Spring of 2015.
It was in this season that I found my way back to Christ (It’s a story I’ll tell later. I’m spending a lot of time praying and consulting with the Lord and my friends regarding how I tell the story). Regardless, despite having found my way back to Christ, the battle for my heart was not entirely won – in fact, it’s a battle still being fought. I’ve come a longway, though… the kid I was when I started college had a very different heart compared to the person writing these words right now.
In the past year and a half, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to guard my heart from the forces that threaten my faith on a daily basis. I know and understand Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, and I’ve tried to fortify my own mental stronghold within the Lord.
It’s been a really difficult battle to fight. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to be a Christian guy in Santa Barbara? Try balancing a healthy relationship with the Lord with an insanely high sex drive, an environment filled to the brim with beautiful girls, and plenty of friends living the college lifestyle. It’s madness. The process that has tested my faith tremendously, more times than I can count. And I’ve failed to uphold the Lord’s will far more times than I’m proud to admit (thank God for His forgiveness).
I also knew that the Lord lifted me out of a deep, dark hell that I’d been in for a while (more on that later). I knew His power to transform my life was tremendous, and I knew that my relationship with the Lord was something I needed to develop. He didn’t bring me out of my own personal hell on earth just so that I could go back to my sinful ways. I knew I needed to deepen my relationship with God, regardless of the strong pulling forces around me.
So, in order to deepen my faith, my hope, and my relationship with the Lord, I spent a ton of time pouring through the Word in order to get in touch with his desires for me. After a month or two of searching, I formed a rough list of guiding verses that shaped my philosophy through Christ. I wrote them down on a piece of paper, and kept them in my Bible. I have far more verses in my mental arsenal, now, but these were the raw foundational pillars of my faith for a while.
Here are the verses that have strengthened me in the Lord.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Matthew 10:32-42 (Jesus speaking)
“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven. Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn
“a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law — a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.”
Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”
John 15:5-8 (Jesus speaking)
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
It is written:
‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’
So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
1 Samuel 18:14
In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him.
I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in Him.
Blesses is the one who trusts in the Lord, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire – but my ears you have opened – burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. Then I said, “Here I am, I have come – it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.”
I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, Lord, as you know. I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help. I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness from the great assembly.
Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord; may your love and faithfulness always protect me. For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me. Be pleased to save me, Lord; come quickly, Lord, to help me.
May all who want to take my life be put to shame and confusion. May all who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace. May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!” be appalled at their own shame. But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, “The Lord is great!”
But as for me, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; you are my God, do not delay.
Because of my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever.
The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, even then I will be confident.
One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.
May all the kings of the earth praise you, Lord, when they hear what you have decreed. May they sing of the ways of the Lord, for the glory of the Lord is great.
Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, he sees them from afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me.
The Lord will vindicate me; your love, Lord, endures forever – do not abandon the works of your hands.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord…”
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.
Proverbs 16:3, 16:5, 16:9, 16:12, 16:13, 16:18
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.
The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.
Kings detest wrongdoing, for a throne is established through righteousness.
Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value the one who speaks what is right.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-8
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.
For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.