You Can’t Spell Vanity Without “I”

IMG_0054.PNGWe live in a world overrun by self promotion. With the advance of social media we see more and more of people painted in whichever light they choose to show.

Medias are used as a race to get the most followers and with those followers to gain the most likes. We are in constant focus to what others think of us that we literally obsess over retyping, recapturing and rethinking our posts before delivering them to our audiences.

I’m not innocent of this by any means.

I obsess over whether or not my picture is liked by enough people. I worry over whether or not people will care to read my update and then whether or not what they read will be likable. After I post this very blog, I will wonder how many people are interested in clicking my link to read what I have to say.

But why?

Why the obsession, anxiety and desire for someone’s click?

The reason is a small view of God and a big view of man, and specifically self. Man is obsessed with themselves. We are so quick to seek the approval and appreciation of others because we deem ourselves worthy of praise.

But are we?

When has a man’s own renown brought another joy? When has the motive of self promotion gained us a single iota of lasting joy?

Vanity, as described in Ecclesiastes, is a chasing after the wind. It is a constant chase of something which can never be held. Fleeting, futile and fatal.

Fleeting because we cannot ever catch it, it is ever moving and shifting.
Futile because if we were to catch it, it is not ours to keep.
Fatal because self-promotion cannot save us, in fact it can damn us.

So what do we do? How do we conquer this obsession and striving for self promotion and worth?

We pray for a big view, a proper view, of God.

God is literally the creator and sustainer of the very earth we stand on, the air we breath and the sights we see. Not only does he hold the universe in his infinite hands, but he also holds and cares for those who are his in his hands.

He sees every triumph and defeat we have.

He is there for every tender and trying moment we encounter.

He not only knows you, he formed you.

And on top of all of that? He loves you, if you are, in fact, his.

But, he demands that we worship him above ourselves. But this is not vanity on his part. Rather, his praise, brings us joy. His honor, brings us contentment. His renown brings us hope.

But, this is not to be said in grief or despair! His praise, honor and renown are most seen at the cross.

When God sent his son to die for the sins of his people, God’s praise rang triumphantly. When the curtain tore in two to signify the welcoming of his people freely, his honor was exemplified to all peoples. When his son rose from the grave declaring that death had been defeated, his renown was exclaimed to the heavens and earth.

Friends, let us let go of seeking our own glory. Let us instead praise and honor the one who deserves all praise and honor. Let us transfer that zeal for wasted glory to instead seek the glory of the one who saves. Put down the phone, close the laptop and realize today the glory of our God. At the end of our days, let us do more advance of the gospel than of ourselves.

Advertisements

Learning to Dwell

IMG_0051.PNGDwelling is not something that comes easily to me. In fact, dwelling seems so awkward.

I mean, what do you do? Sit and stare at the wall until something majestic appears? Or am I supposed to close my eyes? How long do I close them? And when is it okay to open them?

Honestly? I dwell so much more than I realize. But the object of my dwelling is too often misplaced.

I spend so much time seeking and searching so many things. I seek relationships, time with friends, future goals. I spend so much time seeking out these things, chasing them down, even. Pursuing constantly and fervently these things I so desperately want.

And.. These things are not promised. At the end of the day? I will more often be disappointed.

And yet, the God who formed me, who holds me in His hands has told me that if I seek Him I shall find Him. He is faithful to be found when sought. And when we have found Him? We don’t continually chase down and look for Him again, rather we are called to dwell, to rest in our God.

Dwelling just seems so foreign to us. In the hustle and bustle of daily life it seems illogical to stop and dwell on anything. It seems unfitting for us to pause our day to spend time with our God.

Yet, that’s what He calls us to do.

Our stopping and soaking in our savior is never in vain. Finding our rest anywhere else leads to many sleepless nights.

Let me be perfectly transparent for a second. I so struggle with finding my dwelling place in my relationships. I find someone, a friend, a boy, whoever, and I put entirely too much stock in them. Suddenly I’m constantly thinking of or dwelling on this person.

I find my mind wandering throughout the day, wondering their thoughts, actions, whatever. I waste immeasurable amounts of time worried about this person and what they’re thinking. Literally exhausting myself with this constant guessing game.

And where does it lead me? Does this stress and anxiety lead to healthy relationships? No – in fact usually it’s the opposite – I’ve so immersed myself with this person that they’re not even a person anymore. They’re an object, an idol.

I’ve sought my hope and security in something which could never sustain the weight. I’ve hoped for rest in a restless sinner. I’ve looked for comfort amongst a bed of thorns and thistles.

What’s worse, I do all this when God has offered me immensely more.

My God – the creator and sustainer of the universe, the Rock who is never moving, the One who has remained from the beginning, and holds time in His hands, the One who has all power and authority over the angels above as well as creeping thing on the earth, the one who sent His very Son to Calvary to die so I may know Him and one day enjoy Him forever, this God – calls me to rest in Him.

To rest, not in distress and worry for tomorrows, but in the promise that we will not take a step outside of His perfect sovereignty.

To seek comfort, not in thorn bushes and hard places, but in the fact that He is faithful to the end to comfort us.

And to dwell, to dwell in the fact that He, alone, is God. And He is the only one who can bring us rest.

Rest and dwell securely in Him my friends. And as I close, let me charge with you with the encouragement I received on this issue.

“Don’t take a step away from your bed tomorrow morning until you have kneeled by your bed and have devoted your day to God and devoted all your interests to Christ’s interests. Confess that you are a sinner and can not reach the depths of your heart. Only He can. Then, throughout your day, plan time and recalibrate your heart to God by praying again and again. You can do this as long as you are continuously relying on Jesus. You can do it.”

As we approach our days, let us recognize the areas we are unrightfully resting. And let us instead turn our gaze to our God, the only place our souls may ever rest.

– Kayla Godbold

A Heart for the Lost

IMG_0049.PNGThe great commission is no big secret amongst Christian groups. There are very few Christians who could not via memory recite the commission to you.

“Go out unto all the nations and proclaim the Gospel.” Pretty straight forward, right? It makes perfect sense the way it is written.

Yet, I know in my own heart this message is not clearly received. When reading the Gospels, I so often skim over this verse, not allowing it to truly impact my heart.

One of my classes this semester is called “Personal Evangelism.” I tell you what, it’s week two and it is already kicking my butt. Not because it is hard or even confusing, in fact it is simple and abundantly clear.

Scripture evidently tells us as believers that we have a great responsibility to go out into the world and proclaim the gospel.

The reason this simple command is difficult to me is due to my own hardness of heart toward the lost of this world.

Being perfectly honest and blunt, I do not truly care about the lost. In my hardness of heart I know myself to be saved and therefore am tempted to allow everyone else figure it out on their own.

This is clearly against what Christ has commanded me to do.

Two things have impressed on my heart these first weeks of my Evangelism class.

1. The weight and glory of the cross, and it’s meaning to those in Christ.

2. The two greatest commandments: to love The Lord your God with all your heart soul and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself.

First, the cross, I believe, can become a flippant symbol for the Christian faith. We see it on necklaces, hung on the walls of churches nation wide without ever really stopping to understand the great weight which comes from the cross.

The cross was by far the worst punishment in Jesus’ time – I dare even to say of all time. To die by crucifixion was a gruesome thing. To say we are “washed by the blood of Christ” is to recognize that as He hung from this tree, He bled Himself of life so that we may become one with Him in His death. What a grace.

Yet, through this gruesome torture, the worst pain He felt was not when He received the lashes beforehand, nor when they punctured His wrists and feet with coarse nails.

Rather, the moment of His most suffering, His most grievous state was when He exclaimed to His Heavenly Father “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (‭Matthew‬ ‭27‬:‭46‬ ESV). In that moment for the first time in Christ’s existence, He was separated from His Father. The grief and pain from that moment in time was enough to cause more agony than any pain this world inflicts.

I read this, and I can see what I do not have to feel. I will never again experience life apart from Christ, because I am saved by His blood. But those that are lost? Those who pass from this world without knowing the forgiveness in Christ? Will spend an eternity in the agony of being apart from God. The pain which was too much for Christ to bear, will be on the shoulders of those who die without knowing Him.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭22‬:‭37-40‬ ESV)

Second, it is clear here where Jesus wants us to focus our hearts. First and foremost on our God, but second on our neighbors. And what are we to do to both? Love them.

Not only love them – but love them well. To love God with all of our being, with all we have. And to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

In one of my textbooks, there is a glorious picture of the simplicity of loving your neighbor. There is an interview in which a Christian is faced with the question “what is the greatest moment of your life?” And he, as hopefully all of us in Christ would respond, replied, “the moment I accepted Christ as my savior.” The interviewer replied, “then it is safe to conclude that when we neglect to share the Gospel with those around us, we deny them the very joy we have found in Him.”

By neglecting to share the thing which brings us our hope, joy and comfort, we are disobeying the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves.

I pray you not take these things as something for me trying to convict you or anyone else, rather instead to remind my heart and yours the precious joy and comfort we have found in Christ. I know my heart to be so callous to the lost in this world, and I am praying even as I write this for The Lord to change my heart in that matter.

He so showed His love for us that day on the cross. We who are in Christ know that to be true.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (‭Romans‬ ‭5‬:‭1-11‬ ESV)

Friends, as we go on through our days and lives let us seek to share this joy that we have found in our precious savior, Jesus. Let life in Christ be the very thing we exclaim the loudest and most frequent. Let us love our neighbor by offering the hope they will not find in this world. The hope that supersedes anything else that will ever be offered. The hope that is Jesus Christ.

– Kayla Godbold

Oh What a Friend I Have in Jesus.

IMG_0047.PNGWell, it’s been my first glimpse of college. In the past week I’ve moved in to a new home, shaken what feels like a thousand hands, and heard and then tried to remember the names of each one. In this process I’ve also said goodbye to the friends and family I hold so dear to my heart and then have said hello to a new and exciting journey.

I have to admit, I’ve had a tough time adjusting to this new life. In the span of 48 hours I was taken from the home I’ve lived in for the vast majority of my life, in a city I was comfortable and familiar with. Saying hello to a new place where there were very few familiar faces was, to say the absolute least, intimidating.

Don’t get me wrong here, I am absolutely thrilled to be at Boyce College, and I am more than eager to see what The Lord has for me to learn here. But being in the newness of it all is hard. That’s just the plain reality of it all.

But hard is not bad. Rather, hard times are when God most shows His outstretched arm, His comforting presence. This has surely been my case.

Friends, fellowship and family are all wonderful blessings. Blessings which I have received far more than I deserve.

Yet, these relationships are all made to glorify Christ all the more.

That’s where I had it all wrong when I first arrived here. I wanted to have friends for the sole purpose of showing me I was not alone, someone was here for me, someone I could lean upon on hard days and find comfort in. All the while neglecting the fact that Christ is all of these things for me and far more. Though all of these things can be found in such wonderful relationships, we must first and foremost find these things in Christ.

Now, when I look for those sweet friendships in those around me, I strive to do it with the end in mind to glorify Christ in the midst of it rather than finding someone whom I expect to provide an end for me. I can love them as Christ has showed love to me. Not for an end of my own, but rather for the sake of love Himself.

I am so excited for the days ahead of me here at Boyce. I’m so looking forward to what God has in store for me. If you think of me, and the rest of the incoming students here this year. Pray for our love, comfort, joy and peace to be found not in the number of friends or familiar faces around us, but in the God of these very things. The one who so showed His love to us by sending His son, who offers us comfort in His very person, who gives joy everlasting to those who come to know Him and peace in the fact that He, Himself, has conquered the grave leaving behind no fear in this world for those resting in Him.

I thank those of you who, already, have devoted time to pray for me. I’m so appreciative and am overflowing with joy in the very fact that you think of me! Much love to you all!

– Kayla Godbold

On to a New Adventure!

20140804-144956-53396445.jpgI’m counting down my final days in Jacksonville before moving cross country to Louisville, Kentucky to attend seminary. This move to Kentucky is thrilling and terrifying at the same time.

As I finish up my last few days here in my home town I’ve had a lot of time to look and reflect on what The Lord has done in my life with the amazing people He has so graciously surrounded me with.

When I first moved to Jacksonville I was a brand new believer. Coming from a broken home, I had a lot to learn about family, friends and this new thing called “fellowship.” And The Lord has abundantly provided people to teach me what these relationships should look like.

With my family? I caused more tension than I should have. I was so often stubborn, hard of heart and quick to anger. Yet, they continually showed me grace and compassion. They prayed for me, prayed with me, strove to love me well. They taught my heart what “unconditional love” was all about. They loved me, despite me. They loved me because I am theirs.

With my friends? I started anew. And, as a new believer I hurt more people than I helped in my first couple years of living here. Being prideful and closed minded to my own beliefs and traditions, it made me hard toward people who disagreed or thought differently. Yet, even through my stubbornness God was faithful to me. He brought me friends who told me I was wrong – let me tell you, they didn’t feel like blessings at the time, but now I cherish them so. As time passed The Lord taught me compassion and grace, He taught me to love people rather than first expecting them to love me. And now – I have a league of great friends whom I love dearly!

With fellowship? I cannot express the gratitude I have for my church family. It was such a pivotal part of my growth as a believer, and I would not be where I am in my faith today if it were not for the faithful teachings of my wonderful pastor. I have learned abundantly through my church family what it means to be “the body of Christ.” I’ve witnessed countless occasions where the church steps up and helps a fellow believer for the sole purpose of loving them well. I’ve developed strong bonds with women in the church who have sought to encourage and build me up in my faith.

I can honestly say though I may leave with tears, I am filled with joy of the wonderful blessings The Lord has flooded my time here with. I’m looking forward to being able to take these valuable and precious lessons with me to this next season of life.

I want to say thank you to the wonderful people whom I have had the pleasure of getting to know. Thank you for your investment in my life to love me, and to share life with me! It has surely been a thrill. I love you all! I’m blessed to know you and I’ll miss you dearly. My time here has been such an incredible journey, and I look forward with eagerness to the adventure up ahead.

Much love to you all,
– Kayla Godbold

My Heart for Haggai.

20140729-122000-44400683.jpgThe book of Haggai is my absolute favorite book of the Old Testament. It’s not particularly exciting – there are no known “bible heroes” featured in the book – but to me it is the most encouraging book in the Old Testament because it so evidently portrays God’s redemption.

The book of Haggai can be broken down into three parts…

1. God’s people, in the midst of worrying and caring for their own houses, neglected to care for the temple. This neglect led to the temple being left in a shadow of it’s former glory.

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord…Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lays in ruins?” (Haggai 1:2,4 ESV)

2. God makes desolate the land of Jerusalem by sending droughts and famine to the land, only a portion of the harvest was available, houses were torn down, and the people were left in desolation.

“You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? Declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house.” (Haggai 1:9 ESV)

3. God promises restoration to His people. He petitions for the temple to be rebuilt, and this time it will be more glorious than the former.

“And the Lord stirred up the spirit[s of the people] and they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God…’Work for I am with you declares the Lord of hosts…and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts…The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.” (Haggai 1-2 ESV)

When I look into my testimony of the past few years of my faith, I see my heart so evidently portrayed in the book of Haggai. That’s why I love it so much.

1. I, in the midst of pride and arrogance ignored the petition for me to pursue the Lord in a way honoring to Him. My worship was half-hearted toward Him, and instead I worshiped people and myself.

2. Suddenly, those people I so cherished were gone, taken from me because of my own sinfulness. My life seemed desolate, empty without those people in my life.

3. Christ turned my heart to Himself. He reminded me of His goodness, and caused me to fall in love all over again with the God of Grace. I can honestly say my relationship with the Lord is stronger, and better than it ever was. The latter glory far exceeds the former.

I know in my life I have found it so difficult to understand the purpose of God’s glory. Why is He the only one we should grant our highest esteem and praise to? Doesn’t it seem prideful of Him to ask us to praise Him above all else? 

Let me ask you this – when you praise your own self, where does it lead you? Are you satisfied, or are you quickly disappointed? When you worship people of this world, how do you cope when they let you down?

We would be fools to ask others to praise us. Yet, when God asks us to praise His name it is a grace to us.

John Piper, I believe, says it best, “God is the one being for whom self-exaltation is the most loving act, because he is exalting for us what alone can satisfy us fully and forever. If we exalt ourselves, we are not loving, because we distract people from the one Person who can make them happy forever, God. But if God exalts himself, he draws attention to the one Person who can make us happy forever, himself. He is not an egomaniac. He is an infinitely glorious, all-satisfying God, offering us everlasting and supreme joy in himself.”

If you are not familiar with the book of Haggai, or have not read it in a while, I definitely recommend it to you! It is such an amazing encouragement to my heart and each time I read it I am reminded of God’s goodness and amazing grace.

Haggai teaches us that His glory, and not our own is worthy of pursuit. I pray to remember that as I go on with this day and the days that lie ahead.

– Kayla Godbold

If I Had a Week to Live…

Many people have been asked or presented with the question “what would you do if you found out you only had one more week to live?” Among the traveling to distant places, finally fulfilling dreamed up adventures there is an ever ringing choice to “get right with God.”

My question is, why do we think we must be faced with death to come to the realization that we need Christ? Why do we see Him as a last resort?

Much of cultural Christianity has subscribed to the “Jesus is my CoPilot” mentality. We do the hard work, but Christ is there for helpful advice, or even worse, we see Him as our back up plan if all else fails.

Here’s the thing friends.. Jesus is not a back up plan and He is most assuredly not a CoPilot.

Jesus is our savior from ourselves, our light in this dark world and the truest thing we will ever know.

I know.. I sound super positive right?

Honestly, if I were to listen to myself just a few years ago I would think myself insane.

This world isn’t so bad, right? My life is pretty good, actually.

But.. On this side of redemption? On this side of knowing my blessed savior Jesus Christ? To know the love He showed for me and so many others on the cross?

Well, as Paul says, “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 3:8 ESV).”

That word “rubbish” there? The ESV translates it politely. The word could also be substituted with “crap.”

Pretty much, Paul is saying: Comparing the glory of my savior to anything this world has to offer – this world, and everything it has to offer, is crap and Christ is everything glorious and spectacular.

Wait.. Think about this.

Paul was no stranger to nice things. He stayed in luxurious homes, he stayed in Corinth, which was a major metropolitan city, surely filled with many beautiful treasures and things. He had dear friends, a man he loved as a son. Did he mean these things too?

Yep. Crap.

Compared to the glory of God, it was as nothing in his eyes.

We catch glimpses of how Paul viewed Jesus, and we see it to be a love and longing for communion with Him. Paul sought The Lord continually and was comforted and fulfilled by Him, and Him alone.

Friends, rather than frantically fleeing to Christ in the midst of your shortfalls, walk by His side day by day. Instead of seeing Him as your partner, submit to Him as your rightful King.

Don’t wait until you’ve lost this world to run to Jesus, rather cling to Christ and release your grip on such meaningless things. Rather than using your last breath to plea for mercy from hell, use every breath until your last to praise His name.

I assure you my friends, we gain so much more in Him than we could ever lose in this world.

– Kayla Godbold