Suffocation of the Fire That Burns Inside

5 years ago I was a lost soul. I had no hope. I had no ambition. I was inward. I was severely depressed. I felt that I could never contribute to society because I was useless. I felt like I didn’t fit in, or even blend in.  I stayed inside and kept my mouth shut. I was hurt and broken.

I remember praying to a God I didn’t believe in at the time and I cried out, “God if you really do exist, why did you create me? Why am I here? If you really do exist please save me” God was listening that day because a few months later, I found Jesus and a church home I wasn’t even looking for.  God sent me on a whirlwind of a ride discovering who He was while I was discovering who I was throughout the first few months.

But after a little over a month, someone approached me and asked me to join a ministry team. They said and I quote, “We could use your smiling face on the VIP team” I replied, “Are you sure you want me to greet people? I’ve been told have a good smile, but…” they replied, “Yes of course we do!”.

I took that uncomfortable opportunity for me, of standing and talking to people and I signed up to be on the VIP team anyway. Regardless of how I felt, I knew this is what God wanted me to do.  The first few months were rough.

I only showed up on a Sunday when it was my week to serve. But then it got worst and I stopped showing up when it was my weeks and I blamed on the fact, “I forgot my password”  to the program we use so I didn’t know it was my week. Either way, I faced a battle of putting my wants, desires, and ways first before I even consulted or even considers Gods wants and desires.

One night I remember being in my room and just on my knees praying whole heartily because I felt lost again. I was crying, I was reading scripture, I was praying that same prayer but this time I knew God. This time I knew who I was praying to and through. I wouldn’t say it was overnight but God became my priority again shortly after. I started showing up the church every Sunday and not just for church, I showed up early to serve even when it wasn’t my week to serve.  Serving became my passion.

However, passion withers if it’s not properly kept. It’s like a fire that slowly fades away. But do you know what reignite the fire? For me it’s not God’s word, it’s not doing a bible study, where they may help keep the fire going, what really reignites the fire is moving the embers around. Taking in my testimony and sharing it with others. It’s lifting my hand out to others and letting them know they are not alone. That God loves them and care for them. It’s walking beside teenagers and helping them grow and seeing excitement in their eyes when they start understanding and believing in the Word. It’s loving others the way God does.

But it can quickly die if I put myself first. If I put my wants and desires in front of Gods, even without realizing it I can suffocate the passion that burns inside of me that God placed in there.

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

Stop and Look 

“Do you know how much the Bible would be different if Jesus acted like we do?” -Pastor Tally Wilgis

Ponder that. Soak it in. Because we don’t act like Jesus does. We don’t respond the way Jesus wants us to respond. We don’t start our day or end our day or even go about or day the way we should. And we wonder why the world is broken. 

How many of us talk to the broken? How many of us take time out of our day to roll down the window and talk to the homeless man on the corner? How many of us take time to love on our neighbors? How many of us actually care about people around us?  But yet we like to go to church, we like to talk about Jesus, we like to sing songs about Jesus, we like to say to others we are living a “Christian lifestyle” because we do devotionals, we watch sermons, we open our Bible, we  even get on our knees and pray for the broken, and we pray for the lost. But we aren’t living it out. We are living our what it means to be a Christ follower. We aren’t doing what Jesus would do. 

We aren’t loving on others the way we should because we are so self focused that we don’t open our eyes enough to see the world around us. We don’t talk to the homeless man or the begger because we are afraid all they want is money. I’ve learned that most of the broken are just yearning for  someone to take five minutes out of the 1440 minutes in a day to notice them and to talk to them.

How many opportunities does God give you throughout the day to talk to someone, to care for someone, to love on someone? If you say none, then just open your eyes. The old lady taking out her trash, it’s a simple as doing it for her. The begger, take a few moments with them. The mom struggling with groceries and kids, ask her if she wants help. The person who is frustrated at the store, talk to them. The cashier who is not enjoying their day, speak encouraging words. I could go on and on with examples. But literally just open in your eyes, you will see so many opportunities to love on and care for others.

This world is not about us, I really hope you realize that. It’s not about whether or not you receive that promotion. It’s not about how much money you make or what clothes are in style. It’s not about the gossip that you hear. It’s about your neighbor and caring for them. It’s about that random person you meet and you planting a seed. It’s about being that mentor to people who are struggling in their faith. It’s about helping people cross the street of life. 

So stop and look around. See who God put in front of you today. Help them cross their intersection, plant that seed and love and care for them. Do what Jesus would do, not what the flesh is telling you to do. Pray and do.