Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Christian “Club” Mentality

John responded, 'Master, we saw someone driving out demons in Your name, and we tried to stop him because he does not follow us.'
'Don't stop him,' Jesus told him, 'because whoever is not against you is for you.'”
Luke 9:49-50

I want you to take a walk with me down a dusty old road. Our dirty sandals trudge past many a scraggly bush and rock along the way. There are birds singing, and the wind is blowing a hot breeze across our faces. The weight of heavy robes and head covers is so great compared to our modern day comfort in clothing. We are following closely behind a man who is singing praises to our King as he walks. He is from a town several miles away, but has felt the tug of God upon his heart to go into this city. He is silently praying in his heart with each step, “God let your will be done.” With each hum of his song he is praising God for his mightiness. This man is not a priest, or even a disciple, he is just a man of God. There is nothing particularly special about him, that is except for his faith. He slowly approaches the town and heads straight to the slums of the city. The darkest alleys and the deepest sin is awaiting him around every corner, and there he finds them. Two men stand in the corner, naked and driving their fists into the dirt talking in a form of gibberish never to be understood by man. This gentleman walks up to these men and says, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ my Savior, by the power of His blood to leave these men! Jesus you are mighty and your blood has covered our sins. Please by the faith I have in You cast out these demons at once!” The demons inside writhe agony and scream out for mercy. He repeats his command again and again until the spirits are gone from these two tattered souls. They look at this man with clear, unblemished eyes, and thank him over and over again. The man says nothing but this, “Give all the praise you want to give me to my Father in Heaven. For it is through His power that you are clean once again.” As he walked away from these grateful men, he was suddenly stopped by John and a few other disciples. They had been standing at the end of the alley watching this man in astonishment, but not because of the power of his faith, because he wasn't one of them. This infuriated the disciples, and they quickly chastised the man for driving out demons in Jesus' name. “Who named you a disciple of the Lord and gave you the authority to cast out demons? You were not given the right to use that power as you see fit. We will not stand for that type of display any longer because you are not one of us!”

How did HE feel?
Now let's stop right here for a minute. Do you wonder what the man felt like when the disciples told him these things? I wonder if he was hurt and upset, or perhaps he was so strong in his faith that it really didn't matter what they said to him. The thing is though, here is a man who has enough faith in God to actually be able to cast out demons, and yet he is being told he isn't allowed to do so because he isn't “part of a group.” How many times these days do we miss out on great ministers of God's will because of this exact thing? How many wonderful Christian musicians do not take another step further into the ministry because someone higher up made them feel as if they didn't have the right to share their gift? I have felt this way so many times over the years. I understand the hurt that this man probably felt. I believe that from the moment I was created I was destined for something great in the Lord's eyes. The more I write this book, and the more I get into the Word of God, the more that I know that to be true, but trust me friends, it hasn't come without many issues with people who thought they “knew the Lord better” than I did.

We do it all the time...What angers me the most is that I see it in churches, social groups, bible studies and worship teams all of the time. I see it in programs and benefits to raise money for the Kingdom's work. That attitude that if you don't have a seminary degree, or you aren't a vested member of a church, or part of a particular group you aren't allowed to have the Grace of God in your life is so troubling to me that I cannot stand back and not say anything about it. What gives anyone the right to say, “Yes you can be a saved sinner, but you can't share your story, and you sure can't be up in front of anyone because you just aren't qualified in our eyes.” Well excuse me, but I think that is exactly the people we need up in front of our churches. What better way to prove that our God is amazing and merciful, then to have an uneducated, ex-drug addict, prostitute singing the praises of our King? Because trust me honey, if that woman is saved, then God can do mighty things with anyone.

We all struggle!
I get so tired of listening to people who are fake in their walk talk about how wonderful their lives are while I struggle. I am sorry, but no matter how strong your faith is and how much you love our God, you are going to have bad days. You are human. It happens. Let me know about it ,and I will be more likely to listen to you when you have good things to say because I know I can relate to you. I am beyond frustrated with the image that non-believers have of the church of God because of the high and mighty, dressed to the nines, Sunday pew squatters who think that they are better than the flat on his face ex-con who is praising God with his tears. Enough is enough. It is time to just join forces and be one as God's followers. Jesus did not gravitate to the wealthy and educated. He found the beggars, the poor, and the filthy, and that is where He was most comfortable. Why is it that we, as His Children, are not the same? Why do we think that we have the right to judge others for their status when God himself didn't do that while He was here on Earth? It is embarrassing to me to hear the gossip among women groups in church. To see how new comers are treated because they are not as well versed in the bible as the ones that have lead the groups for years. Get off your pretty little behind and dig into that bible with that young lady! Who knows who she might become one day if you take the chance on her! Every single minister in the world today had to be given a chance, and I guarantee you that the strongest ones came from the most humble of situations. Why? Because that is where God's grace is the most evident.

Our lives may be different, but our sin isn't...
Remember that you are no better than the dirty, loud, and uneducated woman sitting on the street corner begging for change. Her sins are no greater than yours. Her faults didn't nail Jesus to that tree any harder than yours did. Her praises sound sweeter to Jesus' ears because she honestly means it with all of her heart no matter what her situation might be. So do not hold down someone that comes to the Lord in honesty and wants to serve, because our fight is great. There is an enemy against us that is strong, and we need all the muscle we can get. Plus, and if this doesn't get you, not much will, but I do not ever want to be standing in front of Jesus on judgment day and hear Him say, “Jessica do you realize that because of how you treated so and so, they didn't not follow the plan I had set out for them, and because of that 1,000 people that they would have lead to Me will not step into Heaven?” Do you want to answer that question? I sure don't.

Until next time, remember that the things that sting the most, are the things that God wants to use to shape you into something GREAT!
Always, Jessica

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter... From a Mom's point of view

I woke up last night about 1:00 AM, and I couldn't go back to sleep. It was one of those moments in my life when the Lord was pressing on my heart with so much force I couldn't resist it. There was a message that He wanted me to receive write it in my own words. The problem with a message like this is that it isn't the most pleasant thing in the world so I really didn't want to be sitting at my computer at 1:00 AM crying my eyes out. I think I also needed to think things through in a way that I'd actually be able to GET through writing this. I have told you before that I have a hard time with torture. I don't handle anyone being in pain very well. So to retell the story of Christ's crucifixion through the eyes of His Mother was going to be hard on me, but a journey I needed to take apparently. You see I love my Jesus in a way that is beyond loving your Savior. He is my life, my friend, my hope and love. I don't even like to think about Him being hurt much less me being the reason He was hurt. It is so hard for me to imagine the details of his death at all. I've avoided it with so much passion that I think I've missed out on something I need to feel to cling even more tightly to Him in the future.

A Mother's bond...There isn't a mother on the face of this earth that would ever want their child to die before they do. There is a bond that is created the moment you feel that baby kick inside you for the first time that no one on this planet with ever have with that baby but you. I've been a Mommy 3 times, and my children were never really "real" to me until that moment that I felt that little flutter inside. Its at that second in your life that you realize that everything about you isn't about you any longer. You change from that very instant, or at least I did. What I ate wasn't about me any longer, how I felt, whether I was happy or sad, or sleepy all revolved around that little baby inside me. I can imagine that was how it was for Mary when she was pregnant with Jesus as well. She no doubtingly felt the same way that we all do as a Momma. She probably had the same little quiet moments where she placed her hand on her tummy and talked to him. She more than likely sang to him while she worked around the house, and wished he would stop kicking her so hard when he got too big for the space he was in. I am sure that the day he was born she looked into those eyes and just was so in love with him. As a toddler, I bet he was a stinker at times, and a saint the others. She probably kissed his boo-boos and ran her fingers through his hair while he slept. As he got older I'm sure there were times she looked at him and saw God in the flesh, but I bet most of the time she just saw her child. Yes he was her Lord, but he was her baby. Her first baby.

My First Born...
I know from experience that you love your first baby differently than you love the others. Not that you don't love them as much or the same way, you just love them differently. I think its because with your first child you just are so lost as a parent that its a pure act of survival on both of your parts. You have to cling to each other to learn what to do. My oldest is a boy. He's my splitting image, my personality clone, and my baby. He was born severely premature, so I even have a more protective streak in me with him than most probably would. He was so tiny and so weak when he was born. Of  course now, he's almost taller than me and could  probably protect me better than I could him, but regardless he is still that tiny little baby that used to stop breathing in my arms because he would get so comfortable with me. The thing is my baby doesn't even realize how much he means to me. I can't even imagine my life without him in it. There isn't anything in the world that I wouldn't do for any one of my children. But honestly, I don't know how well I'd do if I had to watch them die and not be able to stop it.

She was tougher than I would have been...
When I think about watching any one of my children go through what Jesus did, I literally get sick to my stomach. It had to be hard enough to hear the way the towns people talked about the "radical" Jesus throughout her life, but I wonder what her heart did when she heard he was in prison. I know what I would have felt. There wouldn't have been an army in the world that would have stopped me from getting to him. Especially when I knew he was sinless and innocent. I don't know if I could have taken the moment when he was being led out to the courtyard to be beaten, and he looked into my eyes and told me to stop with just a look. I don't think I could have taken one strike of that scourge to my precious son's flesh. I think my heart would stop. I certainly don't think I would have the stomach to handle him being beaten to within an inch of his life. To hear his screams and cries... I couldn't. I would have given anything to take his place. I would have let them do that to me a million times before I could watch it once. I don't know how she could have stood there and listen to them calling her son a liar, and a joke without screaming at them. I know she had faith in God. I do to though, and I still know in my heart I wouldn't have been OK with the way he had to die. I wouldn't be OK with knowing it was my fault he was being hurt. That the baby I gave birth to was dying for me. I just couldn't. Can you imagine the agony she felt every time he had to push up on his nailed feet to be able to breathe? Or how angry she was when they spit on him? What about the moment that he finally died? Did she feel relief that it was over? I think in a way I would have. At least he wasn't suffering anymore. But then...where did he go when he died? Did she have any peace? At least if something happened to my children now, I'd know where they are going. We have no idea what happened to Him in those 3 days that he was in the grave. There isn't even any speculation on it. And that in itself terrifies me. I can't imagine that my Jesus, my Lord and Savior had to endure 3 days separated from God to save me. How did he survive that knowing what he did?

Her life was never the same...You know as happy as I'm sure she was when she saw Jesus alive again, I wonder if a part of her knew he wasn't her baby anymore after that. I am curious if she knew he was about to go Home and she wouldn't get to touch or hug him again until she died herself. It had to have been hard on her. I just wonder how she dealt with those feelings. So much of the bible is about what everyone went through before they met Jesus or while he was there with them. But so few stories go into what happened in their lives after he was gone. You really don't hear anything about Mary after that. Her life went on. She had to survive with out her Son. Her baby. Yes he was her Lord, Yes he was the King of Kings, but he was her child. It was her flesh and blood that made him. It was her body that nourished him. And it had to have broke her heart to watch him die. I wonder if she was ever the same? Did she suffer like so many mothers do when they lose their children? Did she just go on for the others? I want to know what was the story of Mary after her first born was taken from her. Because maybe if we knew how she lived her life after THE hope of the world was gone, then we would know how to live ours after our hope is ripped from us.

Why do we go on after loved ones pass?Maybe that's the whole point of all of this though. To reach out to the hope of the world again, even through death. That when he rose from the grave he brought with him a new hope. A fresh start that only he could provide. Yes I am thankful for that so much. I am grateful beyond measure. I wish he hadn't had to suffer because of me, but I am blessed that he was willing. But as a human with a mind that goes a million miles a minute I can't help but wonder how she got through it. What their bond was like after he was gone? Did she pray to her son? Did she miss him? I know I'd miss my baby. My goodness I miss him while he sleeps sometimes. I guess its just something I will have to ask her when I get to heaven. Although it sure would help me to be able to share it with others now.... Guess that is something I need to pray on isn't it?

Well my friends, enjoy your week. Remember that without his blood we are nothing. But without his resurrection we are lost. Take the time to feel your bible friends. Cherish it in a way that you haven't before. The words in it can change you forever. They will come alive for you if you allow it. I promise.
Always, Jessica

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Never let your hurts seperate you from God...

Quick Shout out to my Savior!!!
My Jesus is such an amazing, sweet, sweet God! I can cry to Him when I need to. I can laugh and sing with Him when no one else is awake. I can tell Him all my problems when no one will listen. I love the fact that He is my best friend. Praise you my Jesus! I love you with every beat of my heart and breath in my soul!

Sorry I've been missing for a while...
I have been on a journey the last few days that is kind of bittersweet. I am evolving as a person and growing as a believer. Although some of the things in my life have hurt, I am learning very quickly that God is the answer. That He has a plan and that only HE knows what that plan is. I asked Him last night why it had to be that way, and then had the audacity to ask if He realized how hard it is to live life not knowing if what you are doing is right or not? Lol I asked God that. Yes. I'm silly I know. But think about it.... God came to Earth as Jesus... but he was God and knew what His purpose was. We don't get that priviledge. To me that isn't very fair. Which I know is not the point of any of this but you know what...  its a legitimate question from a very curious girl. lol Honestly though, I think I just needed to get it out and have a good cry. I've had some emotional build up lately and hadn't had a chance to get it out.

Boy did I screw up!
You know I am human and I mess up. I get stuck in a rut and don't do all the things I should. I don't read my bible every day. I don't study like I should. I fall short all the time. But what I've learned is that no matter how I might mess up, God still wants me to be with Him. What is amazing is this last time I actually got stuck in a rut it was because of what someone said to me. I am a Mommy Lion sometimes and I reacted kind of badly about something that was being done to one of my children. In that anger I said some things that maybe weren't so Christian. The person I was talking to told me that they couldn't believe a "Christian" would say that about someone, and that they were disappointed in me because I read my bible all the time and should "know better." Honestly... It made me feel like I was the most worthless piece of junk in the world. Not because I felt bad about what I said, but because my appearance as a woman of God was flawed to that person. It hurt me badly because I love them and desperately want them to think I'm a good person. I didn't realize how much it had hurt me until a few days ago when I had to force myself to pick up my bible and study. It was like I felt like I didn't deserve to have that time with God because I had messed up. How crazy is that? But the enemy took my hurt and twisted it and turned it into something that made me feel bad inside. For one thing... God knows my heart, and no matter what I said, which wasn't that bad anyways, He still loves me and wants time with me. Secondly, I should never let anyone's manipulation of me affect my relationship with God. This person had messed up in their own sense and was taking their frustration with themself out on me. I didn't realize this until later. Does it make it right for them to judge me? No but I let them anyways. This is just another example of how quickly the enemy can seperate us. So sad, and I spent last night begging God to forgive me for letting that happen. Because while I was seperated from that time with God, I had let myself get sad, and down again. Something I swore I'd never let happen. Was it as bad as before? No way. Not even close, but it wasn't good regardless. I learned a few lessons about myself though, I am a strong woman of God. I grow in faith every day, and this seperation from God will NEVER happen to me again because of someone else. So please guard your heart my friends. Pray for protection from the attacks of the enemy and know that you are safe in the arms of Jesus. Sorry I've been distant... things will pick up around here again!!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I get a little bit stronger...

I'm not sure how "Christian" this blog post is going to be, but I need to express this somewhere and this is my sounding board. Please understand that this is a process for me. A way to finalize what I'm thinking and make it very real to myself. But you never know who might relate to what I'm about to say.

For the last 10 years I have wished, hoped, and prayed that I could change someone. I thought that if I loved enough, tried hard enough, was perfect enough, that I could make a difference. Funny thing is that no matter what I did, what I do, or what I could ever do, nothing and no one can change a person but God. Even though I knew that, especially this last year because I changed so much, I have tried to do it myself. I almost completely exhausted every ounce of energy I have thinking I could do what God can only do. In the past Ive gotten so severely depressed because I thought I wasn't enough because no change ever stuck with this person. It killed me that I wasn't worth changing for. That I wasn't good enough, pretty enough, or smart enough. Thing is... I'll never be enough. I'll never be worth it. I'll never be able to be so profoundly different by myself that it will make something click inside and they will want to change because of anything I've done. Their issues are things only God can deal with, no matter what they might say. And well... I'm finally done. Listen very closely, I am not giving up on this person, I'm just finally, resolutely, absolutely giving God this person. Cause frankly I can't do it anymore. I am taking back control of myself. I'm not spinning my wheels anymore trying to make them "get it". Its not my job. And I'm a little bit stronger because of it.
This song is about leaving...but that's not what my post is about, but what this song says about every day making you stronger, every second you fight it getting easier...
that is what I love about this song.

This is so hard for me. I desperately love you. I have wanted nothing more than to be able to love all the darkness away. But no matter what I do, what I say, how I act I can't do the work for you that I had to do for myself. I guess I wish I could, maybe that is why I've tried so hard to do that for so long. You aren't a bad person. You just have junk that needs to be dealt with so that you can give every ounce of your life to God. You need to give up the bad habits, and old ways. Let the past go and just enjoy the moment. Do you know how hard I've tried to make things different for you? The nights I layed awake thinking of ways I could show my love for you. The moments I've taken out of my life to do nice things for you. The hours and hours I've spent worrying about where you are, who you are talking to, and what you are doing? You probably have no idea. I have literally almost drained myself of every ounce of energy I have trying to make you happy. Of trying so hard to be enough for you. And wishing I could do something, anything, to make you see that what you are doing isn't right. Yes I know you aren't a bad person. And I love so much about you. There are amazing things you do every day. can't live two ways with God. And you have to see that for yourself.

I can't keep living like this. I'm exhausted. I'm worn and weary. I'm sick of feeling like I'm not worth it. That no matter how good I am you will never change for me. That I'm just not enough. Because this isn't going to be about me anymore. Its about you.

I just...I'm tired of hurting. Tired of feeling alone in a house full of people. I'm so tired of being angry at you. I don't like the way it feels. I'm tired of getting frustrated because what I do doesn't matter when I know it does. I know I'm worth it. I know I deserve what God can do with you. I think that is what has hurt the most. Knowing that I deserve good things, happy things, and having to sit and wish it would happen and it doesn't. I'm not living like that anymore. God has blessed me, and I'm going to enjoy it.  I'm done trying to be your savior. I'm laying you at Jesus' feet. I'm done with feeling this way. Its not doing you or me any good. I don't know really what clicked, I guess it was you being away and me having to deal with everything alone, and I realized that I'm happier when I don't have to spend the time fretting over you. Its been nice to just talk to you and love on you when I get the chance, but not be so consumed by it that I can't function. I felt better today when I woke up and I like how it feels.

I know what you are thinking, and let me stop you right now. I love you. I want you, and that isn't changing. What is changing is that I'm not fighting your battle anymore. I will pray for you, love you, and give to you what I can, but not all I have. Its not fair to me to never get anything in return. Its not right that I give until I'm a tattered bit on nothing left and you don't give but just a little. I'm tired of giving excuses, letting everyone tell me that its just the way it is, cause it doesnt have to be. I'm not going to worry that I can't tell you how I feel, or what I need or want. I'm just not anymore. I love you enough to let God handle this now. Its not my fight anyways. I was just getting in the way. Please understand that this doesn't change my love for you. It just makes my faith in what God will do with you different. I love you so much it hurts. I just pray with prayers so big that you finally get it one day....

So many people say that your past is what makes you who you are. I think that is true to a point. Your past makes you who you are if you let it, but God makes you who He wants you to be if you let Him. A year ago I decided I wasn't going to be dictated by my past anymore. I haven't done great at everything, this being one of those things. I'm making a step in the right direction though. Every part of my life that I let go to God I get stronger. I grow deeper roots in faith. I bear brighter, more sweetly tasting fruit. God is growing me, and it is so hard. Especially when you've spent so much of your life being the fixer. But if I have any faith that God has his hand in this relationship, I have to give the control I have been holding onto up. Its God's turn. I know He can do anything. I have faith that it is going to be ok. Whatever His will is... that is what I want.

I'm letting God have you because I love you, not because I don't.