He gives it

He gives it

Have you ever sat back and wondered why the heck it can seem so dang hard to do what you know God wants you to do?
Seriously… It can’t be JUST me. Time & time again I seek after God with all my heart and it seems like one little “squirrel” comes in front of me and BOOM… My mind shifts…

At first, this used to discourage me SO very much. I would feel as if I wasn’t “saved” or like I wasn’t ever going to conquer the squirrels in my life. At times, I would question whether God was really working on my heart or not, BUT that’s when this verse came in and wrecked my heart…

You see. I used to be KNEE DEEP in porn when I first got saved. Memberships, downloaded videos for on to go, etc… I never knew that it was a bad thing. As a young man, I thought it was part of being a man. Giving in to those desires and chasing skirt. To me, that was manhood. When I got saved at 21 I was already 13 years deep into it…

It wasn’t until Holy Spirit came in and wrecked my heart that I started to DESIRE purity. Keyword, desire. I didn’t perfect it right off the bat, but it started to be something that I WANTED… I started to feel conviction over porn and sex outside of marriage… Honestly, sometimes until the point of tears. It would make me feel so so so bad, and at times satan would even use that to make me feel unclean.

I remember as clear as day reading this verse. I stopped & wept. Like full-blown UGLY cry. The very fact that I DESIRED to do better, to do the will of God, to pursue purity was a direct confirmation that God was/is working on me. I look back at my 5 years of walking with God and cannot help but shout with joy over the fact that He has set me free from so very much bondage.

My perspective shifted that day. This phrase has been radiating on my heart the last few weeks… “Pursuit not perfection” I feel someone truly needs to hear that and let it sink into the depths of their soul…

God does not desire perfection. He desires our pursuit of Him. The simple fact that you DESIRE to do better is a clear indication that you are God’s & that He is looking down at you like a proud Papa…

Live in that freedom. Live in that grace. Pursue Him with all your heart… Where ever you are at, remember that Jesus came and died because we can’t be perfect. Jesus came and died so we could pursue in freedom. Jesus came and died so we could have FULL access to the throne room of God.

It is by GOD that you even have the desire to pursue what pleases Him and you HAVE the power to overcome whatever it is. Just walk it out. Believe it in faith & keep on pursuing…

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Freedom

Freedom

Freedom to dance.
Freedom to sing.
Freedom to love.
Freedom to risk.
Freedom to praise.
Freedom to laugh.
Free to live unashamed.

Ever since we have been born again we have been welcomed into the family of God. (Galatians 3:26) Undeserving, radical, crazy, scandalous, unconditional love in SPITE of my sin. (Romans 5:8) No matter what we are His very own & it is through HIS love we are changed and set free to live life with ABUNDANCE. (John 10:10)

I won’t lie. I spent MANY years in bondage. First, being a slave to my sin & then being a slave to religion. It wasn’t until I truly allowed God to be the definer of my identity. It wasn’t until I really started to see Him as my loving Father that will never leave or forsake me. (Deuteronomy 31:6) The sad truth was that a majority of my struggle with seeing Him as Father and Christianity as a beautiful family was my interaction with other people…

My dad bailed. So when I heard God referred to as “father” I had no idea what that truly meant, and to be honest it made me a little bitter. I didn’t know the love of a father. I didn’t know the security of a father. I never heard, “Son, I’m proud of you.” Until GOD came in & wrecked my heart.

He came in and set my heart free. He came in and showed me the love of a Father. He came in and gave me the security I never had. He looks down at me and is a proud Papa. I live in that freedom. The freedom that my Papa is looking down with a smile on His face, so so so dang proud of me. So dang proud of my EFFORT. Looking down and rooting for me, encouraging me, preparing me, moving mountains for me, providing, loving, holding, wiping away my tears, comforting, etc… All it took was one encounter with the love of God and BOOM… Freedom.

Now. I get the joy of living in it. And there isn’t anything that will hold me back. His crazy, radical, scandalous love NEEDS to be expressed to this hurting world. We need to rise up and set people free. We need to be available for Holy Spirit to work THROUGH our lives and love on those who feel unlovable.

I wish I could tell you that it was easy… Trust me. I struggled for YEARS pursuing God’s heart. Begging for my “moment” with Him. Trying to “prove” myself worthy of that freedom. Trying to “earn” the right to walk around with joy instead of shame. Trying to get my act together before I raised my hands during worship… When in reality, it was already mine. Freedom was mine. Jesus died for me to have that freedom, I just had to accept it. I just had to lay my life down and say “Yes Lord.”

Religion will over complicate freedom. However you express it, don’t allow shame to rob you. At that moment where you start to feel free from shame & doubt, don’t run back to it… Run from it. Run from it and run towards God. All it takes is one touch, one encounter. Don’t give up, keep pressing in. Freedom awaits.

Just Keep Moving

Just Keep Moving

The goodness of God never ceases to amaze me! These last few months have been a wild ride for me & it gives so much glory to God for His faithfulness to His kids…

When I read verses like this, it brings my heart so much joy because time & time again I have seen this verse active in my life. There have been times where I have been faithless, but He has been faithful (2 Tim. 2:13 ESV) There have been many times where I have made my plans, followed through on my plans & realized His plan was far greater. There have been times where I have thought that my life was overMy calling was voidThe promises no longer stoodAll lies from the great deceiver.

You see. God determines our steps, but we must be obedient to follow through. God WANTS to bring heaven to earth through us, but we have to give Him that permission. We have to step aside and allow room for the spirit to move in our lives and in the lives of those around us. We must simply say yes, and let God take care of the rest.

It’s been a long journey from the time I first encountered God. I’ve grown a lot, I’ve learned a lot, I’ve cried a lot, I’ve laughed, I’ve danced, I’ve sung, I’ve shouted at the top of my lungs and wept the deepest of tears… A life sold out to God is ANYTHING BUT BORING. It is a radical journey that only gets better & better… It’s not an easy life, but it’s a rewarding one…

Where ever you find yourself at today fam remember one thing… He is directing your steps. Stop fighting it and walk let God move mountains in your life. My life has never been the same. It took many painful moments to break the walls down that I built from the offenses of others, but the freedom of God is SOOOOO good…

He loves you. Right now. As you are. Perfect, beautiful, unique & created for so much more. He needs you, He wants you… Let His freedom wash over you…

Stay the course

Stay the course

Let’s get real.

These last few years of my life have been extremely rough (Divorce, breakups, depression, financial troubles, health issues, body image issues/bulimia, etc….) There have been ups & downs, to say the least. Time & time again I have run to things outside of God and ended up completely broken & empty-handed but still living in the center of the world and God. Struggling to fully commit to God simply because of disappointment.

There have been promises that God has given me & after all that I have been through it seems to me like it is absolutely impossible that His promise will still come to pass. The beautiful thing is that no matter where my life has been personally, He has been there.

Even in the midst of extreme storms crashing into my life, bringing me to my knees, desperation, depression, lack of self-worth, overwhelmed with the mountains in front of me, etc… He never changed. He never stopped loving me. He never stopped guiding my footsteps. Even when the storms raged I sought after God’s heart with all that I had. I sought Him and His strength (1 Chronicles 16:11)… So although I may have felt like I wasn’t living up to His standard, in reality, I wasn’t living up to the standard that religion set up for me…

You see. God is not basing our lives off of how our life is going. He sees our hearts (1 Sam. 16:7). He wants our hearts (Proverbs 23:26). He yearns for a generation that will turn to Him instead of alcohol. He yearns for men who will turn to Him instead of towards women. He yearns for a generation that will turn to Him & sit in His presence instead of binging on Netflix. He yearns for a generation who will scroll through the bible instead of through social media. 

Do you get it? He just wants your love, He just wants your heart’s devotion, He just wants what all of us want… Whats even more insane is that He wants it so desperately that He sent His one and only son to die a terrible death SO THAT we could have complete access to His heart. He just want’s to be loved fam… If He cared about your performance He wouldn’t have sent Jesus. Jesus wouldn’t have come of His own free will if they didn’t want you.

He chose you well before you chose Him (Romans 5:8). He chased after you well before you even THOUGHT about Him. He looked down from heaven and KNIT you together in your mom’s womb (Psalms 139:13). He has a wonderful life for us all fam. We must simply stay the course. Not in perfection, but in pursuit.

I have had my fair share of moments in this life where I felt like giving up. Where I felt like I was completely worthless and like no one could ever love me. Where I felt like I was SO FAR GONE that not even God would want me back… Time and time again satan has whispered these lies in my head and my heart. Trying to make me NOT want to come home to the loving Father who is there waiting and guiding each and every move I make.

Stay the course fam. Let Him guide you. Turn to Him in your time of need. It’s not about your performance, it’s about your pursuit.

Declared Righteous

Declared Righteous

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.”

Romans 3:23-24 (NLT)

If only we could all grasp this concept. The concept that it is by JESUS that we are called righteous. FREELY and GRACIOUSLY declared righteous. Just let that sink in… It’s not by how holy you act, how many bibles you read, how much you pray, how much you tithe, how sin-free you live, etc… NO! It’s by Jesus and Jesus alone that we are DECLARED righteous. NOTHING can take away that declaration.

Last night a friend of mine who pastors a local young adult ministry called “Upper Room” declared a very beautiful truth. During the song, “We are Hungry” by Jesus Culture, there is a line that says, “We life our holy hands up.” During this moment Pastor Joseph noticed there were a lot of people that seemed to struggle with holding up their hands because they may not feel like they are “holy” enough. He reminded everyone that we are declared holy and righteous because of Jesus.

Have you ever taken a moment to sit back and wonder how many encounters you have missed because you were to ashamed? Because you are so consumed with your past mistakes and the idea that you aren’t lovable. Think about it. How many times have you felt Holy Spirit urging you into something deeper but YOU disqualify yourself?! I know I have. Many many many times and for many years.

Last night, mixed with the series from Sunday morning about encouraging one another has been an immense turning point for my heart. We NEED people in our lives that will uplift and encourage us. We NEED people who will point us back to the scriptures, back to the gospel and remind us of who we are. Time and time again last night I was reminded of WHO I am BECAUSE of Christ. Time and time again last night I was comforted by God through His people, His Church.

Friends… Family… You are declared righteous. Freely and graciously. Just as you are. Jesus knows the mess you are in. Jesus knows the mistakes you have made. Jesus knows the mistakes you will make. Jesus isn’t surprised. Jesus isn’t caught off guard with your struggle. Jesus isn’t turned away by your sin. Let Him embrace you. Let Him bring you out of the darkness and into the light. Let Him turn your sorrow into dancing…

He loves you. He wants you. He died for you. He declares you righteous.

He Has Your Back…

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I’ve taken a good amount of time away from writing to really check my heart & motivation. Being a teacher of the word is not something that should be taken lightly & I wanted to ensure my heart was in the right place… so I apologize for the momentary disappearance, but it was necessary.

I absolutely love how God makes it a clear point that He is in control. I think in life we give ourselves, and the devil, way too much credit. I frequently struggle with allowing myself to become consumed with the impact of my decision in life. Yes, all of our decisions will have a positive or negative impact. All of our decisions should be considered & prayed through, BUT we cannot allow them to consume our thoughts.

God is clearly speaking through John when He tells us that He is the beginning and the end. Alpha & Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. God is telling us all that regardless of our decisions, He is still in control. God is telling us all that regardless of what WE do, His ultimate plan will still be fulfilled.

We still must consider the impact our decisions will have. Think of God’s path for us kind of like a GPS. When we have a destination that He is trying to get us to, He will show us the easiest & most effective path. Whether or not we decide to stay on that path or not is up to us! If we make wrong turns, He will reroute is. If we directly ignore what the GPS says & decide to take our own route, it will still reroute us. Eventually, we get back on the right path and we head to the destination God has for us.

He is the beginning & the end fam. Have peace that He knows exactly what He is doing. Trust that His route is the best route. Pray, check your heart & then make a decision. He will honor that. He will see that His ultimate plan is still fulfilled.

Have joy today fam. Stop stressing & letting anxiety overwhelm you. He is in control. He always has been & always will be.

Gratitude…

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“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

This verse has a significantly different meaning for me this morning. Simply because it adds emphasis to a realization that I got yesterday at church…

Have you ever thought to sit back and THANK GOD that you are literate enough to actually read the Word of God? Seriously. Think about it. Even right now, you are blessed enough to read this blog because you were taught how to read from a young age. This weekend we prayed over a wonderful woman in our church who is traveling to Ghana to help expand a school, adding restrooms, and delivering school supplies.

As dumb as it sounds, I was completely wrecked at the realization that I was blessed enough to go to school & learn to read. My biggest hindrance to reading the word of God and allowing it to dwell deep within my heart is pure laziness, BUT there are people all around the world that CANNOT even READ IT. I mean COME ON!

We have the ability to read the Word of God without worry of persecution. We have the ability to READ period. We have lost the beautiful blessings that are right in front of us.

Nothing should hold us back from truly allowing God’s word to dwell richly in our hearts.  Even more so the gospel itself should completely wreck us no matter how many times we heart it. The very teaching and understanding of the Gospel should be at the core of each of us and reside there permanently.

My heart’s prayer is that I would be so in love with God and be so grateful that even if He did NOTHING ELSE for the rest of my life… That I would be eternally grateful for the fact that I get to go to heaven. That my debt has been paid. That I am set free from a life full of pain where I go from thing to thing to thing TRYING to fill the void in my heart… A void that only He can fill.

Matthew 16:26 says this, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” Think about that picture for a second and let your mind wrap around it. EVEN IF YOU GAINED THE WHOLE WORLD… Billions of dollars, vacation homes all over the world, all the men/women you want, all the admirers you could ever imagine, not a single stress in the world besides having to decide over your next purchase, etc… Let’s be real. None of us are going to get anywhere NEAR that, but yet we will forfeit our souls for what? Sex? A little money? A little fame? Maybe one vacation home? Maybe one semi-nice car?

Get my point? Time and time we run towards something that will temporarily numb us, all while ignoring the very thing that will satisfy the deepest desires of your heart and soul…

Turn to Him fam. Let the Gospel message dwell deeply in your hearts… Because of what Jesus did, we get a free ticket to the greatest place imaginable.