Archive for the ‘God’ Category

If you know me, you know that I’m a big fan of wearing t-shirts for some of my favorite organizations. To Write Love on Her Arms. Love 146. I love what they stand for and the power behind their organizations in getting the word out about social issues that are near and dear to my heart. People ask me what they mean, assuming it’s just a band logo or something. Their reactions are usually one of shock. One for the subject matter, and one for how a young person cares so much about the lives of others.

But something really awesome happened when I was at Tampa airport, waiting for my flight home. I was wearing my t-shirt for the Stop The Traffick Freedom Drive. People actually stopped me and asked what the meaning behind it was. I’ve never experienced anything quite like this before. I found myself opening up conversations about human trafficking to complete strangers, and having them listen to what I was saying and genuinely seeming to be impacted by the things I was telling them was pretty surreal.

I had a few people ask me what stop the traffick meant, and when I told them what the Stop the Traffick Freedom Drive was all about, their reaction was eye opening. All of them were shocked, this one lady who worked at one of the gift shops I walked into actually almost cried.

After the first 3 people stopped me to ask what the shirt meant, I noticed that a lot of people I passed by that day in the airport took a couple seconds to read my shirt. I’m not the one to vibe on having all the attention on me, but seeing people take a few seconds to look and read my shirt as I walked through the airport was a really cool feeling.

Without really doing anything at all, except going about my business, I was somehow spreading the awareness of human trafficking to a crowd bigger than I ever could imagine talking to. That’s all it took. It was nothing radical or anything to purposely give attention to myself. All I did was wake up that morning and put on a comfy t-shirt that had a statement on the front of it.

As I was on the plane back home, I began thinking of the people who stopped me and talked to me about my shirt, and those who weren’t as bold, yet I saw looking at it and reading the message. Maybe they thought about it for a second, then went about their business. Hopefully those who engaged me in conversation took the message a little deeper.

Sometimes you don’t have to get out there and be this radical person who goes around doing things that make people stop you and ask questions. Sometimes all you have to do is wear a shirt with a statement on it. People, whether you realize it or not, see you. They see what you’re wearing and notice you.


John 15:16-19
You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatsoever you shall ask of the Father in My name, He may give it you. These things I command you, that you love one another. If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love his own; but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

There is at this time approximately 6,927,550,209 people in the entire world.  That’s a LOT of people, and when you think about the fact that God chose YOU to be one of His, is pretty overwhelming. It’s kind of funny when you hear people talk about their salvation and relationship with God like it’s something they themselves chose for their lives. Like they just woke up one day and said “God, I’m going to do the honor and live my life for You. You’re welcome”. But isn’t that the self centered attitude we get? When in reality, we didn’t choose anything. God chose.

God saw us, and picked us to be His children. That’s just a mind blowing fact. 6,927,550,209 people and God chose you. It’s like walking around a huge field of grass, and picking just ONE single blade to keep as yours. That’s what God does.

God saw you and decided He needed you to be His. Man, if that doesn’t get you, I don’t know what will. I was thinking about it today, and the thought that I was chosen by Him, put a smile on my face. We look at ourselves in the mirror and think “what could God possibly do with this broken person? I’m a mess, why would He choose this?” I’ve heard this phrase before that says “there’s beauty in brokenness”. That couldn’t be more true. Your brokenness and pain and failures is what makes you real and relate-able to the people around you. If we had it all together, those who didn’t know God would feel intimidated to go to church. That transparency and ability to say “yeah, I’m still struggling, but I know it will be alright because of Gods love and grace is over me” is what God uses to t0uch the other broken people of this world.

God chose you and all your flaws and brokenness, and it all has a purpose. So next time you’re wondering why God would ever even look in your direction, remember that you have been chosen.

In 2 Kings there’s this really awesome story of Elisha and the Shunammite woman. For those of you who don’t know the story, let me just break it down for you.

This lady in the town of Shunem always prepared a room for the prophet Elisha, so that when he passed through town he had a place to crash for the night. One day Elisha went to her and spoke over her life that in a year she would have a son. Now, this woman was up there in age so she didn’t see herself having a child. In fact, she objected the idea that Elisha had prophetically spoken over her life. But wouldn’t ya know it, when Elisha came back the next year she did in fact have a son. But unfortunately, her son ending up dying. When Elisha asked her what was wrong when she came to him she ended up saying to Elisha, “Did I ask you for a son, my lord?… Didn’t I tell you, ‘Don’t raise my hopes’?”.

This women had shut her heart off from the idea that she would receive the one thing she always wanted. But this story does something incredible. It shows the power and sincerity of Gods word. We all have things that we once so wanted in our life, but over time have given up on the idea that they would happen. The Shunammite woman had this area of her heart that she had shut off from God. When Elisha had told her she’d have a child she told him to not get her hopes up. I think a lot of the time we do the same thing with certain areas of our life. Especially with healing. If you’re experiencing a sickness in the family right now that looks hopeless then you know what I’m talking about. The person isn’t getting better, but worse. You’ve prayed and prayed to God that He’d do something in them that would slow down the progress, yet it seems like nothing is happening. Eventually, you get to this point of thinking “this person is going to die, I just have to accept it and keep moving.” The Shunammite woman did the same thing with the wish of having a child. It was the one thing her heart desired more than anything, but she slipped into the worldly mindset of giving up that we all tend to slip ourselves into.

But Gods not like that. He knows, better than anyone else, what it is that our heart longs for. We look at circumstances that appear to not have a way out or a positive outcome, but we need to remember that God is a provider. God is love, and He will give us our hearts desires if we’re faithful to Him. The Shunammite woman was faithful in her hospitality to Elisha. She didn’t have to give him his own room, but it was in her heart to serve the man of God and provide for him a shelter. She opened her home to him and let him stay there. I can’t even imagine that her thoughts while Elisha was staying there was “maybe if I give this man a room, then my God will give me my child”. I didn’t plan on talking about this for this entry, but I’ve realized that that previous statement is the way some of us serve God. We are more than willing to serve His people, but sometimes it’s because we know God rewards the faithful, so we anticipate the reward. When I first started serving God, that’s how I thought sometimes. But then God gave me a heart for serving and helping His people that it no longer became about a reward, but it was just how my heart is.

Those closed off areas of our hearts, is what God really wants you to talk to Him about. Sure, He already knows, but when you yourself approach God and tell Him for yourself, there’s just a more intimate relationship being built. I know every single one of us has an area of our heart that we’re hesitating to talk to God about, because our flesh is telling us that there’s no point in trying because the cause looks as good as dead. But God is the God of impossible. Don’t just look at the stories in the Bible of how He raised the womans son back to life as something that only could happen back then. This is a super cliche Christianese phrase but it’s true that Gods power and love is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. So don’t give up on Him.

Worship is….

Posted: April 24, 2011 in God, Jesus, thoughts, Worship

Worship is not music.

Worship is not dance.

Worship is not a song.

Worship is not painting.

All these things are words we would associate with the term worship. We have a worship service before  the preaching on Sundays. Music is played, people dance and sing. It’s not wrong. It’s just we confined the term “worship” to these specific thing.

The other day I spent time and looked up the definition of worship.

Today’s dictionary says this about worship: reverent honor and homage paid to God or a sacred personage, or to any object regarded as sacred.
In the Hebrew language worship means: to prostrate oneself (prostrate means to fall down).
In Greek, worship is: To minister (to God)
                                            Adore; revere
                                           In the sight, in the presence
                                           To be pious (*pious is to show a dutiful spirit of reverence to God)
                                          To kiss; to fawn or crouch to.
I was actually surprised there was no mention of music in any of those definitions. That’s what I would define worship as. It’s all I ever knew worship to be. A team playing music, people surrendering themselves to God with the help of the words in the song, or the help of a certain melody. Knowing these definitions of worship now, open up a whole new spectrum for me. My worship isn’t just confined to those Sunday morning worship services or time alone in my room with a CD on and me emptying my heart out to the Lord.
Worship is more than music
Worship is more  than a dance.
Worship is more than a song.
Worship is more than a painting.

Why do YOU worship God?

Posted: March 14, 2011 in Church, God, Jesus, Worship

I’ve really been reflecting on my relationship with God the past week or so. With a lot of craziness going on, I’ve really been feeling drained, and honestly, been feeling anything but close to God. I find myself crying out to Him, wondering where He is in the midst of all this. When I face trials, I tend to feel disconnected from God, and it takes all that’s in me to remind myself why I’m in relationship with Him in the first place.

The Reason: I cannot do this life without Him. I’d be lost and have no purpose.
Something I found out the hard way.

This has been on my mind, in relation with the younger generation, and even still my generation. Actually, this can apply to anyone really.

  • I look around and see young people attending church every weekend, yet it’s not for them. They grew up in the church, they’re following their parents religion and their parents faith in God. Not their own.
  • Or those that love God, and I mean genuinely love God, because of what He has done. I’d have to say, I fit into this category perfectly. He’s provided so much for me in my life and has set me free from so many things, how could I not love my Saviour? I constantly think of all He’s done for me, especially when times are hard, and it keeps me humble in my faith. It makes me want to go to Him and just abandon myself before Him.
  • Then are those who love God, because He is God. Man, I wish I could place myself in that category. There’s no reason they’re worshiping Him and serving Him, besides the fact that He is God.

So just think about this sometime, why do YOU worship God?

I spent this past Thursday night with my mom watching LMN (tha’ts: Lifetime Movie Network for those of you who are not familiar). The movie we watched was called Amish Grace. In summary, it’s based off of the true story of a man who went into a one room school house in Pennsylvania, shooting and killing the children in that school; then taking his own life.

No doubt as I sat there watching this, I cried like a little baby. It was intense. One of the main characters, Ida, is someone who we all can relate to. Her eldest daughter, Mary Beth, lost her life in the shooting. Throughout the movie, you see her struggle to forgive the man who took her daughter from her. The rest of the Amish community surrounds the family of the shooter, with love and acceptance. In one scene, three men from the Amish community arrive at the wife’s house and give their condolences for her loss as well and tell her that they hold no anger against her and her family for what her husband, Charlie, had done. That scene blew my mind. Here are these people, who just lost a good piece of their community from this mans rampage, yet they forgave.

Yet Ida is not so forgiving. We watch her go through the stages of grief in this movie. Yet the movie makes such an incredible point. Where Ida remains in her grief is the anger stage. You watch her go from this loving mother and wife, to a bitter woman who cannot find it in her to forgive. Her husband constantly tells her that it is her duty as a woman of God to forgive the man who killed her child and the children of her friends.

This movie really hit home with me. I watched this woman face the struggles of being able to forgive this man, and I saw so much of myself in Ida. I do not know if I could forgive someone who took my child from me in such a way.

You know, in Christianity a huge part of our faith is the whole forgiveness thing. It’s something people try and run away from when it’s their turn to have to deal out the forgiveness. I’ve been there. People have hurt me in the past, to the extent of just me seeing them placed me in tears and anxiety overcame my body. Does that sound intense? yeah of course it does. But I let that hurt fester in me for too long without properly dealing with it. They were people I told myself I would never be able to forgive. That’s the truth. I’m not able to forgive those people. But when I remember God and what He wants of me, I am. It wasn’t on my own I that I forgave them either. God placed them in my heart, said it was time to let go of the hurt. I stood there for a good five minutes arguing with Him about it too. I told Him there was no way I could do it. But He’s persistent in those moments we need Him most. I remember clearly Him saying to me “you’re really going to argue this one with me Jess? You need to let it go. Trust Me on this”. So finally I surrendered, said the prayer that the Pastor was saying for us to repeat, and then I broke. I felt that chain of un-forgiveness coming off of me. It was overwhelming.

So what does this have to do with Amish Grace? everything. This whole entire community of Amish people were able to forgive this man’s family and the man himself for walking into that school house and shooting. Forgiveness is something we MUST do as Christians.

Let. It. Go

New Identity

Posted: February 3, 2011 in Church, God, Jesus, Life, Music, thoughts, Worship

The past week or so, actually ever since I preached at the youth service last Wednesday (January 26th, for those of you who are terrible with dates like I am) I’ve been kind of having an identity crisis. It’s not as dramatic as those words sound, I just can’t think of any other words to call it.

I’ve been finding myself really reflecting on my role in the church. Yesterday I posted a status on Facebook that simply asked “What do you know me best for?” to sort of give clarity to these thoughts and such. Some comments said things about me and my relationship with God, which I loved because that’s the one thing I actually want to be known for. Then someone posted something about me playing guitar on the worship team. That’s the exact thing I wanted to see if people posted.

Do I love the fact that I get to play guitar on the worship team, glorify God with my talent and be surrounded by people who have the same passion for music and God as I do? absolutely I do! I truly believe that me joining the team when I first really became involved in the church playing a huge role in me sticking with it through everything. Even when I was back slidden, I still loved playing guitar with the team. It was my place and it felt like I was made for nothing but to play electric guitar for the worship team.

The past 3 years, my spot on the team meant everything to me. Tuesday nights made my week, and Sunday mornings were exciting as I prepared to go play the worship service before the message those mornings. I thought of nothing but worship and playing guitar. I identified myself as a guitar player to anyone I knew. People ask me about myself and I’d say “I’m Jessica, I’m ___ years old and I play electric guitar.”

So I’m not sure what changed in me the past month or so. As I started school, music was kind of placed to the back a little bit. Not completely, but I didn’t have all this time to sit and play like I would have liked. I think it just finally dawned on me, that even without my guitar, life goes on and it’s still fulfilling. I never thought I would ever speak, or write, those words. Yet they aren’t heartbreaking like they would have been only a few months ago.

I hope people who know me from House of Praise, know me as more than a guitar player. I have more about me than music. These past three weeks that I have not played a Sunday service have been incredible, and I am looking forward to the next 2 weeks I have off as well. I’ve been able to lay low and sort of blend in with the congregation. It’s been a month of clarity and revision for me. I am not stepping down, because I’d find it irresponsible of me to disregard my talent that God has placed inside of me. I’m just tired of being known as “that girl electric player on the worship team”.

This is probably sounding incredibly silly to you as you read this, but I want to find myself outside of music. I want to experience what God has for me outside of music. I love it, don’t get me wrong, but there’s so much more to me. I’d rely on music and my creativity to get me through some of the hardest days I’ve gone through. I’d hide myself in my headphones and feel safer. Music is not my everything any more. I have so much more to offer the community, the congregation, the Kingdom besides my musical gifting. I have a burning passion inside me to help out the hurting. Last week I preached on my testimony, and Gods opened crazy awesome doors in my life sense then. People are asking my advice and being more open about their struggles with things I had previously gone through, that I talked about in my message. My focus and my vision, is changing. I used to want to reach people through my music, and be used by God to touch people through my playing. Now, I want to be used in such a greater level. I want to reach out to the hurting, the lost, the depressed, the hopeless.

There’s more to me than music and I love that fact/ reality!!