Archives For God

I Still Choose To Believe

January 29, 2018

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Considering the world that we are living in and the state of America (and the world), there’s a wonder why we should believe.

We question the validity of coming to church on a Sunday morning to worship God and believe in His son, Jesus Christ.

We don’t even take it that far.

We question the existence and character of God.

We begin to put together questions and answers in an attempt to place God on trial: the challenging “if-then” statements of our time:  “If God is real, then [insert antidote]”

The doubts, the questions, the cynicism, the skepticism, the “free thinking” seem reasonable at first glance.

 

 

But, in spite of what the condition our world is in, I still choose to believe!

I choose to believe that Jesus still lives! I choose to believe that He died for me and He died for you too!

I choose to believe because I look at the evidence in my own life both spiritually and even in the physical that proves that Jesus IS who says He is and that God is real and loves you and me.

I must acknowledge that while some amazing and awesome and wonderful things are happening in my life, I do experience trouble and challenges, which is a part of life.

Years of low self-esteem, low confidence, depression and a poor appreciation for my identity was something I struggled with for a long, long time.

It took a lot of prayer, counseling and building of real, healthy relationships with people.

In many cases, God put people in my life to help lift me up and help grow me up…people who actually cared, who listened and who empathized with my situation but also told me the truth about myself and about my situation.

Even when circumstances didn’t change immediately, I felt the sting of discomfort and disorientation and confusion.

But, through Christ, I was able to deal with the status of being up or down, rich or poor and doing things I don’t necessarily want to do but have to do in life:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Philippians 4:13

Also, the Lord already overcame this trouble filled world:

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

I choose to believe and I choose to have faith because I’ve experienced too much of God and Christ in my own life to even think that both are made up. The message of the Gospel hits me at my core and moves me to live for Him.

The evidence of knowing God and Christ will show up not only in your own personal walk but also for others who see you and speak to you!

I’ve been through too many moments in life that have tested my faith to the limit…moments that I’ve fallen so hard I didn’t want to live…moments I felt so confused I almost decided to throw in the towel…moments I felt so lost and alone that I questioned my existence.

Then, God reminds me, He loves me. He reminds me through His son Jesus, who took my place and in turn has freed me from the guilty, penalty and power of sin.

My declaration is not a naive notion. It is real. It is real because my relationship with God and Christ is real.

Today, now more than ever, it is imperative to keep the faith.

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About a year or so ago, a co-worker sent me an article regarding the “Calvin and Hobbes” creators’ take on bullying.

The article hit home with me, reminding me of the times I was picked on, bullied, teased and humiliated mercileslly by other kids. I even had a few cousins who didn’t have a problem with poking and prodding me with their opinions and criticisms about the way I talked, walked, acted or existed.

Bullying did so much damage that it took a long time for me to come to a place of forgiveness and letting go. I take the issue very seriously, but, I learned most recently after reading that article and after further study of the Word of God that my whole view on Bullying, perhaps my “theological” view on Bullying, may have been very, very wrong.

Let me explain…and both apologize.

In the past, I have made comments like, “your bullies will get theirs someday” and “one day you’ll be successful while they are working at McDonalds.”

Junk like that! Yeah, I know. I realize now moreso than ever that victory is NOT found in seeing your bullies fail and fall. That’s not love that God calls us too…at all.

I was wrong and I apologize.

I used to believe that my bullies of the past would one day get theirs and that they would be dealt with.

Truth is, that’s not always the case. They could end up with a change of heart. God may have changed their hearts and minds. Then what? Or, the bullies may not change at all and instead of working in fast-food they could end up being your boss! Then what?

As my Pastor one Sunday was preaching on loving your enemies, the Lord was tugging at my heart, reminding me of my boyhood past that seemed to play over and over in my head and heart. Then, conviction came, the reality that I not only needed to let go of what happened in my past but realize that the victory doesn’t come from the bullies of my past getting what I thought they deserve, but, from victory in Jesus.

Luke 6:27-31 says this:

“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.”

Luke 6:35 says this:

“But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.”

The article I read talked about a kind of moral justification, a kind of desire to be good and not stoop down to the level of the bully. And that’s a good thing to consider. But, for a deeper and lasting and real affect, it has to be more than just desiring to be good. You can’t do it by yourself and by your own kind of moral compass. Your greatest victory is in Christ.

What Would I Tell A Kid Now Dealing With Bullying

I’m still trying to figure this part out! The best advice is to make sure that people know about it. And as a kid, I know this is hard! On the one hand, you want something done about it, but, on the other hand you don’t want it things to go from bad to worse.

I was fortunate that I had a healthy understanding that who I was to God was way more important than what people thought of me. That got damaged during times of bullying, but not totally destroyed.

It’s by His Grace and Mercy I’m able to maintain that mindset even after all of that.

What I have found is that building a network of friends and people who support and love you through it helps.

As a kid going through bullying, I often felt alone in my struggles. No one, especially adults, bothered to step in and try and fix the problem. As kids, it seems like we were left on our own when it came to bullying.

There was no “speak up” or “speak out” or other bullying initiatives. It was the wild west for me and a lot of other kids.

I would say, “sure, self-defense, teach your kid to fight or put them in karate classes,” but that only solves a part of the problem.

The issue of bullying is complex. It is a little more than just “self-defense” but it is also a little more than just teaching children to accept and love one another and appreciate each others’ differences.

As a kid, much like the writer of the article I mentioned earlier said, as a kid you want justice NOW…not later. And that’s hard on the heart of a boy or girl. It’s a harsh lesson of childhood, but, it doesn’t have to end there.

I’m grateful for kids and adults who step up and demand that bullying stop these days. I’m grateful for the fact some kids are a lot stronger and tougher in their resolve and refuse to let themselves be teased or picked on or belittled.

But, I think of the kid like me, who didn’t want to get hurt so they would try to avoid the fight…but…knowing that if they did try to do something and they lost they would come home to punishment.

So, what would I tell a kid now whose being bullied!?

This might not be much to that kid out there, but here goes……………

You matter.

You matter more than you know. Please, don’t forget that you’re important and that you matter. You have purpose in your life. You are valuable!!! I know you’re hurting right now and I know that it sucks that you’re being bullied.

Self-defense is one thing…and you’re probably scared of fighting and getting hurt. But, don’t go it alone. There’s too many people around you that actually do care and will stop at nothing to see you through what you’re going through right now.

Tell your family, tell the school leaders around you, tell your church, tell the world, make it known….you’re loved and you matter!

Things are a little different now than what they used to be, and you don’t have to fight through this alone. If you’re a victim of bullying, say somethings and don’t stop saying something.

If you need to talk it out…if you need to cry…if you need help…you’re not alone. You’re never alone.

Never let anyone try to make you feel less than what you are.

From the Spiritual aspect…to the person whose experienced bullying…know this….

Your greatest victory is not in just being better than your bullying…but not becoming bitter from the bullying. The greatest victory is in Christ…where love will lead you to letting go of bitterness, anger, hatred and vengefulness and will instead lead you to prayer for them and yourself and praise to God.

Seeing God as Father

May 24, 2017

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Early Wednesday morning, I was writing in my journal while having a coffee in one of my favorite local shops in Garland, Texas. While writing, I was chronicling the experience I was having with the Lord for the past 24-48 hours.

 

Then, out came this narrative…a narrative that really described what I was experiencing.

The entire experience could be likened to that of a 16-year-old boy whose outrageously upset.

About what!? Sure, he’s a teenager. What could he possibly be angry about? It can’t possibly be THAT big of a deal. He’s a teenager. But, his Father doesn’t approach it that way. He’s got an issue…He meet’s his son where he is in his sons maturity (or lack there of) for that moment.

In the teens’ moment of anger, frustration and teenage angst boosted to 100 on a scale of 1 to 10 he sees that everything sucks…his life sucks…and he wants a do-over and feels totally mistreated and misunderstood. He wants things to work for him…but…he can’t see past his wants to see how good he actually has it. Sure, a couple of really awesome things are going on…but…he’s lacking a true view of how blessed he really is.

He stomps his way to his room and slams the door. In this story, the Father stops at nothing to get his son to talk. But, he knows that the boy has to cool down before really being able to reach him.

Once the son leaves his room and enters the space in the house where the Father often resides, the Father asks him to sit with him.

He wants his son to explain, specifically, what’s troubling him.

The young teen tries to use his words. His Father can read between the lines. He moves closer and wraps his arm around his beloved son. And in between the words come tears from his son. His Father asks his son to let him handle the problems.

Once the son and his Father talked it out, the son decided to trust again and love again.

And, he apologized for his attitude in the moment.

The son realizes that he was being pretty self-centered and selfish…but the Father was well aware of where it was coming from. And, he dealt with his sons heart…he dealt with the the legitimate aches with legitimate truth.

 

 

I’m so grateful for God being so patient with me and so loving and so kind. I’m grateful that He sent His son Jesus. I’m grateful that the Lord stops me before I make things become more about me rather than about HIM. I’m thankful and grateful that He loves me where I am and invites me into more in Him…a life that perpetually shows that Jesus is FIRST and ONLY.

When I actually seek the Lord FIRST I not only have nothing to worry about, but, I also stop worrying, period!

Matthew 6:33 says “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

I’m grateful for the Lord loving me and disciplining me so I can actually come to a place of maturity in Him.

God and I in 2016

December 8, 2016

By and By - Growth in God

In the year 2016 I have seen God allow for doors to open and doors to close. I have experienced deep joy in some parts of my life and periods of deep sadness and disappointment.

Even major bouts of depression, wondering if I should give up on everything…hopes…dreams…goals…everything.

I went back and forth on whether I should’ve done this or that, or, maybe if I had only made this decision or taken this opportunity or gone this or that direction.

Those moments, I was angry…frustrated…lost…confused…hurt…even a little scared. I wanted things to happen in my life that were the complete reverse of what I was seeing. I was told to trust God and keep the faith but was hurting so much inside that I was numb to it.

Even as I write this its…to be honest…really uncomfortable…like “naked in public” type of uncomfortable. But, kind of refreshing at the same time.

Living for Jesus is hard. And yet, I’ll have it no other way.

Jesus freed me from a life where I walked in bitterness and anger towards my own race…towards my own people.

Jesus freed me from a life where I could’ve chosen to live any kind of way…to a life that said that He was all I need.

Jesus is tearing down the walls of my own agenda, making me rethink my life as a whole and totally rewiring my mindset. I

In this, I think of the scripture in Romans about being transformed by the renewing of my mind!

That is happening in a big way and I thank the Lord for every moment that transformation to be in His image is taking place.