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.

Redeemed Life

We are called to lived a redeemed life not a condemned life. 

Yet so many of us live inside ourselves and in our own little world. We start thinking God forgot about us, that God isn’t for us, that God doesn’t care about us. 

We begin to idolize this world and everything in it including ourselves. We put our needs and wants above others. We begin to think we are more important than everyone around us. We start knowingly sinning again and instead of immediately reprenting and turning away we begin to to tell ourselves “It’s okay, Jesus will forgive me.” It becomes a cycle.

When we do this, we will feel abandoned by God. We will feel like God isn’t for us. We begin to rely on ourselves and our “feelings” to define the relationship with God. We allow our earthly standards define the word “relationship”.

We can’t define it. It is way above our understanding. God has been our sideline since the beginning of time. He has been cheering us on since before our name was ever mentioned. God didn’t leave us. God didn’t abandon us. God is for us and will never be against us. Through every hill and every valley he is there. He is with us every step we take and every breathe breathed. 

So if we sit here and live as if we are of this world than we will live a condemned life. We will live like there is no hope, no light, no freedom. We will live as if Jesus never walked this earth and died for us. We will live for ourselves. 

But God calls us out of bondage, guilt, and shame. He calls us to follow him, so that we live our lives for him not for ourselves. We are to be the light, and tell people about the hope and love found in Jesus. We are to showcase Jesus and put him on display. We are to live a redeemed life because Jesus redeemed us. 

God will never abandon his children, even if you feel as though he has. God will forever love us even more than we can ever love him. Live as though Jesus is alive and active because he is, He lives in us. 

Dwelling in the Past 

20 years ago my life was altered. It was shattered into tiny pieces, some getting lost along the way. My Poppop died 20 years ago after a battle with leukemia.

I remember where I was when I heard the news, alone. I was downstairs trying to hold it together. I swollowed the sadness and held it in, even though I wanted to just run away or even die myself.  My life was ruined. I was only 10 years old. 
You see I walked the journey with him. I held his hand has he fought the cancer. I went to most doctor visits and always was there with him in and out of the hospital. If no one was allowed to go, I was the exception. Yet, I couldn’t save him. I couldn’t fight it for him as much as I wanted to. 

I saw every up when the cancer would go into remission and he acted like himself again. I got so hopeful every time. And every time I would be heartbroken when I saw him getting worse. I remember being so angry at God for not healing him. 

I saw every low when his flesh became so pale, his skin so cold. I remember seeing the look on his face when he knew we would never see each other again. I remember that last hug he gave. I didn’t want to let go. 

Poppop died a few days after I last saw him. We were taken out of town to see other family. Honestly, it probably was on purpose so we didn’t see him die literally before our eyes. 

I still remember thinking his death was my fault. I took the blame and shame onto myself. “If only I…” just kept repeating in my head even though I knew I couldn’t stop the cancer.

Today I went back to a place where he underwent his cancer treatments. It was a very freeing experience. I wasn’t there for mourning, I wasn’t there to have the memories flood. I was there for a friend. I was there because it’s where God brought her to undergo observation and where God ultimately led me to. It’s no coincidence that God brought me back to where I lost myself over 20 yeas ago.  

God always has a plan, even if the outcome isn’t in our best interest. My Poppop might have died. I might have lost myself in that and defined myself by that, but it makes me no less of the person I am today because of that.  

I wouldn’t be who I am if I never went through the storm. So I can sit here and try to say a part of me died that day but really it was God ultimately using that to define my path and my story.  God’s not done with me. He’s not done with you. 

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. 

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.

 

 

More Like Jesus

I’m wrestling with decisions and battling on whether or not I’m letting my personality be the cause of it all.  I avoid conflict. 
I hide everytime there is conflict. I don’t want to face it, let’s be honest, it’s never plays out to the dramatic story line that over plays in my head, it’s normally, “What can I learn from this?”, or that’s my interpretation of it because I don’t like to stay stagnant, I like growth. Problem, with growth, you tend to have face conflict of some sort. Also the problem is when you don’t face conflict, you superimpose your own brokenness on them. Sometimes they aren’t mad, but you assume. Let’s be real, sometimes you don’t even cross their mind, seriously.  
I have a problem with avoiding conflict, mostly because conflict in my house growing up was not subtle. It was loud. It was dramatic. It was unnecessary. But I still avoid it because I don’t like feeling that way certain people did in those moments.  Civil conversations are hard for me if it’s over conflict. 

I could sit here and nitpick my past saying where I learned these qualities and traits about myself. Here is the thing, I may have a certain personality “type” but I do have Jesus and my past is dead. I am made new in Jesus. 

So should I avoid conflict? Absolutely not.  Is it part of my personality? Yes. Does it define who I am? No. Just because a computer generated personality test stated who you are, you don’t have to let it define you. You now know your weaknesses, work on them, grow in them. 

I am blessed to know what areas in my life right now that I struggle with. I can either grow and learn from it or I can just accept it and live with it. God doesn’t want me to accept it as my final answer , we are to be like Jesus. Jesus did not have weaknesses. He is perfect. If we accept it as who we are, are we not just simply stating that we refuse to be anything else, and refuse to be like Jesus? 

Let’s be more like Jesus, striving to the idea that grace and mercy wins above all regardless negative thoughts , possible outcomes or conflict. 

I’m opting to learn and grow. I’m opting to be more like Jesus. 

Pruning the Branches

Why am I upset over a job that I personally know I don’t want to be at long term? It doesn’t make sense. Sometimes things happen in life that don’t make sense. But in reality when it boils down God has a plan. God has greater things in mind and if I’m not willing to go along with the plan, if I am not willing to let go of control then what example am I to others?

I can’t let a job be the means of my life because Jesus is my foundation. I can’t let things of this world block my view of eternity. Things have to change, people have to grow if God is going to use you for the purpose He has put on your life. I’ve been looking this all wrong. I’ve been looking as this being an attack of who I am, being an attack of the enemy, but I have high suspension that its God reminder of how much I so desperately need Jesus, how much people of this world needs Jesus. I’ve sat in tears at church because I felt like I haven’t heard from God in awhile, but when I paused and looked back he’s been speaking to me this whole time. 
There will be people who dislike me, I don’t care anymore. There will be people who judge me, that’s okay too, my judgment is not defined in this world. Other people’s lives are not mine to control and figure out. I only can control my own. I am tired of trying to make sense of my life right now but I’m not suppose to. I’m not suppose make sense of it all because it’s not in my control, it is not in this world. 

Don’t you see that if we get upset at the trivial things, how will He ever use us to do greater things? He can’t grow you if your not willing to change. He can’t use you if your not willing to move. He can’t use the potential planted inside of you, if you don’t allow him, to prune the branches. 

You may have to have face difficult times. You may have to face a storm. But its up to you to determine what you stand firm on and what will get out of it. Because God will use that season of your life, to grow you in certain areas if you allow him to. But this is all up to you no one else.