Let the Walls Crumble

When we surrender to God, He begins the process of healing our heart and soul. Some of us have built walls in our lives that hinder those around us to enter, including God. The wall was built one brick at a time representing our hurt, disappointment, anger, etc. We think we are protecting ourselves from our past, but instead, we are isolating ourselves to be an easy target for satan to tear us down. With no support from family, friends, and church, life becomes lonely. The only way to remove the wall is to hammer out each brick and deal with what it represents. It was a process to build the wall; it is a process to tear it down brick-by-brick. Each time a brick is removed, a light will shine through where there used to be darkness. God is the light in the darkness!

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!

Owning Who You Are In Christ!

Lately, I have felt that I’m not good enough in many areas of my life. But God says, “you are good enough”. “You are good enough for Me to let My Son die on the cross. You are good enough even when someone bullies you or misjudges you for who you are.”

God sees value in you! He sees beauty in you! God loves you every day of every moment of your life. Own it!!! Because God has always called you His Child! You are good enough for Him!

Please take a moment and watch this video:

“Beautifully Broken”

Recently, I started reading a book called, “The End of Me” written by Kyle Idleman.  So far, it has been an incredible book about the beauty of being broken in the presence of God.  Jesus becomes real in our lives when we are broken for Him.  It is when we come to the end of ourselves that God shows up to pick up the pieces of our lives to put them back together one-by-one.  In Luke 9:24, it states that “whoever loses life will find it.”

In this book, the author portrays a beautiful picture of what brokenness really looks like.  In Luke 7, Jesus is having dinner with a religious leader, Simon.  Simon has disregarded all tradition by not greeting Jesus with a kiss on the hand, washing his feet, and anointing his head with oil.  Simon is rich and the people feared him so he intentionally did not honor Jesus as his guest in his home.  Simon wanted to be the master of his home, not Jesus.  At one point in the middle of dinner, a sinful woman enters Simon’s home uninvited.  She heard through the crowds Jesus was in town and was having dinner with Simon and other religious leaders.  While everyone else looked at her with judgment, Jesus looked at her with unconditional love.  She did not focus on the disgruntled faces around her and allowed Jesus’ love to overwhelm her.  You see, Jesus saw “her as beautifully broken” while the others saw her as tainted and untouchable (“The End of Me”).

The woman kept her eyes focused on Jesus and knelt at Jesus’ feet.   She began to weep uncontrollably and, with her tears, she cleaned His feet.  She let down her hair and dried His feet.  She then took an entire bottle of perfume and poured it on Jesus’ feet.  In this moment, “she offers all that she has, because He has changed all that she is” (“The End of Me”).  A prostitute, known for our profession, “has become a living embodiment of cleansing” (“The End of Me”).  Jesus tells her that her sins are forgiven (Luke 7:48).  Her brokenness is recognized, and she is made whole again.  What an incredible imagery of being made whole in Christ in just one moment.

“Brokenness often overflows with hidden beauty.  It is redemptive by design” (author unknown).  The moment Jesus forgave the woman from all her sins, it was redemption.  She was not ashamed of her past; she boldly walked into a religious leader’s home to have a moment with Jesus.  This Biblical story reminds us to never be ashamed to bear our scars in the church or around our family and friends.  Our past tells a story of redemption–of who we were and who we are today.

If you look closer in the story of Luke 7, we see that Simon is carrying around brokenness as well.  He is so arrogant about his status that he refused to greet his guests with traditions.  He does not respect who Jesus is and only invited Jesus to dinner out of obligation.  Instead of receiving a blessing from Jesus, he received a rebuke from Him.  The sinful woman knew that she was broken and needed Jesus’ forgiveness, but Simon, on the other hand, did not recognize his brokenness.

Romans 3:23 states that we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  The truth is, we are all broken people who need Jesus.  We can complete this sentence: “We are the people who _________________________________________” (“The End of Me”).  Who have debt, ignored the hurting, looked down on others, etc.  We are the kind of people who wants to avoid being honest with ourselves.  “Most of us have some conception, in our heart to hearts, that a lot of the pieces never seem to be mended.  But we will go to great lengths to avoid the full, honest embrace of our condition” (“The End of Me”).  “The only solution for being broken is brokenness.  Brokenness is the way to wholeness.” (“The End of Me”).

APPLICATION

When was the last time you recognized your brokenness and knelt at Jesus’ feet overwhelmed by His love for you?  Are you avoiding the brokenness that keeps on pulling you down and telling you lies about yourself?  It’s time to bear your scars and be real with God and others about your past or present life.  It’s time for you to be whole again through Christ.

PRAYER

“God, take my broken pieces and remold them into what seems best for you” (“The End of Me”).  Lord, help me to be vulnerable and bear my scars so I can be mended and whole again.  In Your Name, Amen!

The Cross Weekly Series: The Ultimate Sacrifice

Jesus replaced the rituals of burnt offerings in the Old Testament by giving Himself up as a burnt offering.  In the Old Testament, the people in the Bible would ask God for forgiveness for their sins by sacrificing an animal, in specific terms, to honor Him.  Burnt offerings was a sacred ritual.  Leviticus 1:10 says “if the offering is a burnt offering from the flock, from either the sheep or the goats, you are to offer a male without defect.”  Jesus is perfect in every way.

One of the most popular and memorized Scriptures in the Bible is John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  The agape love expressed in this Scripture is not something we can wrap our minds around.  It cannot be explained why someone would sacrifice himself to save the world.  This proves God’s unconditional love for us.

The cross symbolizes hope and forgiveness.  Jesus paid for our debts by dying on the cross.  The cross becomes just another story.  The meaning of the cross becomes numb, and we forget what it represents.  We should never let the story of the cross grow numb in our hearts.

The Cross Weekly Series: The Story Of The Cross

In the Book of Luke (vs. 23:32-38), it tells the story of the cross.  This story is one-of-a-kind.  Jesus was God in human form “and being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death–even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8).  If Jesus was God in human form, then he would have felt the same pain we would have experienced if we were tortured and nailed to the cross.

Jesus was blameless.  He did not deserve to be beaten beyond recognition, mocked, and nailed to a cross to suffer a long agonizing death.  Even in His suffering, He had compassion for us.  While He hung on the cross, “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing’” (Luke 23:34).  Imagine dying on a cross and being mocked by the people who used to love you.  Would you still have compassion and love for those people?  Probably not.  God’s love is much deeper than ours.

If you were nailed to a cross, after nearly beaten to death, you would be in extraordinary pain.  This kind of pain cannot be fully described in words, because it was so intense.  No other man on earth has experienced the level of pain that Jesus endured.  In addition to suffering on the cross, Jesus must have felt the ultimate rejection by the ones who used to love Him.  These people in the crowd, mocking Him, were those who used to follow Him and believed in His miracles.  I cannot even imagine experiencing this kind of rejection.  In the midst of all this chaos, Jesus did not condemn us or even reject us for our actions, but, instead, He forgave us.

As Jesus took His last breath, His final words were “it is finished” (John 19:30).  “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split” (Matthew 27:51).  When those words were spoken, we had access to God.  Jesus paved the way for us in the most tragic death.

The Cross Weekly Series: God’s Love

The word “love” has become numb to the world.  It is just another word with no meaning and has no emotion attached to it.  The dictionary definition of love is “a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person” (dictionary.com).  In a Christian sense of the word “love,” it has a stronger and more powerful meaning in which it is a “selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love” (about.com).  This kind of love is called agape love.  “Agape perfectly describes the kind of love Jesus Christ has for His Father and for His followers” (about.com).

God’s love cannot be explained to the fullness of who He is.  “God is love” (1 John 4:8).  His love is beyond our comprehension that can only be experienced by encountering His presence.  The love of Christ is the most sacrificial love we will ever experience in our lifetime.  His love has no bounds.  Psalms 36:5 says God’s love “reaches to the heavens and [His] faithfulness [reaches] to the skies.”

Nothing can separate us from God’s love.  According to Paul, in Romans 8:37-39, he says “we are more than conquerors through Him [Christ] who loved us. For [he is] convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

God’s love is the most amazing gift that we could ever receive.  God allowed His son, Jesus, to die on a cross so we could have a relationship with Him.  Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Jesus died for us while we were still sinners.  That’s breathtaking.  That is how much God loves us.

Worshipping Through Scripture Series – “Thy Will Be Done”

The story of the cross (Luke 23:32-38) is the most powerful and heart-wrenching story you will ever read in the Bible.  It symbolizes sacrifice, love, mercy, and forgiveness.  The cross is a simple message of God’s unconditional love for us, but, yet, so complex in the ultimate sacrifice God made for us.  Jesus died so that we could have a relationship with His Father.  He was beaten beyond recognition, mocked, spit on, whipped, and nailed to the cross for our transgressions.  This story should never go unnoticed, because it proves God’s love will always overshadow death.  Jesus did not die in vain but with honor.

Hillary Scott, a Christian artist, wrote a song called, “Thy Will Be Done”.  The artist wrote the song out of desperation.  Scott’s husband and her was expecting their second child and suffered a miscarriage.  Through their loss and pain she wrote this song as a reminder of who God is even in the most heartbreaking moments in her family’s life.  This song references at Scripture in the Bible when Jesus asked His Father to take this cup from Him, but Jesus went further to say, “yet not as I will, but as You will”. (Matthew 26:39; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42).  Jesus prayed “in anguish” in the Garden of Gethsemane for God to remove His heavy burden, which was dying on the cross.  “He prayed more earnestly [that] His sweat was like drops of blood falling on to the ground” (Luke 22:44).

Jesus surrendered to His Father and declared, “Thy will be done” (Matthew 6:10).  In the song referenced above, the chorus is written as a prayer, just like Jesus, Scott was desperate for God to take this cup from her.  She was “like a child on [her] knees” crying out “thy will be done” (Matthew 18:3; Psalm 143:10; John 1:13, 5:30, 6:38).  In this moment, the artist was out of words to say.  She exhausted her energy from the agony she was feeling and says, “‘all that comes to me’ Lord, I need you!”

Through tears and hurt, Scott realized that God’s ways are higher than her’s (Isaiah 55:8), and she surrenders to Him even when she cannot “count it all joy” (James 1:2).  She no longer wanted to seek understanding, but to find peace in the midst of life’s storms.  She found the strength to get on her knees and pray “thy will be done”.  Scott begins to declare that God sees her (Jeremiah 12:3; Psalm 139:1) where she is at and hears her prayers (Psalm 17:6, 30:10, 86:1).  She sees that God has a plan for her (Jeremiah 29:11) and goodness will come from this tragedy (Psalm 31:19).

APPLICATION

Sometimes all we have left is a broken heart with no answers to “why” it happened, but this song encourages us to stay strong in our faith.  This song tells us to get on our knees and pray to God with desperation.  Just like this song says, God has a plan for all of us and it is a good plan.  We have to trust God to get us through the rough times to see what is in store for our future.  So the next time you find yourself in a hopeless situation, I encourage you to get on your knees and surrender to God’s will.

PRAYER

God, I know You see me, and I know You hear my prayers.  I come to you today crying out Your Name.  If it is Your will then help me stay strong in the midst life’s storms.  God, help me find peace in my circumstances.  I know that You are good and only have the best for my life.

OTHER REFERENCES TO LOOK UP

  • “My Story” by Big Daddy Weave
  • “Love Has Won” by Natalie Grant
  • “Nothing But The Blood” by Casting Crowns
  • “Crimson” by Nichole Nordeman
  • “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” by Chris Tomlin
  • “Carry Me To The Cross” by Kutless
  • “This Is Love” by Kutless

 

Worshipping Through Scripture Series – “Be Changed By The Water”

As Christians, we all are knowledge of or experienced baptism.  A baptism is a “Christian sacrament of admission and adoption, with the use of water, into the Christian Church” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baptism).  It can also be described as “the religious rite of sprinkling water onto a person’s forehead or of immersion in water, symbolizing purification” (www.google.com).  In layman’s terms, it is a sacrificial proclamation to God that is celebrated and witnessed by other believers.

Many song artist have written powerful songs about baptism.  Jordan Feliz wrote a song in 2016 called “Be Change By The Water”.  The song is based off the Scripture John 7:38: “Whoever believes in Me [,Jesus,] as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”  The lyrics describe baptism as a tide: “It is rising up deep inside a current that moves and makes you come alive.  Living water that brings the dead to life.”  The chorus declares for us to “go down to the river” to be changed forever.  Baptism is a symbolic ceremony to proclaim to your church and the ones you love that you are changed by God.  You will never be the same again once you come up from the living water.  You will be “washed by the water and rise up in amazing grace” (Scripture reference: John 3:16).

Carrie Underwood, known as a country artist also sings Christian music.  She wrote a Christian song called, “Something in the Water”.  The song was nominated for many awards and received the top Christian song award in 2015.  The song tells a story about a man or a woman who lost his or her faith.  A pastor comes along to renew this person’s hope by saying have “a little faith” (Scripture reference: Matthew 8:26).  The man or woman follows the pastor to the river and gets baptized.  A few days later, the person realizes he or she has lost all hope and crumbles to the floor in tears asking God for help.  In prayer, he or she begins to sing “Amazing Grace” and thanks God for His mercies every day.  The person declares, “I am changed [and] stronger” in Christ because, “there must be something in the water”.  In this song, we can relate to the story being told.  In circumstances, we tend to forget the meaning of baptism until we are reminded through Scripture, prayer, music lyrics, and/or a pastor/friend that we are renewed in Christ.  We have been transformed by the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

The final song called, “Come To The Water” sung by Matt Maher, gives us the invitation to seek God through Baptism.  For those “who seek, let them come to the water”.  For those “who thirst, let them come to the water” (Scripture references: John 4:14, 6:35, 7:38-39; Matthew 5:6-16; Psalm 63:1, 143:6; Revelation 7:16-17).  And, for those “who are weary, let them come to the water” (Scripture reference: Matthew 11:28).  No matter the circumstances, come to water!  This is a declaration of a transformed life.  Run to the river to be washed clean.  Run to the water to have a personal relationship with Jesus (Scripture reference: Matthew 3:13-17, Jesus’ Baptism).

APPLICATION

This week is a simple message: If you want a transformed life, meet Jesus in the water!

OTHER REFERENCES TO LOOK UP

  • “Welcome Without End” by True Vine Music
  • Scriptures: Mark 1:4-5; Matthew 28:19-20; Ephesians 4:3-6; Acts 2:38-41, 16:31-33)

Women’s Insecurities – Week Five

As I bring this series to a close, I felt like it was appropriate to post a declaration instead of a lengthy blog.  It only seems appropriate after we talked about the causes of rejection and how to overcome it though Christ that we declare God’s power over our lives.  Remember that “rejection never has the final say.  Rejection may be a delay or distraction or even a devastation for a season.  But it’s never a final destination.  [We are] destined for a love that can’t ever be diminished, tarnished, shaken, or taken.  With You, Jesus, [we are] forever safe. [We are] forever accepted. [We are] forever held.  Completely loved and always invited in” (Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst).

DECLARATION:  (Written by Lysa TerKeurst in her book, Uninvited)

Whatever rejection has stolen from you, I declare that the deepest desperation you’ve experienced will lead to God’s greatest revelation in your life.

I declare that the Lord will give you relief from your unbelief.

He will restore you, redeem you, and write His story–His glorious story onto the pages of your life.

It will happen.

Doubt and defeat have no place in the sacred sanctuary of your heart.

Bitterness, resentment, and anger have no place in a life as beautiful as yours.

PRAYER:  (Written by Lysa TerKeurst in her book, Uninvited)

From now on when misguided voices or the enemy himself tries to put you down with lies or pull you away from the truth or push you into anything that could derail your destiny, I pray that you will sense the mighty hands and heart of God…

  • Lift you up with truth.
  • Draw you close with His loving tenderness.
  • And shame Satan back to hell with His resurrecting power.