Step up!

Posted: May 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

It seems like every night when you turn on the news, another natural disaster devastated more people. Kansas City and Oklahoma got hit with a twister that killed, as of right now, 14 people. Sunday Joplin, Missouri was hit as well. It’s easy to sit back, especially up here in upstate New York, and think to yourself “what is going on with the world?” Or if you’re a Christian, it’s easy to look at this and ask “God what are You doing?”

But then here’s the thing we miss. That selective hearing kicks in and God wants to know “What are YOU doing?” It’s so sad to watch the news and see people talking about how now they’re left with nothing. Families left without a home and the basic necessities in order to survive even just one day.

I think now’s the time, now more than ever, for we the body of Christ to unite and come together to help those in need and who are hurting. Isaiah 1:17 says: Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. I don’t what it is, but that verse has just been in my spirit lately. We need to move into action.

I think one of the main problems is that we use our location as an excuse. The tornado in Georgia for example. Well, I’m in New York and when I heard about people helping out the families, I told myself there was nothing I could personally do except pray for them. Praying’s amazing, but there’s more that we who aren’t close to these people can do.

Sunday God again put it on my heart to do something more than pray.

It doesn’t cost a lot to go buy toilet paper, napkins, batteries, flashlights, donate a few old blankets you don’t even use anymore, clothes you out grew but someone else can fit into, socks, tooth paste, buy a few cans of food, etc.

Just something that’s been on my heart. There’s always some way you can serve those in need. Always

I remember a year ago, the exact spot in life I was at. To say I was a mess, is a total understatement. There was a lot going on in my personal life back then, that I used it as an excuse to dive into some really dumb things, to put it simply. All I could focus on was the negative things going on, when in return,God was pulling with everything that He had to lure me back into His safety.

Some of you might think what I’m about to say made me a weak Christian, and some of you are going to be able to relate to this so well. A year ago, I was trying to have the best of both worlds. God and the world. I loved Christ back then, I really did, but I was still looking for that worldly fulfillment that I thought I needed in order to be happy. I’ve talked a lot about my struggle with cutting in this blog, but I also struggled with drinking. You know that scripture that says you cannot serve both God and money, for you will love one and hate the other? Well, the same concept goes for any of those worldly crutches we rely on.

I remember asking one of my friends one time while I was drinking if I was going to Hell because of what I was doing in that moment. You see, I knew it was wrong but it alleviated the pain I was feeling for a little bit. And Sunday mornings? Forget about it! The feeling I had walking around that sanctuary was the worst feeling in the world.

You ever get the feeling like every single person who looks at you, knows what you did the night before? It’s one of the worst feelings in the world. I’d spend the worship service on my face begging God to once again forgive me for getting drunk the night before. It was awful. I didn’t feel like I belonged in that seat listening to the messages. But something told me I needed to be there.

You see, that’s the awesome thing about God. We give up on ourselves way before He gives up on us. He never gives up on us. The minute we make a mistake, we kick ourselves and put ourselves down. We repent, of course, and then an hour later we go back and ask Him to forgive us for the same thing we just repented of. Some of the things we do, God must just sit back and nod his head and laugh at. For me, the thing I do that He probably laughs at is, “God, I know you probably don’t believe me, but I really am sorry!”. I can just picture Him up there being like “Jess really? I know your heart, remember?”.

It’s kind of funny how we base how we talk to God, off of how we would talk to people here on earth. You’re probably saying, “well yeah that’s how we should talk to Him”. Let me be clearer. When we apologize to our friends or a family member for doing something stupid, we always spurt out the “you might not believe me but..” line, because there’s still that lack of trust or whatever in a relationship. But with God, it’s nowhere near that. He loves us, He would give anything to us. Especially forgiveness when it’s sincere repentance. You’re probably really confused as to what this has to do with the subject of where I was a year ago, let me proceed with this.

I was that person a year ago who saw God in the relationship aspect of just another person. I lacked that trust that He’d forgive me so I kept going back. I had it all wrong. But over the past year I’d like to think I’ve grown in my relationship with Him. Now, I don’t spend hours begging for forgiveness. I don’t rely on the numbing affect of alcohol to take away my pain.

As a matter of fact, this June, the day after my birthday actually, will be a year since I’ve had a drink. To me, that’s a huge step in my life. I’ve come so far in just a years time, that if I ran into my old self I’m not sure I’d recognize me.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m self deprecating. For those of you who don’t know what that means, it basically means you’re your own worst enemy. For some reason, and I know I’m not the only one that’s this way, it’s easier to nit pick the bad out of a situation or person. Putting yourself down tends to be easier than lifting yourself up. I remember in the beginning of the semester we had to write about the positive characteristics we see in ourselves, then we had to write about the negative things we see in ourselves in English Comp. Needless to say, the negative paper was extremely longer and more detailed than the positive one. And I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Pretty much our whole class had trouble writing good things about themselves. Kind of strange is it not?

It’s not that I don’t love myself, trust me I do. But I got to thinking about something the other day.

-How many times a day do I look in the mirror and critique my looks?
-How many times do I think I wish my body was different?
-Why do I worry so much what people think of me?

Not really a healthy mindset is it? People strive for perfection all the time. But truth is, they’ll never get it. Society and the media is constantly changing their ideal “perfect person”, and with that there’s thousands if not millions of young people who run after it so they can be “socially acceptable”.

But have you ever stopped and thought about this: every time, yes every single time, you insult yourself by putting yourself down you’re in return insulting Gods work? If you’re like me, you just said to yourself “oh crap!” First time I heard it, that was my immediate reaction. I never thought about it like that. It’s such a corny Christian saying but it’s true that we’re made in Gods image. He made every single person the way He wanted, and He sees perfection every time He looks at us. Pretty heart warming stuff isn’t it?

1 Corinthians 3:16- Don’t you know that you yourselves are Gods temple and that Gods Spirit lives in you? (NLT)

Just something to think about. I always said that I’d never ever want to insult God, but when we insult ourselves or put ourselves down, we’re doing exactly that.

Why Do I..

Posted: April 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

You ask
Why do I dance?
Why do I sing?
Why do I jump around
Arms flailing
Like someone who is
In a manic state?
It’s because of Him.
Yes, this God that you hate
This God that you declared has sealed your fate
To that life of a 9-5, that lonely apartment
With that neighborhood with drive-by’s.
Your life where you need
All those pills, syringes
Coke binges galore.
Those nights where you try to remember before
All the pain and the hurt and those thoughts in your head.
The days before you thought about being dead.
So you throw a fist to the sky
And curse His Holy Name.
Yell and scream, try to place all the pain all the shame
On the One who loves.
Oh my child there’s freedom.
Yes this God.
The One you despise
Is the One who gives me that glimmer in my eye.
I worship Him because He is.
You see,
I was just like you.
Crawling and scratching
My way out of a pit
Only to realize
There’s more than one layer of it.
Hopeless.
I’d yell and cry to God.
But I was so blind.
Thought my answers were found in suicide.
But He’s the God that saves,
Gave me new life
Paved a new way
For the child that was broken.
Now I worship in freedom.
Oh sweet surrender.
This
is why I dance.

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.

“Taking up your cross”

Posted: April 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

Man I finally saw the movie The Passion of the Christ for the first time last weekend. I always knew it was intense, but I really never realized just how intense it was until I sat there, speechless, watching it. This movie totally messed me up. The whole way through the movie I was just being reminded of Matthew 16:24, (Then Jesus said to his disciples, “if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”). I just kept hearing that verse over and over in my head.

I really had a realization that night. I realized that today, we made that verse so flowery and poetic to our Christianity. Countless times I’ve heard Pastors say things like “church, today is the day to pick up your cross and follow Jesus”. It’s meant to inspire, I get that, but I’m not sure most people truly understand what this verse is asking of us.

If you don’t understand it, man I encourage you to find the movie somewhere and take the 2 hours out of your life to watch it. I always knew the story of Jesus. That he was brought to the earth to die for our sins on the cross. I’ve read the stories in the Bible countless times where it tells the story of his life up to the point where he ascends to Heaven. But something happened inside me when I actually saw the events that led up to his crucifixion being played out on that television screen. I never saw the story and life of Jesus in that perspective.

Maybe I’m just naive, but I always understood Jesus to be this superhuman dude. Not this living, breathing, emotion filled human being that he was. To see him cry out to God in the garden, asking Him for mercy on what was about to be done (him being crucified) really got me.

He was spit on, hit, kicked, whipped, beaten with weapons that actually tore out his flesh. He had thorns placed on his head (they were more or less pressed into his skull), he was forced by those who were crucifying him to carry his cross throughout town after he was beaten and his body was broken, up to the place where he would die.Not exactly superhuman eh?

So what does it mean to take up your cross and follow Jesus? We’re not guaranteed this fabulous life after we accept Him into our hearts.  If that were the case, we would miss out on so much of His love and grace I think. Taking up your cross is dealing with getting persecuted and still remaining faithful to God. It’s not backing away from your Creator when things go downhill. It’s standing up for Christ when nobody around you will. It’s sacrificing you’re life, or placing your own self to the side to serve the Lord.

Jesus took up his cross. I think a lot of the times when the persecution by our class mates or co-workers come, we back away from our cross. It becomes exactly what the world wants it to become, a thing of shame. As I watched the scene where Jesus was carrying his cross to the hill where he would die, it broke my heart. He was human like us. He was beaten, yet he kept walking closer and closer to his death. Continuously being whipped and spit on. But he never walked away from the cross. Needless to say, I cried like a baby. He very easily could have not gone through with it, not been crucified, put himself before the Kingdom and lived a happy normal life and then died at an old age. But even through all the pain and social torment, he stuck with his cross. He picked it up and did what he knew his life was for.

“We Are Not Invincible”

Posted: March 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

So it’s the Friday before Spring Break ends, so what do I do as a college student? Go hit up the New York State Museum. I’ve been there a thousand times in the past, museums interest me for some reason. All that history in one place is just amazing.

I had an eerie revelation today as I was walking around there. I never saw the 9/11 memorial they had there until today. It’s overwhelming to say the least. You walk into this room and it takes your breath away; literally. I remember hearing about the attacks, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing, but it never had that effect on me that this was one of the biggest events in American History.

The exhibit is just so surreal. The instant you walk into it, you feel the haunting presence of what that day signified. You see letters kids wrote to families, memorials, debris from the towers. Nobody in there was talking. You just walk around in silence and look at everything on display. What words could you possibly say in something like that? There are no words that can be used to describe what you feel in that atmosphere. A gargantuan sense of loss, is as close as I can get to describing it.

The thing that really got me, and I mean really got me, was the fire truck. The front of it was pretty much destroyed and the metal on the sides was all bent in. I saw that, and this overwhelming sense of sadness came over me. It’s almost like that feeling you get after hearing your hero died. You can’t talk, cry,move or anything of that nature. You just stand there frozen. I saw that firetruck, the thing that was made to help people yet here was one destroyed, and I realized something; we, as Americans, are not invincible.

I remember that feeling I had in me all day Sept 11th. I felt like we weren’t going to be alright, that someone just took away something so significant to us and we’re not going to be able to take it back. I didn’t feel safe. I remember that night asking my mom if I was going to die because of this event. I was scared.

I got those same feelings as I walked around this exhibit today. Feelings festered inside me that I didn’t think would, not at a museum anyways.

We hold our country up on a pedestal that we think no one can reach us. I had a very real awakening today as I saw first hand some of the debris and artifacts from the World Trade Center exhibit. All I kept thinking was “oh my God, we’re not invincible”

I didn’t mean for this to be a dark entry, just think about it.