If I could…

If I could speak to every person who has or is struggling with depression, I would say this…
It’s okay to struggle, it’s okay to be upset, but it’s not okay to keep it to yourself and isolate yourself. There is a God who loves you and cares for you. This God will never forsake you. He will never walk away from you. He will make your paths straight, you just have to surrender. God gave His son to die for our sins. Sins that we struggle with because we have used them as a coping mechanism, even if we don’t even realize it. And let me tell you, it’s hard to let go of those sins. But it’s not impossible. God has your back and will be with you every step of the way.
Lift your head up and open your eyes look at the people around you. He has placed certain people in your life so you don’t walk through this alone.  
I’ve lived with depression since I was around 10. There are days that are way harder than some. What I’ve realized is the more I isolate, the more those days seem to multiply. The more I dwell in the past, the more the days multiply. But the more I trust in God, the more I pray, the more I spend time with others in the faith in community, the less the days happen.
God loves you and cares deeply for you because you are a child of God. 
And if I can help anyone with anything by using my testimony and allowing others to realize they are not alone both spiritually and physically than whatever I went through was worth it.

Live it Out

Who is a savior? According to Merriam-Webster there are two definitions, “one that saves from danger or destruction” and “one who brings salvation”. We could then define “salvation”, but it simply means saving someone from sin or evil. Jesus is our Savior.

Jesus who did not know us bore our sin on the cross. God came down in human form to walk with us to live with us to befriend us. Then took everything we’ve ever done that was sinful in nature and was tortured for it, was hung on a cross for it and ultimately died for it. He is our Savior, saving us from the pits of hell.

Now many of us may use the term loosely. We say it, but do we actually know what it means? Do we actually know how it even slightly feels? We sit here and we confess it. We confess that Jesus died for our sins, we confess that he is our Lord. But we don’t live it out.

We don’t live out the fact the Jesus has SAVED us. We honestly have a tendency to live out the idea that he saved us, not fully committing, not fully giving him our all, not fully living out who God called us to be. God called us all to be disciples of the Faith, God called us all to love one another, God called us all to glorify his name, God called us to bear one another’s burdens, God called us all to follow His will and not our own.  I could keep going but you see the point, God called us! But if we sit here and we believe that he saved us as just a mediocre feeling that that’s how our faith will play out.

Honestly, have you ever had someone stand up for you and take the blame, the shame, and guilt for you? How did you feel? You may have been relieved, it could’ve been your job on the line, I bet you thanked them, maybe even worshiped them by giving things to them because it meant so much. Imagine Jesus doing that for us but for EVERY little sin we do, constantly standing up for us not blaming us but him taking our burdens onto him and standing up to God on our behalf.  We should feel relieved, we should feel redeemed, we should feel forgiven, we should rejoice, we should worship. Those feelings should not lead to a mediocre faith but a faith that people flock over. People should be able to look over at you want that for themselves.

You are an image barrier of the faith. Live it out. Live as if we are redeemed every day, not just once. Worship. Rejoice. Live out your faith.

My God

I’ve talked about it multiple times before I am going to go back to where it all began… my story.

When I was little I was the problem child. The child always into something and getting into trouble. In church, I was that “evil rascal”, I was the one who got caught kissing some teenage boy in the nursery at church when I was maybe 9 or 10.  The one who was running up and down the pews, the one laughing when people started raising their hands, running around, screaming. I was the child no one wanted to see.

I was the person everyone thought would fail. I was the person that people thought was hopeless. Maybe growing up with negativity thrown at me constantly, may of had something to do with it, but I believed them. I began doing miserable in school, I failed 9th grade while in special ed classes. My life looked bleak. I began online relationships because it’s where only words mattered, and the idea of “love” and “attention” is what I was craving. I began watching porn through this entire thing,  triggering an addiction. At 14, my life was in shackles. I wanted to end my life. I was ready. But right when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I was knocked down and strangled, literally. After that moment, I remember laying in bed crying thinking if there was a God then why is my life so bad. If there was a God why doesn’t he just end my life, but there was turning point in that moment that I took a deep breathe, to just be. I remember looking back at happy me, and I wondered if I could ever get back there.

To be honest, I don’t know what my definition of “happy” was back then. Maybe it was a feeling of love, maybe it was a laughing little girl, maybe it was me being completely rotten, either way I wanted to be that person again.

Today, I look back and see God was writing my story. I see him woven throughout my entire childhood, always placing a hand over me protecting me. When I went the darkest corners, He was with me and I didn’t even know Him.  There are so many things I can pinpoint that I know where He was writing my story.

But yet there are times where I tend to forget all that and I look around and say “where are you?” I look around and feel empty, unloved, worthless, and I feel he has forsaken me. However, a God that made sure I didn’t end my life, a God that helped me get through my darkest moments, that God would never forsake me, would never un-love me, would never disown me, that God would cherish me. That God is my God.

I am thankful God led me to where I am. I am thankful for my church family. I am thankful that He saved my life over 2000 years ago and again 16 years ago when I was at the end of my rope. I am thankful He still loves me no matter how much I denied Him, challenged Him, and gave up on Him.

 

 

The Mission

Imagine what life would be like without the device you are holding. What would life look like?

What would this life look like without social media?

What would life look like if weren’t trying to get that perfect shot?

Sadly, we will never know. Social media is a way of life. It’s not a fad but a way for us to “connect”, or brag about our lives to other people. It’s a way for us to share our views and hide behind a screen. It’s one of the ways we can spread the Gospel. It’s one way we can share the good news of Jesus. Yet, we would rather share an inappropriate post, take a selfie, and/or share our opinions about fad topics or politics.

Now let’s image life with social media, but with every person who calls themselves Christian, sharing and reflecting Jesus in their post, actions, and interactions. How would social media be different, sure you may get some blocked people for being that “crazy Christian”, but for the four or more other people who may have been having a bad day who read your post, maybe you planted a seed or watered one.  Maybe you made their life just a tad bit better because they saw something in you, the Light. 

This may never happen. But imagine what God could do through us if we all aligned with his mission and lived it out personally, socially, and corporately. If we lived out God’s will and not our own. If we aligned our hearts with God everyday, not just when it’s convenient or when there’s someone else to see you do it.

Reflect God in your everyday life. Let the light weave through your posts. Because it is only then when people learn about new life in Christ, it’s where they learn that there is a God who loves them unconditionally, it’s where they learn that they are not alone in this world, it’s where they learn who Jesus is and what he died for.

Love your neighbor… even if you don’t always agree.

Shackles 

We all know that God breaks out chains, right? He frees from everything, because this world isn’t out home. He frees from our past because we are no long bond to it. We no longer have to let our past and our failures depict who we are. He claims us as His sons and daughters. 

But how many of us rush back to put the shackles back on ourselves? You can say none, but think about that addiction to whatever you have or had, let be food, alcohol, porn, drugs, anything. At first when God opened your heart, you realized it was wrong so you gave it up and you stayed away. But how long did it last?

A year? A day? Maybe even 5 or 10 years? And then that moment of temptation hits at the moment where you are stressed and down and you give in just that once.  You feel guilty, sinful, and comepltely unforgiveable in that moment. But then you remind yourself God will forgive me because He already has. You convince yourself you’re okay and it won’t happen again. THEN the next time of giving into temptation came a little sooner than last time, and the pattern just keeps going.

The thing is we do it ourselves. We put the shackles of sin back in our lives. We let that temptation dictate our moves instead of God. We let our own sinful self get in the way of true freedom from God.  But the thing is the shackles aren’t locked, we can walk away at any moment but we don’t and they will just keep getting tighter and tighter the more we give in to our addiction and temptation.

But what if we instead of turning away from God to hide our sin nature in times of stress, depression, and worry, what if we turn towards to God? Temptation will always happen, but instead of giving in, open your bible. Instead of giving in call someone. Instead of giving in pray. 

Your mind is powerful. If you create a system in to battle temptation that comes in front you, you will combat it. But you have to be willing to not only give it up for now, but completely. You have to be willing to talk about that darkness of temptation to other people. You have to be willing to walk away from the shackles of sin and not look back. If you don’t you will hold yourself captive there. 

Don’t be held captive in chains that were broken once. Find yourself a path to get out, because God already created it for you, you just have to find the right one. 

The Heart

The world needs Christians. They need authentic Christians. I look at churches and I see so many people who come just to be filled but they don’t care about their neighbors. They don’t care about the homeless person they see at the street corner.

It breaks my heart to see people clinch up, lock their doors, hide their purses or wallets because they don’t want people to see that they may have a few extra dollars.  However, they are more than willing to give to a pet rescue agency standing at the corner. How can we be so ignorant as Christians? How can Christians give “generously” to agency’s and Christian organizations but yet can’t give to our own community or church? How can we do missions somewhere else but refuse to do them locally? 

I’m really confused. Do we believe that if we do things because OUR “heart” is in it it is therefore worthy of our generosity and love? God states for all of us to generous because He is. He stated for all of us to be loving because He is. We ARE an example. If we don’t give and live out generous lives in giving, forgiveness, and love how do we expect for the ones around us to even come close? 

Our hearts should be bent to where God places us in the moment. God didn’t put you in the city or town you are in to just live your own life. He put you there for a reason, he put you there to live out a life geared and pointed at Him because WE are the example and sometimes the ONLY example some people get.

Are you living a life geared towards the Heart of God or towards your own wants and desires? 

Where are all the Christians?

We’ll see how that title pans out by the end of this. Typically I write one and change 12 times before determining the right one. However, this one struck me while I was driving this evening, so I’m going to stick with it.

You may be gasp or wave and say “hey I’m right here…” but are you really? Andy Stanley talked today about how we will be remember as “American church goers”, not necessarily the Christian that is described in the Bible.

He went over Acts 4, how Peter and John stood at death door mat and courageously stared into its eyes. Yet didn’t back down. They stood in front of the same people who just crucified Jesus, they didn’t budge. Instead they prayed, they asked for more boldness…

Do you know what we don’t have today Bold Christians, Courages Christians. Why? Today’s society in America we let it beat us up. We let it take control of our lives. We let what others think dictate our actions.  You can say you don’t, but you post on Facebook, you strive for that like. You want to make sure your post sounds great or the snapshot of your life is the perfect angle. We do it everyday and we don’t even realize it.

When was the last time you stood up as a courageous Christian and stood for what the Bible said declare as true, rather than shaping it to for your opinion or opinion of others.

I’m guilty of all of is. I’m a passive Christian. I don’t got out on a limb. I don’t speak my mind, let  alone the truth.  I don’t go up to people courageously. I try to keep my mouth shut and let others fight and gossip on Facebook or media around me. BUT yet I’m just as guilty because I don’t take the stand. 

We need to courageously seeking truth, seeking Jesus. We need to go out and take on the battlefield of life that we are in armor up, but otherwise all we are going to do passive wait and never go anywhere.

Unintentionally Intentional Ignorance

Today during the sermon, I began to question whether or not I was intentionally avoiding connection with God or if it was unintentional.

There’s this saying that is “You will set time for things you want to set time for” So if you don’t make God a priority are you intentionally avoiding connection with Him?  You could argue both sides. However, I believe at least for me, it’s  unintentionally intentional. Meaning that at first I unintentionally placed God on the back burner. I unintentionally allowed my time with Him to be put aside, but as time marches on you get to a point where you recognize it, but instead of acknowledging it and setting time aside, you continue ignoring it and it becomes a pattern in your life.

Why do we get to that point? Why do we let it become a pattern?

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m the only one who struggles with this whole connection thing. Maybe it’s just me who feels broken and tries to hide it and hide from it. I mean seriously if I don’t talk no one will know right? If I don’t say anything no one will know that I’m secretly struggling with my connection with God, if I don’t say anything no one will know that I struggle with loneliness, no one will know that I struggle with worthiness, no one will know that I struggle with accepting any compliment as genuine, no one will know that I struggle with relationships, no one will know that I am a complete mess and completely broken.  Hiding prevents the light from coming in and allows for darkness to creep in.

Don’t hide. Don’t be afraid to tell people who you trust in your life what you are going through because God doesn’t want you to go through life alone. God put those people in your life for a reason. Yes, it will be uncomfortable, but God doesn’t grow you in your comfort zone. You are allowed to struggle. You are allowed to not be okay in moments. You allowed not to be perfect. Don’t let your sinful self be what’s holding you back from your connection with God.

So if we don’t make God a priority  we will lose that connection. We lose our ability to keep fighting, because we aren’t allowing God to provide our strength, we only rely on our own. God has amazing plans for your life, you just have to be able to make Him a priority again in your life. Let God be your King of your life again, let Him be God again.

God’s in Control

 

Let’s be honest for a moment, we all know God is in control. But how many of us would rather say, He’s not because we don’t want to face that fact that we are not perfect, that we fall short, we don’t want to admit that we need Jesus every day of our lives. We all do, even the people you see as “they can do no wrong” they too fall short! We can do nothing in our power, in our own strength, to make us not fall short. The beauty is Jesus came and died for us to build the bridge, so that we no longer fall short. He covers our sins.

You can say, “I know that”, but do you? Do you actually sit there and realize that every time you have a setback, that God is in control? I bet if you get the promotion, “it’s all God, thank  you Jesus.” But in the hard moments do we go and say, “thanks God, I know I fall short, and I know you and me have some work to do, so thank you so much for allowing me to go through this hard moment.” No, we don’t, we say, “Where is God” “I don’t understand” ” What did I do wrong”. We underestimate God in the hard moments, we feel if he was in control, then we wouldn’t be going through the things we go through. But sometimes we have to go through the hard moments, to get us to where He wants us.

Those hard moments are when we have our biggest growth. Why? Because you get on your knees, you get back into your relationship with God, you realize the sins that you have been allowing to dictate your life and you give them over to God, and you start focusing on the voice that should be.

So many of us are called to do great things, but sometimes we get discouraged because we have a major set back happen, or maybe we get depressed. And we let our circumstances dicate our life versus letting the Light dictate it.

I have battled depression for years. But the moment I surrender to it and I let it control me, is the moment I find myself, isolated and alone. I have to battle it, I have to fight it because I wasn’t called to live my life depressed, I was called to serve a God with joy, I was called to love others, I was called to be where I am in this moment. I can either take my depression and hide it away and pretend it’s not there or I can help others going through the same thing.

Yesterday, at church was so powerful, we did an illustration on how we are better together. We were told to lift our hands, to feel the burn of burdens we carry everyday by ourselves. Then we interconnected with each other, showing that that if we keep each other lifted, we can hold together longer, we can help each other when someone begins to fall. It was in that moment Pastor read out all the things we wrote down that were battling. We are better together, we get through things together not alone.

So when we face that next challenge or setback, there is a reason, even if you don’t see it. Don’t run, don’t hide, face it because God can use this moment in your life to help someone else out down the road because you’ve been there. God knows what he is doing even if it doesn’t feel right in the moment. Look around you, there are people there who’ve been through similar things, connect with them, learn from them, we do better when we do life together.

 

 

The Brick Wall

There’s a wall. I can’t tell exactly what put it there or when it got put up. I haven’t been able to journal in a long time. I can write posts or do a quick journal but to dig deep, I can’t even get passed it. It’s like road block.

I put on a mask without even realizing I’m doing it.  I pretend that I am who I am on the outside of the wall. Everything is surface level, including most, if not all, of my relationships. I don’t even know what’s behind the wall.

Maybe it’s my heart, my trust, that I locked away because every time I tend to get close to someone, we end up parting ways not on good terms. Maybe it’s my past that I haven’t fully moved on from and that past addiction that keeps haunting me. Maybe it’s because I isolated myself from the world because I don’t want to admit that I’m extremely broken and that I need Jesus every moment of every day. Maybe I’m hiding from fear; fear of failing, fear of being inadequate, fear of  judgement.

In service Sunday we were taking communion. As I began to ask God what I needed to ask for repentance for a full list of things started popping in my head. I was taken back by it but as I repeated them I remembered them. It was a game changer. 

It has allowed me to get back up on my feet and move forward. Even if it means  it’s a slow removal of the wall brick by brick. God knows why the wall is up, even if I have no clue. The best thing I can do is hand him the papers to it so he  completely knock it down. Otherwise, all I can do is fight the wall, and the wall will always win because I don’t have the strength on my own to fight it.