Simplifying Christianity

We humans tend to complicate every aspect of our lives, especially God.  We want the best worship experience and an emotional message on Sundays.  We overthink God by our works.  All our lives most of us are told that you must be in church and studies to have God in our lives, which in fact, is not true.  Hear me out, I am not saying that church is not important.  I am saying God is more than a church service and group studies.  He is simply about relationship.  He does not want us so busy trying to figure out who He is that we have no time to personally have a relationship with Him.

For the last year, I have been going to one church to another trying to find the perfect setting — is the worship spiritual enough or is the message convicting to bring me to the altar.  I was looking for emotion rather than God Himself.  I was so insecure that I needed to be convicted to speak to God for forgiveness.  And when restlessness and discontentment came over me, I moved on to another church.  Through all the confusion, I caused more chaos in my life.  I caused more disappointment of what the church should be — to my preference.

A few months ago, I decided to temporarily stop attending church and have church at home.  Every Sunday morning and Wednesday night I would listen to a podcast from my iPad and worship God in my own living room. I spent daily in prayer.  In just a month, God showed Himself to me with simplicity and love.  It is not required to do works to find God’s love; He is love, and He only desires relationship with me.  When I complicated God, I was miserable.  The standards I put on myself only made me feel more inadequate.  It was only when I simplified the way I approached God is when I found the true God.  A God who is not demanding but unconditionally loving.  A God who is all comfort not judgmental.  A God who makes me whole when I feel incomplete.  God is complex in so many ways, but when it comes to a relationship with Him, it’s simple: Love God with all her heart and live a life abundantly in His love.  Love God and be a Disciple.  Simple as that.

We need to stop representing a demanding God who is false and scary.  We need to start showing others that God is all about the heart.  He is all about love.  We do not need an emotional message on Sunday to convict us of our sin, but a message of truth.  We do not need to a worship service to sound like a professional concert, but to worship God in purity.  We don’t need an in-depth message every week to tell us who God is; we need to experience God ourselves through group Bible Studies and an individual prayer life.  If we want a relationship with God, we need to pursue Him at church, at home, in our workplace, and with our family and friends.  God is everywhere!

When you seek God in simplicity, you will find His joy and His peace.  When you pursue Him with all your heart, you will find the true God that you have been looking for.  It starts with you — not the church or others — YOU!

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Life Happens…Depression…Suicide

In the past few years suicides have occurred more frequently, and, yet, no one wants to talk about it.  This topic is the most controversial and misunderstood mental illness.  People distort suicide as selfishness and weakness.  The truth is, suicide is not a selfish act nor is it a weakness.  It is when life happens, and it is a ripple effect of bad things happening at one time.  Life seems chaotic and scary.  What was is gone, and the life you now live is changing who you are to someone you do not want to be.  But, at the same time, you do not know how to change the outcome.  Every time you dust yourself off and get back up, satan hits you with another devastating moment.  After a while, you are too tired to even try to get up and fight.  You begin to lose hope that life will never get better.  Your thoughts are jumbled and nothing makes sense anymore.  You silence the hurt and let no one in, because shame starts overwhelming your thoughts.  The longer you silence the hurt, the depression deepens.  You begin to shut people out even when they want to help you, because you surely do not want others to think you are crazy.  You put a smile on during the day, and cry at night in desperation for some kind of relief.  In this state, you lose all hope in man and even God.  You walk away from anything that you think will hurt you.  You think you are protecting yourself from more harm, but, in reality, you are hurting others in the process.  You say anything to make them stay away.  Because, in your mind, you are poison.  You hurt anything you touch including yourself.  You anticipate trouble because this all you know in this season of life, and when you expect it, it comes.  You have completely invited satan into your mind and heart.  You are completely sold out to Him in this state.  So…what do you do? — you go to the doctor for help.  The doctor prescribes pills as a quick fix.  You begin to take them as prescribed in hopes that your mind will be silenced from all the chaos and confusion.  It is like voices in your head that keeps reminding you that you are not good enough, and you never will be.  At times, you feel that your life is not worth living.  It is too painful.  Sometimes pills, without counseling, causes suicidal thoughts.  Your mind becomes clear.  So clear that your thoughts can easily be acted on without even realizing it.  This is a dangerous place to be.  You are too mentally and physically exhausted to even put up a good fight.  You allow the thoughts to torment you, maybe even months of torment.  Suicidal thoughts scare you daily, but, yet, satan has made you believe that you have no worth.  Life is better off not living.  So…you take upon yourself to make a very dangerous and life-threatening decision to attempt suicide.  You have pills in your hand and water on the bedside table as you tremble in fear.  Tears stream down your face as you ponder your next move.  You are shaking uncontrollably, because, in your mind, you ask yourself, “What other choice do I have left?”.

I know what it feels like to live in despair fighting for your life, because this was me ten years ago.  If you met me in real life, you would have never thought that I could have been depressed and suicidal.  I am mostly a happy and optimistic person who sees the good in every thing.  I am the one who encourages others through difficult times.  But, the truth is, even the most unlikely person can have these thoughts.  Even Christians can have suicidal thoughts, because we are all human and flawed. I am a devout Christian who thanks God every day for life.  I did not take the pills that could have possibly ended my life.  It scared me enough to seek hope in Christ again.  It took years to find my worth through Him, but, every moment was precious.  Every step forward was step in the right direction.

If you know someone who is suicidal, please help them seek counseling.  If you are currently debating suicide, I encourage you to seek help.  I walked alone in my journey for nearly three years before seeking counseling, and I wished I asked for help sooner.  We are not supposed to do life alone but together.  Let’s come together and love on those who need it most.  Let’s not wait for the phone call that will destroy our lives.  Let’s make others feel valued and loved.  No matter how much they push you away, never give up on them.  They will respond one day, and thank you for always loving them in the good and the bad.

Life…Disappointment…Hope

Life…
It’s exhausting at times
It’s hard at times
It’s lonely at times

Disappointment…
Tells you it’s not worth getting back up
All hope is lost
Convinces you to not even try again

Hope…
Renews your mind
Gives you the courage to stand strong even when you are tired
Reminds you that you are stronger than you appear

My life has been a roller coaster in the last ten years.  There has been much heartache and hurt.  I have been hopping to one church to another to only find more hurt and rejection.  Since December I have been in three different churches to only have the same results.   I started to question my faith, and what I believed.  Last Sunday I was singing a song about God’s goodness, and I wondered if I believed the words that I was singing.  I was so discouraged and tired that I wanted to quit church completely.  I left in tears wondering if church was even for me.  I told myself that, “I was a Christian, and I am supposed to be in church.”

In that moment, I realized I was going to church because that is what you do as a Christian.  I was going out of duty  and not out of passion for God.  I decided to re-evaluate my heart and to see whether or not my faith was wavering.  I found that yes I was tired to church, but my faith was strong in the Lord.  I have just attend churches that was not allowing God to lead.  I was seeking the wrong kind of churches.  And, deep inside, I did not want to quit church, because I was defeated.  I felt more alone than ever and church is about fellowship and God’s love.

Life was never meant to do alone.  So…I looked searched online for churches in my area.  I came across one that really drew me in, and I attended this Sunday.  Not only do I have a Women’s Bible Study to attend on Wednesday, I have two coffee meetings in the next few weeks with some women I met at the church.  I felt like I belonged and that I was welcome.  No one pushed me to do anything I did not want to do.  I felt home for the first time in a decade.  My disappointment turned into hope.  My loneliness turned into meeting other Christian women who understood my hurt.  Yes, I am tired, but I am strong.   The devil wants to keep kicking me to the ground in defeat, but the Lord wants me to stay strong in Him.  As long as I keep my eyes focused on Jesus, I will have the strength to find hope again in church.  Not because I am supposed to attend church every week, but because I want to attend church and worship God with other Christians.  I want to attend church, because my heart longs for fellowship with other believers.  My flesh may be weak, but Spiritually I am strong.

Life happens, but it does not mean you have to live in defeat.  Get up, Dust yourself off, and Stand strong.  Hope for what’s to come!

 

After The Rain…

Rain….

It’s necessary for growth.

It allows the old to pass away, and the new to come.

There is beauty where it once was dead.

Life is all about going through a storm so we can see the rainbow on the other side.  Imagine yourself in a garden with plants wilted and weeds grown up in the beds.  The caretaker failed to remove the weeds and water the garden.  It is overgrown and little by little the plants die away.  What once was a beautiful garden turned into shriveled brown leaves falling lifeless to the ground with no hope for renewal.

The only way to grow is to work through the weeds in our lives and to remove what hinders us from God.  As we toil through the soil to determine what to remove and what to keep, we dig up the truths of our lives.  When we reach the root and see it had potential for growth, we just sit there quietly in defeat and wonder why we did not see the potential sooner.  Why didn’t we just go through the painful process of pulling the weeds so we could see our potential?  Why didn’t we water the plants to see them grow and bloom into something beautiful?  Instead of facing the storm and waiting for growth, we ran in fear because of the unknown.  We missed seeing the rainbow, because we never walked through the rain.

Ten years ago I ran from a difficult situation.  I never properly allowed God to heal my heart, and I still struggle today with those insecurities and emotions from my past.  The weeds in my life became overgrown and never tended to in a decade.  New life was never planted.  I tried to bury my past by laying more soil on top of the hurt–the root of the problem.  Recently, I have had to remove the soil to get to the root.  I had to expose the most shameful part of my life to eventually find healing through God.  I am currently vulnerable and transparent for all to see.

As the plant grows bigger and stronger, the root spans in all directions as it goes deeper into the soil.  Imagine the root being every situation you have not dealt with in your life.  It has twists and turns.  The root intertwines with each other. It becomes so powerful that you cannot uproot the plant without force.  It is embedded so deep that it is a struggle to rip it out of the ground.  Life is painful when we grab something by it’s roots and force it to the surface.  But there is good news — when we finally deal with the root of our problems and let the root of destruction die, we will see new growth happening in our lives.  We blossom into something beautiful.

We allow God to mend our hearts as he continues to water the new seeds in our lives.  As the seeds grow in the soil, God enriches it with nutrients.  He sprinkles miracle grow over the plant for a better chance at life.  He brings the rain so we can stand strong and tall.  We have to endure heartache through the rain so we can become a beautiful flower for all to see.  Our roots have to be strong and healthy so we can withstand the winds.  And, after the rain, there is a rainbow full of promises.  The promises of another day.  The promises for what’s to come.

A rainbow represents new life.
It represents a hopeful future.
It represents a testimony of what was.
It represents the new you!

If you want a renewal in your life, uproot what you have not dealt with and find your rainbow.  If you want a life full of promises, remove the weeds.  If you want to see growth in your life, be consumed in God’s enrichment.

This Is Us

For all the This Is Us fans, this blog is for you.  For those who are not familiar with the show, it is an American television drama series that revolves around an everyday family who has three children, two are twins.  Episodes show flashbacks from the past (1980-1998) to present day (2016-2018).  The show is based off of Jack and Rebecca Pearson and their three children (Kevin, Kate, and Randall).  We know from the beginning that Jack died when the children were 17 years old.  The show begins with the children as adults at age 36.  They are all in different stages of their lives.  Kevin is struggling as an actor.  Kate struggles with weight issues, self-image, and love.  Randall is a successful business man and family man who struggles with perfection and joy.  Rebecca, after losing her husband, remarries her past husband’s best friend.  The Pearson family is no different than our lives.  We struggle with loss, love, self-image, family, children, and careers.  We laugh together, cry together, love one another, and, most of all, support each other.  This series is us — in every way!

We can learn from the Pearson family on how to strengthen our love for one another, how to support each other in all things, and how to laugh together in the good times.  The characters all have different personalities who make life work together.  Their lives are as mundane as ours.  The characters are real and relevant for all of us.  Rebecca Pearson tries to be the best mother and wife she can be, and, yet, she was not perfect in any way.  Jack Pearson was perceived as the perfect father, but, yet, he fell back to his old ways and became an recurring alcoholic.  Kevin was known as the high school football star, and then became a famous actor.  He quit his job out of frustration and became an alcoholic and drug addict.  Kate struggles with her weight and self-image so much so that it almost ruined meeting the love of her life.  Randall, from the outside, looked like he had the perfect life — great career, wife, children, and a nice home.  He quit his job after having a nervous breakdown and found himself finding his purpose again.

As seen in This Is Us,  we relate to many of these characters’ insecurities.  We are born into a family who is imperfect which causes us to have insecurities.  Some of the insecurities follow us into adulthood.  Most of us lived with loving parents who cared for us and provided for our needs.  And, yet, something was still missing.  Maybe a sibling was shown more love than you.  Maybe a parent was hard on you in an area you struggled in.  Maybe a parent reacted to a situation badly that may have scarred you for life.  Maybe a spoken word hurt you deeply, and you never recovered from that moment.  As a result of these insecurities, we struggle with finding purpose in our lives.  We struggle with our appearance.  We struggle with loving others and receiving love.  The list could go on and on.

Just like this series, the characters get back up and dust themselves off.  Life does not end with that moment.  In the midst of their tears and chaos, they find the strength to move forward.  At the end of the road, they find joy again where there once was sorrow.  You can do the same.  If you do not have a family who supports you, you are not alone.  God is always there to pick you up and dust you off to start again.  He will never leave you defeated and alone.  He will carry you through your journey and heal you from your wounds.  God will cry with you and will hold you until you stand on your own.  He will create a support system for you during a time of difficulty.  Our lives may feel like a roller coaster at times (ups and downs), but God will overwhelm us with His peace, if we only come to Him for help.

Lacking Nothing

As we begin a new year, we look back on what we accomplished in the previous year.  We go down our bucket list and realize that we did not accomplish everything that we hoped we would.  We beat ourselves up for what we lacked rather than what we accomplished.  The truth is, what we accomplish on earth will one day fade away.  It is not permanent.  Yes, we have desires and goals that were not met and will carry over into the new year, but it is not worth stressing over, because God already knows our needs and wants.  We lack nothing in Him.  Let me say that again: We lack nothing in Him.  God is our everything!

I recently heard a song called, My Everything, by Gateway Worship.  It is a beautiful song that captures who God is in our lives.  The lyrics are a love song to God.  When you hear this song sung over you, you cannot help but fall to your knees and praise God in full surrender.  The chorus says that,

You’re more than just a song
You’re more than just a whim
You’re more than just a passing fantasy
You’re My Every Way
You’re My Everything

Take a few minutes to read these lyrics slowly aloud.  God is more than just rescuing us from our troubles.  He is more than granting our every wish.  He wants a relationship with us, no matter what is happening in our lives.  As the song continues, it declares that,

I want to be with You
I need to be with You
I long to be with You, precious King
So with every day, Lord, in every way
You’re My Everything

This song cries out to God for an intimate relationship with Him.  The lyrics express the wants and needs to be with God.  We feel the yearning and passion as we read these words above.  In this song, we are saying, “You are My number one in my life.  God, You are important to me, and I want to experience You completely.”

In another song called, “So Will I (100 Billion X), written by Joel Houston Benjamin Hastings and Michael Fatkin, it declares everything God created by speaking it into existence.  The lyrics begin with,

God of creation
There at the start
Before the beginning of time
With no point of reference
You spoke to the dark
And fleshed out the wonder of light

And as You speak
A hundred billion galaxies are born
In the vapor of Your breath the planets form
If the stars were made to worship so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You’ve made
Every burning star
A signal fire of grace
If creation sings Your praise so will I

In this song, we proclaim who God is by His creation.  We are His creation, and because He created us, we lack nothing.  We may be waiting for a prayer to be answered, but, in Him, we lack nothing.  God provides our every need.  If He can speak anything into existence, then He is choosing to wait for His perfect timing to answer our prayer.  In Ecclesiastes 3:1, it states that “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”  Ecclesiastes 3:11 declares that, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”  BUT, “do not grow weary” while waiting, because “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31).

Year 2017 may not have brought you everything you wanted and desired, but, remember what you accomplished and praise God for your successes.  I encourage you to never get discouraged while waiting, because God is preparing you for what’s to come.  In Year 2018, continue to believe in miracles.  Never lose the desire to dream big!

 

The True Meaning of Christmas!

An Old Blog (2014): The True Meaning of Christmas!

“Christmas is about Jesus! Jesus was born as our Savior! He came to save the world! Let us be reminded of the true meaning of Christmas as we shop, open our gifts, spend time with family, and enjoy our holiday traditions. Jesus is God’s gift to us!!!”

Faith.Hope.Love

CHRISTMAS…
Is a time that brings hope to a lost world.
That tells a story of a Savior’s birth.
It reminds us of God’s love for us.

What does Christmas mean to you?

Is it about the gifts? The hustle and bustle of the holidays trying to push through the crowds to buy the perfect gift for a loved one or friend.  Or the excitement of opening up your gifts on Christmas day.

Is it about the family gatherings?  The good food, laughter, and making new memories.

Is it about traditions?  Caroling and spreading good cheer.  Driving around town mesmerized by Christmas lights.  Playing games with family.

Christmas is a time for joy!   Giving and blessing others during the holidays is a way to spread God’s love. Spending time with loved ones is a time to cherish and create new memories.  Having traditions is a wonderful thing and something to look forward to each year.

The…

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