Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Doubting the Doubt...

So I know I said I would post something regarding what I learned while in the wilderness, however, this had to come first. Earlier this week I was really convicted. Convicted because of my doubt, my worry. To my shame I still struggle with doubt, and as a result, that issue permeated throughout the rest of my life. Just this past Monday I still felt uncomfortable around my friends. I still felt like I didn't belong, I still felt like a liar.

Tuesday I prayed to God after hearing a sermon from Greg Laurie. A verse from Jeremiah stuck out to me. Jeremiah 33:3 "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know." I had always thought that crying out to God was foolish. To ask Him for a sign made you weak, however, the very character from the bible that I relate to was made strong by this "weakness". Doubting Thomas was made strong because of his doubt. The Lord went on to say though, that Blessed is he who does not see and believes.

I cried out to God this morning. It was at that point He shattered me. It was at that point I realized how badly I needed Him. No amount of ministry, christian friends, or success was going to get me His grace. I already had it. It belonged to me, I simply had to believe. So this morning I prayed the most honest prayer I have every prayed in my life. I asked God to forgive me of my unbelief, thanked Him for my belief and told Him I refused to look for signs, I refused to rely on my eyes to see Him. At that point I was parked at work. Then I asked Him to speak to me. So I grabbed my devotional book, but then quickly put it down. God speaks to us everyday I realized. The bible isn't just the bible, it is HIS WORD. HIS WORD! Read it and guess what, He is speaking to you! I don't need a fancy devo from some smart scholar, I just need the word. I had no idea what to read, so I just kept reading a book I was already finishing. Titus. He spoke, LOUD AND CLEAR! It was so awesome. I can't even describe it. I knew it was Him. I had my moment. Finally!

Here is the verse: Titus 3:3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

God is amazing.

So I have two things I want to tell you and two challenges for you. First thing. Unless lead to, I will no longer use this blog as a way to throw my doubts and worries around. I refuse. I am done talking about it, now it's time to do something about it. Time to let Him work. Second, I will no longer blog on anything outside of His will. What he says to me, what he speaks, is what I'll type. Nothing more, nothing less.

My first challenge to you, well it is actually a cry for help from a brother. If you ever hear me speak of doubt or worry, slap me, please, then pray. :-)

"The weakest faith in Christ is more liberating than the strongest faith in anything else" - Tim Keller. Secondly, when you get a moment, check out a sermon from a man by the name of Timothy Keller, it is called "Doubt: What to do with all my doubts". This man truly is blessed. He has something for everyone.

I pray that you might be encouraged by my little mini-story. I know I have said this a thousand times, but I really am finished with it. I gave it up, finally, to God. Stepping out in faith now. Whatever happens from here on, is His. In a sense, now I can finally say without a doubt, I am saved. I am His. Done deal. Love you guys!

Oh, and don't worry, the next post will be on the ranch experience, I promise.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Shepard the Flock of God which is among you...

God truly does consider the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4). While at first we may not see it, over time, He begins to reveal to us what our hearts truly desire. If we are for Him, it is His will and He uses our passions and our loves for His purpose. This makes our work for Him that much more amazing, because it isn't coming from our deceiving minds, but our hearts, our hearts that are filled with Him.

A few months ago I sat down with my best friend and brother over some sushi. In our conversation I poured out my heart's desires to him. I had never expressed myself like this. In a sense, I made myself vulnerable. Essentially I told him I was envious of him. He was doing something I wished I could do. He was serving God, but in a way that to me is both difficult yet most rewarding to the Kingdom. He was ministering to the Youth, i.e. tomorrows leaders.

See to me, there is nothing better than taking the knowledge and wisdom that God has given me through life's trials and giving that to someone else. Additionally, I always had a heart for teaching. I remember I used to tutor SAT Math and AP Calculus Math for fun, teaching was always something I enjoyed, it was fun.

So here I am pouring myself out to him and he just looked at me and responded saying: "And what are you waiting for? You can do it if you really want to." He proceeded to tell me that God uses anyone and everyone to do his work, no matter what they thought of themselves. I knew this, but why would God use me? What would I have to offer God? I mean look at me, I've only been back in church for a few months, and at the time of this convo, I wasn't even in church, I was still doing my own thing and "finding" fulfillment in the world and its "glory".

So we departed ways and went about the rest of our days, but his words stuck with me. Funny thing is, a week later I started going back to church. In that same week, his wife sent me a text after she invited me over to their house. "So you I hear you wanna join us Uth Leaders?" Did I ever, but I responded just saying I was thinking about it. Mind you, I had no intention of doing so, I didn't think I was worthy, nor was I qualified, it would take years for me to do anything.

This past January I joined Financial Peace University, they met on Friday nights, same as Uth group. The first Friday I was there, I left, though I wanted to say hi to my friends who served. That night I got a text from my friend's wife again asking where I was. After she found out I was going home, she told me that next week I should stick around to say hi. I did just that, and a funny thing happened, I started talking to the kids, no not just talking, sharing. It was pretty sweet. This continued for a few weeks until through a series of events I found myself applying for Uth...

This past weekend, there I stood, in front of my best friend, at Jose's ranch, for a Uth Leader retreat. I looked at him and said, "Remember that convo we had back in December? I can't believe I am standing in front of you right now." "Bro, God knows the desires of your heart man." It was then that it sank in. God is listening to me, I like a fool sometimes think He isn't, but looking back, he really is.

Trust me when I say this, He hears you, and He will not be mocked, He knows what He is doing, He is without shadow of turning (James 1:17), which is to say, He has no dark side, and while sometimes we ourselves might feel like we are in the dark, just know that there is light, you just have to look up.

There is a second part to this post, I wanna touch on some stuff He showed us while in the wilderness...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Have you considered His servant Job?

I can't count how many times my dad used to tell me the same story. "When I was your age..." or for those cuban readers, "Esto no pasaba en Cuba..." My father had always been someone who enjoyed passing on wisdom. I remember I used to tell myself I would never be like my father, well here I am, sharing his wisdom and also sharing the wisdom that my Heavenly Father gave me. My dad makes me laugh when he makes his Cuban references, however, let's look past the reference. Our parents grew up in a different time. They weren't spoiled by technology as we are today, they actually had to do a lot more. Imagine living without a computer, or a cell phone, or even a TV. You can't imagine life without it, however, our parents spent most of their lives without any of these things, and they made out just fine.

When they raised us, our parents did so by taking the things they had gone through, and imparted in us the wisdom and knowledge they gained as a result of their trials, so that we might not stumble. Now imagine how effective that message would have been had our parents not experienced anything? In order for us to use God's words to comfort others, we must experience that same comfort, because then, it is a sincere and real comfort that truly reflects the love of Christ. 2 Cor 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

We don't just have our parents to look to for advice, and sometimes we as sheep need an example of our issues and how to go about solving them. For us, God isn't enough at times (wow we suck). Well God, being amazing, lets us know that we are not alone in our struggles. Men and women just like you went through the same things you are going through now. We have, as Hebrews 12:1 puts it, a "great cloud of witnesses" surrounding us. What do I mean, well take Paul, Moses, or Elijah. Elijah shot fire from heaven and days later ran like a dog with his tail between his legs for fear that the queen would kill him. Could you imagine, fire from heaven, and yet, he still feared? Puts things into perspective, eh? You are not alone in your daily battle, your daily race, where we all must die daily to ourselves.

Want more perspective? Think your life is bad, have you considered God's servant, Job? Yeah you knew it was coming, and you have James to blame! James 5:10 "My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. 11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful."

Now think for a second, like our parents without technology, Job didn't have the bible. He only had his faith in God. Which in reality is what we have, however, we also have the bible to go with it. When Job was around, he didn't have the book of Proverbs for wisdom, didn't have Psalms for comfort, didn't have the gospels, didn't have Paul's letters, didn't even have Exodus, yet he lived a godly life, even in the face of being tempted and tormented by the devil himself. That puts perspective on our lives doesn't it?

I started reading Job this week due to my early week state of depression. Man did that change quick. I felt like a fool. Here I am complaining and growning about my life, bible in hand, and Job, bibleless, being tried by the devil himself, stood firm. That isn't to say Job didn't hate what he was going through, the man spent several verses cursing the day he was born. None of us enjoy going through trials, however, all things are for God's glory and that is something we need to recognize.

When you study material, how do you know how well you know the material? A test of course. Upon completion of that test, and you successfully pass it, how does that make you feel? You walk out like a champ! Same thing applies to our walk with Christ. James tells us to count it joy when we go through trials (James 1:2-4), why? Well how else are we going to learn how to have a deeper faith? How else are we going to learn patience? How else will we learn to be humble? To trust God more?

So what does God have in your life right now that seems to be killing you? How are you viewing it? Take a different spin on your trials. I know I have been. I need to go through doubts, I need to worry, I need to be attacked, so that God might guide me through it, and in the end, when I have made it through the trial, I can turn around and look at Him, saying thanks, knowing that He has undeniably stretched out His hand and helped me. I don't want trials, but I do want to grow. Bring on the cutters God, clip my useless branches...

Job 2:10“You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I will Follow You...

Yesterday was a rough day. Satan had me cornered....but God... I love this song, so much that I wanted to share it with you. I heard it one afternoon on 90.9 LiFE FM and found it on iTunes. The band is awesome and a must have, especially this song. Last night, I laid down in bed, put on my noise-cancelling head phones and let the music flow. It was awesome. God started to break me and it was awesome. I pray He continues to break me... enjoy the song :-)

Let the Waters Rise

Don't know where to begin
Its like my world's caving in
And I try but I can't control my fear
Where do I go from here?

sometimes its so hard to pray
When You feel so far away
But I am willing to go
Where you want me to
God, I trust You

There's a raging sea
Right in front of me
Wants to pull me in
Bring me to my knees
So let the waters rise
If You want them to
I will follow You
I will follow You
I will follow You

I will swim in the deep
'Cuz You'll be next to me
You're in the eye of the storm
And the calm of the sea
You'll never out of reach

God, You know where I've been
You were there with me then
You were faithful before
You'll be faithful again
I'm holding Your hand

There's a raging sea
Right in front of me
Wants to pull me in
Bring me to my knees
So let the waters rise
If You want them to
I will follow You
I will follow You
I will follow You

God Your love is enough
You will pull me through
I'm holding onto You
God Your love is enough
I will follow You
I will follow You


There's a raging sea
Right in front of me
Wants to pull me in
Bring me to my knees
So let the waters rise
If You want them to
I will follow You
I will follow You
I will follow You


1 Peter 4:1 Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. 2As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.

Monday, March 22, 2010

My wake up call...

What moves you? What motivates you? Are you content with where you are? I know I'm not. For years, I spent time trying to find contentment in all the wrong places. To this day, I still struggle with the idea of contentment. Even now as I type, I struggle with it. Contentment is man's ultimate need, in the flesh and the spirit. That feeling of acceptance, success, self-worth. I mean think about it, what drives you most of the time? You want self-worth, you want that feeling of satisfaction, you want to be noteworthy in someone's book.

The need for self-gratification and purpose is built into each one of us. Realizing this, we turn to any avenue to find it. This would be the part that I say, as any Christian would say, it can only be found in one place, however, I can't just tell you that and not give you reason behind it. What weight do my words carry if I don't give you a personal realization of this?

By now, you are well versed in where my mind has been these days and in the past few years, granted, I haven't said everything, however, you get the idea. My mind is a tornado. I'll take thoughts, ideas, doubts, you name it, and spin them around, over and over again, with each spin, picking up something else in my vortex. I am what you would call, an overthinker. I'll take something and spin it fifty different ways and tear it to pieces, analyzing every last corner, I am not lying when I say I am doubting Thomas. For me to accept things is difficult, I walk by sight and not by faith, and what a weak faith it is. The sad part is that I'll give the chair I sit in more faith than I give God. I don't question that this chair will fall from under me, however, I'll question God, like an idiot.

So how does that have anything to do with motivation? Well for someone like me, I'll need a tactile something I can attach motivation to. Whether it be a person, a ministry, an achievement, even a prayer, I need something. It is a miserable existence, and a lot of it stems from the fact I spent so much time far from God, I forgot what His voice sounds like. At this point I doubt I ever even knew what His voice sounded like. I don't even know where I am going with this at this point, however, I'll keep going.

When we attach our faith, our motivation, our reason, our success to something tactile, something temporary (person, item, job, ministry), well then our joy and sense of fulfillment once we acheive our goal becomes exactly what it's basis is, temporary. What's worse is when these things fail us. If your universe revolves around something fragile, well then your universe is exactly that, fragile, and the slightest wave, can bring your universe to a crumbling hault.

Why do I say all this? Well, God showed me something. See I had my purpose of doing things in something temporary, that temporary thing failed me, not by it's own fault, but because I had placed so much weight on it, that when it didn't do or go the way I thought it would, it failed me. In a sense, right now I am broken.

Whether or not I am just being a worry wort worrying about nothing remains to be seen, however, from this, I can take something, and I hope you can too. See this brokeness I so easily slipped into made me realize that I was wrong. I was wrong at how I was going about living. Storing up treasures on earth, truly is foolish, now, store up eternal treasures in heaven, now we are talking. Let me say my heavenly storehouse is pretty empty right now.

My state of discontent right now comes as a result of my disconnect from God. What needs to happen in my life and in yours if it hasn't already, is that we go the way of Colossians 3:2-3 "Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life was hidden with Christ in God." It isn't easy, but it is either that or feel like this till I die, no thanks.

Here is my prayer for today:

Lord, I say it a thousand times, how undeserving I am, but I need to start believing it, I need to really take it into account. Apart from you I am nothing, and until I start putting you in the center, and let every planet in my life revolve around you, I'll always have a fragile universe. God purify my heart, make You my only motivation. It's by grace I exist, not by my own work. Whatever I do that is good, isn't me. Continue to rip me from me. Less of me God. I pray Lord that I experience Your love on a daily basis, and that on a daily basis I die to myself. I don't want to be motivated by myself or something/someone else, let it be you God. Even this blog God, while theraputic, should not substitute my ultimate therapy, found in You. Forgive for being a fool, and for worrying about things that are beyond me, when I should just be trusting you in all things...I got nothing else God, just own my heart God right now, and my mind...Amen

Friday, March 19, 2010

All I ever do is ask for things, Until I ask to much

The meaning of prayer is that we get hold of God, not of the answer - Oswald Chambers

I am so guilty of praying sometimes just to make myself feel better. The words at times will go unheard, I know that. I pray not out of love for God, but because in my carnal human mind, I associate praying for something with a good feeling and as a result, pray not because I have faith and think God will come through, but because the sheer idea of praying makes me feel better, and in turn I become consumed more by the request and less by the person who I am requesting something of.

Don't get me wrong, throughout the bible, God commands us to pray. He tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:20), tells us to pray especially for specific needs (James 5:13-16), tells us in all things to pray (Phil 4:6), He even gives us a template to go by when praying (Matt 6:9-13), however, when we lose sight of who we are praying to, our prayers may as well go unsaid.

While God knows our thoughts, knows our past, present, and future, He still wants us to pray, else he wouldn't command us so often to pray, or tell us how we ought to pray. Think of it this way, when you want to get to know someone, say a significant other, or a love interest, talking is a must. You aren't going to learn anything about them in silence, you have to reach out, speak to them, know them. The same applies to God. He doesn't want us to accept Him, get our fire insurance and move on, He wants us to intimately know Him and spend time with Him. He wants us to pray with sincerity though, not just to impress those around us (Matt 15:8-9)

I write this because just before it hit me, I cought myself praying to Him out of obligation and because I wanted to "feel good," and that isn't what prayer is about. Prayer is two part, speak AND listen. In fact, I think the listen part comes first, to be quick to listen, slow to speak. We should listen for His voice and pray we respond in His will. Pray we act according to His word, Pray we live and die by the word, Pray we be bolder, Pray we give up whatever holds us down and causes us to be prideful, Pray for humility, Pray for discernment, I can keep going.

I made a list the other day in my prayer journal of things I need to pray for and get better at. I basically went through verses I had read, reflected on what caused me to highlight certain parts, then made a prayer list according to what the verse said to me. I challenge you to do the same. Get in the word, reflect on verses that stand out to you, make a list (check it twice, gonna find out...sorry...random I know) and pray about it. Pick a few things you know you need to focus on and pray over them so as not to overwhelm yourself. Get a prayer journal. I received one for my birthday and let me say it truly is the gift that keeps on giving. Sometimes my own thoughts and prayers minister to me and remind me of where I was and where I am, also keeps me in check.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Forward Motion....Part 2

It wasn't the great suggestion, It was the great commission. - Pastor Pedro

Part 2. We box God in our minds, by not seeing Him for who He is. How else can we box Him?

I had been looking for the second part to this idea of struggling with forward motion, and God shot me a parable this week, 3 times he gave it to me, He knows I need the confirmation several times (I hate being doubting Thomas). Matthew 25, starting on verse 14, Jesus gives us the parable of the talents. The parable goes that a man leaves three men with a number of talents for each. (I love that the currency used was talents, as that word can be both a currency or something we as humans excel at) When he comes back, two of the men took the talents they were given and multiplied them, having invested them in banks and gaining interest. The third man however, buried his talent and hid it from the world. When the man who had given the talents returned, he was well pleased with the first two, however, furious with the third man saying: "You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?"

Why would he hide his talent? Why would he box up his gift? We are guilty of this. I am first in line. I myself struggle with the idea of sharing what He has given me. This has nothing to do with money. He has given me and you and anyone else who calls on Him and believes, life. It is almost like we take that gift, and keep it in the gift box. We might take it with us here and there, but we'll never let out our gift, we'll never tell our story, His story. (This is why they call it HIStory)

"What is life kept to ourselves, careful words composed, it's a book upon the shelf, a story never told" - Daes Vail

Why do we box up our story? Is it fear? That is funny, because I remember reading somewhere that we were not given the spirit of fear. (This is the part where I yell at myself for being so guilty of the above) Tough pill to swallow. This isn't an easy message. It is easy for us to sit and yell about this all day, however, if we don't do it, what good is it? It is like being given a flashlight and being thrown into a dark room, then being instructed to do something, and doing without turning on our light. How does that make sense?

We are the light and the salt. My favorite picture of this part of scripture concerning being the light is one that was given by a special guest one night at CCk. Imagine all the lights in the city of Miami. Now imagine all these lights being located in one parking lot. The lot will be lit, however, the rest of the city will be in darkness. Those lights may as well not be on. They are in a sense, purposeless. You only need a handful of lights for that parking lot. The rest of those other lights need to properly be placed throughout the city so that there can be no darkness.

This message is a call. Christianity isn't about being comfortable. Jesus said in Matthew 10 that he didn't come to bring peace, but a sword. One of my favorite quotes that compliment this says: "I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity." - C.S. Lewis

We are always presented an opportunity day in and day out to preach His name, to share His word, to let out of our box, the amazingness that is God. I know for me, it is so hard. Hard to be bold, hard to sometimes see that opportunity, and more often than not (and this upsets me about myself so much), hard to go through with our commission.

The most painful thing to me, is to walk into a room and just look around and observe the people in it. There is someone in that room who is going to hell. Who may never hear the word, who may never know the love that is Jesus. Stop and think, could you imagine if the person or event that brought you to Christ never came, imagine that for a moment. It breaks me. What is frustrating is not knowing where to begin. Not having that discernment. Pray for it.

I read this book a while ago in high school called "The Prayer of Jabez". Don't ask me to tell you where in the bible Jabez is located, because I don't remember. For the most part, the book was a feel good book, but I remember one thing from it. It is the only part of the prayer I remember. "Lord expand my boundaries!" We need to daily ask God to send those opportunities our way. He has entrusted us with the commission of getting His word out, we need to do something with it.

Appropriately, there is a verse for this (Oh c'mon, you knew it was coming). James 1:22 "Be doers of the word, not just hearers, deceiving yourselves." I have commented on this verse plenty of times, however, which each post, the weight of it becomes heavier and heavier. As we begin to draw closer to Him and as our hearts begin to break for the things that break His heart, we begin to realize that if there is something that breaks God's heart, it is the want that all men come to know Him. Paul says it in Colossians that he labors hard for this goal, that all men might know Christ.

We need to do, not just hear. Pray that he reveals to you your calling, your ministry, your gift, then DO IT. It is nice to recite verses and reflect on how pretty they are or how they make us feel, but there is more to it. John 3:16 is gorgeous, verses found in Psalms are at times breathtaking, however, if we just hear them and do nothing with them, how is that in line with our commission?

Phil 2:4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Don't limit God to the box of our minds, Don't box up God like a treasure that only makes you feel good, let Him out!

I challenge you today, take the first step in the great commission. Do it with me. I want, next week, that we make a new friend. It doesn't have to be a best friend or a huge convo, however, I want whoever reads this to take an interest in some other person. Pray for some discernment, then go out and get someone. You don't even have to talk to them about Jesus, you just have to show them some love. Make them feel cared for in some way. You never know what will come of it, you could very well be speaking to the next Greg Laurie..

Forward Motion...Part 1

"Big God, small problems, See God for who He is, and you will see your problems for what they are." Greg Laurie

To begin, let me say this. I originally thought of writing this in my own manner. I had this whole thing planned out in my own mind. I read Hebrews 1 last Thursday night. The whole chapter talks about how great and how amazing Jesus Christ is. How God puts Christ's name above all names. Before setting out to write the blog, I said to God: " I am no pastor, no theologian, nothing special. Just a guy who observes and responds to the best of his ability (and I suck let me say that). I will not write this blog without Your guidance." Needless to say, three days later, I had a devo with a subtitle, God in a box. Confirmation in the face. So here goes God.

Ever noticed something about God. God is an almighty being. An omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God who loves His creation and has paid an ultimate price for our sake, yet He is limited. Limited? Now before you grab your stones, hear me out. Sometimes we as Christians, myself soooooo included, put Him in a box. What do I mean, well we have read a thousand times over that He is great, Christ died on the cross, He rose again on the third day, salvation, grace, mercy, you know all these things. Yet we lose sight of this. We in essence are a box. We limit God in our humanity, rather than unlimit Him in our humility.

We so quickly forget His promises to us. John 14:12-14 says, "12Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it." Read this again, and take note of something in specific. Yes we can do great works in His name, but look at the word in verse 12, GREATER. Jesus is flat out saying to us, not only will you do the works I do, but even greater ones. Really us? Humans? Greater works than Christ? You're kidding me right? And it is this thinking that gets us in trouble. This type of thinking not only hinders our spiritual growth, but additionally, gives victory to Satan.

We, in our own minds, limit our spiritual growth, and the more we give into ourselves and our flesh, rather than submit fully to Christ, the more idle we become, the less efficient we become. We lose our saltiness and our light goes dim.

The more we remove our limits from the picture, the more beautiful our picture will become. Like an artist, God needs as much canvas space as possible, and the more of we limit His canvas, the less canvas He has to work with. He'll still paint an amazing picture, but it won't be what it could have been had we have just submitted to Him the whole canvas, in faith, and kept nothing for us to doodle on with doubt.

Why limit God? Seriously? What can mortal man do to me? Why do we so easily forget this is the God of Abraham, the God who delivered Israel from Egypt with the division of the Red Sea, the God who shot fire from heaven and devoured an alter drenched in water, the God who walked on water, the God who protected three men in a fiery fernace, the God who broke Peter free from jail, the God who broke death.

Isaiah 43: 1a-2 "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you."

God will not be mocked. You do not go unnoticed, you are not and will not ever be abandoned. All who call out to Him in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved. What is causing you to box up God? Satan will use anything and everything to keep you from moving forward. Is it the past? Self-condemnation? What doubt could you possibly have? What can mortal man do to you? If God is for you, then who on earth, heaven, and hell could stand against you?

Seriously, the God of the Universe, will not be mocked, He didn't just blow you out of His nose, call you to where you are and then just watch you swim. God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called. You were called, you were chosen to be someone for Him. You are a soldier of God, a man/woman of the Highest, to be a steward, a servant, and a friend to all in need. He will give you exactly what you need through His word and His spirit. All of us are gifted in some way. The more you give into what the devil tells you, the more you lose your ability to use that gift you have been given.

Don't take this as a feel good post about being super blessed, because it isn't. This is a call to the person who has for years been in spiritual submission to the wrong thing. 2 Peter 2:19 (NLT) They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you. What is controlling you? The God of the universe who governs all things and gives to those who ask? Or are you a box, influenced by Satan, to limit your God given power...Your God given Freedom...

There will be a part 2 to this post. Because to me, boxing up God has multiple meanings...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Who I am hates who I've been.....

Have you met me? Do you know who I am? Better yet, do you know who I was? I was better than you. An intellect. A student of the world and all it had to offer. I knew more than you and there was nothing you could do about it. My tongue was a sharp sword to your throat. If you tried to speak over me, you were quickly subdued by my whit. If you were right, you were wrong. Why were you wrong? Because you are an idiot, that's why!

Success, please. I am more successful than you! Hello, I have a degree and an education. My GPA in high school was 4 point higher than yours. Why else do I know more? My words cut through your heart like a knife through paper. I hope I made you feel paper thin. My whit was my sword. My sarcasm was my shield. Shield? Shield from what? Other people being better than me of course. If you tried to even out whit or out smart me, I would just put you down and pound your face into the floor with some personal attack. I would exploit your weaknesses, and save them, so that when something good happened to you, I was sure to remind you of just how much I hated your happiness.

God, sure I knew Him, and everytime I got "close" to Him, it was to make myself better than you. To justify my words and my insults. Rather than say I did it, I would just say God put it on my heart to tell you. Anger, well that is how I communicated of course. In fact, my anger is how it is I go about dealing with problems. Just get angry and explode, throw out insults and put everyone down.

I was the prodigal son. I asked God for my inheritance, then squandered it on the world. My inheritance? When I was young, I always asked God to make me wise. In fact I prided myself on being the smartest one in the room. I wanted to know everything, I would read books just for fun. Educate myself on everything. I wanted to be a Renaissance man. I wanted to know something about everything. And I wanted to make sure you knew I knew what it is you didn't know. Hubris. He loved me and I loved him. Together, we were unstoppable. No one could stand in our way, and together, with sarcasm and whit, no one would.

God made me smart. He gifted me with the ability to understand the complex and to be able to in some way explain it. Why? I don't know. But He is God, why question Him?

It is a funny thing when you make yourself out to be this amazing person that you're really not. You end up like I did one night, in a cold sweat, surrounded by a puddle of my emotions. I was condemned. I was convinced that when I died, I was going to hell. More so, I was convinced there was no stopping me from going. I had learned and lived a "godly" life all my life, and I had nothing to show for it. Nothing but an empty testimony and a heart so angry, all it did was try and bring everyone else around me down.

I remember one night in my sleep dreaming of going to hell. It was dark, black, cold, and hot. All the images I had seen growing up haunted me. I would even try to imagine eternity, and what it would be like to be forever separated. It scared me, so much so, that I would cry out to God in fear of hell. It was that fear that brought me back to church. It was my doubts that kept me coming back. Eager to destroy my doubts, I pursued God as if I were His suitor, and He my to be wife. I wanted the doubts to go away. I wanted to have purpose, and I wanted the feeling of darkness and emptiness to go away, I wanted to be free.

I was a slave to a sin. A sin I was so ashamed of that even now, I don't want to type it. It is embarassing, it made me dirty. And with each passing day, it became more and more part of my life. My eyes and heart became calloused. It became part of my life. And I, knowingly, continued in it. Feeling condemned everytime.

My past haunts me sometimes. Taking a stroll down memory hurts sometimes. On the outside, I was fine. Life was as it needed to be. I was content in my complacency. I was fine being lukewarm. The little boy who told his mom he wouldn't go into a haunted house at age 8 because God didn't want him to be lukewarm was dead. Things were fulfilling, but not long lasting.

Winning the approval of those around me, I prided myself in being horrible, my nickname to most was "The Butthole" (clearly it is another word, however, let's not use it). I never felt in place though. I must confess, there were moments where I knew that the place I was at, was not for me. I remember turning to a friend of mine and saying, "Man one day I am going to get up and go, I don't know that I can do this for much longer."

Man is God good.

He saved me from my jail cell. He tore down my walls, and with every passing day, He continues to destroy my insecurities. He is teaching me to shut up. He is teaching me to be humble. To realize that He is God, He is in control, and that my role in His equations was Me + His Will. I served no other roll. I serve no other roll, and will never serve any other roll, other than the one of being in His will. That is my purpose. To be a servant of God and forgo the pleasures of this world. To throw down my self consciousness, to lay down my guns and lift my hands.

If you'll notice, I used no bible verses this time. That is because, at the end of the day, no matter how many bible verses you know, or how many things you say, there is one thing that no one can take away from you. No one can take from you what He has done for you. When the blind man in John was asked how it was he got his sight back, his reply was spot on. He didn't know who Jesus was or where He came from, He just knew one thing: He was once blind, but now, He could see, and no one, not any Pharisee or Jew, Gentile or High Priest would rob him of that.

God has done a lot more for me, and He continues to do a work in me. To anyone who reads this and remembers what I once was, I am sorry. I will tell you this, Who I Am, HATES Who I've Been. I don't ever want to be who I was.

It has been months since that sin I was once slave to ceased to own me. My tongue is becoming more and more tamed with each passing day, and my purpose on this earth isn't to bring myself glory through works and play. It isn't to amuse myself, but rather muse on the things that cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:27).

I have a statement of purpose, what is funny is that it has been my life verse since age 10, however, now at age 24, I am beginning to realize what it really means to live by it, wow....14 years, wasted...if you're young and you're reading this, don't let it happen to you. Please don't let it happen to you. Take it from me, there is no glory in the flesh, only death. And that doesn't necessarily mean physical death. Don't allow yourself to be dead inside. To lose emotion and heart. To cry little and yell much. Learn to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to becoming angry.

Statement of purpose:

Gal 1:10 "Am I trying to win the approval of men or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were trying to please man, I would not be a servant of God."

I am guilty of always worrying of what others think of me. Needing this constant approval. Like a politician, I sometimes find myself trying to please the majority. Well that can no longer be. I am part of the minority. The light in this world that needs to shine. Why is it we are the minority? We must labor. Work toward being the majority. Work toward laboring for the Lord. We all have a call. Each of us a member of the same body. I may be the mouth (me the untamable tongue) but you, you are something as well. Get to it, the days are evil. Eph 5:16

Lord, Own me. Make my heart yours. Break my heart for the things that break yours. Remove me from my life. I ruin everything. I have been the grand ruiner my entire life. All I ever did was run and use you as a blanket when I was cold and a sword when I wanted to justify my actions. Help me to walk with You. Lord continue to remind me that trials will build me in you, if my head gets so big, bring me down Lord, remind me of my humanity, so that I learn humility. Continue to humble me. Remove my critical nature and replace it with the critical Love that is You. It is so critical that I never depart from You. Draw me close to you. I need You. Rip away the desires of my flesh and replace them with the desires of Your heart. Bless this blog and those who read it. May my words be Yours, and may whatever I type always be from above. I love you Lord. Thank you for never allowing me to fall out of favor with you. :-)

More on Laboring: Read some of my sister Raquel's words......get owned!

Iron out your priorities...

My heart weighs a thousand pounds right now. God is really putting it on my heart to say this. So much so that I stopped what I was doing to do it. Nothing fancy, no pretty words, just what it is, which is ironic, because the book from which the verse comes from is exactly that. To the point. Shocker I know, James 4:8 and I love how the NLT puts it.

8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.

For me, most of my life has been a lie. A terrible existence of trying and not trusting. In an effort to win over the approval of God and those around me, I lost myself. I had an identity crisis. I didn't know who I was, or who I was supposed to be.

Listen, I can sit here and spit verses till I am blue in the face, but without true recognition of what He has done for me, it is in vain. When I think back to the darkest moments in my life, if I were to measure the distance between me and God, starting from where I was standing, the number is inconceivable. However, if I measure, from where God was to me, it's within arm's reach. He never left me. He was so faithful. Even when I spent my inheritence (more on this another day) that He had given me, that I had asked Him for, on the world and its troubles, He was still there.

Draw close to God. My worst moments were the ones where I was farthest from Him. We have to, have to, have to draw near to him. We can't have a foot in the world and a foot in the Lord. Imagine trying to ride two skateboards. A foot on each. At the beginning, it isn't so bad, however, as the paths of each skateboard begin to unfold, it is either, choose one skateboard and ride it with both feet, or lose balance and land flat on your face.

Draw close to Him. Sure the path is a narrow one, but it's the only one. All the other ones will take you nowhere. Trust me, I know...

He will be faithful, He will see His work through, He will not forget your work in His name...If you think what you are going through right now is bad, imagine how much worse it would be without Him near you....

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Never forget, there's life after death...and taxes

I can tell you there are two things that are certain in this life: Death and Taxes. For some, one might lead to the other, but we'll save that for a day when I feel like giving tax advice, right now it is about Kingdom Business.

As a tax accountant, I can tell you that you will have to pay taxes. It is inevitable. In fact, I don't even have to be an accountant to tell you that you are going to pay taxes. It is an absolute in today's world. There is a second absolute: death. When I say death, I mean ceasing to exist in this body. Not living, not breathing, nothing. The first death (for me and hopefully you, the only death). I can't tell you when you'll die, but studies have shown, ten out of ten people will die. When, well we don't know, but I will tell you this much, and I apologize for the cliches, today could be your last day.

So what if today is your last? Think about it for second, then think about what you would do if you knew it was. What would you do? Twenty-four hours to live. What would you do with them? Skydive? Buffet time? Drive a fancy car? Tough to think about to say the least. Sorry to get so serious on you, but God really put it on my heart today to talk about this.

I have been thinking about it for a while now, and I got a verse the other day to support it. My search for this verse came from a status of a friend on facebook who complained of having been stuck in an elevator. Unfortunate. Getting stuck in an elevator. But then I thought to myself, "Getting stuck in an elevator. Gotta call someone to tell them where I am, and then, what? That would be a sweet opportunity to open the word and read while I wait." Could you imagine? Life gives you an otherwise crappy situation, and you seize the opportunity and it becomes a divine appointment. Maybe in that moment of silence, you are able to focus on Him, and He gives you some sweet confirmation. God works in mysterious ways. Mysterious to us because His ways and His thoughts are beyond us. (Isaiah 55:8)

An opportunity. What my friend had in the elevator was an opportunity. It's what we all have when an unsaved person comes our way. It is what happens when a trial or a tragedy comes our direction. It is what happens when Satan comes and sits right next to us and begins to try and chip away at our very being. It is an opportunity. Every opportunity we get, is a point in time where we are presented with a decision: Please God, or Please self. Glory to God or Glory to self. Submit to God or Submit to self.

The verse I found in response to my thoughts of opportunities was this:

Ephesians 5:15-16

15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

I liked the way the NLT version put it: 15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.

Make the most of every opportunity. We live in evil times. You are not promised tomorrow.

Every opportunity. Every single one. Imagine what the world would be like if we made the most of every opportunity. I mean this can apply in the simplest of situations as much as it can in the most complicated. Your boss asks you to stay late, respond in anger or discontent, or respond in obediance? The latter would require you to set aside your selfish ambition, however, if your boss knows your a Christian, it would strengthen your testimony.

Ultimately we can't forget that everything laid out before us is what God wanted for us. Eph 2:10 "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." He has us where He wants us, and trust me when I tell you that if you're not where you ought to be, He will let you know. What we have to do, myself included (do I ever) is in all things focus on what it is that situation or that opportunity can do for His glory. Everything we do for Him does not go unnoticed, He remembers it. He honors our submission, honors our willingness and honors our sacrifice. We have to make sure we are in His will constantly.

We have to focus less on the internal and focus more on the eternal (Bob Coy, 2 Cor 4:18)

There is life after death and taxes. That is where our focus should be. As Christians we have already guarenteed our present state. Let's now do as much work as possible to invest in our eternal state. To store up treasures in heaven, not on earth. And don't let the devil own you, he lost when you said yes to God. (Gal 2:20)

Friday, March 5, 2010

When I finally do, let it come from You, a Piece of Understanding Grips my Soul

Direction. We all want it, why else would we be a society so dependent on it? Whether it be instructions on building something, how to go about doing something at work, or just how to come to the answer for that homework problem, in some way or another we want direction. The most obvious example is when we drive. We have different brands of GPS, a GPS on our phone, GPS on the internet, some cars now come standard with GPS. A GPS is like a guarantee. I know that should I lose my way, my GPS will get me back on the road. Now let me ask you something, how on earth can you get lost if you have a GPS? If you type in the address, it verifies its existence, then calculates the route and begins telling you when to turn, where to turn and how much longer before your next turn, how is it we still get lost? Is it that we decide not to listen to the GPS? The answer is right in front of us, what makes my skull so thick that it refuses to take the directions being given to me?

At this point, you don't have to be a scholar to see where I am going with this. We all as humans want direction. To be given direction is to be given purpose, to be shown where to go, and moreover, how to get there, is central to our lives. When you have direction, in a sense it brings comfort. The time it takes us to get where we need to be is dependent on our willingness to listen, our willingness to learn and our willingness to forget our failures.

So today I received a text from someone in response to a prayer request I sent them. "Pray that God gives me direction." Man who doesn't want direction, more so from our Creator? I couldn't help but wonder, "Man what verse would really rock this person, or at least give them some direction to know what to do?" Of course, you know the book that came to mind, James. James 1:5 "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him."

What is reproach? Webster defines it as "criticism or disapproval for having done something wrong, or an expression of this." So when I ask for wisdom, I can't think God is saying, "You again? I gave you wisdom last week, what happened to it? You forget already....well no, I'm done." He isn't like that. To Him, you are forever worth dying for, hence why He gives to us liberally.

Now what does that have to do with direction? Well when I started writing this, I will confess, I forgot to James 1:5 the blog. I forgot to ask God for wisdom, so that the wisdom He gives, would direct my path.

Proverbs 3:4-5
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

We sometimes try to rely on our own wisdom, on our own understanding to figure things out on our own. "No God, I got this, sit this one out." Hours later, we come crawling back, begging for wisdom, repenting like children. Without reproach, He gives.

I want to clarify something before I keep blogging. I love wisdom. I am crazy about learning, but God has convicted me on something and I want to make sure I make it clear in this post. Anything and everything I post, is a combination of things that pop up in my head, things I hear in sermons, and convos I have with friends. I am never above anything I say, everything I have typed, everything I have said, applies 10 times as much to me, as it does to you, trust me, else my heart wouldn't be burdened so much to type it out. It is all about taking my thoughts and my experiences and sharing them, in hopes that I might touch someone in some way through my trials.

Getting back to wisdom, when we have that wisdom that He generously gives, we then make better decisions in life. And that wisdom He gives, gives us direction. Think about an instruction manual. It provides me the wisdom I need to be able to build something. It gives me the direction I need to go about putting together that table or that chair. Now I have a choice, either I apply the wisdom and have myself a chair to sit on that won't fall apart, or I neglect the wisdom, and fall on my face.

Wisdom gives us direction. When the wisdom comes from the wisest of them all, then the direction comes from Him as well, and you can't go wrong with that type of GPS...

Don't take my word for it, take His, wisdom owns!

For wisdom is protection just as money is protection, But the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the lives of its possessors. Ecclesiastes 7:12

Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Proverbs 4:6-7

How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver!
Proverbs 16:16

For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength 1 Corinthians 1:25

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
James 3:17

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

An Injury All Caused by my Own Fistic...

"As you grew, we helped you avoid unnecessary worry. As you leave, remember that 90% of what you worry about never happens." Catherine & Byron Pulsifer, from As You Grew

90%. That's a lot of wasted time. We have 24 hours in a day. Say we spend 8 hours sleeping (if we were so lucky) that leaves us 16 hours. Now take 14.5 hours of that and do nothing with it, just flush it away. That leaves us 1.5 hours. How much can you get done in 1.5 hours? I mean it takes me at least .5 hours to just get out of bed some days, so 1.5 hours isn't to much time to work with. So what does that tell you? (Chris, you're an accountant, stop playing with numbers) No seriously, what else does it tell you? Really, what does it tell me....

I've spent most of my life worrying. My mom used to tell me it was because I drank to much coke as a kid, so the caffeine made me anxious. I really can't remember a moment in time where I haven't worried about something. Where there hasn't been a time that I heard something, thought that it in some way, applied to my life, and thus began worrying about its potential or lingering presence. I used too suffer from hypochondria, which is this mental state of mind where you think you're sick. It is defined as this "abnormal anxiety for one's health, usually thinking you have a serious illness." I remember as a kid being afraid to chew on pens because of the disease one could get. I would get a cough of some sort or a pain of any kind and immediately associate it with some terminal illness that was incurable, and as a result, place myself on death watch.

The worst part about this was that at one point in my life, it drifted from my health, and made its way to my relationships, my salvation, my everything. It was a pretty dark area of my life. I sought after God, however, at that point, it felt as if He wasn't there. Little did I know, I wasn't listening. I remember going to the office of a friend of mine, she was a psychologist, and just explaining to her my tormenting fears and anxieties. She was a christian, so she knew how to go about talking to me. She first gave me the logical explanation that God would resolve my conflicts, if I let Him. This answer did little for me. She then went on to remind me that with God, all things are possible and began showing me bible verses supporting her argument. Of course, doubting Thomas wanted the proof, he was not going to settle unless God came out of the sky and told him he was saved and he was going to heaven and that he wasn't sick.

She picked a different approach, an approach that often times is viewed as unconventional. At the time, she usually had her morning devotional by plucking from a plastic container that looked like a loaf of bread , a bible verse assigned just to that day. It was called "My Daily Bread". She grabbed this "loaf" and all the note cards (there were hundreds) into a bowl and shuffled them. Then said "Grab one," to which I responded, "I can't. This is the stuff pastors tell you not to do, with my luck, I'll get 'Judas hanged himself...go and do though likewise.'" "But it isn't about luck Chris, it is about God, you need to begin to genuinely place your trust in Him, and trust that He will answer you." "Fine, if God wants to speak to me, He will." I closed my eyes and said to myself, "God, I am at wits end here, I really don't know where to go, it won't go away, it never goes away, please....say something." So I reached in, a pulled out a verse....I almost cried....

A lot of the times in our lives, especially in my own, we let our minds wander, and lose sight of God. It's in these moments that we let our minds condemn us. We begin to feel convicted by the spirit, and instead of respond in repentance, we condemn ourselves for ever failing. It is at that point that we feel worthless. We become discouraged and empty, thinking we musn't be saved because...or, the message was about being fake Christian, he must be talking to me, God must be convicting me, it must have something to do with me, I am not a Christian, I am a fake, a liar, one who will be a living image of Matthew 7:21-23. I find that I feel that way a lot. I then find myself trying to find comfort in works, and in serving, in attendance, and when they don't work, I'll just give up. I'll lose hope, and I'll begin building my jail cell again. I'll leave...

I gave this verse to someone the other day by just looking up the work self-condemnation in the bible, little did I know, a week later, God would hit my face with it through the words of Bob Coy. Romans 8:1-2: "1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,[a] 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." Man is that something I need to remember. I can' let my mind tell me I'm nothing, that I am a fake. I need to "Resist the devil and he will flee from me" James 4:7. I can sit here and blog about this until my eyes turn blue, but it isn't until I begin accepting it, and understanding it, and applying it, that it goes away. And this is something I have never done before in my life. The devil wants me to get stuck in my own thoughts. He wants me to think of myself as unworthy, as a fake. This stunts my growth. Then my 16 hours of time to grow, turns into 1.5 hours of recovery from my 14.5 hours of worry. Not much room for growth there...

I gotta hang my boxing gloves and stop beating myself to death. I have to lay down my guns and lift my hands. I have to surrender EVERYTHING, especially my doubt, my self condemnation, my anxieties. I have to stand firm. When the enemy comes, I must continue pressing on, ignore him and his scare tactics, that is all they are, scare tactics, to fool us into giving in, so that we are stagnant christians. So that no one will benefit from our existence... Pray for me would you? Oh and one more thing...

The verse God gave me that day (yeah I saved it for the end leave me alone, I am a writer at heart) was 1 Peter 5:7:

"Cast ALL your anxieties on the Lord, for He cares for you." Talk about direct huh?