Are you a Christian?

ChristianYou call yourself a Christian, but are you really a Christian? In this current environment many people call themselves Christian, but you would not know it by their lifestyle. There are many individuals out there that say they are Christian, but they continue to live in the world, not repenting from their sinful lives, or seeking a relationship with Jesus Christ. Then there are individuals that may call themselves agnostic, or atheist, but if you really talk to them, they may believe parts of the bible but not all of it.

I hope to clear the waters on some of these various descriptions that people use to describe themselves when it comes to religion. I have come to learn these things by looking at my life and how Jesus has opened my eyes. I hear so many people say they are Christian, and I was one of them. They do not go to church very often, don’t read their bible, they are not in relationship with Jesus, still cuss, drink, and basically follow the ways of the world. For instance, I found Jesus at 19, but  I went right back to following the ways of the world, occasionally, I would go to church, but found it boring or felt unwelcomed. I would pray or talk to God when things were not going well.  Oh but then nothing when things were going well for me, I would stop praying. I did whatever I wanted not thinking about the consequences, to myself or others, I was more focused on myself then on others. I would have compassion at times for others, but not like I do now. This probably sounds like some of you and it is nothing to be ashamed of, it just lets you see that you might need to shift your focus, from yourself to Jesus.

What I have come to realize is that when you are living your life this way, you may be a  Believer, but not a true Christian. You believe in God, you believe in Jesus, but you think you know what is in the bible, and who has time to read the bible to really know what is in it! You might go to church every Sunday, or just on special occasions, (Christmas, Easter) or you don’t even go to church because you have been offended, or you think they are a bunch of hypocrites. That was me, because every church I had been in after accepting Jesus in my life, judged me on what I wore, where I lived, etc. They did not accept me for who I was broken and lost looking for answers.

Then you have a life changing encounter with Jesus, that transforms your life. You start to find the time to read you bible and you discover you really did not know the truth that was in the bible. You start to discover that the bible has stories that pertain to things happening now just as much as in the past. You start to change without even realizing it, because Holy Spirit has been busy giving you a heart change. You understand that judgement is only for God, but it is ok to point out sin in a loving way, but there should not be judgement and condemnation; as Romans 8:1 tells us.

That every Christian is at a different place in their walk. Some are baby Christians, where others are farther along in their walk with Christ. You hold your head up proud that you are a Christian, and people around you can tell by your actions. You stop living in the world and focusing on yourself, and you start to shift your focus to others. There is a confidence in your walk, you talk of God in most of your conversations, you stop cussing and many stop drinking. But, we should not be worried about what other Christians are doing compared to us, our focus should be on ourselves and how God will look at us. We need to stop looking at the splinter in our fellow mans eye, and instead look at the log in our own eye; just as scripture says.

There are some out in the world that call themselves atheist or agnostic, but as I listen to some of them when asked questions, I think they are really just confused. For some that happens because of well-meaning Christians standing on a street corner condemning everyone, instead of spreading the love of Jesus and speaking from the heart of God.  Some have never taken the time to read the bible to know what is really in it, and many of them believe in something spiritual but they can’t put a name to it.

I really encourage those that are not sure about God or Jesus to just take the time to read through the new testament to get to know the amazing and wonderful Jesus that I know. I think you will find it life changing, but then again who am I! I am just someone who loves Jesus and I want everyone in the world to know the love and sacrifice that Jesus made for all of mankind. Yes! For you and for me. Jesus loves the sinner for he is chasing after the lost sheep to bring them back into the sheep fold.  Just remember that Jesus will leave the 99 to chase after the one lost sheep.

FEAR OF MAN (SHYNESS)

913b8-shynessAre you someone that is super shy? I was one of those people, I was so shy that when I was in junior high and high school people thought I was stuck up. If someone would come up and talk to me then I would have slight conversation with them, but I would never approach someone. Especially if I did not know them well, and even then, I was unsure of myself. I was always afraid that I was going to say something they thought was stupid, that I would sound dumb. In fact, I was really convinced that no one would like me for who I was, so I spent a good part of my life trying to be what I thought others wanted me to be. Let me tell you that never turned out very well. In the end I was the one that would get crushed and that would just push me into a greater fear. I was even my own worst enemy, believing things about myself that no one had ever spoken over me except for myself. There were lies that were in my head, and they plagued my life for 52 years. Those lies kept me a prisoner, afraid to be around people or to do things with others. I was just content in my little world of work and animals. The truth is that it was only in the last couple of years that I figured out that shyness is really a fear of man. Fear of what they will think, am I good enough, smart enough, funny, cute, the list goes on and on. I believed that no one would want to be around me, and this caused me problems in relationships and it kept me from having any close friends growing up.

Then back in 2015 God really was talking to me and was really encouraging me to step out and trust in him. We moved back to Tri Cities, Washington area, after moving away in 2012. When I moved back God got my husband and I into a really, great church. After about two weeks of us attending, I heard the Lord tell me ministry, and I was like what can I do in ministry. I am afraid to talk to people that I don’t know. So, when we went to church that Sunday my husband told me to go up and talk to someone to see if there was some way that I could be involved as a volunteer in Women’s ministry. I was so afraid that he had to literally take me by the hand and walk me up to someone to talk to. That was just the beginning, I ended up getting involved as a volunteer with a Ladies Brunch that they were going to do for Christmas, and I started to meet people, and suddenly I was not feeling as fearful around people. But the Lord was not done with me on this journey.

In December of that year I got hired at the church to work as an Admin. for the pastoral staff. As part of that I was going to be helping the youth pastor on Wednesday nights. Well that took me on a new journey, and I had to get past my fears of not fitting in, so that I could connect with the students. I would struggle for the whole year of 2016. As I went on a mission trip I kept hearing these lies in my head that I was not supposed to be going and that I did not matter, but on that journey, something great started to happen. I had someone tell me that God had given me the boldness of a Lion and that I did matter and that I was supposed to be on the trip. Suddenly, I started to see Lions up in the clouds, of course no one else saw them, but I saw them for a whole year. I even had one of the students in our youth group come up and give me a word that I was bold like a lion and was no longer like a tiger. Then she explained the difference between a lion and a tiger to me. Even though I was not sure about that boldness I kept walking in boldness and trusting the Lord along the way. Just let me say that when you trust God, you never get let down.

Now I walk in a wonderful freedom that I found on this journey, and that freedom only comes from the Lord Almighty. The first step is always the hardest, but after that they start to get easier. What I have found is that I matter, I am wanted, people like to be around me and that I have all kinds of friends. Now I look for the individuals that are sitting in the back corner hiding from everyone, so that I can call them into something greater as well. Oh, don’t think that I don’t get self-doubt that comes back to haunt me on occasion, but now I am quick to stop those lies and to speak out the truth of what God sees in me and says about me. I walk with my head up high, and I walk in a new-found boldness and authority that only comes from Jesus.

My encouragement to anyone that is walking that same road is to call on God, and trust him as you start to step out of the fear and into the light. Feel the weights fall off and you have a bounce in your step as you walk in new found freedom and you encounter new growth way beyond anything you could ever imagine. When you start to listen to the truth of the Lord, it brings you freedom. Freedom brings you so much more. Stop believing lies about yourself and ask God to help you take the first step. Ask God to give you strength and to take away the fear that is churning in your stomach. I know it can be hard and frightening, but the Lord can give you a boldness beyond anything you can imagine. Please believe me you start to see things through different lenses and you start to feel better about yourself.

God’s Reckless Love

reckless love of godHave you ever thought about God’s wild, reckless love for us? Or maybe you think of God is vengeful and angry. A God that only wants to bring wrath down on his people.

Well today I want to help you to understand that we have a loving God that is constantly trying to bring us back into right standing with himself. We were created to have relationship and good standing with our Father in Heaven. But early in creation sin entered the world and changed that forever. Since the time that sin first entered the world, Father God has been trying to bring us back into right standing so that we are in relationship with himself. God wants to know us and for us to not only call on him in times of trouble, but to always be talking to him.

What does talking to God look like? Well it is waking up in the morning and thanking him for another day here on earth. It is going through your day and taking the time to just talk to God about your struggles. He knows what you are going through, but Father God wants you to talk to him about it, just as a child would tell their parent. Talk to the Father about the good and the bad. I can remember a few years ago, I was crying out to God, because my Dad had Parkinson’s Syndrome, and was no longer able to talk to me, so he would not even let me talk to him. I was a Daddy’s girl, and I was missing my Dad so much, that I got on my knees and poured out my heart to Father God about how much I missed talking to my Dad. How I missed hearing his voice, and I just wanted to be able to talk to him about things going on in my life. What made it even harder was that I was 2500 miles away from my Dad at the time. Well the Father heard my cries, and he felt my pain. Two days later I got a phone call from my Dad and for 10-15 minutes my Dad could, talk and have a conversation with me. I knew instantly that this was a blessing and gift from Father God. It was the last time that I got to hear my Earthly Fathers, voice but it was priceless. This is what a loving Heavenly Father does, he gives good gifts because he loves us.

Just think about John 3:16-17: “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” These are the words of Jesus as he is explaining to a respected Jewish teacher. So, if God was always angry and vengeful, he would never have sacrificed his one and only Son to bring us back into righteousness when we accept Jesus in our hearts. No this is something that a loving God would do, that has a father’s heart for each one of us. Think about how much love God really has for us, any parent knows that it would be hard, if not impossible to sacrifice their child for everyone else. I know I can’t begin to imagine the pain that would cause. So, to allow that to happen so that we could accept Jesus into our hearts and become saved, to be made righteous through the blood of Christ is the ultimate act of love.

READING YOUR BIBLE

Bible graphicDo you read your bible?  Is it just a book with words that you think is lifeless?  Is it just a bunch of history that does not pertain to you?  What if I told you that your bible is the living and breathing word of God!  It has history that we can learn from, but it is a tool that the Lord can use to teach us and speak to us.

There was a time in my life when I thought that my bible was just a book.  What I was reading made no sense.  It just seemed like it was talking about things that did not pertain to me, because I was not one of the chosen people (Israelite).  But then one day it was like a light came on, I decided to pray before I even opened my bible.  I asked Father God to help me to understand what was in the bible.  Suddenly the bible came to life and things were being highlighted to me.  I was understanding things that had been confusing.  Suddenly my bible was the living word and I would read, and have verses speak to my heart.

So, that started to change my perspective of my bible.  I also started to notice that I was having a heart shift.  I got excited about opening my bible and hearing what God had to say.  Then in 2016 I started an actual bible reading plan.  It was having you read part of the old testament and then part of the new testament.  A new awareness suddenly came to me as I was seeing how the old and new testament tie together.  I would get super excited, and pester my husband about what I had read which would lead to awesome discussions.  It brought me into new freedoms as I started to find out that some things I had believed about the bible were not true.  That was not what God had said, rather it was lies I had been believing.

Can I just say that when you make a dedication to actually read your bible in a year, it changes your life.  Freedom comes from knowing the truth of what God says and applying that truth to your heart.  You also start to discover your identity in Christ rather than in the lies of the world around you.  I don’t know about you, but I do not want to be a prisoner or a slave to the lies of the enemy.  Life is beautiful, and I want to live it to the fullest through Christ.  You gain wisdom and insight, so that you can make good changes to your life.  You start to memorize scripture and applying it to your life.  For instance Romans 8:1 There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.  Now talk about freedom when I read that and apply it to my life.  All of a sudden when I feel condemnation coming on I can stop it in its tracks and declare the truth of the Lord.  Bam just like that I have beaten the enemy back and taken another step forward.

Think about the bible as a tool to help you grow with Christ.  Yes there is history, but even through historical things that happen you learn so that you don’t make those same mistakes.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in the wilderness forever like the Israelites when they were freed from oppression in Egypt and then let fear keep them from the promised land.  I want to walk in bold confidence that God is with me just as Joshua and Caleb did.  But I did not gain that confidence until I actually made the time to read my bible and apply it to my life.

Yes that is the other thing, don’t just read, but apply what you are learning to your life.  If you are reading about being rebellious like Jonah was and you see what happened to Jonah.  Then learn from that story so that you don’t run from God but rather run to God.  Let your bible be a journey into learning to be more like Jesus.  Your bible is a tool and when you take time to read and apply it, your life begins to change.