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Created for Love: Designed in the Image of Our Loving Father

Did you know you were created for love? In the beginning, God made man in His image. All was perfect. The garden was perfect, man was perfect, and God’s relationship with man was perfect. But then the enemy stepped in and deceived them into thinking that God was hiding something from them. He caused them to question God and His character, and in doing so, he managed to tempt Eve to take a bite from the forbidden tree. The consequences of that decision were severe, to say the least. Continue Reading

The Mind of Christ: United in Thought and Purpose

Are we united as Christians? It’s a simple question. Yes or no. But the truth is that it’s not necessarily that simple. Okay… maybe it is, and we just don’t like the answer. For one thing, a quick Google search reveals that we have over 34,000+ denominations. (My jaw actually dropped when I read this!) I understand the need to attend a church that views certain particulars of Scripture the way you do, but is this what Jesus wanted when He prayed in the garden that we would be united as believers? (John 17:20-23) Is this what Paul meant when he reminded us that we have the mind of Christ and that we should be united by this fact?

If I’m being honest, it’s not the number of denominations that bothers me. It’s the way we treat each other. Continue Reading

His Strength in Our Weakness: Learning to Rely on God’s Strength

“Little ones to Him belong; they are weak but He is strong.” I remember learning these words to Jesus Loves Me as a child. (I can still remember the arm motions.) From an early age, I learned that even in my weakness, He is strong – a concept that I’m still working on putting into practice today.

But I have learned one crucial detail in my adult years that goes beyond what I learned as a child. I may be weak, but God doesn’t intend on me living my life as a weak person. I can’t keep walking around declaring how weak I am; rather, I need to learn to be strong in Him. Continue Reading

Trials and Perseverance: A Lesson in Relying on God

Both trials and temptations give us a chance to grow. Every time we say ‘no’ to temptation, we grow stronger in our ability to do so. And the more we declare truth when the enemy tries to lie to us and deceive us, the better we are at recognizing His lies in the first place. Trials help us to grow as well, but they are much different than temptations. Trials must be endured, and unlike temptations, God doesn’t always provide a “way out.” Continue Reading

Lies and Temptations: Understanding the Truth that You Lack Nothing in Christ

Temptations. We all face them. Even Jesus faced His share of temptation. Throughout the Bible, we see people give in to temptation and others who remain strong. We see the repercussions of sin as well as the rewards for saying no to it. As Christians, we know and understand fully that sin is never good for us. It’s always better to say no to temptation. But unfortunately the enemy likes to deceive us into thinking otherwise. Continue Reading

How to Make Your Thoughts Obey Christ (and why it’s important)

I’ve always been a worrier. I’ll admit it. My thoughts often get the best of me. Maybe it’s the fact that like to have everything planned out. I need to know what’s going to happen and when. And even though I say I like surprises, I actually don’t handle them well. Why? Because I’m a bit of a control freak. Yes, I said it. I, Alyssa J Howard, like to be in control.

I’ve always known that I shouldn’t worry. After all, the Bible says so – right? But I don’t think it really hit me until I saw some of the same “worry” traits in my oldest daughter. She’s always been that way for as long as I can remember. As a young toddler she would organize her toys by color and size (which was very cute at the time!) But now that’s she’s older, her toys must be organized and in their place or she can’t fall asleep at night. She gets that from me. Watching her worry about such small details made me realize that I needed to change. Continue Reading

War of the Mind: The Real Battlefield | alyssajhoward.com

War of the Mind: The Real Battlefield

The New Testament reminds us quite often that we are in a battle. The enemy is a liar and his goal is to take you down. Now he certainly can’t steal you away from God, but he can hinder your walk. If you believe his lies, he can keep you from advancing the kingdom, living the call on your life, and from being all that God intended you to be here on earth. I truly believe this is why God calls us to renew our minds daily in Him. Because when all is said and done, the real battlefield – the place where we fight the enemy and his lies – occurs in the mind. Continue Reading

New Identity: What the Bible Says About You (and what it doesn’t) | alyssajhoward.com

New Identity: What the Bible Says About You (and what it doesn’t)

Our new identity in Christ is something I am very passionate about. In our church today, I hear so many Christians speak poorly about themselves, and it truly saddens me. I must admit that I used to be one of them. I used to believe that I was a lowly, undeserving sinner. How could God possibly want me? How could He use someone like me? Weren’t there people out there who were more “qualified” in the eyes of God?

And then I started learning about my identity as God’s child. You see, I used to be a sinner, but I’m not a sinner anymore. I’m a child of the living God. And if you’re a believer, the same is true of you. Continue Reading

Humility vs Self-Defeat: Lessons from Our Savior | alyssajhoward.com

Humility vs Self-Defeat: Lessons from Our Savior

Let me ask you a question: Was Jesus humble? Did He exhibit pride in any of His behavior? I think we can all agree that Jesus is our perfect example of true humility. Paul certainly agreed in his letter to the Philippians:

 

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. – Philippians 2:5-11 (ESV)

Continue Reading

Determining Your Worth: Is Self-Esteem Biblical? | alyssajhoward.com

Determining Your Worth: Is Self-Esteem Biblical?

How do you see yourself? Are you worth it? These are questions our culture asks on a regular basis. My preschool daughters are constantly receiving messages through media about the importance of a strong self-esteem and how we should believe in ourselves. But is it scriptural to “believe in yourself?”

Let me pose a question: When it comes to retail, how is price determined? If I were to drive to the mall right now and purchase a shirt, how much would I pay? Well, it would depend on a lot of factors. Am I purchasing this shirt from a high-end store or a store known for its “good deals?” Is the shirt on sale or on clearance maybe? How well-made is it? Is it casual or dressy?

Here’s the bottom line: The shirt would cost whatever someone was willing to pay for it.

When clothes move to the clearance rack, it’s because they need to lower the price so that someone will actually buy it. Maybe the shirt isn’t in style any more or maybe it’s out of season. Or perhaps it just didn’t sell for one reason or another.

 

Now let me ask you another question: How much are you worth? Continue Reading

What It Means to Be the Child of a Good, Good Father

What is your perception of God? If you had to describe your Creator, what would you say? For many who don’t know Him, God seems distant. They will say things like, “God, if you’re out there…” But we know that He isn’t far away. He hears our prayers, knows our thoughts, and cares about the smallest details of our lives. He’s a good, good Father, and we are His beloved children.

 

I often wonder if we struggle to get past the God of the Old Testament. He seems to be quite angry… a lot. We read about judgment and wrath. We see His people suffering the consequences of their choices by being exiled, losing battles, and wandering in the desert for 40 years. This is a picture that many non-believers have of God. You have to love Him and obediently serve Him, or He will send you straight to hell. Continue Reading

Trust vs Worry: 4 Practical Ways to Rid Yourself of Worry | alyssajhoward.com

Trust vs Worry: 4 Practical Ways to Rid Yourself of Worry

Why do we worry so much? Honestly, I worry about the craziest things sometimes. I worry about my relationships, my safety, my finances, what to make for dinner… I seriously don’t know why I devote so much of my time and attention to worry. Well… maybe I do know. Worry is simply a lack of trust.

 

There are certain things my children never worry about. They never worry if they’ll have food to eat for breakfast or if they will have clothes to wear tomorrow. They never worry about finances or getting good grades in school. At 3 and 5 years old, they have no idea what it’s like to worry about these things. Why? Because they trust. They trust that mommy and daddy will take care of them. And if they experience sadness or they fall and hurt themselves? We are there to pick them up and nurture them back to health, both physically and emotionally.

 

As adults, we worry much more than our children. We suddenly have responsibilities. We have bills to pay and mouths to feed. After experiencing heartache and brokenness of our own, we learn that sometimes people can’t be trusted. We’ve been let down, and we ourselves have let others down as well. So needless to say, there’s much more to worry about. Continue Reading

Truth vs Reality: Understanding Your Place in Christ | alyssajhoward.com

Truth vs Reality: Understanding Your Place in Christ

The Bible has a lot to say about us as children of God. We are new creations, royal priests, set free from sin, partakers of Christ’s divine nature, and co-heirs with Christ. It even tells us that we are currently seated with Christ in heavenly places! But when we look around at this world, it can be difficult to claim this truth. We see ourselves still struggling with sin, We face tragedies and hardships. We don’t feel like new creations. Many things still feel old.

So what’s the truth?

 

Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ. – Colossians 3:3-4 (MSG)

 

As a child of God, you have been given the Holy Spirit. You were reborn on the day of your salvation. The old life is gone, and the new life has begun. On the outside, however, you look exactly the same. Walking down the street, no one would know that you are now an adopted son or daughter of the Creator. They can’t visibly see the Holy Spirit living inside of you.

But I’d like to pose an important question:

Which is more true – who you are in the physical realm or who you are in Christ? Continue Reading

Thought Life: 6 Things to Spend Your Time Thinking About | alyssajhoward.com

Thought Life: 6 Things to Spend Your Time Thinking About

If someone were to ask you to describe your thought life, what would you say? Is it deliberate and intentional? Do you entertain thoughts and ideas you shouldn’t?  How much time do you spend each day worrying about your to-do list or day-to-day activities? Or maybe your thoughts are consumed with your job, your kids, or your hobby.

 

The truth is that everyone has a thought life; and according to the Bible, it’s important. Your thoughts matter. They have the power to inspire action and change in your life. But they can also cripple you and keep you from your calling.

Your mind is a powerful thing indeed. It was created by God for many purposes. We meditate, make decisions, imagine, create, organize, worship, pray… and the list goes on. So yes, your thought life matters. And it is up to us to be deliberate about how we choose to think. Continue Reading

It's All About Perspective: Focusing on the Unseen Truth | alyssajhoward.com

It’s All About Perspective: Focusing on the Unseen Truth

It’s all about perspective. 

I’ve heard this phrase countless times, and yet I often need to be reminded of its truth. When we encounter a difficult situation, we can choose to see things differently – through new eyes. If we would simply change our perspective, we can change how we feel about any given situation.

I’ve heard it said that we as Christians should see things through an eternal perspective. But what does that mean exactly? How do we go about seeing the world through “eternal” eyes?

 

First, I’d like to point out what it doesn’t mean. In an effort to escape the pain and struggle of this life, it’s easy to focus on heaven and our eternity with Jesus. And we should look forward to the glorious hope we have of spending eternity with our heavenly Father! But it is possible to become so eternity-minded that you become no earthly good.

We were meant to be present in this life. God has amazing plans for us and divine encounters that He’s called us to fulfill. We all have people we were destined to reach, and conversations that were meant to be had. We don’t want to become so anxious to leave this life, that we don’t live it to the fullest. Continue Reading