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.

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

God Will Take You Places

Today, I stopped at a gas station. I didn’t need gas though, I don’t even know why I stopped. But I did.

As I was walking inside this young man was sitting outside the door. To be honest, I wanted to avoid eye contact, so I quickly walked inside. I then was leaving the store after debating on whether I could afford a soft drink or not. I decided against it and walked out. But I avoided the way I went inside and walked out of the side door. 

Do you know the thing you are trying to avoid is probably very thing that God wants you to do? So I walked outside and this homeless man was crossing my path. I could’ve avoided him. I could’ve kept walking with my eyes down. But something was telling me to stop. So I stopped and he began to tell his story. We sat talking for over 20 minutes about life. I sat there and throwing popcorn prayers up to God asking if I should bless this man or not and I realized that today I was blessed by God, so why am I even questioning this, share the blessing, regardless of how little it might be. 

 God takes you places for a reason and sometimes that reason is to be a blessing and an answer to prayer for someone else. 

People someone’s answer to prayer. Be someone’s blessing! 

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.