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How to Pursue Jesus with Your Whole Heart

Anastasis Faith

I have class every day at the University that I attend. Unfortunately, the parking lot my brother and I park at feels like it’s about eight miles away from everything else. I clocked it once and it’s a little over half a mile from the nearest point of interest, and that point is still quite far away from where my classes are located.
Walking half a mile is easy if you know how to handle boredom, but that was not the problem.
The problem was the 20lb backpack I carried every day.
The walk wouldn’t be near the struggle if I did not have this huge backpack with my heavy laptop, notebooks, class notes, sometimes a big textbook, a liter of water, etc.
Morning Glory Girl Pursuing Jesus with Your Whole Heart

One of the days I was walking, it occurred to me how this was similar to sin. Sin weighs us down from running the race that God has set before us.
Now, of course the analogy breaks down at some point. I need to have my backpack with me for school, and I never need sin. However, the point remains: I cannot run a race with a heavy backpack. Neither can we expect to run the race of life with sin and other distractions weighing us down.
I love this verse so much:

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hebrews 12:1-2

In this guest post, I break down these verses and show how Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us exactly how to pursue Jesus with our whole hearts. It tells us what we are supposed to do, and how we are supposed to do it.

How to Avoid the Bible Journaling Mentality

Anastasis Faith
“Let’s open with prayer,” I said.
My sister looked up with a mocking expression. “Oh, this is, like, official? Weird.”
I felt the color seep into my face as I looked from her skeptical face to my friend who was just smiling. “Um, well… kinda.”
I had decided I was going to write a Bible study on Ruth for teen girls. My sister and a friend met with me and we started going through the book of Ruth and tried to draw from it principles about how we should live our lives as Christian girls.
We only met once.
I thought it wouldn’t be very difficult, especially considering that I had once been part of a girls’ Bible study through Ruth a couple years before. But when I started trying to write it, my sister said, “Do you really think you can say that from the passage?”
I didn’t like being challenged, and eventually, the project dropped.

Looking back, I am so glad I never finished that study and never tried to teach girls with it. While I’m sure there was no heresy, I now see some major flaws in how I was approaching the Bible.
I recently read a book by Jen Wilkin titled “Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Minds.” It is an incredible book that I recommend to every woman and girl, regardless of age or experience with the Bible. It is reviewed on my blog here. In it, she exposed some very common but misled approaches to God’s Word. I was convicted and have since been praying that the Lord would change how I see, read, and honor His Word.
In the Instagram Bible culture—a place where I see Bibles full of hand lettering, Sharpies, washi tape, and watercolor—there is a common theme of a lack of understanding of how to approach the Bible.
I wrote a blog post for Phylicia Masonheimer that addresses three major pitfalls in how we view and read our Bibles as well as simple ways to remedy them.
I honestly believe that you can have a completely different way of approaching Scripture simply from reading and applying what is in this article. 

What are some erroneous ways that you have approached Scripture or seen others approach it?

How to Use Your Summer Break Intentionally

Anastasis Faith
-By Abigail Borland

School is out for most of us, and ending for the rest of us.

I feel like summer comes with endless promises of finishing those nagging projects, getting to hang out with friends all the time, pursuing hobbies, spending more time in God’s Word, etc. Yet it always seems to dredge by slowly in front of Netflix or speed by without a chance to stop, rest, and enjoy the things we missed during school.

This summer, I want to use summer break 2018 wisely, intentionally, and for God’s glory. Instead of wasting these precious two months, I want to make goals, break them into achievable steps, and conquer those goals, growing in my faith and allowing Christ to draw me nearer to Himself along the way.

Below I will share some guidelines for making goals this summer, and then I will give you some ideas for things you can pour yourself into this summer.

How to Use Your Summer Intentionally

Making Your Goals

 1. Brainstorming and prayer.
I suggest taking an hour or two to prayerfully think through some activities God might be calling you to participate in or initiate this summer. Perhaps He wants you to lead a Bible study, write your grandparents every week, memorize a book of the Bible, mentor a younger girl, spend two hours a day in prayer, or all of the above! Write down any ideas that pop into your head and pray over them, asking God to show you how to best spend your time.

2. Break your ideas into achievable goals.
This is like what Anna described in her post about new year’s resolutions. Don’t just write on your goals list, “Conduct a Bible Study;” select a specific Bible study, contact a group of people and ask them if they would like to participate, and set aside time to prepare for the study. When all these steps are in place, you will be much more likely to follow through with your commitment. This way, you will have a plan to keep you on track.

3. Commit.
This truly is the key to accomplishing anything this summer. If you don’t commit to the things you feel God is calling you to this summer, you simply won’t get them done. Perhaps write out a list of things you want to commit to and summarize them, along with the steps to accomplish them, in a few sentences. Then, share your plans with your friends and family and ask them to help you stay on track.

Ideas for Goals and Summer Activities

1. Summer reading list!
This is so essential. If you are like me and you love to read, making a summer reading list allows you to see visible process in what you have read over the summer. The key here is to be intentional. Single out books that are Christ-honoring and clean. Try to select good fiction books, but also make sure that you pick out books that will teach you more about Christ. I suggest Christian biographies and solid Christian books. Just remember, be intentional about what you read so that you are rested and challenged in your faith by the end of the summer.  

      2. Mentor a younger girl.
While this is both exciting and scary, mentoring a younger girl not only stores treasure in heaven, but also helps you pass the summer and bring a younger Christian closer to Christ. Talk about reaping eternal rewards! Once you find someone to mentor, begin meeting with her once a week and challenging her spiritually, setting goals for her and helping her attain those goals.

3. Rest intentionally.
After a hard school year, the summer is a time of switching up the schedule, doing new things, and getting long-dreamt-of-but-still-unaccomplished projects finished; however, we also need rest to refuel our body and mind for the coming school year. This might take the form of extra sleep, but I encourage you not to sleep through the first half of the summer. Waking up an hour later than normal during the summer is fine, but consistently sleeping in until lunch is not the best idea.
I also challenge you to rest in Christ. Pray for longer each day, memorize more Scripture, prayer journal about the year and what you hope to accomplish, and really search your soul to see what you need to surrender to Christ and ask Him to take over. By resting intentionally during the summer, you will greet the upcoming school year with greater spiritual maturity.

4. Work on prayer and Bible memorization.
These are always areas we need to work on. But we must remember to break these things up into attainable goals. For prayer, perhaps set a goal of reaching one or two hours of prayer a day. You could break this up into half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the evening, pray for an hour the moment you wake up, or try other ideas. Ask God what amount of time He wants you to commit to and do just that–commit.
With extra time in the summer, work harder on things that you don’t have as much time for during the year. For Bible memorization, pick an epistle and begin memorizing a couple verses each day, perhaps half a chapter each week. Wouldn’t it be amazing to look back over your summer in a couple months and realize that you memorized the entire book of Colossians, Philippians, or James?  

5. Miscellaneous
Some other fun ideas you might try during the summer include: host a Bible study, write your grandparents once a week, play a game with your siblings every day, begin a prayer journal, learn a new skill, help with your church’s VBS, reach out to a neighbor, and just serve other people. The key to using your summer break well truly is to serve others. Deny yourself by helping other people, allowing Christ to reach into others’ lives through you. This will bring you, as well as those around you, joy.

I hope that God uses this to challenge you to brainstorm about using your summer break intentionally. Grab a pen and paper, and go start right now! Have a great summer break, and remember–do everything to the glory of God! 

Abigail Borland is entering her sophomore year of high school this fall. She enjoys encouraging others through non-fiction writing that points them to Christ, the Author and Perfecter of her faith. On any given day, she can be found reading a good book, working on schoolwork, listening to a podcast or music, or practicing hymns on the piano.  

What are your summer goals? Share in the comments below!

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