Sacrifice

The other night in growth group one of the ladies asked “How do you even begin to know what Jesus went through?”

I answered with something our Pastor said awhile ago.

“Love is rooted in sacrifice.” – Pastor Tally Wilgis

God sent his Son, Jesus to be the sacrificial lamb. He sent Jesus to die for us so we didn’t have to.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

He sent his Son because he loves us because he wants us to be with him for eternity. We get the free gift of eternal life, but Jesus lived in this world and then voluntarily hung on executioners cross and died for our sins just so all of us can have the gift of eternal life.

Think about that for a moment, Jesus died for you. He voluntarily got up on the cross. He is God in flesh, he could’ve stop it. But he didn’t. He didn’t want to die in Matthew 26:39 Jesus says “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” In another Gospel it says he was so anguished that he was sweating drops of blood. Can you now imagine what he was going through? I still couldn’t.

But I said to them for us to experience even a glimpse of what he went through. Try doing something for someone else when you don’t want to or don’t have the time to. It might be a silly sacrifice but when you had a hard day at work and all you can think about our pjs and your favorite shows and someone you know is hurting or is having a rough day, try switching your plans around to put them first above your own. You’ll get frustrated and you might even get mad because you don’t want to sacrifice the time or energy of your own time.

One of my big things I tell myself is when I don’t want to do something it probably means I should be doing it. Meaning that when I evaluate something by my mere flesh and worldly views my automatic response is I don’t want to. I don’t have time. I don’t have the energy. But when I evaluate through the lens of the spirit I immediately go through it differently. I ask is this purposeful? Does it impact a person? The Kingdom? Is it meaningful? So when I don’t want to do something a lot of times it’s my flesh fighting back because my flesh doesn’t want to put others above me.

One of my pet peeves is when people say they follow Jesus and “live it out” but there is no sacrificing for others and it’s always about them.

God is Love. Love is rooted in sacrifice. And in order for us to show the love of God we have sacrifice time, talent, treasure. We have to be willing to give something even when there is no return.

Meeting you at the point

In Genesis 22, Abraham was to sacrifice his son after God told him to do so. But the beauty is when they go to altar, God showed up. God had Abraham free his son and provided a ram to be sacrificed in his place. God met Abraham in the place after he placed a calling on him and Abraham was following through.

God will meet you where he called you, just not on your timing. I’ve been struggling with faith, I’ve been struggling on whether this life is what God has called me to do, I’ve been struggling with connection with God, I’ve been struggling with a relationship with God. It’s been rough. It’s been battles with the enemy, internal struggles and some very dark days. God promises me he will never leave me nor forsake me. He promises he will always love me and he is working all things for good for those who love him.
But I didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t want to hear the goodness of God. It was as if I put myself in this box and the enemy decided to trap me in there and tried convinced me that God had forgotten me, and repeatedly told me if he truly called me then I wouldn’t be going through this pain. But all this time, God was out there telling me to hold on because I had to endure this moment to get to where God wanted me but I couldn’t hear him over the words of the enemy. I was right where the enemy wanted me, trapped in my own thoughts.

But I was set free. You see there was this moment I had to pull over and allow tears to just flow down my face and be broken before God. At this very point was the point at which God met me. I yelled. I screamed at God. But a peace had come over me. It was in that moment that I knew I was free and all I had to do was let go. 
God will meet you where he wants you. Today I walked into church with more happiness and joy than any Sunday over the last few months. I got to serve Jesus today and for that I am thankful. 

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. 
 

Center of it All

I came to realization that I typically take whatever topic and talk about myself and my past and how I can use what was taught to grow myself and hopefully others. There’s a flaw in that however. A flaw that is drilled into all of us. It’s all about me. Why? Why do I have to talk about myself? Using my own personal stories to reflect on the Word of God is great, but if you take a blog, even my blog, and you read it, it’s centered around one thing, ourselves. 

“Well then what’s the point of a blog if its not about me?” Here’s the thing, if you are a Christ follower and I pray you are, it should reflect your life, and Christ should the center of your life not yourself. So many of us will take negative situations and allow it to affect our emotions, feelings, and our day even weeks to years. We give the situation control of our lives, all because we allow it to affect us, because it’s all about us. BUT it’s not suppose to be about us.

Jesus did not die for us to be in our own self pity world. He suffered and died for us to live in freedom in him. Negative things happen, but we can’t define ourselves as the situation. Allow Jesus to set us free from all the horizontal chains and weights we put on ourselves.

Jesus loves all, love like him. Jesus forgives, forgive like him. Jesus shows mercy, allow mercy to flow through you. Jesus was sinless, live a life trying to achieve a sinless life. Jesus redeemed us, live in freedom. Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself, love yourself so that you can show love to your neighbor. 

Loving yourself is hard. However, God made you. He doesn’t make junk. He makes wonderful and lovely things. You have purpose in life, even if you do not see it. God made you just the way you are. God loves you. God is your Father. Love yourself because The Creator of the World is the Creater of You. 

A Planted Seed

High Point University, a university I was only at for one year, a university where I became friends with people, I still talk to day or at least friends with on Facebook. If we weren’t playing Spades in the lobby of the dorm, some of us would be out partying, including myself. I lost myself that year to alcohol, I got in trouble numerous times, put on probation, and almost kicked out. I lied my way through it all. But through all the law and rule breaking, God was still reaching out to me.

I joined University Singers a group/choir meshed up with misfits and some amazing voices during the fall semester. I met some amazing people there. One in particular had a mission to change to my life.

She was handicapped. My selfish heart felt sorry for her, felt as if I had to take a stand and become friends with her because everyone deserves friends. So we would spend some afternoons walking and talking. I may have been hungover some days, she didn’t seem to care. She was there to start her ministry, her dream was to become a minister, to reach people like herself.

Jesus was the topic of discussion must days. Everyday I would say, “that’s your thing”, “I don’t really care”,” I don’t believe in any of that” and give ridiculous or political reasons as to why, “I don’t even know if there is a God”. Jesus just wasn’t it for me. She knew I felt that way. But she didn’t stop sharing.

One tragic morning, I get a call. This girl who was trying to speak life into me, passed away. She was only 19 years old. If God really existed, she shouldn’t  have died, He wouldn’t have taken her life, not that soon. Her dreams never saw the light of day. This light I had in my life, was blown out as quickly as it was lit. I had no idea what to do, I was lost.

Some of my friends and I took the trip to her funeral. It was beautiful, but sad. High Point University later that week, put on their own dedication ceremony for her. University Singers was asked to sing because after all she was apart of it. We sang her two favorite songs, both Christian. The one I remember the most was, “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercy Me. As the words left my lips that day of her dedication, tears started to build, there was something about that song that planted in my soul.

Four years ago, I was heading down pathways that were dark and dreary. I started losing hope. I felt like a failure. I was rock bottom. Suddenly, I came across her picture I had.  “I Can Only Imagine”  started playing in my head. I downloaded it and listened to it on repeat. I felt as if that girl who tried to speak life into me was right there with me telling me it will be okay.

One year later, I realized who actually was with me telling me it was going to be okay. Everything she had said to me before, every promise she had ever stated, was true. Jesus is the answer and I saw why she had the dream she had.

I may have only known her a few months before the Lord took her home, but she was the most inspirational and the most loving person I have ever met. She was not scared of anything or anyone. She only had a love for Jesus and to share it with those around her. She may have not lived out her dream of being a full time minister but she reached this poor lost soul, I was part of her mission here on earth and for that I am joyful and thankful.

Last night, was the first night I had the chance to worship publicly to a song that  changed my life. I wanted to break down in tears with praise. I am forever thankful and cannot wait to see her face to face in heaven.

Judgement

We use social media only to show our best side, only to impress others. This is true. We use every source to impress others typically without even realizing what we are doing. Why? Because most of us only want people to see our good side, we don’t want to be judged by others. We live the majority of our lives in fear of what others might think, or at least I do.

But the blessing is God will not reject us.

God is by our side every time we fall. Every time we trip during our walk with Jesus. According to Psalm 139,  he was the very creator of your path, why would he judge you on the very thing he put in your life for to grow from?

I am know that I will fail, that I will be judged because I have posted something wrong, or have offended someone. I constantly worry about what others think, where that may be a gift at times, it has stopped me from doing things I used to love, to opening up to people, to just being me.  But it also has helped me, it has allowed me to realize God is the only one who can truly judge me.

In todays world, we are constantly judging others. We judge them based on their looks, on their skin tone, on their attitude, on their past, on their decisions, on every detail of their life. Why? Because they are not like you.

You may hear, “Oh, I wouldn’t have done that” or “Look over there [giggle]”. Let me tell you, I am afraid of judgment it has paralyzed me at times. I am afraid sometimes to make decisions or to say what I feel is right because I am afraid I will be wrong, and if I am wrong, then I will be judged and unworthy of everything. I can blame society for this, I can blame the fact that I have this shy little girl inside of me that gets her feelings hurt if someone says something negative to her. But I won’t. The only true one who can judge me is the very creator who knitted me together in my mother womb, God.

I did not pick my life. I did not pick what I went through as a child. I did not pick my skin tone. I did not pick my personality. So if people want to judge, let them judge because they are stating that God didn’t know what he was doing. But He did.

I am the only person who can let judgement affect me. I am the only person who can let it get under my skin. But from this moment I am walking this walk with Jesus, not afraid on condemnation, not afraid of judgement, because let people judge. I have nothing to hide.

Prayer & Seek

There are many reasons why people ask for prayer. If you are willing to pray, also be willing to seek. I am saying if you are willing to ask for prayer and you already know what you can do to help the resolve the issue or problem then do it, especially if it’s personal.

If you are down and depressed and you feel like you are in a downward spiral then call your lifeline, your mentor, or a fellow Christian to help lift you up. A friend is great but a friend can only do so much.  If you don’t and all you do is ask people for prayer to help lift you up, it becomes a constant battle because you do not have accountability or a relationship with fellow Christians to help build you back up.This walk with Jesus was not meant to be done alone. That is why we have the church and the church body. It is why we try to build communities within the church, so that other Christians will be there for you when you need them.

If you are willing to ask for prayer, you should be willing to seek help. God is not just magically change you if you are not willing to put in the work. By stating you don’t want to seek help from a fellow Christian, or a mentor, and you only want prayer, it is stating that you are not willing to use the people God has place in your life for that specific reason.  God puts a person of faith in your life to make sure you stay on the narrow pathway. Seeking help is work, it’s getting out of your comfort zone and taking a step in the right direction. Some people are so weak that their first step is the hardest step they ever take. Bible studies will help, personal time with God will help, but fellowship and mentors will and can help also.

If you don’t have a mentor, find one. A Christian mentor is a great person to have. They are there to help keep on the narrow pathway in Christian walk. A mentor is not your buddy, a mentor is not a friend, though a great Christ centered relationship will be built. Your mentor should know where you struggle, your mentor should know what tempts you.  Your mentor should also know your full story. They are amazing man and women of God, who have a story and a past but are willing to help guide you.

I am no expert but I have battled this myself. If I am willing to finally ask for prayer after personally battling it for awhile, then I know I need to step out and ask for help and surrender to the fact I can’t do this alone and I am not meant to.