Monthly Archives: February 2012

Lord, Please Give Me New Friends

The topic of friendship has been on my mind a lot lately. I guess this idea has been heavy on my mind because being abroad, away from the fellowship familiar to me back in America, I have started to experience some loneliness. Friends have never really mattered too much to me because it almost seemed as though I always had friends; like they found me before I even got a chance to find them. I will admit, however, that these individuals were more so associates and furthermore, only individuals who indulged in the same sin as I had. After salvation I knew that this needed to change because just as we have friends in the world, we too need new friends in the Kingdom, essentially called the Body of Christ.

So like mentioned before, I often had many friends, or associates rather. Although I wasn’t extremely close to all of them, I was often referred to as one of the popular kids, which is one of the reasons why it was difficult for me to adjust when God told me to let these relationships go. God showed me two important things (probably even more) during this separation. The first thing is that these friendships were a form of idolatry in my life. When God began to tell me to disconnect from old friends I began to wonder if people would think that after being saved that I began to think that I was better than them. I began to worry about if I would ever gain a new solid friendship with others. God quickly reminded me that He is the very best friend. James 4:8 (KJV): 8Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” Sidenote: Since being saved God has also placed on my heart His stance on a best friend. Having a best friend usually denotes having a friendship with someone who you refuse to allow anything to come between, someone who you spend tons of time with, and someone who knows your deepest and darkest secrets. God began to show me that He should be all of that and if He isn’t, our best friend for life is nothing more than idolatry. Exodus 20:5 (KJV): “Thou shalt not bow thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.” At one point I told God that if He takes all of my friends away, please don’t that this one specific friend away. I now realize that God probably didn’t like that too much; me willing to put an idolatrous friendship before His will. We must make sure all of our friendships are righteous and fruitful.

The second thing the Lord began to show me was how I must come out and be separate. 2 Corinthians 6:17 (KJV): “Therefore “Come out from among them. And be separate, says the Lord.Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.” I knew for sure that people would REALLY think that I thought that I was better than them if I told them that verse. The only thing that brought me comfort during that time is the fact that the Lord assured me that if anything, me coming away from old friends and ultimately old sins, has potential of pricking the hearts of sinners, convicting them until they too want to seek salvation. Even after knowing that I tried to plead with God, begging Him to allow me to hang around old friends since I no longer desire to indulge in old sins. You know the response I got? 1 Corinthians 15:33 (KJV): “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” Even after reading this I tried to hang out, trying to dwell among sinners while still a weak babe in Christ myself. Of course sometimes God will use us to minister to sinners but God had to break all ties before He could use me in that way. Going out to get dinner started off as just spending time with old friends (although I decided to live life differently), and ended up bringing me closer to relapsing in sin. Hearing curse words, being in the midst of lustful conversations, and smelling the scent of alcohol and marijuana was too much for me to handle as it began to make me numb to sin. The decision I had to make was if I would keep these friends and lose God or keep God and lose old friends. I chose to keep God and lose old friends. Proverbs 13:20 (KJV): “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”

After all of this I spent a lot of time alone and I enjoyed it. I was the only child for many years and even now, I cherish my moments of solitude. In addition to me getting closer to Christ, being alone helped me become more independent and efficient with my time management. It didn’t take long though for me to become curious about the rest of the members of the Body of Christ. Right before I left for Europe God led me to write an email to a woman and share my testimony with her. I had only viewed articles on her blog and I will admit, I was inspired and encouraged after reading her posts but I had no intention of contacting her. I thought this lady would think that I was a weirdo, randomly emailing her. But it was about 4 am one morning and I was unable to sleep. When I asked God to allow me to sleep all I had a mind to do was email this woman and so I did. I emailed her, writing everything God put on my heart and I sent it and guess what? I was able to sleep! In summary, that was the beginning of an encouraging friendship in the Lord. Although our communication up to this point has been merely electronic, God has used each of us in a unique way. We are at two different places in our walks with Him and for that very reason we are able to offer different, but still righteous, perspectives. I am so glad that I took heed to the leading of the Holy Spirit because I feel like I have truly gained a new Sister in Christ and it was at a perfect time because I was worried about finding fellowship here in Europe. Proverbs 27:17 (KJV): “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” God was beginning to show me that He can and desires to put us in contact with the body of Christ in ways that we think would never be effective. When will we realize that His ways aren’t like our ways and that His thoughts aren’t like our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9)?

So now that I am here in Denmark, I have been finding myself truly wanting fellowship with other members of the Body of Christ. Proverbs 11:14 (KJV): “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” In a country where many are non believers, I spend a lot of time sharing the Gospel. I certainly don’t mind introducing the Gospel but I desperately want to be able to converse with other believers about the Gospel as well. I have never realized how tiring it can sometimes be as we carry our cross and witness to the masses. I miss the refreshing feeling of when fellow believers fellowship together, encourage, inspire, and even help to correct the paths of other members. The love shared within the Body of Christ is what I mean. John 15:12-15 (KJV): 12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.13Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.14Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.15Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.”

I know of two things that can come out of this time of feeling lonely. My dependency is building on the Father and I am recognizing more clearly what it is to be a member of the Body of Christ. Colossians 3:12 (KJV):12Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;13Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.14And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.” As I mentioned to my mother-in-Christ early last week, the fellowship shared between the body of Christ shouldn’t only be on Sundays. I want to fellowship and spend time when it works with our schedule because we enjoy it, not because it is a chore. Having dinner together, studying the Word together, and participating in different events. The other day my host mom ( I am staying with a host family here in Europe) told me that although I don’t drink, there is nothing wrong with me going to a bar and hanging out. Although going to a bar might feel neutral to some, sitting in a bar is not even a bit interesting to me. The only way I want to go into a bar is if I am on a mission for the Kingdom and Christ is with me.

There is something righteous in friendships shared within the Body of Christ as there are many examples in the Bible. 1 Samuel 18: 1-3 (KJV): 1And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.2And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father’s house.3Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.” This is the type of friendship I want. Proverbs 17:17 (KJV):A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Although it was difficult breaking away from old friendships, I knew that it needed to be done. God reminded me not to worry about old friends as He reminds me that I only need to make sure that I am obedient to Him. Proverbs 12:26 (KJV): “The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour: but the way of the wicked seduceth them.” I want to build lasting relationships with the Body of Christ. Anyone else with me?

Advertisements

Dear God

Dear God,

It feels like it has been a long time since we last talked. I mean I know You are always talking to me but sometimes I am not in a position to hear You. And I know I always try to talk to You but I somehow always become distracted. I know I have been saying that I would spend time in prayer with You more often for most of my life but please give me a mind to. Please give me supernatural wisdom, knowledge, truth, and understanding so that I will desperately pray at Your feet each time I get a chance. You have shown me how wonderful and magnificent Your presence is, so why do I seek that fulfillment in everything but intimate time with You? Foolish of me, I know but I thank You for being patient with me. I really want to keep the intimacy we share and furthermore, I am ready to enhance that intimacy but there are a few problems, can we address the biggest? See God, I am sure that You already know this but there are some breaches in my spiritual wall that needs to be filled as I continue to do work for the Kingdom. This struggle with the spirit of rejection has to go. These past few weeks have been hard and these past few days have been even harder. Just when I thought my little heart was being fixed, it has started to feel like it is shattering into pieces again. I don’t want to find comfort in past sinful habits and I don’t want try coping with this rejection by being rebellious like I have in the past. Why does this have to hurt so badly God? Why am I always reminded, almost like I am being teased? Does the whole world know that I am suffering from rejection? It sure does feel like it sometimes. You know, the very comments that make me feel rejected are the same comments that chase me down the most. You must be trying to heal me. Things can’t be like this for the rest of my life, I mean, You came to give me life not misery. Oh, and God, why am I being ridiculed for preaching the Gospel? Yea, I know they persecuted Jesus but sheesh, I just want to preach Your message. The comments of being lame, a weirdo, and crazy are kind of starting to hurt now. And the people I was once friends with who no longer speak to me after speaking Your truth, yea, their mocking kind of hurts too. I suppose this is making me stronger but I sure have cried a lot these past few weeks. Does that make me weak? Of course not, I almost forgot that Jesus wept. Please watch over my parents and my siblings God, biological and in-Christ alike. I miss them so much. I know they miss me too but remind them that You only need me in Europe for a little while. Please keep them in Your hand from all hurt, harm and danger. Also God, please help the rest of my family find salvation. Please save those who need to be saved and keep those who need to be kept. I sometimes become so consumed with feelings of rejection. Trying to be mindful that I can’t possibly forget of all of the love You have given me. I haven’t forgotten the nights I spent at Your feet laughing, crying, and just venting. Remember the time when I was stretched out on the floor begging for You to take all of my burdens and in the midst of it all I jumped up singing songs of praise? It felt like You had a golden pitcher full of honey, which came straight from Heaven as You poured each ounce of honey into my empty heart. The chambers of my heart were so cold and vacant that I almost didn’t know how to react when the warmth of the honey thawed out the frozen muscles surrounding my aorta. Remember when my heart began to beat during its broken stages? Yea, I will never forget that day either. I didn’t know hurt could go that deep but more importantly, I didn’t know that Your healing could go even deeper. See, during moments like these I have to reflect on my quiet times with You and seek to make more. I didn’t even ask You for the love shared between Calev and I but You must have been making love matches in Heaven and for that I thank you. Just when I thought that You weren’t doing anything you reminded me that You are always doing something. I want to know You more God. You are the most amazing, interesting, and divine being that I have ever encountered. Some question if You are real but I no longer question, I just thank You for being real. You are the only realistic truth that extends beyond the falsehood of fantasy. You are really amazing and today I had a moment when I wanted to rush home and talk with You. You are such a great listener but You are an even better speaker. You know, I am so glad that You aren’t selfish. I don’t always hold up my end of the deal with things but I become inspired when I see You always prompt and ready for our dates. You’ve never let me down. What did I do to deserve all of this love? Wait, really? Nothing? The world doesn’t work like that God. Is someone paying You under the table? Right, Right, You are a righteous and upright God and You are love in every sense of the word. How could I forget that I love You because You first loved me? But you also said that those who love You will keep Your commandments. Please help me keep that in mind when I am tempted to do something sexually immoral, listen to secular music, break laws, and be mischievous. Help my love for You to outshine my flesh’s love to sin. Well, I guess this is all for now God. I simply wanted to write You this letter because this is one of the best ways that I know how to express myself. My sin is enough for You not to read it but the redemption I receive from the blood of Christ is another reason for You to read it, so thanks again. Can you give me a new heart God? Can you give me the faith to heal the sick and the courage to cast demons out of the captive? Yea, I believe in miracles God. Honestly, I think that You are about to do some of Your best work yet. Can you use me? I know I complain a lot and I am working on that but I really do want to fight in Your army God. I can see us now, the body of Christ punching Satan from the left as You follow up and knock him out from the right. You have such a sense of humor, why didn’t I know that before? Yea, probably because I wasn’t taking the time to talk to You. You know everything about me, even the number of hairs on my head, why don’t I know what You said in the second chapter, third verse in the book of Matthew?? Thanks for the conviction Holy Spirit, You’re right, I should must spend more time in the Word of God. His Word is what renews my soul and spirit and even body is You ask me. I want to tell You that I love You God, although I should say it more. Will you forgive me for being inconsistent in prayer, shaky in my faith, and lukewarm in my committment? I am getting better I know but I want to get the best, not just better, if that makes sense. Well, Your thoughts are as the Heavens are higher than the earth so I am sure You get my point none-the-less. Give me a mind to change God. Please search me and see if there be some wicked way in me. No more shattered faith. No more fearful nights. No more scattered days. No more doubtful evenings. No more lonely winters. No more sin filled summers. Just me and You, growing as each day is sweeter than the last.

As I write this letter I renounce all authority I have given spirits of rejection, anger, hatred, fear, sexual immorality, alcoholism, smoking, destruction, doubt, and selfishness. You know the rest but thanks for at least letting me know these ones. I pray to become even closer to You. I pray to be set free from bondage through You. I pray to serve You with every fiber of my being.

Hey God, I yearn to meet with You in the secret place, forever.

Love,

Your daughter.


Comfy Cozy

Do any of you think that your photo could be on this poster? Exclaiming that you don’t hate sin but too ashamed to show all of your face because you call yourself a man or woman of God? I think many of us have a sin that we know we should be addressing aggressively but instead we find ourselves kind of shrugging it off because ….we can be around sin and not partake in it right?

Wrong.

2 Corinthians 2:14-16 (NIV): ” 14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?”

I want to take time to examine how God views sin and how we as His servants should also view sin.

John 3:36 (KJV): “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

Apparently God doesn’t take sin lightly if He warns us of His wrath because of it. A stench coming from sin consumes the aroma of the world because many of us have forgotten who God is and have ineffectively shared His Gospel. There is a clear distinction between the consequences the righteous and unrighteous will experience. We all often focus on Heaven but try to overlook Hell. We often give praise for “good” deeds but try to water down wicked ones. The picture below is an accurate description of how the world looks at sin. The picture is actually associated with homosexuality and the world’s attempt to make the wicked become acceptable. I think homosexuality is a great example for this article because it is a hot topic right now. Are you comfortable with homosexuality? Leviticus 18:22(NIV): “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” When seeing or spending time with homosexuals are you praying and interceding on their behalf so that they may be set free or are you encouraging them and pumping them up to think that they are the most fashionable?

As Christians we need to be uncomfortable with sin. Regardless of the sin, we need to feel some sense of discomfort. Why? Because this is stated in Psalm 11:5-7(KJV): ” 5The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.6Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and a horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.7For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.” As God’s people, how can we mingle with sinners without concern for their souls? Not some phony concern but a concern that encourages us to cry out on their behalf.

Quick story. One day I was with a group of people who I was once really close with. One of the individuals began to curse and I cringed. I was so surprised because I had never been offended by cursing before. For most of my life I had a potty mouth; cursing like a sailor not because I wanted to be a rebel but because it felt so natural and normal to me. So here I was, after salvation feeling uncomfortable by the very words I once coined to be my own personal favorite. Who shall I give thanks to? God of course. It was then that I noticed that I was gaining the same perspective that God had concerning sin. I would sometimes have the, “Well it is sin but I am not the one committing it” perspective. But guess what? God never committed a sin and He is still angered by sin. See the comparison? As His children, as His servants, as His light of the world are we seriously and aggressively addressing sin? We cannot hate sin and watch reality shows that openly encourages homosexuality, fornication, blasphemy etc. That is hypocritical as we are intentionally taking part in wickedness and indirectly conditioning ourselves to be okay with sin.

Isaiah 52:11(NIV): “Depart, depart, go out from there! Touch no unclean thing! Come out from it and be pure, you who carry the vessels of the Lord.” 

I am not suggesting that we should go around acting holier than thou and making rude remarks to sinners. However, we certainly should be clearly set apart from the sins they commit. Even the sins that we still commit and are honestly asking to be delivered from, we should distinctively be identified as wanting to be free. A sinner and a Christian’s struggle with sin should be different. While a sinner indulges in sin, a Christian should be fasting,praying, and begging the Lord to set us free. A sinner cannot take us seriously if we sit in bars with them knocking back beers, getting as much contact as possible from the marijuana in the air, and finding enjoyment in viewing soft porn.

As with all of my articles, I write this message first to myself. Individuals, especially sinners, are always looking at Christians to see what exactly makes followers of Christ different. If Christians partake in the same things as sinners, “What really makes Christianity special,” is what someone may ask. We need to gain the same disgust and hatred for sin. This doesn’t mean we should go around trying to kill sinners but with Christ as our example, we need to always act in love. Don’t become confused with the world’s definition of love because the love of Christ chastises so that sinners may come to repent. Hebrews 12:6 (KJV): “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.”  Not wanting to step on the toes of sinners is not loving, it is transgressing against God. Galatians 6:1(NIV): “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.” How can we uplift the weak if we are in the strip club hitting the same blunt as they are?

Luke 23:34(NIV): “Jesus said,” Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” We need to have the heart and mind of Jesus. Jesus is gentle, Jesus is kind, and Jesus is compassionate but He never overlooked sin. Actually, it was His ability to be loving while still addressing transgression that makes Him so unique. While the Bible encourages us to care about the soul of the sinner but to hate the sin, the world tells us to accept and love all aspects, sin included. I cannot speak for anyone else but after reading the Bible I have a clear understanding that Jesus set the desperate free and casted out demons along the way. When we recognize sin we ought to run away from it, pleading with Jesus to set us free and others. We need to love the things that God loves and hate the things that He hates. Forget what we have been so comfortable with, if God hates it, it needs to then become our enemy. Don’t be comfortable with sin! Find sin as repulsive and offensive as God does!


Taking Blows For Jesus!

If you are willing to be a solider in the army of Christ, expect to get beaten up by Satan. But with that, also expect full recovery; if not on earth then certainly in Heaven. Luke 9:23 (NIV):Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. While we are called to pick up our cross, we are never told that the cross wouldn’t hit us in the head, fall on our toes, or that we wouldn’t find it chaffing against our skin. But when the Lord tells us to deny ourselves, we are in some sense prepared to be bruised. Denying ourselves will cause us to get stronger as we pick up our cross even after it smashes our toes, gain tougher skin after the chaffing, and become wiser in the way we hold it after it hits us in the head. Self would say, “My head hurts. My feet hurt. I am tired. My skin burns. God can you give me something else to hold? Like an unlit candle?” My point is that when doing the will of God, carrying our cross, be mindful that Satan will try to use that cross to anger or discourage us to the point where we want to drop it.

This past weekend I went on an academic trip to Western Denmark as a requirement for my major course. I almost didn’t go as earlier last week I was diagnosed with having a respiratory infection. I had no idea I even had an infection until I noticed one of my lymph nodes had swollen up to the size of a marble and was beginning to protrude from my neck. I was creeped out, I will admit. But after gathering myself I was able to give God praise for it being an infection that could be treated with antibiotics within a week.     I missed two days of school but I knew it wouldn’t be a good idea for me to miss the trip to Western Denmark. I felt like God would give me the strength to do all that I needed to do, so I went.

The first day in Ribe, Denmark was pretty cool. They had amazing architecture and tasty traditional Danish meals. Our first academic stop was visiting a school for troubled teens. Teens who had experienced everything you could imagine but who somehow became resilient students through the program offered at the school. There were about 10 students who my class and I was given the opportunity to converse with for about 3 hours. As I listened to each of them share their story, one girl who I will call Joy, caught my attention. She poured out her heart about how she had been diagnosed with anxiety and how she has been told by many psychologists that she has an extreme case of sociofobia that she will only be able to cope with, but never fully overcome. She continued to talk but the last thing that she said which kept replaying in my mind was, “I am getting better with my social skills because I don’t know if I can ever fully be free.” From that moment I kept saying to myself, “Yes you can be free, and I am a witness.” There were 4 teens in our group but as they went around introducing themselves I felt something special regarding Joy. I felt so much compassion as she forced herself to engage in conversation. I watched as she desperately wanted to look at her new American friends in the eye but could only find comfort in gazing at the ceiling. The more she talked, the more red her throat became. This may sound crazy but as she fought against her demonic oppression, the heavier the red prints showed around her neck as if someone was choking her. There were red marks on the right and left of her neck that looked like stripes, or fingers. It was then that I knew this was a spiritual mission. I took a step back to see all of Joy. She was dressed in black from head to toe as she wore several layers to protect her body from the cold that crept through the holes in her clothing. I said a prayer to God telling Him that if He wanted me to do or say anything to Joy about Him, I knew He would create the opportunity.

After our group was dismissed I looked up to go talk with Joy but she disappeared. I thought maybe I was wrong about talking to her so I went to the restroom before our next activity started. To my surprise, when I got back to the classroom Joy was back inside, alone in the corner and I knew that was an opportunity presented by God. I went over to Joy to talk with her, nervous and hoping that she wouldn’t think I was a weirdo. I felt a tight clinching in my stomach as I usually do when I am about to do something that damages Satan’s kingdom so I walked over faster. I began to tell Joy how proud I was that she was willing to take necessary steps that would help her overcome her sociofobia. I looked at her and the demons that recognized the presence of God became extremely nervous and went to hide so immediately, instead of seeing the demons, I saw Joy. For those who don’t understand, ask God for understanding. I didn’t see demons in the flesh but the discernment that only comes from God allowed me to see the many demons manifesting in Joy as they plotted her destruction. Joy and I continued to talk and I began to share some of my testimony with her. Joy stated that she did not have a religion but that she was still open to listening to me tell her about Jesus. Regardless of how much of my testimony she received, I know the part about anxiety is what she held on to. Long story short, I was at one point diagnosed with anxiety. I didn’t REALLY have anxiety but demons were trying to play tricks on my mind so I knew all too well what Joy was referring to. The difference is that I was saved and I immediately prayed that my mind be set free while Joy was convinced that this was an inevitable part of her life. I only had anxiety for a week; I couldn’t imagine Joy suffering from it for years. I told her that she can be set free from all oppression and more importantly, that Christ WANTS to set her free. I continued to tell her how the love of Christ surpasses all understanding and how He has changed my life. Sharing with Joy the love of Christ and how He yearns to fill her with His love and glory, Joy smiled for the first time since we met, 5 hours before. I knew then that a seed was planted. I offered to give Joy my email address as she doesn’t have many friends and is terribly afraid of being social with others. I wrote my email on paper and she grabbed the paper so quickly and almost ran to put it in her purse. It wasn’t her words that showed me I did what God wanted me to do but her actions.

Later that night my class and I had gone to a Chinese restaurant to get dinner. While the rest of the students decided on what they wanted to eat I had gone to the restroom. The last thing I remember was going down the restaurant’s steep steps and holding onto the wall. Before I knew it I was on the ground trying to remember what happened. After recognizing that my head and back were hurting, I concluded that I had fallen. Although it felt like seconds, friends said I had been gone for a while leading me to believe that I may have blacked out for a while. The ambulance was called and I was rushed to the hospital. In the ambulance I spent time praying to God in the midst of machines beeping because of their inability to read my vitals and a paramedic repeatedly asking me to try to move my limbs. For some time I couldn’t move my legs or my arms and after having a moment of spazzing, I began to ask God for faith, trust, and relaxation and He gave it to me. I was rushed to the hospital to be checked for a brain hemorrhage and within the first few minutes I was asked to sign my name on a document. I cried when I went to write my name but couldn’t because I had forgotten how to write letters. I was able to write the first two letters of my name but even those two letters were overlapped like a toddler learning how to write their name for the very first time. I knew in my mind how to spell my name but my brain wasn’t effectively communicating with the rest of my body, or that’s what I think. I began to cry harder, asking the doctor to allow me to call my biological parents and parents-in-Christ. I was wondering how I would finish school and if I would have memory loss for the rest of my life. Talking with the teacher who accompanied me was a struggle as I would forget what I was saying in mid-conversation. I was now suffering from a respiratory infection and a concussion after only being in Europe for about 3 weeks. Who said a wilderness experience would be all flowers and candy?

I was praying and talking to God alone but I remembered that my teacher was in the room with me so I started sharing the Gospel with her. I found it interesting that although I had forgotten some stuff, I didn’t forget a bit of the Gospel. My first comment about the goodness of the Lord started an hour and a half long conversation about Him. I shared my testimony, even the most personal. Why? Because God put it on my heart. Some parts of my testimony that I am usually ashamed to share flew out of my mouth as the Holy Spirit put it on my heart to say and I know me not having my usual filter played a part in that. I am not sure how much of what I was saying was received by my teacher but she appeared to have been engaged the entire time, asking questions and smiling along with me. I usually talk with my hands and I was thrilled to recognize that although I had a difficult time moving my limbs hours ago, I was then moving them freely as I talked about my Groom. I was so excited and I sat up, stating how God was giving me my mind back. The doctor came back inside and to his surprise, aside from my headache– my eyes were now focusing correctly, I was able to move, my ears were adjusting and guess what? I was able to write my name, decently and in order. I jumped out of the hospital bed excited by the goodness of the Lord and as my teacher and I went to the office to handle insurance matters, we were informed that all of my medical bills had been covered. We insisted that they hadn’t been but the hospital assured us that they had and I was released to go home. *My European insurance has been delayed and is about two weeks late. With that, I would have had to pay for that visit out-of-pocket. Thank You God.

How does this relate to taking blows for Jesus? Well the time I spent on the floor after the fall and the time I spent in the hospital bed I kept thinking about Joy and how the Lord had used me. It was in a sense Satan’s way of trying to scare me from helping others and ultimately his way of trying to get “back at me.” Sure, not everything bad that happens comes from Satan but in this situation, he was trying to wound a solider. As I walked home yesterday from the bus I told God that regardless of my sore throat, regardless of the pressure from the infection in my chest, regardless of the swelling of my skull, regardless of the pain in my head from post-concussion syndrome, and regardless of feeling lonely during these hardships, I will fight in His army. I will willfully take blows for the Kingdom as my Lord is with me. My concussion was worth every bit of me sharing the Gospel with Joy and my teacher. The blood of Jesus always prevails on our behalf so even if I am wounded, I am trusting in Him and that His breath will cleanse and bandage every cut and bruise.  Put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) and keep on throwing grenades in the enemy’s camp.


What Time Does Church Start?

“What church do you attend?”

That is the most commonly asked question I receive after talking with someone about the Lord. I thought that was interesting because since I have been saved, I haven’t asked anyone what church they attended. But the real interesting part is that individuals don’t believe me when I tell them that I currently do not belong to a church. Actually, I have had people look at me like I was crazy and immediately give me a card with their church’s information on it. I began to feel like when I tell people that I didn’t belong to a church they begin to question my salvation. Why can’t someone be Christian and not identify with misconceptions produced by religion? Why is that so hard to believe? I have no idea. But I feel like religion has something to do with it.

To make things clear, I have absolutely no opposition to having a church home. Actually, when I first got saved I did a lot of church searching, hoping to find the anointed southern church that I had always imagined I would attend. During the process of trying to find a church that seemed best for me I had been lied to, encouraged to believe false doctrine, and bombarded with religious beliefs. And I still to this day can’t understand why everybody always tried to lay hands on me. You know, those crazy religious beliefs that crowd you with a bunch of rules and regulations that is not supported by the Word of God. John the Baptist reminds us that although he baptized individuals with water for repentance, Jesus was coming to baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Matthew 3:11). I began to become very confused, wondering why no one could teach the Truth. There I was, a babe in Christ desperately wanting to have other believers to fellowship with and all I came in contact with were perverts, liars, and witches. Yes, there are witches in the church. Not the Church but the church.

After a while I decided to have Bible study on Sundays just to continue the studying of Scripture I did during the week. I began to notice that I was spiritually fed more through my personal time with God for at least an hour than I did from being in church for about 3 hours. I knew something wasn’t right so I told God that if He wanted me in a church, then I will allow Him to lead me there. Don’t get me wrong, there is no perfect church and although I believe we are sometimes called to eat the meat and throw away the bones, I don’t believe spending hours trying to filter false doctrine is one of them. I had visited a few campus ministries and while the sermons where trying to accommodate the diverse religions of the student body, I was frustrated with trying to decipher which part of the sermon was for me, the muslims, the religious, or for the scientologists.

I suppose many are confused about me not attending a church because we have been so brainwashed with seeking man to be the bridge between us and God. I can’t speak for anyone else but the only bridge I need between me and God is Jesus. A pastor ordained by God will reinforce and confirm personal teachings that first come from God. God may even introduce knowledge and conviction through His people to plant the seed as He prepares us for the moment when He brings it to us personally. That often reminds me of people I have known who did everything they could to converse with the most popular prophets who would visit the city. I couldn’t understand how people would run all around, spend a bunch of money, and create unrealistic expectations when wanting to hear a word from God. How is it that every prophet you see tells you about the favorable but doesn’t mention trials and tribulations? My God tells me about both Paradise and Hell and if someone else who claims to be anointed by Him can’t offer the Truth, stay away. But furthermore, I always tell people that if God wants to speak to me through someone else, God certainly knows how to make the paths of His children cross. So why would I try to squeeze beautiful lies out of false prophets? Test the spirit by the Spirit. Everything and everybody that claims to be Godly isn’t.

I will admit, some of the fault is on the Body of Christ. The light that Christ yearns to shine through us will set us apart from religion and false doctrine. Sinners and even other saints will be able to fellowship with believers as they will be drawn not to us, but to the Spirit of God that dwells within us. We need to step up. How is it that as a babe in Christ I couldn’t find a church preaching the truth in the middle of Atlanta? As big and diverse as that city is. I just thank God for protecting me from false doctrine. But what about individuals who do not yet recognize the voice of God? Too many individuals are swept into the lies pushed by Satan and my mother was one of them. God is at this very moment renewing her mind from being soaked in the poison introduced to her by Jehovah’s Witnesses. What a mighty God we serve! I had no idea how to help her understand that Jehovah’s Witnesses are a cult but God knew how to reach her. But up to this point in her life, she hadn’t come in contact with a church that what truly seeking the heart and face of God so what standard did she have?

Fortunately, there is currently a church that I have been following: Omega Ministries. Some people have asked me how they can really know if they are in the right church or if they are reading the true word of God. The best advice I can give to anyone is to first have that personal and intimate relationship with God. If you know God, He will bear witness regarding what is Him. I used an example when I was talking with my host mom yesterday. If I was an author and I had written a book but an individual had suspicion that someone was interpreting my book wrong, was tampering with my verbiage, or was misleading my children, all that individual would have to do is call or email me. It would be a pleasure for me to respond by letting that individual know either yes, the fruit of my book is being presented righteously OR that the pages of my book were being perverted by others.

Matthew 7:11(NIV): “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!”

With the same emphasis shared on being a follower of Christ rather than being a follower of a denomination, we too should focus on our personal relationship with Christ rather than allowing a building to be our idol. Every church does not have the Spirit of God resting there. Everyone who claims to be a pastor isn’t going to Heaven. The loudest person running through the aisles isn’t always the most grateful. The large audience of a mega church isn’t evidence that they preach the Gospel. Satan is the god of this world and he is capable of providing his people with wealth. And everyone who claims to have spiritual gifts did not receive them from the one true living God. Aside from Sunday, what fruit are you producing from Monday to Saturday? Don’t allow the person who volunteers to help teach Sunday school and Wednesday prayer to fool you into thinking they are holier than thou. Do you feel good every time you leave church? That is a red flag within itself because the Holy Spirit won’t always make you feel good. If you aren’t living righteously expect the Holy Spirit to convict and discipline you as the Lord disciplines those who He loves (Hebrews 12:6). You aren’t clapping your hands for a pastor who is allowing a Torah to be wrapped around him are you?

We shouldn’t get too caught up with church in the sense of it being the only place where God is. My sentiments are similar to the article I had written, One in Christ. God said that when two or more are gathered in His name He will be there (Matthew 18:20). We are the Church. Christ isn’t coming back for a ton of bricks on a corner, He is coming back for His bride. As I continue to spend my personal time with God I am open to the fact that He may one day lead me to attend a church to fellowship with other believers. Sometimes God will have us in a place for a season then He will move us on. Even going to a church where God really does dwell, we still cannot gain eternal salvation through the faith of our pastor, his wife, or their children. If we want a chance for God to say, “Well done my good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:23),” we need to know Him for ourselves. Once we begin building our relationship with God and spending fervent time fasting, praying, and reading His word, He can then lead us to fellowship with other believers and witness to sinners. If the hierarchy isn’t right, the building on the corner with a wooden cross as tall as the tower of babel will sadly become our idol.

Let loose of religion and tightly grasp onto the Gospel that comes directly from the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The moment when I open my Bible and ask God to open my eyes, ears, and heart so that I may receive Him.. is when church starts for me.


How Can You Speak In Tongues And Not Speak To Your Neighbor?

1 John 4:20-21(NIV): 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” 

We must be sure that as disciples of Christ that we are doing our duty to be Christ-like. This duty includes being loving, compassionate, and long-suffering towards others. Too often do we proclaim to be ambassadors of Christ but fail to be active listeners and sympathetic toward our brothers and sisters-in-Christ and more importantly, sinners. Remember, Christ came back for sinners not for the righteous (Mark 2:17).

1 Corinthians 13:1(NIV): 1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

There is a female who attends my home college who has for the past 3 years been viewed as one of the most serious Christ followers in our female population. As a new believer I didn’t necessarily wear a I serve Jesus sign on my shirt but if my relationship with Him came up, I was more than happy to share the story of how I gained salvation. This female and I would constantly bump into each other so one day I decided to say hello to her. To my surprise she walked right by me, as if I wasn’t even there. I didn’t think much of it until it was a constant pattern–me taking an initiative to say hello and her looking down or away trying to avoid saying hello back. About a month later we happened to both be at a Christian event on campus. She made a comment along the lines that she didn’t know that I was believer. I couldn’t help but think about how fake I thought she was. And yes, since that day she rushes to greet me. But why did I have to be a believer for her to speak to me? What if I was still a sinner desperately in need of hearing the Gospel?

Hebrews 13:2(NIV): “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”

Christian cliques formed around only believers are not Christ-like. Cliques stunt spiritual growth and furthermore ignore the purpose of the Kingdom’s business. As servants of God we are supposed to be the light of the world and the salt that preserves the earth but we cannot reach our full potential if we are not effectively engaging in healthy and Godly relationships with others. A pure and genuine relationship with our neighbors must be founded in love. 1 Corinthians 13:4(NIV):“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” The Bible gives us specific instructions about how to be Christ-like and the characteristics we ought to aspire to obtain.

While I usually speak to people who are close enough to hear me, God showed me something else about myself. He showed me that as many people as I talked with, that I sometimes didn’t mention Him at all. I mean for Him to be my Everything, He ought to come up at least every now and again, right? Basically God was telling me that there shouldn’t be a question whether I serve Him as my actions and conversation ought to be a reflection of Him. The next thing God led me to think about was how had I received wisdom yet didn’t seek to share it with others? Why wasn’t I sharing what I knew? So from that day I decided to go forth and spread the Gospel.

My freshman year in college there was a cafeteria worker who stood out to me. She appeared to have maybe gone through some rough circumstances but regardless always appeared so peaceful when I saw her. At my school at least, we don’t spend too much time interacting with workers who aren’t professors. I couldn’t figure out why I kept feeling led to talk with her but then unsaved, I brushed the idea off and forgot about it. The end of freshman year I felt led to give this cafeteria worker some cards with Scriptures on them that had been passed down to me from my Grandmother after she died from breast cancer. I kept telling myself that I would give the lady the cards but before I knew it, the semester was over and the lady was gone. I wasn’t saved so I didn’t care too much. I even began to question if I was just having one of my “caught up in my feelings” moments. I didn’t see the woman again until the first semester of my junior year. To make a long story short, I somehow sparked a conversation up with this lady only for her to tell me that she didn’t remember me. As we continued to talk she told me about some issues she had been experiencing so I decided to print out some of these articles for her. I hadn’t told her I was the author for a while until she began to ask where she could get more articles. I didn’t mention being the author because I know that isn’t important but once I told her, that opened the door for us to talk about Christianity more. The woman thought I was merely finding stuff online and giving it to her, which caused her to not really engage in conversation about specific issues she was facing. After that moment we would meet each day in the cafeteria and talk about God. She would come over to me, acting like she was cleaning my table as I shared Scriptures with her. I would print articles as often as I could and gave them to her so that she could read them on the bus going home or during her lunch break. And I prayed with her for her and her family whenever her supervisor was away busy doing something. I wasn’t taking her from her work but she didn’t want to appear to be doing nothing. Before I knew it she would be waiting for me at dinner time, excited to talk about the goodness of the Lord. It was an amazing feeling to be able to be used by God as only a 20-year-old for a woman is well in her 40s. Before I knew it her supervisor was coming up to me stating that she wanted what I had; that she wanted salvation. Her supervisor said that she isn’t a part of a church so she is unable to receive salvation and I told her that when she was ready, that we could pray right there in the cafeteria as Christ has no ordained place for us to accept Him as our Lord and Savior.

As the semester got closer to ending, prayer with this lady became a regular part of our lives. She even shared with me her most personal and difficult struggles as I would go home to pray for her and bring back Scriptures that God had put on my heart to share with her. And guess what? The last day of classes God reminded me to give her the cards with the Scriptures on them. I ran to my room and asked God to give me a mind to give her every verse that He knew she could receive. When I ran back downstairs to give her the cards she looked at me, trying to hold back tears and hugged me for what felt like 3 hours..although I am sure it was more like 1-2 mins. She was sharing her gratitude. There I was in the middle of the cafeteria, while students were trying to figure out what was going on, and I stood hugging a woman who had known Christ at a very young age but who had given up hope after being trampled by every sin you could think of. But the light of Christ that dwells within me was able to draw her nigh, leading her to come back to her Father. She went from referencing God as merely a memory to being active in church, reading her Bible regularly, praying, fasting, and seeking fellowship with other believers. All of this is so wonderful that it makes me wonder….what if I didn’t speak to my neighbor?

1 Corinthians 14:22-35 (NIV): “22 Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers. 23 So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24 But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, 25 as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”

We cannot gain spiritual gifts and forget the true purpose of our existence. We are instructed to yield unto the Lord and to humble our flesh, ultimately becoming vessels and full property of the Lord. As vessels of Christ, we need to be examples. Someone is ALWAYS watching. To love the Lord is to love your brother.