being a light

Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 5:16

If you’re a Christian, you’ve probably read the metaphor of being a light. It’s such an incredible idea to me that once we’re saved, Jesus’ light shines out of us and into the world as He uses us as a bright spark in a place of darkness.

For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. – 1 Thessalonians 5:5

Isn’t that such a beautiful and inspiring verse? Something I think about often is this: how do I share the light of Jesus with others and help them to see the beauty of His love? Here are a few suggestions:


pray for others:

Making sure your friends and family know that someone is thinking of them and praying for them is a great way to show them God’s love. It can be really encouraging to someone to know that they’re being prayed for. If you’re forgetful like I am, make a list of everyone you want to pray for and keep it with you so you can add to it whenever necessary.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. – James 5:16

help everyone:

Beyond just telling someone you care, actually show them that you care. Do chores in the house that your parents would normally do. Help your siblings with schoolwork. Offer to help everyone, everywhere as often as you possibly can. This shows someone that wow, they’re not just saying that they care – they actually do. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for us, and making sacrifices for others is a wonderful way to show them the love of Christ.

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. – John 15:12

stay positive:

Pointing out the bright side during a hard time can shift everyone else’s point of view and turn a less-than-ideal situation into a reminder to be thankful. The attitude of one person can change the attitudes of everyone around them – I know from experience. If you’re smiling and praising God even when things go wrong, I can guarantee you that the people around you will follow your example.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

love your enemies:

Loving those who don’t seem to love you in return can be really hard, but the results are well worth it. Along with confusing your enemies and making them wonder what gives you the strength to treat them with such kindness, this is a wonderful, inspiring example of God’s love for anyone who might be paying attention.

But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. – Matthew 5:44

 share the gospel:

There’s no better way to show Jesus’ love to someone than to share the gospel with them. Though no one apart from Jesus can save their soul, sharing the good news of God’s redemption with a person can point them in the right direction and give them hope, encouragement, and a purpose for their life.

Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! – Psalm 96:3


I hope those ideas were helpful and encouraging! Remember that no matter who you are, God can use you to be a light in the lives of others.

“You are the light of the world.” – Matthew 5:14

-Clara ❤

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your words matter.

Do you ever see someone who needs some encouragement and wish you could do something? Do you doubt your ability to help because you’re shy, embarrassed, or not good with words? You’re not the only one.

I think that many of us struggle with this – but we shouldn’t. You can make an enormous difference in someone else’s life, no matter who you are or how young you may be. All it takes to lift someone up are a few simple words of encouragement.

The power of words is immense. They can build someone up or tear them down. You’ve probably heard the saying that “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything.” That’s very true and important – but there’s more. If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything – but if you do have something nice to say, say it. No matter how insignificant it may seem. If you know someone who’s really talented, it’s easy to assume that you don’t need to say anything encouraging to them. You might feel like your words wouldn’t matter much among all the compliments they must be getting. But if everyone thinks that way, then no one will compliment them at all. Every bit of encouragement, no matter how small it may seem, is important.

I wouldn’t be doing many of the things I love if people hadn’t encouraged me to keep going or complemented what I had created. Even the simplest things, like someone leaving a comment on one of my blog posts and telling me that they enjoyed it, makes me smile and inspires me to keep doing what I love.

Just as easily as words can make an amazing impact on someone’s life, they can also be incredibly hurtful.

Someone once told my dad that he didn’t have a good singing voice. Though the person who said that may have long forgotten their words, their comment impacted my dad so much that he didn’t sing again until he was in college and a friend encouraged him to sing. Even after that, it took him many, many years to sing confidently again. He actually has an amazing singing voice. You might have had a similar experience at some point in your life. Many people are much too careless with their words, and they never realize just how much they’re impacting others.

That’s just one small example of how your words can hurt someone. A single sentence can influence a person enormously. Words can tear down and destroy, but they can also be beautiful, encouraging, and inspiring. Use your words to put a smile on someone else’s face. Encourage your family and friends. Be that person who has a compliment for everyone they meet. You can make an enormous difference in someone’s life with nothing but a few simple words.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. – Ephesians 4:29

-Clara ❤

your passion can make a difference

What’s something that you’re excellent at? Something that you’d consider to be your gift?

Maybe you’re an exceptional writer, artist, musician, photographer, or mathematician. You’re might be really good with kids, plants, or animals, or maybe you’re great at organization or cleaning. Whatever your skills may be, they’re all a gift from the One who created you. He gave every person on this earth a different gift to share.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. – James 1:17

God has given you a gift. It’s something you enjoy doing – maybe you’d even consider it to be your passion.

What now?

You might feel like your passion is pointless. If you’re anything like me, you might be wondering how your gifts have any purpose beyond simply pleasing yourself.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. – 1 Peter 4:10

You weren’t given a gift to hide it away and use it for your own purposes. Our gifts are meant to be shared with others, and that’s exactly what you should do.

Serving others with your gifts is a wonderful way to glorify God and thank Him for the gifts He has given to you. If you love photography, you could volunteer to take photos for a community event or nonprofit organization, or you could sell prints to raise money for a good cause. If music is your passion, you could play music at an assisted living home. Those are just a few ideas – there are literally countless ways that you can use your skills to help others. Finding a way to put a smile on someone else’s face while doing something you love is pretty much the best feeling in the world.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. – 1 Corinthians 12:4

Maybe you feel like you don’t have a gift. Everyone’s gifts are different – no two are exactly the same. Even if you don’t have one single gift that you’re passionate about, that shouldn’t stop you from bringing light into the life of someone else. As you do so, you might discover what your passion is.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. – 1 Peter 4:10-11

Find something you love. Explore and research until you find a way that it can help others. It may seem hard, but I promise you – it will be worth it.

Today, I challenge you. Don’t pursue your gifts just for yourself – use them to make the world a better place.

-Clara ❤

finding joy admist change

“Change is good.”

“Yeah, but it’s not easy.”

 – Rafiki & Simba, The Lion King

I’d like to talk about change for a minute. As a standard, I’m usually a pretty flexible person – an unexpected detour or sudden twist from the plan normally doesn’t bother me that much. But when change after change keeps piling up, when things keep twisting and turning like a complicated book plot and my mind is frantically saying, no, wait, this isn’t how it’s supposed to happen – it can be hard to keep the right attitude.

We’re often told that change is a good thing, as that quote from The Lion King portrays. I believe that change is good. But that truth can be difficult to accept – especially when nothing seems to be changing for the better.

Even when your life is turning upside down, there are some things that will never change. No matter what happens, Jesus remains unchanging for all eternity.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. – Hebrews 13:8

I don’t know about you, but that’s a very comforting thought to me. There is absolutely nothing on this earth that can change Jesus Christ. He will forever be the exactly the same. A day will never come when we can’t count on him to be there for us.

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. – Psalm 18:2

Another wonderful and important thing to remember is this: every single difficulty that we undergo on this earth is preparing us for the life after death. Even our worst trials and failures are nothing but a momentary affliction:

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

In fact, the Bible tells us that the trials we encounter here on earth are to be counted as joy – for they are helping us to become steadfast in our faith.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. – James 1:2-4

Furthermore, we can be completely and totally reassured that God is absolutely keeping every single one His promises to us, even when we can’t see how He’s doing it. Especially when we can’t see it.

God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? – Numbers 23:19

Most importantly of all, no matter what happens to us, we cannot be crushed or destroyed. As Christians, the life of Jesus is manifested inside of us – and nothing can stand in the way of that.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. – 2 Corinthians 4:7-10

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is this: In the midst of change, don’t let yourself become discouraged. Though you may not be able to see it, God is in control of every single part of your life. He will keep you safe no matter what.

He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. – Psalm 62:6

-Clara ❤

the outsiders

Last night, I was listening to one of my favorite bands, NEEDTOBREATHE, and The Outsiders came on. I’ve listened to that song dozens of times before, but this time, the lyrics really hit me.

One of the greatest things about being Christians is that we are the outsiders.

Wait… “outsider” is a bad thing, right?

That’s what we’ve been told by the world.

But this world is not our home.

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Philippians 3:20

Our true home is with Jesus. We are set apart by Him from the world. We are outsiders here, in our temporary home – but not in our eternal home.

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

John 15:18-19

Look again at the underlined part of that verse. The world hated Jesus.

Would you rather be loved by the flawed, twisted, sin-filled world that rejected Jesus – or by the perfect One who created you, knows everything about you, and still loves you unconditionally?

And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

1 John 2:17

I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather put my faith in forever than something that is “passing away”.

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?

Matthew 16:26

Next time you hear the phrase “there’s no place like home”, remember that for us, there truly isn’t – because we’re spending our eternity with Jesus.

Be an outsider.

On the outside, you’re free to roam,
On the outside, we’ve found a home,
On the outside, there’s more to see,
On the outside, we choose to be.

NEEDTOBREATHE, The Outsiders

-Clara ❤

the greatest artist of all

When was the last time you walked outside at night, tilted back your head, and gazed up at the glittering sea of stars?

When did you last kick off your shoes and climb up into the branches of a tree? Do you remember the feel of the rough bark against your hands and the fragile green leaves against your skin?

Have you ever planted a garden? Do you recognize the rich, earthy smell of freshly upturned soil? Have you ever dropped to your knees to smell a vibrant dandelion that pushed its way bravely up through the earth to greet you?

How about the rain? Have you ever stood outside when it was pouring from the sky in heavy torrents and let it soak you to the skin? Do you know the smell of a recent thunderstorm, that fresh, clean aroma of earth and sky?

Do you ever stop what you’re doing to scratch the ears of a smiling dog or stroke a purring cat? Have you ever listened to a bird’s early morning song or the cicadas and crickets belting out their chorus on a summer night?

We are living in the middle of a beautiful masterpiece, and every incredible part of it was created by a single Artist. Isn’t that amazing to think about? God created every little detail of every flower, tree, and animal on this earth. Every vibrant sunset, powerful thunderstorm, or fresh snow that you’ve seen – it’s all part of His stunning creation.

But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind. – Job 12:7-10

Not only is every beautiful thing on earth created by God – He also created the stunning display of stars and moon above us. Our entire planet is just a tiny part of the immense galaxy that He has created.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. – Psalm 19:1

Get up, go outside, and take a better look at God’s incredible creation. You’re surrounded by an unspeakably beautiful masterpiece – and it’s waiting to be explored.

In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. – Psalm 95:4-5

-Clara ❤

thoughts on reformation day

As many of you may know, Reformation Day was on October 31st. This is the day on which, in 1517, a German monk named Martin Luther nailed his famous Ninety-Five Theses onto the door of the Catholic church in Rome. This momentous act sparked the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, which led to the founding of the many Christian denominations that exist today.

Luther was a German monk whose teachings and beliefs centered around Romans 1:17, which reads: “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.'” The last part of that verse is the most important: The righteous shall live by faith. These words had been lost in the false teachings of the Roman Catholic church, and when Luther re-discovered them, his life was changed forever. He realized that no amount of atonement or good works to pay for his sins would ever be enough – in fact, Isaiah 64:6 says: “All our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” Think about that for a moment. The greatest, kindest, most selfless, most incredibly righteous act that we could ever perform – it is nothing but filthy rags compared to the perfect righteousness of our Father.

This is something that I think has been forgotten by many Christians in the modern world. We put too much faith in our own good works, and we rely on them to help atone for our sins, whether we realize it or not. But the truth is, our own righteousness can do nothing to redeem us or pay for our sin. Only our faith in God can bring us to be born again and welcomed into His kingdom. Christ forgives all – the reason he died on the cross for us was to pay for our sin. He has already made the ultimate sacrifice for you. Your sin is already atoned for.

Though I’m saying this, I don’t think that we shouldn’t try to do good things or show our Christianity and love of Christ through our actions. We absolutely should do those things, and we should let the love and righteousness of Christ shine through us as we do so. We just need to remember to do these things not to pay for our sin, but to benefit others and help spread the love and joy of Christ.

Let all that you do be done in love. ~ 1 Corinthians 16:14

-Clara ❤

 

don’t take it for granted

There are a lot of things I take for granted. I think most of us do. It’s so easy to slip into a routine and forget that the people, places, and things that you interact with every day could all be snatched away in a single moment.

Recent events have helped me to realize just how many things I take for granted. There are so many terrible things happening in the world, but these two seem so much closer to home. For that reason, they really got my attention.

A series of powerful hurricanes and storms recently battered the US, shutting off power for hundreds of people. Electricity is something that we take for granted – yet we’re a single strong wind or heavy rain away from it being snatched from us. Suddenly we’re stuck in the dark with no running water, no air conditioning, no lights – and all of a sudden simple, everyday things like calling a friend or taking a shower are no longer options. So much of our lives rely on electricity, and yet I take it for granted.

Another thing. I take safety for granted. The safety of myself, my family, and my friends. I’ve never before lived in fear of my homeland being attacked by another country. After all, America is the strongest, the toughest, the most powerful, right? Yet North Korea recently threatened the United States – and if they actually attacked us, things would suddenly look much, much different. The entire country would be living in fear. We would all be in mortal danger. All it would take is one man halfway across the world deciding to act. Yet I still take my safety for granted.

Yet another thing that I take for granted is the ability to go to church and openly be a Christian. We don’t have to worship in secret for fear of being arrested. We don’t have to worry about someone finding out that we believe in Jesus. Instead, we can openly display our religion and beliefs. We are extremely privileged to be living in a place where being able to go to church every Sunday and be with other Christians is a normal, accepted thing. I often forget that there are many places where Christians are still heavily prosecuted for their faith.

I’m not saying any of this to provoke fear. I don’t want anyone to constantly worry about the things they love and rely on being taken away. Instead, we need to remember to be thankful. I know that you’ve probably been told to “be thankful for what you have” or “count your blessings” more times than you can count. Even though they seem overused, those words have important meaning. It’s extremely important to give thanks to our Savior for all the things He has given us. It’s easy to forget that everything is a precious gift – good health, a dry house, a well-paying job, warm meals, a loving friend – all of those things are His gifts to us, and we need to remember that.

Don’t take anything for granted. Remember to give thanks to the One who gave everything to you – He loves you more than you could ever imagine.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18

-Clara ❤

loving your neighbor as yourself

My dad asks me and all of my siblings the same question every night: “What are the two greatest commandments?

We always answer with the same thing. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

That second commandment, “love your neighbor as yourself,” seems pretty easy to interpret. You’ve probably been told to “treat others the way you would want to be treateddozens of times.

But that isn’t true.

You shouldn’t treat others the way you would want to be treated.

You should treat them the way they would want to be treated.

Think about it – we’re all very different. When you’re upset, you may want to be comforted and talked to, while someone else may prefer to have some time to themselves instead. When that person is angry or frustrated, if you treat them the way you would want to be treated, you wouldn’t be showing them kindness.

How could you ever love someone like that? It feels impossible.

You should love others with the extent of love you show yourself. What I mean by this is that there are things that you are passionate about and that you love, things that you will go to great lengths to be able to have. You should take that same passion and drive that you use to achieve the things you love – and use it to love others.

We can never love anyone perfectly. But we can show kindness, we can help in big and small ways, we can put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, and we can try to genuinely care for others. We can be a little part of God using many people in many different ways to show someone that they are loved.

______

-Clara ❤