s better to be too cautious than not enough and live to regret it. Then we should pray; pray for healing, pray for this virus pass over, and pray for this to awaken people to their need for God.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgement.

2 Timothy 1:7

Faithful, Generous Deliverer!

Very often, this walk of faith is more about what we do in the times we don’t “feel” like a real Christian. When life is hard and the waves begin to pull us under, when our own doubts and insecurities keep us from walking in the victory Christ has won for us, when the stresses of our lives keep us from spending quality time with God. But, whether we feel it or not, God is still there and He is still worthy of our praise. i want to share how God made this truth clear to me recently.

i struggle with insecurity. i have moments where i feel so insignificant, unwanted, useless, and worthless that i fall apart, sometimes for days at a time. That is what happened to me last week. It came up at the most unexpected time: at the end of a very wonderful day with very wonderful people. We laughed, we shared what God was doing in our lives, we prayed for each other, and just had genuine, wonderful fellowship. As i’m walking to the car to leave at the end of the night, something clicks inside me. The conversations happening around me suddenly sounded like “Go away, Jennifer. You’re not needed here anymore. You fulfilled your purpose today. You were funny and made us laugh, but when it comes to anything else, you’re not needed.” And that’s how i left. i got home and crumbled to pieces. because i believed the lies, because i thought doubts like this had been left behind, because i thought i was “over it.”

But Satan reminded me that i am not over it, that i struggle to believe that i mean something to those around me. This time he didn’t use the lie that people don’t love me (though he has before); instead, he hit me deeper: People don’t need me. i love to be needed, okay? i love to be useful, even if people don’t tell me that. If i can see that i am helping and doing something that helps, i am fulfilled. So Satan was telling me that everything i do and am in life could be done – was being done – better by someone else. i was just there but of no use. Others did it better. i had nothing that made me necessary to people.

In the middle of all of this, however, i heard God’s voice. He was there, y’all! He carried me through that valley. Satan was pounding these lies at me but God was there, whispering that He loved and needed me. Psalm 13 really resonated with me about this.

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long will i store up anxious concerns within me, agony in my mind every day? How long will my enemy dominate me?
Consider me and answer, Lord my God. Restore brightness to my eyes; otherwise, i will sleep in death. My enemy will say, ‘I have triumphed over him,’ and my foes will rejoice because i am shaken.
But i have trusted in your faithful love; my heart will rejoice in your deliverance. i will sing to the Lord because He has treated me generously.

Psalm 13 (HCSB)

David was in despair here, he was really pleading to God, begging for deliverance. And that was me last week. i was begging God to remind me of His truths, to remind me that these things were not true, demanding to know why this was still a struggle for me. But, thank God for spiritual growth in times of plenty and peace. Because what i learned during those times is what carried me through this. After the initial breakdown, i started to remember what i’d learned personally and what i had watched friends learn: even when i don’t feel like it, God is still worthy of praise. Repeat this as often as you need to until it sticks.

“Will you forget me forever?” That was David’s question. He was feeling hopeless and desperate, wondering if God would ever hear his prayer. But look at the end! David praised God for 3 things; he praised Him for His faithful love, His deliverance (even though he hadn’t been delivered from his current situation yet), and His generosity. i pray for a heart like David, to be this worshipful of God.

But, getting back to the spiritual growth. In the past, i would have been stuck at “why do i feel like this? why, why, why?” But i was able to pray and hold on to Christ even though i still felt the lies pounding me. They hadn’t stopped, and it was already Monday. i found myself slipping all day long, feeling the sorrow come back. But even if i had nothing more to say than “Help me, God”, it kept me going. He was faithful! And even if i never told anyone what i was struggling with and they never reassured me these lies weren’t true, God delivered me! i saw only one set of footprints behind me in all of this. But friend, they weren’t mine. Christ carried me.

And He was generous. He gave me one more thing. He gave me something that makes my heart sing: a gray day. i know, what an oxymoron, right? But i’m a West Texan. Overcast skies and foggy days are bliss! And without even asking Him for it directly, God gave me the perfect day. This was the final step to shake off the funk i had been in. God had already been faithful and delivered me, but He was also generous. And while the day itself isn’t what healed me, i saw God’s love in that, and that was a balm to my heart. i saw that He cares about these things, He is generous and longs to bestow these things upon us. He is such a good, good God.

Because He can use all things for good if we just let Him, i don’t look back over last week as awful and painful. i see His faithfulness, deliverance, and generosity. yes, there was pain, but it fades to nothing compared to His goodness. These qualities of His – and more! – can be found everywhere in our lives, even in the dark times. It’s up to us whether we are willing to look for them, whether we are willing to praise Him in the storm, to seek His light in the dark.

Who am i?

and if not i, then who?

Hi, and welcome to my blog, “it is not i.” This blog idea has been on my heart for a while and it’s been online for a while. i’ve just never shared it with anyone or really did anything with it. My first draft of this introduction was a lot more about presentation and flair, and considering how that worked out for me, i decided to rewrite it. Writing has always been something i have been interested in, but time and time again i’m struck by just how much work it can be and that it doesn’t always flow naturally. i let myself become overwhelmed or intimidated and hold myself back, thinking no one wants to read what i write anyway. so i’ll just write and not worry about that anymore. whether i have one reader or twenty, i can share what i learn from the Word, i can share what i’m struggling with and how God helps me through it, and i can share how Christ is a part of my life. Because He is the one this is ultimately about anyway; it is not i.

The title comes from my favorite Bible verse, Galatians 2:20. i guess you could say it’s kind of like my mantra when it comes to my faith. Ever since i got baptized in June of 2015, this verse has been the one that’s always stuck with me, that i memorized without even trying, that reminds of who i am and what i’m living for. and it perfectly sums up life here on earth for a believer and follower of Christ; we might still be living here in this world, but Christ is living in us now. It is no longer just us or only about us. We’ve been transformed and renewed!

i’m striving to live my life according to the phrase “it is not i” by giving up my own selfish wants and desires and learning to commit to God’s will for my life. i must decrease and He must increase, right? It is a constant battle within my life because the human part of me still wants selfish things, still wants her own way. But, over the years i have seen again and again that God’s way really is best. i can plan until i’m blue in the face, but i will never come close to designing my life in as wonderful and fulfilling a way as God is doing. His way might not be as easy as i would prefer, but it’s more amazing and rewarding than anything my imagination can dream up.

Personally, i’m an avid book lover and coffee drinker, a caffeinated bibliophile if you will. (i might also share book reviews from time to time.) My favorite authors will always change as will the types of books i’m reading. i’m trying to be more intentional about what i read and consume, but it, too, is a struggle when entertainment often outweighs spiritual value.

As i write posts, more of my personality and struggles will come through the words, but i also hope that God will shine through brightest of all. i am still here, but it’s Him that i’m really trying to show to you. His might, His power, His glory, and His name. That’s what this blog is really about. It’s about Him and what He reveals to me in life, in His word, in people, within myself. There’s always something more to learn, we will never understand the fullness of God and all that He is, but we can try our best.

Thank you for joining me here and feel free to reach out to me for anything. i’d love to chat about your own walk with God or just get to know a fellow believer. Bear with me as i learn how to navigate this website, learn how to format posts, and figure out my style. i am sure things will change along the way…hopefully for the better.

For i have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer i who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which i now live in the flesh i live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Galatians 2:20 NKJV