What is faith?

What is faith? A Biblical look on what faith is in our day-to-day lives. www.embracinggrace.netThe simplest answer according to Merriam-Webster is strong belief or trust. But let’s look deeper.

We have faith in many ordinary things. For instance, I have faith that my car will start. I have faith that a chair will support my body. I have faith that my friend will keep our conversations private. With multiple positive experiences, my confidence increases to the point that I’m willing to risk taking action. I depend on my car, sit in the chair and share with my friend.

The Apostle Paul describes faith in God as “being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see” (NET, Heb 11:1).

We can spend our entire lifetime growing from a simple belief that God exists to being sure and certain, but an important turning point occurs when our trust becomes strong enough to support action.

Paul also says “without faith it is impossible to please God” (NIV, Heb 11:6), then lists Biblical examples like Abraham and Moses who obeyed God without knowing His grand plan.

Abraham’s family must have thought he was crazy to relocate them from the cradle of civilization to an unknown destination. With hesitation, Moses left his safe, fugitive, shepherd life to return to the scene of his crime and challenge Pharaoh, the world’s most powerful man. We should be especially encouraged because both Abraham and Moses were ordinary, imperfect men who became great because they stepped out in faith.

Great faith involves trusting Him enough to follow Him into the unknown.

Why is it important to trust God? Isn’t it enough to believe in Jesus?

Yes… but following God leads to fulfillment beyond your imagination! Knowing the story of the cross is far different than allowing Jesus to change your life.

As a young mother, I learned how to see God’s hand in my everyday life. I’d review each day before bed to identify His activity. He nudged me to interrupt my busy schedule to call a friend and it turned out to be what both of us needed. When I heeded what seemed to be a fleeting thought, I saw God’s protection.

With this evidence, I followed the quiet voice in my soul more frequently. He led me to opportunities I would have missed on my own. I began to see that He loves me and knows what’s best (imagine that!). Over time I became confident that God is trustworthy. This prepared me to answer His call to scriptural blogging, even though it felt scary.

In hindsight, I see evidence of His guidance throughout my life. With continually growing faith, I rely on His promises and trust that He’s in control even when I face difficulties.

How is this kind of confident faith developed?

Faith is a personal journey. While there’s no formula, there are habits that will position you for growth:

  • Ask for God’s help. In Mark 9, a father lacked faith and prayed for Jesus to “help me overcome my unbelief”.
  • Get to know God’s character and promises by reading the Bible. We must know Him to trust Him!
  • Seek God in constant conversation. Talk to Him throughout the day.
  • Watch expectantly for His activity in the world and in your life.
  • Identify with Biblical characters as ordinary, broken people that God used. Be reassured by God’s faithfulness throughout the ages. He can be trusted!
  • Respond to God when you feel His calling. As you respond and see God’s trustworthiness, your faith will grow.

What one step will you take to grow stronger in faith?

Bringing Faith into Family Time

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bring faith into family time

We see the statistics about how the family is struggling. The divorce rate for both Christian and non-Christian homes is now about the same. Our children are facing their own hardships, whether it be bullying, drug abuse, cutting, or even suicide. The world in which we live in is compromised by evil. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. What can we do? Where do we start? Where is God in all of this?

God gave us these words of Paul from 1 Timothy:

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. 9He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day. 13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

Then hope starts to return. Yes, we are in a battle, but we’ve been called to fight the good fight. And with the Lord’s help and guidance, we can indeed turn back the tide on the depressing statistics. Here are a few ideas for starters:

Try to eat a meal together three times a week: Statistics show that the likelihood of drug abuse, depression, and even struggling in school is drastically reduced in homes that participate in family mealtime. Don’t stress about what the meal is, just that it happens. Running late? Pick up a pizza or rotisserie chicken. If you have a little more time, a frozen lasagna works well. Crockpots are also great because they create a welcoming, delicious aroma as people walk through the day after a busy day. When you sit down together as a family, you are making a commitment to spend time together. This is your time to connect after the day, a time to pray together, a time to talk together, to feel that we are in a place where we belong and where we are heard.

At my table, we often go around and do “best” and “worst” parts of each of person’s day. We support each other in the low times, and celebrate the high times together. Just being in the presence of my family keeps me connected with them. They might not be able to tell me what’s going on, but I get a much better sense just by looking around at their faces.  

One of my son’s friends joined us for dinner and was surprised that we said the Lord’s Prayer together in unison before eating — and that we actually had a kitchen table. This friend had an extended countertop in the kitchen where the family put together meals, but then they would go to various rooms to eat—downstairs, bedrooms, living room. A missed opportunity, and sadly, this person has struggled with major depression and in school.

Have a bedtime routine: Even though my kids are older, I make a commitment to connect with each one of them before they turn in for the night.  Sometimes it’s having a cup of hot tea together or listening to the “drama” of Instagram and friends. Other times, it’s just sitting on the end of the bed and being present. Regardless of their age, this is a time where kids can relax and prepare for rest, however, it’s also a time where anxiety can spike. She is worried about her test tomorrow. He is concerned someone will want to fight on the bus tomorrow. What about that teacher who might not accept late work?

Bed time is also a great time to for praying. I emphasize the fact that not only do I care about them, but God also cares about them. Many times I get surprising answers about things I never would have known about just by asking, “How can I pray for you?” A beautiful result is that they are beginning to model that question back to me.

Make a commitment of going to church: Even if the family is sick, and we can’t physically get to church, we will  watch a service on TV, do a family devotion, or listen to an audio Bible storybook. The point is to set aside time to God, at least once per week.

Weave faith into your everyday life: We have a tradition of praying in the car before leaving on a big trip. We ask for the Lord’s presence with us and that He will give us safe travels and protection. We also pray whenever we see an ambulance or Life Alert helicopter. We live near a hospital, so this is a regular occurrence as we drive around town doing errands. I love how my kids initiate it now when they see these visual reminders to pray for others.

I think that we place a lot of pressure on ourselves as parents and grandparents to teach our children about faith. It certainly does feel overwhelming sometimes. However, I have learned so much about faith through the eyes of children, my own, as well as others. Jesus talks about how strong the faith of a child is, and that we all should seek that depth kind of faith (Isaiah 11:6; Matthew 19:4).

God is with us on this journey of parenthood. He knows our heart, hears our prayers, and is with us every step of the way through life’s journey. He wants what is best for us (Jeremiah 29:11), and we can trust in that.


Catherine DeVries has written 20 books for children, including the bestselling The Adventure Bible Storybook and Let’s Learn about the Lord’s Prayer, the first in the HeartSmart series which focuses on learning scripture through story and song. As associate publisher of Children’s Resources at David C Cook, she leads product development for The Action Bible collection.

Devries cover

The Mission of Being a Mom

The mission of being a mom

Some of my earliest childhood memories is from going to church with my grandmother.  I remember the red buttons on the pew and how I would neatly stack the quarters my grandmother gave me for offering on them each week.  I remember how my aunt would always share a half a stick of gum with me.  I remember how proud everyone was of me that I could recite the Lord’s prayer from memory.  I can still sing the songs that I was taught in Sunday School there even though I haven’t heard them for years.  I can vividly remember hearing the story about the woman at the well and how my little ears heard the “woman and the whale.”  Oh, how I wish there was flannel graph that day!  That story perplexed my little pre-school mind and it stuck with me.  It was years later before the real meaning of the story stuck out to me.  To this day, when I hear the story about the Samaritan woman I pause for a moment and think back to my mental image of a woman and a whale.

It’s a funny story to look back on now but at the same time it terrifies me.  It’s paralyzing to think of how much little minds can remember.  That whale is etched in my mind.  Oh, how I desire to train my daughter and son up right.  Being a parent is an enormous responsibility….and opportunity.  I don’t want to squander it.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says, “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”

Teaching children about God and His Word is a non-stop, 24-7 duty.  As I’m reminding myself again that I need to be intentional about what I’m teaching my children I want to encourage you to do the same.  We’re teaching them things every day by the way we live and behave.  Let’s make sure we’re teaching them spiritual truths too.  What a blessing it is to be a spiritual guide to our children!

Faith – No Thicker Than a Spider’s Web

It's the strength of the anchor

“If your faith is fixed on Christ, though it seems to be in itself a line no thicker than a spider’s web, it will hold your soul throughout time and eternity.  For remember it is not the thickness of this cable of faith, it is the strength of the anchor which imparts strength to the cable, and so shall hold your ship in the midst of the most fearful storm.” – Charles Spurgeon

I absolutely love this quote!  It’s from the book called The Spurgeon Series 1859 & 1860 written by Charles Spurgeon, Larry Pierce, & Marion Pierce.  You can buy the Kindle edition on Amazon for $5.99.

This saving faith is more than just an acknowledgment of facts, it consists of mental, emotional, and volitional elements.  Charles Stanley says, “Believing in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, a living person, for the forgiveness of sin and trusting Him because He provides eternal life with God. It isn’t enough to simply believe in the actions of Jesus Christ or the abilities of God. True saving faith is more than that; it is a personal relationship with the Savior.”  John MacArthur has said, “True faith hears, believes, and actively responds.”

Dear friend, I hope you can have the joy of rejoicing in your salvation today.  If you’ve never put your trust in Christ to save you, take a few minutes to read over these truths about man and God:

  • – God designed and created the universe and all that is within it, and it is by His power that everything holds together. Colossians 1:16-17
  • – God is perfect in all areas and completely without sin. Psalm 96:9
  • – God designed mankind in His own image to reflect His glory. Genesis 1:27
  • – Mankind chose to disobey their Creator and by doing so brought sin’s curse upon the earth and eternally separated them from the One who created them. Genesis 3,Romans 5:12-13
  • – Because of sin’s curse, and my sin, I am born separated from God and deserving of His everlasting punishment. Romans 2:12Romans 3:10-12Romans 6:23
  • – God’s Son Jesus Christ came to earth, lived a perfect life, died on the cross to pay sin’s penalty, and rose again on the third day defeating sin and death. Romans 5:6-10I Corinthians 15:3-4
  • – By turning to Christ from our sin and trusting in His work on the cross alone to save us from our sin, God imparts Christ’s righteousness on our behalf and we are freely given eternal life with Him. He gives us the power to enjoy fellowship with Him and live a life that is pleasing to Him. Romans 5:1-2Romans 3:23-24John 3:16-17

If you have questions about God or salvation, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me at MrsAshleyWalkup @ gmail.com.  I would love to discuss this life changing truth with you!

Knowing vs. Believing

I have this little habit… a tick, if you will… a little ‘thing’ that I do – well, say – that I am mostly unaware that I am doing.  “Okay…”  I murmur it over and over, “Okay… okay…”  It’s as if, after finishing something, I am mentally checking it off my To Do List (which – if you know me at all… you know that I’m a Day Planner girl and I have a love for bossy lists of things to do!)



I say it while cooking dinner, following a recipe…

I say it when painting, or creating a scrapbook page…

I say it when I am getting ready in the mornings… (waiting for the glorious beep of the coffeemaker!)

I say it… and mostly I believe it… but it is so reassuring to hear the words… to feel a sense of accomplishment, even just a slight bit of forward motion.

And I believe from that little habit, came this little ritual:

“Everything is gonna be okay!”


This is a mantra.. something that is often said to myself in my head, or slipped out under breath as an assurance… It is thought of or spoken, sometimes boldly declared, both in times when I KNOW it to be true… and in times when I actually honestly BELIEVE it to be true!


I am a faith girl at heart! I have shared about how I was raised with Worry, Fear, and Doubt.  They were familiar friends of mine and it took a lot of work on God’s part and mine to rid the neighborhood of them and kick them out for good.  God has changed my natural bent and my fall back now is normally one of faith and life… instead of fear and death.


But I was chatting with a girlfriend over coffee the other day and we were encouraging one another in normal every day life things, when this slipped out:


“We can know things all of the time, but only believe them some of the time!”


Wait… what?


Yeah… can anyone else say, “Ouch!”


Because so often I can believe what I know to be true for YOU… but it’s when I am trying to believe it for me that I can get caught in the space in between knowing and believing!


Because even though we KNOW Truth… we still have the freedom of choice to decide if we will BELIEVE (and live) Truth out loud.
Same is true for Grace… Oh – I have Grace for you… but it’s when it is needed for me to extend Grace inward; that can get tricky and hard to come by!


This is why we NEED the Body… we need each other desperately to remind us that we are just knowing sometimes… when we really need to be believing!


We need each other to pray… for I can believe for your healing… but mine gets harder because my faith can get cloudy with the seeming reality of my pain or discomfort…


I was offering prayer to another friend and I told her what my own heart was hoping for… you see, I was encouraging her in her circumstance, but I was really preaching a message that I really needed to hear!


I told her I was believing that God is at work beneath the surface and that breakthrough IS happening – we just haven’t seen the ripple effect yet!  I reminded her, and myself, that we are not in this alone and THAT, my friends, is the grace and power of the Body!  Our arms get weary in the battle.  We all need someone(s) to come along side us and help hold up our arms from time to time!


Sometimes it’s not so much because we want to give up – or even because our arms get heavy… it’s just that knowing and feeling that someone is in it with you… standing beside you… feeling the warmth of another, facing in the same direction, believing for the same thing… it’s that that brings comfort and renewed hope for the victory ahead!


A different voice that can whisper what your heart is faintly beating away at…

“He’s got this! Everything is gonna be okay!”


So, ALL of the time, I know this is true! For God works all things together for good for those who are called according to His purpose. I know that in the big picture, He’s got me and all that concerns me in the palm of His hand. But I don’t always FEEL like that is true! No – often times, even still, I can be easily duped into falling for the lies of the enemy instead of believing in the Truth that I know!


So – when you are feeling weak-kneed and shaky at best… when you find yourself not so certain of what you know OR believe… when the soundtrack of your life is on replay and the narrator is snarky and mean… can I encourage you to be bold, even though you don’t feel it?


Be brave, instead of hiding…

May I ask you to lean IN, rather than bail out…

Just find one person… and (gasp) ask for help!

Ask for prayer.  It is our honor to stand side by side… as One Body, and hold each other up!  Ask me! I would love to pray with you!


Speak Life. Be Love. Shine On.



“You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly.  You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.”

(Eph 4:4-6 The Message)