Archive for the ‘thoughts’ Category

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.

Advertisements

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.

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!!

As most of you know, I started college this past Tuesday. It was everything I had hoped it would be, and then some. The then some, being way too much reading on stuff I really don’t care about lol. But within the first two days of my glorious school adventures, I got asked the common question, “What do you want to do with your life when you get out of here?”. I always imagined being asked this question after realizing what it is I wanted to do. Before that, I’d give the oh so acceptable answer of “I’m not too sure”. So heading off on this new found motivation journey, I was so excited for someone to ask me what I wanted to do with my life. But, yeah there’s that ugly word that throws off sentences, when I was in fact asked that question, I found I was a little embarrassed to answer honestly.

Truth is, I want to be a youth Pastor. Just the idea that God can use me to reach a group of young people and help them give their lives to God and watch them transform into this whole new person they didn’t even know existed inside them, get’s me excited. To see this kid who didn’t even believe in God, or was unsure, to come around to loving God with all their heart and willing serving Him passionately is something I would love to see happen in front of my eyes. And to be a part of their life, a positive influence who’s there to keep them on the right path and to also be there to help them through things, is something that brings me joy just thinking about it.

When people approached me with the question of what I wanted to do with my life, I actually didn’t tell them any of that. In fact, I resorted back to the “I don’t know” response. It’s not that saying “I want to be a youth Pastor” is hard to blurt out, it’s the fact that Christianity, at least in my life, has always been something that people judge. I grew up being one of those people who sort of mocked Christians. I thought they were “Jesus freaks”, who pushed the religion on people. Thank God for my salvation lol. I found myself on the spot, of being the one who was being judged and it scared me. I’m not sure if it’s because I need everyone of my peers to like me, which in the past I would try my hardest to gain peer approval (not recommended might I add, be yourself kids!) or if it’s because I’m ashamed of my walk with Christ in the secular world.

I love God, I live my life for Him everyday the best that I can, there’s nothing more that I love than praising Him and giving Him honor and glory; yet when it comes to the world, I tone down the radical-ness of my faith, a lot. And it’s something I’m working on. Trust me. In high school, it felt like I was the only Christian in the whole building, and that made me feel out of place. But now, it’s different. I found that the campus has a club, a sort of Bible study group, for Christian students. I’m totally going to check it out and become involved and get surrounded by people who have the same beliefs and core values as I do. No longer feeling like the odd ball. So hopefully in the future when asked, I’ll answer proudly with “I want to be a youth Pastor”, instead of “I don’t know”

Over Glorifying Christianity

Posted: December 22, 2010 in Church, God, Jesus, Life, thoughts

I think a lot of times as believers and followers of Christ, we get it wrong. We have the worlds mindset when it comes to our own lives and how they should be because we are Christians. We take the living righteous thing a little too far, that sometimes we’re harder on ourselves than God is. Yes, God sees our faults and shortcomings, yet He sees what sometimes we block out because of conviction; our strengths.

We over glorify the “perfection” that we all think we have to be in order to have a close relationship with Him. We treat God like His relationship with us is made differently than how we come into relationship with others. Do you see down falls in your self in worldly relationships? Yes probably. Do you beat the crap out of yourself mentally and walk away from them when you screw up, by either saying or doing something you know you shouldn’t? No of course not. Then, why do we do that to God?

We tend to over think it with Him. You can read things in the Bible that flat out say what it’s meant to say, and some people twist it around and make it something completely different. Not cool, not cool.

And when some folks pray? They mimic a lot of how other people sound and talk to God. God likes real and genuine prayer. If you’re praying and when you get done, you have no idea what some of the words you say even meant, simplify it. God honors the simple prayers. They come from our heart.

Just because we’re followers of Christ, doesn’t make us this over spiritual person. Be yourself and keep it simple. Don’t over glorify your faith.

Around our church, ever since abolitionist Rob Morris of Love 146 www.love146.org came to speak about child sex slavery, there has been an interest sparked in ending such a horrific thing. But what we don’t have in mind most of the time that in some parts of the world, prostitution is actually legal.

I’ve been finding myself researching sex slavery, human trafficking and prostitution lately. What I found absolutely blew me out of the water. In Canada, Europe (England, France, Wales and Denmark), South America, Israel, Australia, Asia and Iran just to name a select few places in the world, the business of prostitution is actually legal.

One of the most infamous places in the world for this is a town in Mexico, called Boystown. The government runs it and it is basically a town of nothing but brothels. You pay to get into Boystown, guards standing at the gates of course, then once your in you choose what you want. The Mexican government knows all about this disgusting business going on and they allow it to happen.

I think we forget about this fact when it comes to the fight against human trafficking and the sex slave trade. It’s such a high grossing business, that the money stands in front of the morals for some countries. It’s so sad if you think about it. That some governments tear down the worth of a human being, just to gain some money.

 

The United States is one of the few countries in the world, where prostitution is illegal, yet in June of 2010, the 10th annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report ranked the U.S in tier 1 (that being the highest on the list for human trafficking and modern day slavery). We are up there in the ranks, although prostitution, human  trafficking and modern day slavery is deemed to be  illegal. What’s wrong with that picture?

We need to all come together and make this change. We should get allies and convince other countries to place  the worth of the dollar aside and look at the worth of human life and integrity. If we don’t, and countries continue on having prostitution legalized, our fight to end this will continuously be an up hill battle.

The past couple of days, I have been thinking a lot about next Sunday November 7th. Our church has the great honor of having Rob Morris, the co- founder and president of the organization Love 146, come and speak about how we ourselves can get involved in ending child sex slavery in the world that exists today.

Today God really put it on my heart. I mean, He broke me while I was at work. For those of you who don’t know, I work at a Comfort Inn as a housekeeper. I was in the middle of my day, going about my business as usual, when God started speaking to me about the subject of child sex slavery. I remember looking at one of the beds for a brief moment, and envisioning a young child being forced to do unimaginable things. I don’t mean for that to come across as foul and profane, it wasn’t like that; I wasn’t having impure thoughts so you don’t got to go running to my Pastors or accountability person. I saw a young child lying on the bed, and a shadow of an older man standing next to them. That’s all I saw.

I started to wonder if this type of thing has ever occurred in the “safety” of our own little town, at my place of work. Every bed I made today, I saw something different. A bed wasn’t a bed to me, I saw things. I remember looking at the clock one time today, seeing the time change; remembering the statistic that two children every minute are bought in the sex slave ring that is ever so increasing in this country of ours. Our country was founded on seeking freedom; these young children are anything but free here. This Country of ours has become their darkest nightmare, their prison.

Then I began looking at that exact moment I was in. I was going about my business, my everyday routine with out a care in the world. And in that same moment, a child was being bought as a sex product, being dehumanized and slowly getting their innocence and self worth taken from them by someone who sees them only as a product; not a human. Even as I sit here in the safety of my room, typing out this blog for you to read in the safety of YOUR own home, it’s still happening.

A few months back, Pastor Carolyne Barnett from the LA Dream Center, spoke a little about it after the Press Play concert we held at our church. I’ll never forget her words. She said that we as humans turn away from subjects such as sex slavery because it’s “too hard to hear about, or too hard to handle”. Then, the greatest thing I have ever heard said by a Pastor (besides the “do SOMETHING” statement our Pastor said). She said that one day we will stand before God, and do you think He is going to accept our answer of “it was too hard to hear about, I couldn’t handle it”? Because He’s not.

That statement has stuck with me. I kept thinking about it all day today. We as Christians always say we want to make a change in the world, a Godly change. Yet we sit there, waiting. Waiting for the Church to take that first step. Well, I’ll tell you what you already know, but some of us have to be reminded time and time again. We are the church. Church is not a building, it’s a group of Christ followers. People.

So, we need to stop waiting for “the church” to step up and get involved. You want to make a change, do something. Step out of your box and live for Christ and do what God demands of us.

Isaiah 1:17-

Learn to do good.
Seek justice,
Help the oppressed.
Defend the cause of orphans.
Fight for the rights of widows.

That scripture has been fueling my life lately. I am so overly excited to hear Rob Morris speak next Sunday. God opened my eyes today and sparked a fire for change in this; I pray that this fire is sparked through out our church that weekend. The thought of a child being exploited is enough to keep you up at night. We need to get together and change this.