Nailing the Nail in Deeper

It’s Easter time so it’s time for bunnies, eggs, and candy, but most importantly it’s time for Jesus.
It’s time to celebrate his resurrection from the dead. It’s time to celebrate the victory of all victories, the victory of death itself. But he had to die first. 

He had endure torture, he didn’t deserve. He had to endure pain like no other pain. Those nails had to pierce through his flesh and bones. 

So many of us stop Christianity there. We stop and we want the resurrection but we don’t want to face the killing of Jesus head on. We don’t want to face what Jesus actually died for.

He died for our transgressions. He died for our sins. He died so we wouldn’t have to. He died for you and he died for me. But the problem is every time we walk that path of flesh and we give into that sin we are nailing the nail in deeper. 

Every time we put a little pride behind our speech, every time we are a little bitter to that co worker, we are nailing the nail in deeper, crushing him, killing him little by little. 

Some of you maybe thinking “But that’s what grace is for”. Yes, but it neglects that fact that you hang Jesus every time you sin. It neglects the fact that God doesn’t call us to live in sin. He doesn’t say “it’s okay to sin now”. He calls us out of sin. He calls us to glorify him, we can’t do that if we are sitting there trying to pull Jesus off the cross before he even died because all we want is the end result of forgiveness.

Jesus bleed out to heal us. He can’t heal us if we don’t give him all of us because if there is still a part of you in this world, then there is still a chance for infection, for the enemy and sin to engulf  over your life. Which means every day is a battle. Which means that some days you will nail the nails in deeper, but you cannot sit there and keep nailing it in, you need to take a step back and examine yourself to see what part of your flesh you have to give over to Jesus.

Forgiveness 

The other day an unexpected thing happened. One of my closest friends through high school and college contacted me. 

I had put her in a category of “not worth trying” and “I’ve been hurt far too many times”, but this time after two years of hardly any communication seemed different. There was urgency behind it. There was purpose.

She knew me when I didn’t know Christ. Shortly after she invited me to church and I began to get involved and walk with the Lord, our friendship diminished. God set our paths apart from each other, regardless of how much hurt in the moment, God had a plan. 

His plan was for us to meet again at a coffee shop years later. We sat together like old times laughing with each other. But this time we had a meeting with a purpose. The topic, forgiveness. As the memories began rushing back, as things were mentioned, the hurt never did and for that I am thankful. But the moment, “I’m sorry” peirced the lips of an old friend, a weight was lifted off my shoulders. A weight I didn’t know I was carrying. The beauty is it didn’t matter what she said , it didn’t matter if she mentioned every little detail because I knew she had a genuine heart. I got a chance to let her know that not only that I forgave her but I got to ask forgiveness as well. It was an amazing moment, a freeing moment.

We all go around life carrying burdens, stresses, regrets, resentments, and just plan unforgiveness. But God doesn’t call us to hold on to them. He calls us to give them over to Him. When we don’t let him handle them it can bury us. It can have us turn towards to our old ways, our addictions, something that just makes us feel better in the moment.

Our friendship was pruned, so we could build it back up in Christ. I am excited to see if God decides to have it blossom again. If not, I am thankful for it leading to me Christ. I am thankful for a friend who never gave up on me. 

Forgiveness is freedom.

Take off the Blinders

I don’t know if you are like me, but I grew up in a shell protected from the outside. Alcohol was not present in my home neither were cigarettes or any type of drugs other than what the doctor prescribed us.  Alcohol and cigarettes were only things part of my family partook in and I didn’t really know what actually drugs were till I was in my teens in health class. I was sheltered.

I was taught not to mind what others are doing and focus on where I was heading. Where this a great mindset when you are pressing towards a goal in the world, but not when you are living for Christ and being who God calls us all to be. You have to take the blinders off.

Let me explain, we can’t truly love our neighbors if we can’t see them. If we have the blinders on, we are only going to neighbors for our own benefit, sadly enough but it’s true. We can’t see where they are hurting, we can’t see how we can help them because we are focused on our next step and our next move. So many of us live this way in life and its scary.

They are focused on their next promotion, their next growth step or their next big move that they cannot see the people God placed before them. They cannot see the hurting people right outside their doorstep. Even if they take 10 mins away from their busy schedule to notice someone, they are inwardly thinking about themselves and how they have to go somewhere or have to accomplish something and are not focused on the conversation at hand. We are all guilty of this on some level but it doesn’t discount how unbiblical it actually is.  My pastor recently stated in a sermon, “love is rooted in sacrifice.”  I didn’t think much of it then but it’s so true. If we are not willing to sacrifice something as simple enough as time are we really truly loving our neighbor? our friends? our family? even God?

God doesn’t tell us we have give up our physical bodies to be sacrificed like Jesus, but he does tell us that we are to give up ourselves to live for him. He does tell us we have to put ourselves aside to live for Him and to allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through us. Our flesh will always want it to be about us because naturally, we are selfish not self-less. So there will be times where we go apart from God and not see the people around us. Not see how the city, state, country we are in is so broken. We don’t see all the hurting people on the street, that just want their next hit because that just want a glimpse of that high they once had.

God put us all where are for a reason. Take the blinders off, look around you, sacrifice time for them and think of yourself less because we maybe the only flicker of light that those people might be able to see. So we have to be it.

If you’re not yourself, who else are going to be?

 #takeofthemask #beyou 

God chose you! He knitted you together, he knows everything about you. He knows what you say behind closed doors, he even knows those thoughts you have towards that driver who cut you off or that person who just gets under your skin. He knows your weaknesses and he knows your strengths. When you feel like you’re in a dark place, even there God is still with you.  Even if your fleshly self wants to hide, even if you think God won’t want you if he knew the real you, guess what, he already knows and he already loves.

God knows every flaw. You wouldn’t be you without them. There are so many imperfect people in the Bible that God used to do extraordinary things. Jacob, Moses, David, any of the disciples…you get the point.

God chose these people who had flaws. They weren’t perfect, they weren’t  sinless but God chose them. If he can chose someone who commits an adulterous act with a married woman and then have his husband killed to merely hide it, do you think he could not chose you?

And if he chose YOU then why are you hiding behind a mask? So what if you mess up, so what if mistakes are done, so what if fumble your words or sing off pitch. So what if you fall after the leap? God’s grace covers all of that. You will never know what God has for you if you don’t take the mask off and be the you God created you to be.

Potential that Leads to a Gift: My Story

 

My senior year in high school, I decided to take a class to fill my schedule, I heard rumors it was fun and after all, you were on a computer all class, so how could I not take it?

So I enrolled in our school’s graphic design class. My teacher’s  philosophy was that you have to learn the basics before moving towards the bigger and better. So we started out in Microsoft Word, yes Word. Where an empty page was our playground to do our assignment. The trick was we could only use the shapes in Word to create the assignment, nothing more.  Then we moved on to Paint which is very similar to Microsoft Word in its abilities and finally to Adobe Photoshop. I had dabbled in Photoshop at 13, but this time I got to create assignments, have fun, and mess with some cool effects. A recruiter came to my class that year from the Art Insitute. She asked if any of us would consider a career in Graphic Design. I thought about it and nervously I raised my hand. Shortly thereafter, the lady came over to me and she said “I figured you would, I talked to the teacher before class and  I have seen your portfolio. The Art Insitute will love it and will love you. You have great potential. Please consider us, I or some else from the Art Insitute will be in touch.”

I went home ready to share the good news. Instead, I got, “you’re not good enough”, “this isn’t for you”, “you’re smarter than this”.  So I was heartbroken. The opportunity was never spoken about again. It was the one area in my life where I felt I pulled to, but I didn’t have enough willpower nor confidence in myself so I decided to believe them, that this wasn’t for me.

 

Fast forward to a year ago. I followed God and quit my job with nothing lined up. But in that landed a job that was the spark to start graphic designing again. It was in that I landed where I am now. I have created a multitude of things for a few different churches from banners, postcards, business cards, flyers, I could go on, but the most amazing part is I get to use this gift that is being cultivated to impact the Kingdom in a unique way, in the way God has designed me to.

God has designed each of us uniquely so that we can use our gifts for the Kingdom in our own unique way.

Don’t be your own worst enemy

Don’t be your own worst enemy. I’m sure you are questioning that last part. Let me tell you what I am talking about.

Over the past few months, I haven’t felt motivated to dig deep. I haven’t felt motivated to grow. I haven’t really felt connected to God, at times I felt abandoned and alone. I tried to do my personal Bible readings,  but it was a complete struggle. I stopped listening to sermons online, I stopped listening to Podcasts, to me I just didn’t “feel” like it. However, those moments began to add up and soon I “forgot” about them.

Then my personal Bible readings, I noticed only happening Sunday mornings. As much as I longed for the Word, I noticed the Word began to feel like only words as if it was just a book.  I felt numb and pulling away from my walk.

I didn’t know what was going on. I felt like I was slipping down in a spiral and that I couldn’t stop myself. But I began to journal and I figured out what I was longing for, love. Just to feel loved, because over the past few months I felt empty and alone. I didn’t go out and search for it like I did in the past, but the temptation starred at me in the face.  Instead, I isolated myself. I became my own worst enemy.

Here are the problems with isolation; temptation, thoughts, and forgetting who God says we are. Temptation stares at you in the face and the flesh is quicker to win when you remain isolated. Those negative thoughts speak louder. Who God says you are gets put away and you begin to believe the thoughts that you are worthless, unloveable, no good…etc. I could go on, but those words reply over and over in your head and you begin to believe them.

But we are sons and daughters of God. We are His children. He loves us. He never has stopped loving us. Just because you slip into isolation and you slip into darkness. Doesn’t mean God has forgotten about you. It doesn’t mean that God has given up on you. It doesn’t mean all of a sudden you are unqualified to be His Child. What it means is that it is time to stop thinking about your OWN wants, your OWN desires, just stop thinking about YOU.  And start focusing on who GOD wants us to love, OTHERS.

So when I say don’t become your own worst enemy, what I am saying is selfishness will only lead to isolation and separation from God, but LOVE, love will lead to God because “if we love God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:12b)

So wipe the tears away, get off your bed, and start walking towards who God called you to be.

 

 

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. 

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.