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!
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!
It’s exhausting at times
It’s hard at times
It’s lonely at times
Tells you it’s not worth getting back up
All hope is lost
Convinces you to not even try again
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…
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.
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!
Change Is Hard But Necessary
As we grow in Christ, God continues to remold us and reshape us into something new. In life, change is necessary to pursue new opportunities. It is not always easy nor is it always voluntary. Change happens no matter we like it or not.
Currently, I have been put in a position to seek an involuntary change. I did not realize what I was leaving behind until I took the first steps in a new direction. But, at the same time, I cannot return to what was. Change is a must.
I find that with change there is a moment when we grieve what was left behind as we gradually adjust to the newness of life. There are exciting moments and sad moments blended together. Even though a new adventure is exciting, it comes with the unknowns — the awkwardness.
The Bible tells us change is not to be feared. Deuteronomy 31:6 says for us to “be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.” God is with us and guiding us on where we should go. We need to put our trust in Him and take another step forward into the unknown. Jeremiah 29:11 declares that “‘God’ know[s] what [he is] doing. ‘He has’ it all planned out — plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”
When change occurs, we become anxious. Our emotions are scattered. Our old life seems to be fading away with every step we take. What was familiar is not familiar anymore. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us not to “fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” The Bible instructs us to pray instead of worry. It also tells us to praise God through the difficult times. He will see us through every situation.
God says to “forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new” (Isaiah 43:20) As we embrace the new and leave behind the “old”, we will see God working in our lives like never before. We will have a closer relationship with God during the journey. We will become stronger as we walk into a new chapter of our lives. Yes, it may be scary but, the end result is worth it.
(Scripture – The Message Version)
What Is A Blessing?
Many people think a blessed person is someone who has it all — lives in a big house, drives an expensive car, has the best job, and so forth. This way of thinking is distorted. If we see a blessing just as material things then we miss a blessing in our lives, because we compare our lives to others.
The word “blessing” means “a favor or gift bestowed by God or the invoking of God’s favor upon a person.” It also is defined as “approval” and “good wishes” (www.dictionary.com/browse/blessing). A blessing comes in many forms. It can come directly from God. Or a blessing can come from family members, friends, or complete strangers through God working in them.
Before Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, the world was full of chaos and hate. After the hurricane, we saw people working together. Complete strangers risking their lives to save others. As Christians, we need to be watchful on how we say we are blessed. I am guilty of this as well. I said, “I was blessed to have minor damage in my home. A home I can still live in after the storm.” But, we all have to understand those who have lost everything due to the storm, they are still blessed. God protected their family, and, in the past three weeks, people have seen complete strangers help them rebuild their home. In Philippians 4:19 declares that “MY God will supply every need to yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” In Isaiah 41:10, God says “fear no, for I am with you; be no dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” “And from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:16). I encourage everyone who is going through hardship to declare these Scriptures over your life.
Many who have lost their homes have asked, “What shall we eat?” “What shall we drink?” What shall we wear?” (Matthew 6:30-33). They have lost all their belongs. They have lost all their food. They only have the clothes on their back. But, be encouraged today. God clothes you every day with His blessings and righteousness. Churches and business have opened their doors to give food, clothes, furniture, and toiletries to those in need. God put it on their hearts to bless you with items that you have lost. It may be heartbreaking and difficult to ask for help, but never turn down a blessing.
There may be some who are too broken to see God’s blessing in their lives. And, that is okay. Having any kind of loss is devastating and finding hope again may take time. Sometimes all we can do is get on our knees and cry out to God for help. Through prayer we all will find “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). Psalm 144:2 is a prayer of declaration in time of need: “He is My steadfast love and My fortress, My stronghold and My deliverer, My shield and He in whom I take refuge.” This Scripture not only gives you hope again, but it also gives you renewed strength through Christ. Matthew 5:4 states the “blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Let these words wash over you and remind you that you are not alone. God is ALWAYS with you.
And, always remember that a blessing is not all about material things. A blessing is simply God loving on us through a prayer being answered. His continuous protection over your life and family. A blessing is helping people in need. We are blessed every day through Christ.
What Is The Norm?
As Texas and Louisiana is healing and rebuilding their cities from Hurricane Harvey, it reminds me of how things have changed in just a matter of a few weeks. Before Harvey, we went about our daily lives caring about our own needs and protesting about what offends us. Individuals did not care about hurting others with his/her words or actions. That was the norm. It was normal to see hate in this world, and, for some, they became numb to it. We just turned off social media or the TV shaking our heads in disgrace. We never thought to make a difference by putting more love into this world by showing who Jesus is. We stayed silent and let hate crimes happen all over this nation. Sadly, I was one of those people who stayed silent.
After Hurricane Harvey hit my little town in Southeast Texas, everything changed. The hate crimes were not getting the attention on social media and the news. We were seeing devastation and heartache. People leaving their homes for safety. Animals, of all kinds, being rescued out of flood waters. Ordinary people using their own boats to save those around them. We saw a nation come together in prayer for those affected by the hurricane. No more hate crime seen on social media; instead, we saw the hands and feet of Jesus doing their part. Now, this should be the norm: seeing people help people. People put down their electronics and started paying attention to the hurt around them. They did not silence the cries of the help; they put on their rubber boots and got messy. They stepped into the flood waters and risked their lives for others. This is what it means to serve others.
If you want to serve, expect to get a little messy, because once you put your heart out there, you will be a part of their messy world. The world that does not look so neat and tidy. The world that is shedding tears for their loss. The stories that can be told about Hurricane Harvey are heart-wrenching and filled with hopelessness. But, as we have seen, we can build others up by being their for them in time of need. We can show them their is hope again by extending our hands to those who are hurting.
The norm should always look like the picture of people coming together to rebuild hearts and cities one day at a time. Let’s put down our phones, tablets, and the TV remote and start being the hands and feet of Jesus. Let us not forget those who have lost everything and help them rebuild their lives again. Let’s not be afraid to get a little messy to help someone who needs it the most.
And, I will leave you this…. Natalie Grant, an amazing Christian artist, sings a song called, “Be One”. Here are some lyrics to encourage all of you to be a part of something bigger than yourself:
It’s time to get our hands dirty
Be love there’s a whole lot of hurting
Calling all hearts
Calling all hands
Calling all feet to take a stand
Why sit around and wait for a miracle to come
When we can be one
When we can be one
When we can be one
A little somethin’
Might feel like nothin’
But in His hands it’s all we’ll ever need
To speak life to the broken
Watch the blind eyes open
It’s who He’s calling you and me
We can be the change, be the hope
We can be the arms that don’t let go
We can be a light in the dark
We are, we are where it starts
Living Out the Change in your Life
In the past few years, I have written about the importance of change, and how we must embrace it. Over a year ago, I made many changes in my life. I changed churches after being committed to one for over three years. I lost my friends due to this change. My pastor’s moved after serving under them for several years. I lost all my leadership roles at the church once I stepped out from being a member. You see, church was my life. Besides working, I stayed busy helping the pastors in various projects. It became my identity. What I did became who I was.
One Sunday God told me this is your last Sunday here at this church. In that moment, I was overwhelmed with the change. I did what I was told and attended church that day for the very last time. I seemed lost for many months trying to fit in and find my place to serve in a new church. Even when I was discouraged, I found myself not wanting to give up. Once I found a church that God led me to, I still mourned over my previous church I attend. I struggled with my emotions and my thoughts.
Eventually, as I continued to attend the new church on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights, I began to feel like I belonged. I took two months off from serving to find myself again. Little by little I took steps into serving in the church as a greeter once-a-month. In September 2017, I had the opportunity to serve beside another church to help those throughout our community. In November 2017, I started to help with the youth group on Wednesdays. I have participated in many Bible and book studies throughout the year. I am now part of a church that I love and feel honored to serve in. I have realized that church is not just about works, but it is all about having a relationship with God and being in fellowship with other Christians. My identity is in Christ and not in what I do.
Change can bring many hardships, but, in the end, we are rewarded for not quitting. Since this change, I have had to adjust to being in new leadership roles in the church, meeting new people, making new friends, working with a new boss, and financial changes. My life looks completely different from a year ago, but I am thankful for the changes in my life. It has helped me to grow personally as well as Spiritually. I have realized I am a stronger person than I thought, and I can do anything with Christ by my side.
If you are struggling with changes in your life, always remember God is on your side every step of the way. The journey might not always be easy, but the reward is always worth it.