About Olivia White

Olivia's Blog

Olivia White is a writer, violist, and student. She is pursuing writing as a career along with mental health counseling. You can find more of her writing at her blog.


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In Christ Alone: Taking Christ Beyond the Cross

In Christ Alone Taking Christ Beyond the Cross by Olivia White

In Christ Alone Taking Christ Beyond the Cross by Olivia White

In Christ alone, my hope is found. He is my light, my strength, my song.

Those words have been engrained in my mind ever since I was six years old. At the time, my family went to a small family-integrated church. A few years later, we joined an equally small traditional baptist church, and a few years after that, we found ourselves at my current church, a southern baptist church five times as big as the previous two.

One thing each church had in common is that all three of them chose often to sing this contemporary hymn. In Christ Alone, written by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty, has become one of the most well known of all Christian songs. Most likely, it earned this classic status due to its theologically rich teachings which lie right at the core of the meaning of Christianity.

We’ve heard the song. We know the message. Countless Christians, young and old, sing its anthem.

But do we live it?

Indeed, our salvation is only through Christ. But this theme of “In Christ” applies to more than just our salvation. We depend on Christ for so much more!

In Christ, we have hope

Maybe you’re awaiting a new job opportunity, preparing for your wedding day, or just looking forward to the weekend. And there’s nothing wrong with looking forward to God-given blessings! But the song doesn’t say, “In weekends alone, my hope is found”, or “In a wedding alone, my hope is found”, or “In a new job opportunity, my hope is found”. Nor does it say, “In Christ, my hope is found, but it’s also found in X, Y, and Z.” Our hope must be only in Christ.

Is it okay to “hope” for good things? Or to look forward to special occasions? Of course! But if you find that your contentment and satisfaction is resting on it, you need to seriously ask yourself whether you are placing your hope in Christ alone.

In Christ, we have peace

For the past couple of weeks in the United States, we’ve experienced tragedy as hurricanes Harvey and Irma swept across our coasts, and wildfires up north have burned thousands of acres. Of course, our natural response is to freak out, to fear, and to worry. What calms our fears? A change in the weather predictions? Or the truth that God is sovereignly working through even tragic events for the good of his children and for his glory, and that nothing is out of his control?

Remember the second part of the first stanza?

This Cornerstone, this solid ground, firm through the fiercest drought and storm. What heights of love, what depths of peace, when fears are stilled, when strivings cease, my Comforter, my All in All, here in the love of Christ I stand.

Are we looking to Christ for our peace?

In Christ, we have confidence

Finally, see how we declare our identity and security in Christ after singing of his work on the cross and his victorious triumph from the grave:

And as He stands in victory, sin’s curse has lost its grip on me. For I am His and He is mine, bought with the precious blood of Christ…No power of hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck me from His hand. Till He returns or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

Fellow Christians, we must be satisfied in Christ and Christ alone. Our hope, peace, and confidence are found not in what we can do for God, but in what he has already done for us. When you’re tempted to place your confidence in your own works, turn your eyes to the work of Christ on the cross. See Jesus, bleeding and dying, suffering unimaginable pain and the heaviest weight of sin for your sake. If this is what it took to save you from your sinful self, you have no reason to place confidence in that very same self that needed saving. Our confidence doesn’t belong in ourselves or any other human being or facet of this fallen world.

It’s tempting to “move on” from the work of Christ, to think that now we can do this on our own, now we can do what’s right, now we can have the power ourselves to live this life. But we forget that the only way to have power over sin and confidence before a holy God is through him.

The Christian life is one of daily dependence on God to meet our needs and work in us and through us for his glory. We depend on God for diligence when hours of studying are needed to pass an exam. We depend on God for wisdom when it’s time to choose a job or commit to a spouse. We depend on God for patience when precious little babies turn into crazy kids who drive us to the verge of insanity, and for energy to clean up the million and one messes they make.

No matter what age or stage of life we’re in, we must constantly depend on God, praying for his power through the Holy Spirit. He is the source of all that is good in us, the sovereign Lord over every aspect of our lives. If we want him to work in and through us and shape us into Christ-likeness, we must be ever tapping into the source.

Our justification was an instantaneous act of God. But the impact of that single act should extend to every last second and every last corner of our lives. We are saved through Christ, and furthermore, we live through Christ.

Our worth is found in Christ, our joy is found in Christ, our peace is found in Christ, and our hope is found in Christ, not in what we have or what we can do. And only when we have a right understanding of our constant need for Christ can we truly live as we ought.

We must truly depend on Christ Alone.

2018-01-08T13:37:19+00:00 By |

Which Jesus Do You Believe In?

Which Jesus Do You Believe In by Olivia White

Which Jesus Do You Believe In by Olivia White

Who is Jesus?

The question that has puzzled people for 2,000 years.

Ever since he came to the earth in the form of a human baby, the world has wondered what to make of him. The scribes and the Pharisees, the religious elite, the ones who studied the Scriptures and should have known better than the rest of the people, rejected him. At first, some thought he might be a prophet. As their hearts were filled with hatred against Jesus, they determined he was demon-possessed. Eventually, they called him a criminal and had him executed. Even after he rose from the dead, they wouldn’t believe he was the Son of God. The Jews refused to give the answer they knew was true to the question, “Who is Jesus?”

Muslims believe Jesus existed and was a wonderful prophet. Yes, he was a messenger from Allah; but that’s all He was to them.

Even atheists or agnostics often believe Jesus existed. Historically, there is plenty of evidence that he was a real man. They’ll acknowledge he existed and perhaps even respect him as a good teacher. There’s no doubt he was crucified under the rule of Pontius Pilate, but his death was merely an unfortunate event, if that. Jesus was just a human…nothing more.

Answering the question “Who is Jesus?” is no light matter. How we answer that question determines our destiny. Everyone has opinions about Jesus, opinions that are either right or wrong. But those opinions matter greatly, so greatly, in fact, that lives may hang in the balance.

It’s true that we aren’t Jews or Muslims or Atheists or Agnostics. We’re Christians. Surely, we have a right understanding of who Jesus is.

Or do we?

There are actually many ways we fail to see Jesus for who he truly is. We often fail to see him as the Son of God, reigning over all, and worthy of our complete dedication. We don’t worship him as we should. There are many false views of Jesus, even from those who profess faith in him . These views include:

1. Life Jacket Jesus

This is the Jesus for when tragedy strikes and you need something to hold onto so you don’t drown. This is the emergency life preserver Jesus. This is when we label Jesus with the words of a fire extinguisher: “Use in case of emergency.” Jesus from this perspective is part time and doesn’t affect our actual everyday lives. We only come to him when we’re utterly desperate because we view Him as our last effort and our last hope.

2. Good Luck Jesus
We have to keep Jesus around, because he promises to give us whatever we want, right? He can give us good things and make our lives great. He can give us happiness and peace and all those wonderful things. We want health, wealth, and prosperity. That’s the real reason we stick around.

3. Vending Machine Jesus

This is the Jesus of those who come to God only to get whatever they want. He’s also known as the Divine Butler. We only care about the things we want to receive from him. If we come to him, it’s not out of a love for Him; it’s because we want something from him.

4. Ticket Master Jesus

Jesus holds the tickets to heaven. It’s easy to purchase a ticket: just go up and ask him for one! By simply calling yourself a “Christian”, you can get an all expenses paid trip to the wonderful land of heaven. Who would miss out on a deal like that?

There are so many other wrong ways we see Jesus. Our selfishness, our pride, and ultimately our sin keeps us from truly seeing Jesus as he is. None of us will have a crystal clear vision of him here on earth. “For now we see as in a mirror dimly, but then we shall see face to face,” as the apostle Paul said (1 Corinthians 13:4).

But we can cultivate a much more accurate view of Christ. If you believe in a Jesus that is no greater than Life Jacket Jesus, Good Luck Jesus, Vending Machine Jesus, or Ticket Master Jesus, you probably have never truly experienced a real relationship with the true Jesus. Jesus is so much more.

Let me tell you who Jesus is to me.

Jesus is my life. He is the author of life, and he is the purpose of my life. I get up in the morning to use the breath he has given me to praise him.

Jesus is my hope. When life is indeed caving in on me, I have the hope of being in heaven with Jesus through his work on the cross to save me.

Jesus is my joy. While I wait for the fulfillment of that hope, I have joy in the here and now because Jesus is with me. Though he is not bodily present here on earth, he has given me the Holy Spirit to live in me and speaks to me through his Word.

Jesus is my peace. Though he does not promise to fix the broken circumstances of this world, he is sovereign over them, exercising his power with wisdom according to his good and perfect will.

Jesus is my comfort. Through his work in redemption and through his work in my own life, Jesus has proved his neverending love to me. I know that he cares about me, and I know that he will do what is truly best for me. Though I might not understand his plans, I know he is worthy of my trust.

Jesus is all of that to me. Ultimately, though, it all comes down to this: Jesus is my Lord and Savior. He paid the price for my sins and brought me out of death and into a new life with him. I owe my whole life to him, so I acknowledge him in his rightful place as my Lord. His will for my life will prevail, and I will spend my life seeking to worship him. Through my obedience and adoration I will praise him. I want to give him the glory due his name.

The purpose of the true Christian is to magnify the name of Jesus. The true Christian life isn’t labelling yourself as a Christian to get whatever you want from God, or to get into heaven, or to have a backup plan in case of an emergency. Instead, the Christian life is one of worship, continually offering up our praise to the King.

Because the true Jesus is not a vending machine or a life jacket. The true Jesus is Lord.

Recommended Reading

2018-01-08T18:33:13+00:00 By |

God is Sustaining You

God is Sustaining You by Olivia White

God is Sustaining You by Olivia White

Sin persistently wreaks havoc on our world. Whether by the piercing whistle of sirens, blinding blue and red flashing lights, shouting, screaming, and crying, or by the daily struggles of sickness, depression, and pain, we are constantly reminded of the broken state of this fallen world. All around us, we see the effects of the curse and of our sinful nature.

At some point or another, we all have faced the question, “Where is God in all of this?”

When we are tempted to doubt or despair, we have two options. We can do just that- doubt and despair- and assume that God really is not in control, or else, he must not be the good and gracious God he claims to be. Or, we can step back and try to look at things from a heavenly perspective.


Sovereign God Sustains

Consider Matthew 8:23-27, in which Jesus and his disciples are on a boat when a storm comes along. The boat begins filling with water, threatening to drown them, but Jesus is apparently unaware of the situation as he is asleep. “Save us, Lord, we are perishing!” cry the disciples. Jesus rebukes them, “Why are you afraid, o you of little faith?”

Let us not be those “of little faith”. Let us trust God even when it doesn’t look like he is in control, because we know he is sovereign regardless of whether we understand his workings.

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:16-17)

We must not assume God is just sitting up in heaven twiddling his thumbs until we notify him of our problems.

God is constantly sustaining the universe. He doesn’t just leave it to run on its own. He holds the sun in the perfect position to illuminate and warm our world without scorching us to death. He directs the winds and waves as he wishes. He makes our bodies continue breathing.

If God stopped holding the universe together, boom, we would all be dead. God isn’t the world’s medicine; he is its life support.


Sustained for a purpose

Does this make us mere chess pieces, pointlessly watching as the game of life takes place before our eyes? Not at all. Knowing God is actively sustaining us, we can assume he must have a purpose for our lives and a role for us to play. This should radically change the way we live. We are not alive by mere chance. He has kept us on this earth for a reason.

In the most broad sense, we are here to praise God. We must live out this purpose through obedience to his commands, serving him, and putting his goodness on display for the world to see.

The way we live as Christians should send messages to the world.

By sharing our testimony, we say, God’s grace is strong enough to save a wretch like me.

By spreading the gospel, we say, The righteous judge of the universe chose to take our punishment upon himself that we criminals might be redeemed and restored back into a relationship with him.

By fellowshipping with other believers we say, The bond of Christ is not divided by race, personality, age, background, socioeconomic status, or anything else under creation.

By loving our enemies, we say, You may never love me in return, but that’s okay because God loved me while I did not yet love him.

This is the general way in which we all are called to magnify Christ. This is how we can witness to the world around us. This is the role God has assigned to us in his overarching, sovereign, eternal plans.


God’s sovereignty should be our comfort

As God is sustaining the human race, so he also has a purpose in sustaining the world and is actively working in it.

He has not left us to come to a miserable end as nations blow each other up until the world is no more. From everyday incidents to world-powers declaring war, he is sovereign over every action and event and is providentially working through them for our ultimate sanctification (Romans 8:28).

God is sustaining the world and he is sustaining you for a purpose. As you live for that purpose, take comfort in knowing no matter what is going on around you, he is still sustaining.

Today I encourage you to ponder this truth. Every breath you take comes from him. Every beam of sunshine or drop of rain has been ordained by him to fall. Every event of your life, whether good or bad, is being used by him according to his glorious eternal plan. Let’s trust that he is aware of our circumstances and will do what is best for our good and his glory.


Recommended Reading

2018-01-08T19:31:13+00:00 By |

Do We Need to Clean Up for God?

Do We Need to Clean Up for God? by Olivia White

As I scrolled through my Facebook Feed today, I stumbled upon the words of a fellow Christian blogger:

“God wants to love on you. No need for clean up before approaching him.”

This attitude of “God loves you, so come as you are” is one that is incredibly prevalent these days. While the intentions behind it are likely good, there are problems with the message being conveyed, problems that I want to address. My purpose isn’t to pick on the writer of that quote or anyone embracing it, but rather to point out the two main issues with this message.


1. The gospel is about more than God’s love

It would be wrong of me to say that this quote and the message behind it are over-inflating God’s love. God’s love for his children is great, far beyond anything we could imagine! And yes, he created and saved us out of that great love.

But that’s not all there is to the story. You see, when we simplify it down to just “God loves us”, we make it about us when, truthfully, it wasn’t about us in the first place. As a young child, I was taught from the Westminster Catechism that “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” Simply put, we exist to bring glory to God.

Indeed, the Bible affirms this idea. Ephesians chapters one and two combine to make a gospel-saturated, rich portrayal of our identity as Christians. God is shown to be merciful, kind, and full of grace. Yet the apostle Paul doesn’t just say “God saved us because he loved us.” No, he makes it very clear that the goal of our salvation is that God would be praised.

“He predestined us… to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have obtained an inheritance… so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also… were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:5-6, 11-14)

We must understand that while God’s love is unimaginable, it is not God’s sole motivation. God saved us out of love. He loved us by saving us. And he did it that he might be praised.


2. God is forgiving, but God expects holiness

This is the root issue of the “come as you are” philosophy: it ignores the holiness of God and neglects his expectations for his followers.

Yes, God forgives our sins. He even knows that we as human beings cannot attain perfection in this life. But by no means does he give us a free pass for sin. Instead, God gives us the firm command: “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16), and we cannot make light of this command.

We as Christians are called to live a life of holiness. Ephesians 1:3-4 tells us, “Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him.”

Holiness is something that we are called to. Holiness ought to be our destiny. Holiness must be our goal.


So what?

God does accept us despite our imperfection (assuming we have trusted in Christ and thus had our sins atoned for by his work on the cross) and he certainly does love us. Yet we must not get so focused on the grace of God that we overlook his holiness and our responsibility. We aren’t perfect and we won’t be perfect, but we must strive to put sin to death and live in a way that pleases our holy God. For if we have been saved by the grace of God, why would we want to do that which displeases him?

So then, my exhortation to you is this: Embrace the love of Christ, but acknowledge his holiness. Bask in his grace, but strive for righteousness. Don’t take advantage of God’s goodness, but rather let it propel you to do that which pleases him. Remember the purpose for which you were saved: to glorify your Savior.


Recommended Reading

2018-01-08T20:10:47+00:00 By |

The Value of Knowing Christ

The Value of Knowing Christ by Olivia White

The Value of Knowing Christ by Olivia White

The book of Philippians was written by Paul from prison as an encouragement to the church of Philippi. Chapter three gives us some very deep thoughts about what it means to be a Christian.

In verse four, Paul begins to list off all the things he could have placed his confidence in: circumcised, an Israelite, one of the strictest adherers to the law, so zealous that he persecuted the church, considered blameless in regards to righteousness through works. Paul was among the religious elite. He was probably a pretty honored and respected guy.

And here comes the shocker: Paul counted all this as loss for the sake of Christ. Knowing Christ was of the infinite worth to him, so much so that else was worthless in comparison. Paul literally counted everything apart from Christ as junk- so much that he literally threw it away; his reputation, his honor, and his security. He gave it all up, choosing instead to endure extreme suffering because of his public and unashamed faith in Christ.

Paul didn’t mind throwing all he had away. In fact, he believed it would be a privilege to suffer for his faith. Even death itself was hardly a price to pay for the sake of the One who loved him enough to die for him.

Paul realized that he could only be truly righteous through Christ. He didn’t rely on the law anymore because Jesus could truly make him right before God. The law didn’t make righteousness possible; Jesus did.

Paul was willing to even die as Christ had died because he knew he would also eventually receive resurrection from the dead, just as Christ also had been raised from the dead. Earlier he claims that “to die is gain”. Okay, well, death isn’t too bad, because it doesn’t last forever. But how can it be gain? Death brings us closer to being with Jesus and thus to knowing him fully and having a perfect relationship with him.

If we know Jesus, we have a relationship with him. The two things are tied so close together they are practically the same. Knowing Christ means having a personal relationship with him through faith. This was Paul’s goal, the one he talks about in the next section: to know Christ more and more.

What does it mean to know God and to grow in a relationship with him?

When Adam and Eve sinned, they were separated from God, and by extension, so is all humanity. Through faith, Jesus gives us the opportunity to be reconciled to him. That means we can know him as our Savior and Father, we can grow in our understanding of him, and we can continually be growing closer to him. Most people know about Jesus, but only through faith can we personally know him and have an intimate relationship with him.

Knowing Jesus is so important that Paul basically says, “I don’t care about all that stuff anymore (the reputation, the honor, the safe easy life), because the one thing that matters to me is Christ and knowing Him.” Doesn’t it make sense that if someone was really awesome and amazing, you’d want to know them and have a relationship with them? Well, then, it’s really incredible and unbelievable that we get the opportunity to know Jesus; to know God. Because Paul understood the value of knowing Christ, he gave his all to pursuing that goal.

We too must see the value of knowing God and the importance of a relationship with him.

If you don’t have a personal relationship with God through Jesus, you are unrighteous, condemned, and without hope. If you have accepted Jesus as your savior, you already have a relationship with God through Jesus, but like Paul, you must seek to grow it.

How can we know God and grow our relationship with him?

Through the Bible

The Bible is God’s Word, his revealing of himself to us. In order to know God, we must read his Word. The Bible teaches us who God is and it is God’s direction and commands for our lives. God speaks to us through his Word, and we must listen.


Through prayer

As the Bible is God speaking to us, so prayer is us speaking to God. A relationship with God involves the blessing of coming before him in prayer. As with any relationship, it isn’t just a one way deal. Though God already knows all our needs and sins and joys and sorrows, he encourages us to pray to him because it strengthens our faith and shows our trust in him. We should want to talk to God.


Through following him

Cultivating a relationship with God takes action. As God is actively working in our lives and hearts to sanctify us, we must be actively seeking to please him with our lives and obey his commands. Our faith will grow as we trust God and serve him. Like Paul, we must be willing to follow God at whatever cost, even when it requires sacrifice. If we personally know and love God, we must live for him.

The greatest gift we have been given is the opportunity for fellowship with God through Jesus. Too often we take this for granted. Paul’s words stand as a reminder to us that knowing God and pursuing a relationship with him is the well worthwhile.

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, 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 3:7-8)


Recommended Books

2018-01-08T22:53:31+00:00 By |


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