4 Christian Terms That Are Often Misunderstood: Sin | alyssajhoward.com

4 Christian Terms That Are Often Misunderstood: Sin

In the final post of my series, I want to deal with one last Christian term: sin. This particular word may seem easy to define on the surface, but I worry that the concept of sin itself has become distorted. Sure we can all define the word. Isn’t it  simply disobedience to God? The truth is that the definition isn’t generally something we struggle with, but rather its our relationship with sin that has become a bit distorted. Let me explain…   Sin and the Believer:   No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not …Read More

10 Bible Verses for When You're Afraid | alyssajhoward.com

10 Bible Verses for When You’re Afraid

Are you ever afraid?  Fear is a common problem for man – so much so that the phrase “do not fear” is mentioned hundreds of times throughout Scripture. Much of our lives, our world, and our culture are beyond our control or understanding. But if you consider yourself to be a child of God, then fear should be a thing of the past because we have a sovereign Father who holds the world in His hands. Speaking from experience, learning how to trust God and not live in fear is a process – one that I personally have to work on daily. The good news …Read More

4 Christian Terms That Are Often Misunderstood: Saved by Grace | alyssajhoward.com

4 Christian Terms That Are Often Misunderstood: Saved by Grace

There are certain words and phrases that are thrown around quite a bit in the church. Righteousness of God, justified by faith, saved by grace… if you’ve been a Christian for long, you’ve undoubtedly heard these and more. Some Christian phrases have been used so much, however, that I worry they’ve lost their power – or worse yet, we’ve started using them incorrectly.   In a previous post, I talked about two Christian terms that may have actually lost their significance since they were introduced more than 2000 years ago. (You can read that post here.) As promised, I’d like …Read More

4 Christian Terms That Are Often Misunderstood: The Gospel of Christ | alyssajhoward.com

4 Christian Terms That Are Often Misunderstood: The Gospel of Christ

“Christianese” is a term often used to describe words that are commonly understood among Christians, but not so much outside the church. We hear some of these Christian terms and phrases so often that they almost lose their meaning and significance. Today’s post looks at two of these common phrases and how their definitions have evolved over the course of 2000+ years. (We’ll look at the other two in upcoming posts.)   Christian Term #1:  Christ This name given to Jesus in the New Testament isn’t really a name at all. It’s a title. It’s used so often that I think …Read More

10 Bible Verses for When You're Emotionally Drained | alyssajhoward.com

10 Bible Verses for When You’re Emotionally Drained

Have you ever been emotionally drained or tired? As the mom of two preschoolers, I’ve been there. (And if I’m being honest, the phrase “emotionally tired” is often a serious understatement!) Going to God for strength is something I need to do on a daily basis. But if I have learned anything, it’s that He is ALWAYS faithful! I am so thankful to serve a God who will exchange my weaknesses for His strength.   I believe whole-heartedly that God speaks to us through His Word. I also know that His Word contains powerful reminders for us that He is faithful …Read More

What Does It Mean to Die to Self? (and is it worth it?) | alyssajhoward.com

What Does It Mean to Die to Self? (and is it worth it?)

What does it mean to die to self? From the time we are born, we are inclined to rebel. Our sinful, human nature longs to be independent of any form of rule or authority. We want to do our own thing – do what makes us happy. I see this with my daughters. The second they could speak, I heard the word ‘no.’ My youngest sees me with her pajamas and her first instinct is to run as far away from me as she can. And then I practically have to tackle her before I can get her to stand …Read More

Bible Study Essentials: Reading the Bible in Context | alyssajhoward.com

Bible Study Essentials: Reading the Bible in Context

Reading the Bible in context is something that Christians talk about quite a bit. Churches and Bible studies teach that it’s important to read “in context” so that we can identify the author’s intent. We can’t just read a verse without understanding what occurs around that verse. By doing so, we run the risk of missing the point behind a Scripture; or worse yet, we come up with an entirely different meaning altogether (and this is bad… very bad.)   I grew up attending a Christian school. I spent a few years attending public (high school and a little bit of …Read More

Bible Study Essentials: Can I Trust My Translation? | alyssajhoward.com

Bible Study Essentials: Can I Trust My Translation?

No Christian would argue over whether or not the Bible is an essential part of our faith. We study it, memorize it, and live by it. We know it to be the Word of God – literally God-breathed as its authors penned what the Holy Spirit inspired them to write. It can be trusted to be true, and we can rely on it to speak into our lives. But there’s just one problem – translation. Over the course of the last two thousand years (even longer for the Old Testament), the Bible has been translated into multiple languages. In the English …Read More

Bible Study Essentials: 5 Benefits to Knowing God's Word | alyssajhoward.com

Bible Study Essentials: 5 Benefits to Knowing God’s Word

Bible study is something that most Christians would agree is an important part of our faith. It is after all the Word of God, or as the apostle Paul put it, God-breathed. When I first started seminary, I’m not sure I completely understood what I had signed up for. I had studied the Bible my whole life, so this should be easy right? (Or so I thought…) The truth is that I learned a lot about the Bible and how to study it – things I had never learned before in my entire life of being a Christian. So I …Read More

The One Thing the World Needs Most | alyssajhoward.com

The One Thing the World Needs Most

What the world needs most right now is not more preachers, churches, or Christians preaching judgement and hell. No. What the world really needs is the light. We need Christians who are not afraid to shine brightly in the darkest of places. Christians who aren’t ashamed to be different – to stand out.   You see, the world has a problem. And that problem goes beyond violence, crime, and hatred. The world has a darkness problem. We’ve gone so far into the dark that we can’t see what we’re doing or where we’re going. The right thing to do has …Read More

5 Reasons Why Christianity Stands Alone

5 Reasons Why Christianity Stands Alone

Christianity isn’t just another religion. It’s different. It has the ability to supernaturally transform hearts and lives. It literally is the source of life itself. While the world tells you that you have to be better in order to be worthy, Jesus saw you as worthy enough to die for… even at your worst. And while religion is typically rigid and all about rules, God simply longs to be with us. Yes indeed, Christianity stands alone. And here are 5 more reasons why:   God longs to be intimate as our Father, not some distant being in the sky. He wants …Read More

Why I Will Never Be a Religious Person | alyssajhoward.com

Why I Will Never Be a Religious Person

If someone were to ask me what my religion was, I would probably respond by saying that I’m a Christian. But that wouldn’t exactly be the truth. You see, in reality I don’t consider myself to be a religious person. In fact, I hate religion. Here are just a few reasons why…   Jesus spent much of His ministry coming against “religion.” You see, the Pharisees were the religious leaders of the day. And by religious, I mean that they were all about the Law. They loved the Law so much that they added countless laws to it forcing the Jews to …Read More

8 Ways to Honor Our Parents as Adults | alyssajhoward.com

8 Ways to Honor Our Parents as Adults

Family relationships are important to God. This is made clear all throughout His Word. I’ve always believed that our earthly relationships were put into place to demonstrate our spiritual relationships. For example: God is referred to as our Father. His role in our lives is very similar to that of parents and their children. He provides for us, protects us, guides us, nurtures us, etc. And as His children, we are called to obey Him for the same reason a child obeys their earthly father – He loves us enough to say ‘no’ when we need to hear it.   …Read More

6 Ways We Sabotage our Role as Ambassadors for Christ | alyssajhoward.com

6 Ways We Sabotage our Role as Ambassadors for Christ

Most of us associate the word “apostle” with the New Testament disciples, but the term actually originated before Christianity. It stems from the Greek word apostolos meaning “one who is sent away” or “messenger.” You see, the Romans had a much higher goal in mind than to simply conquer the world. They desired to make the whole known world Roman, and one of their many methods of bringing Roman culture to the world included sending out an “apostolos.” Similar to our modern-day ambassadors (who are sent with a purpose), they were well-equipped and given authority by the government to demonstrate what it truly …Read More

God is Painting a Masterpiece (and that masterpiece is you!) | alyssajhoward.com

God is Painting a Masterpiece (and that masterpiece is you!)

Have you ever struggled to stay positive? Maybe there’s a difficult circumstance in your life that keeps you awake at night. Maybe you’ve been battling a chronic illness or even depression. Or maybe you’ve been dealing with tragedy and aren’t sure how much more you can take. Regardless, we’ve all been there. We all deal with things we’d rather not have to deal with.   My mom has been battling chronic illness. In all honesty, doctors aren’t even sure what to call her “illness.” All she knows is that it is draining and painful. Not knowing the cause or the …Read More