You Have To Struggle Man, You Have To.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had to struggle. Now raise your hand if you’re still alive.

It’s my birthday week, but it’s also my 10-month mark in my walk with God. I went through a season of ligaw, as you probably saw from some of my first writings. I went through a season of “this is how Christians are, pala, Wow.” As you saw in my succeeding writings. I went through a season of MAN, I am so broken for the world. As some of you violently reacted to in a particular writing. I went through a season of doubt and confusion…it produced no writing, but a lot of time praying through my circumstances and God’s deafening silence.

So what’s my point?

God is sovereign.

That’s it.

I’ve learned a little about His character of love, I’ve learned a little about His character of justice and holiness, I’ve learned a little about his character of favor; and I say little to all of these, because let’s face it, we’ve barely touched the tip of God’s greatness and glory. We barely know Him yet, and that’s why we continue to seek Him.

But you have to struggle in order to do so, you have to.

Whoever said Christianity was easy, is probably meditating in a New Age center right now, because they most likely took two months to figure out that God doesn’t solve all your problems in an instant and rarely lets you go through things without a tough lesson.

And why?

Because He loves you.

That’s why.

He will bring you through the ups and downs and allow the hardest things to happen in your life as a way of saying I love you, therefore I want the best for you, and in order for you to get the best, you have to persevere and trust me.

Romans 5:3-4

But we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope. 

Have you suffered? Yes. Have you persevered? Great. Did it build your character? Awesome. Now, do you have hope?

There is an image of God that I gave a friend of mine who I’m guiding now in her own personal walk that’s like this: God is like the dad who’s teaching you to ride a bike, and when he knows you got it, he’ll let go for a bit and watch intently from a distance, until he sees you getting shaky, then he’ll come running to catch you.

As you grow and mature in faith you’ll realize that, or if you’ve never known God and how He is, well…He’s that. He’s Dad.

He allows the struggle and the disappointments and the angry WHYS that you scream at yourself so ultimately, you’d have hope. That by his grace, things will get better, not in an instant! but that things will turn around for your own good according to His will; and that even if you come out a little dented or scratched, you’d also come out stronger and wiser.

You have to struggle man, you have to.

Peace is preached, but we are called to Make Peace. Love is taught in all religions, but we are called to Love the hate out of our enemies. Justice is talked about in society, and yet we are called to Speak Up for the ones with no voice and Put others before ourselves all the while standing for the Truth. It’s faith in action. It’s the great struggle. It’s ugly and beautiful but when you see God, even BEFORE YOU SEE God working, your faith tells you his plans will still come to pass, no matter what! You are simply expected to follow.

So embrace the struggle.

And let me leave you with this last image of God as a dad. Through your struggles, whether that’s with a personal sin, maybe a sinful lifestyle, people around you, fights and false accusations thrown at you, provoked and despised, God is the dad standing outside your room as you cry into your sheets, wanting to knock and come in so he can comfort you, but also waiting for you to say, “Come in, dad.”

To my fellow activators in faith (ha ha), don’t you love it? When we struggle, that means GOD IS WORKING SO HARD ON OUR CHARACTER AND HIS PLANS FOR US, MAN, COME ON!!!

Persevere. Grow. Hope.

Love,

Julz

Should Nudity Be Normalized In Today’s Films?

If you’re looking for an artistic conversation, you won’t find it here. And if you’re gonna ask why, please refer to the title of my blog.

Let’s just cut to the chase, I don’t have the mind space for a witty intro. Should nudity be normalized in today’s films? 

Now to clarify, when I say “normalized” I mean, should we keep giving it more and more of a “safe” rating or should we make sure we move it to R-18 and above? In my conservative opinion, it’s the next thing to porn (which I pray could be obliterated already), so my answer quite strictly is no.

I recently went to watch the film, Blade Runner 2049, and for all its popularity gained because of Harrison Ford and the raving reviews from critics calling it the perfect sequel …it still amazingly bombed in the box office over the weekend. Sorry Jared Leto, yet another one.

While watching, however, I couldn’t help but cringe throughout the entire movie which barely gave the viewer a break from a pair of boobs, to another pair of boobs, to a butt shot, to yet another butt shot, to a whole naked body to billboards of a naked girl and statues of naked girls to a billboard naked girl, moving…WOW.

At one point, I even had to stand up and walk out because of a scene wherein prostitutes are having sex on the side of the road (you can only see the girl, of course) for entertainment and pleasure, of course. Given the extra supplementary audio material, it definitely makes for the setting of a dark world, like sure why not.

Afterwards at home, I couldn’t stop thinking about a passage in Genesis. God knew Adam and Eve had sinned. God had just been so disappointed in man. And yet, God covered them in their shame. God clothed them.

See, the thing is, there’s nothing wrong with being naked in front of God. There’s nothing wrong with being naked in front of your husband, in front of your wife. Nakedness is a beautiful thing, it is the human at its most vulnerable state, literally and figuratively. But when we literally take something from God’s original design and EXPLOIT it, we defile the image of God. Let me repeat myself, we DEFILE the image of God. We turn it into evil.

And in this case quite frankly, we objectify women, too. My heart hurts for the actresses who were probably told, it’s the cool thing to do in Hollywood nowadays, “Take off your clothes, don’t worry, you’ll be respected for it.”

That’s a load of BS. Because you may be so “daring” and “liberated” as an artist to do so, but you want to know the first thing that comes into the audience’s mind? OH GOSH, SHE’S NAKED. You uncover the mystery, you uncover the most beautiful part of you, and the first thing people feel is not adoration…they feel lust. Sorry to be quite frank, but I would know. And I’d like to quote John Piper before you get at me with things like, “Well, what about violence?” If you’re nude on screen, you’re nude. You didn’t fake that.

When I came to Christ, all I could feel was shame, all I could feel was naked. But when I read that Christ clothes His own in robes of righteousness, again, I didn’t just think of it as in my person, but I literally felt like I was being covered once more.

We’ve made less and less of a deal of it, it’s become so normal in our society to watch TV shows like Game of Thrones and movies that almost anyone can see with primarily naked women, but the truth is, it’s not right. It’s just not. Pray that I be convicted to stop watching GoT (I read your thoughts), although I make it a point to watch the censored version, it’s still something I consume on a regular basis. And it hurts me more as a woman because that may not be me on screen, but THAT’S MY BODY and that’s its exploitation sugarcoated by a LIE that it’s okay.

So honey, I’m not talking to your kids about this, I’m talking to you. Should you be subjecting yourself to that kind of content?

I might have made a mistake in not checking out what Blade Runner was all about, and it definitely taught me the lesson to be more careful in the future to watch what I watch.

If the media doesn’t get any better though, are we just gonna sit and tolerate it nonetheless, consume it ourselves?

Let me ask you:

Are you going to be the Christian who walks out of a movie to make a stand for Christ? Are you going to be the Christian man who will look away when a naked girl’s body is shown, and vice versa to Christian women? Are you going to be the Christian who just. won’t. take. it. because you see people as souls, not just mere bodies or dead weight?

If we can’t change it, fine. But we don’t have to condone it.

My prayer is that God grants each of us a Gospel lens, to see everything through the eyes of Christ. My heart is breaking a little right now, because this just came to me:

Jesus died on the cross, naked. He wasn’t clothed with a white wrap around him like you see in The Passion or other crucifixion films, no, he was naked. They crucified him that way to completely humiliate him. Yet he bore our sin, he bore our shame, he bore our nakedness so that he could come back and clothe us with righteousness.

Nudity is not a trivial thing. And if you’re not a Christian, and you just happened to pop by this blog because of the poster and the click-bait title, then stop for a second and re-read that last paragraph. This is not a trivial thing, it’s serious.

It shouldn’t be normalized in today’s films or anywhere, for that matter. And I’d like to take a stand for it. If you can’t see that, then you are constantly contributing to an evil pattern of reducing the worth of man (woman) in the sight of God.

So think again.

 

7 Things Christians Should Really Stop Doing 

To the church and anyone online that might have stumbled upon this blog, together with all his holy people, I am thankful for how God has set you apart for his glory through the grace of Jesus Christ. Your lives have been made righteous by his blood, and your faith has been ever growing in the times of testing.  I am encouraged by your devotion and persistence, and admonish you to continue working out your salvation. But fellow Christians, let me just say, that you sometimes, can seriously be so annoying. 

At my 7-month mark, I think I can safely admit by witnessing the church community that these are 7 things I am so guilty of but I really think Christians alike should stop doing, too:

1. Stop saying you’ll pray for someone, and then you never do.

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By this time, I’ve noticed that when someone asks me to pray for them, I usually seldom to never actually do. My response in group chats to a request is always, “Praying for you!” Really Julz, you are? Maybe you’ve jotted down in your prayer notebook to include that as one of your points for quiet time later, but maybe you’re like me, who…just forgets. I think it’s important, friends, that when a brother or sister asks us to intercede we should stop what WE’RE doing, and find two minutes to lift up their concerns to the Lord. Not only have we actually prayed for them, we took time out of our day. 

2. Stop making spiritual comments ALL. THE. TIME.

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Or quoting the Bible every chance you get. We get it, you always read the Bible. And good! But I’ll be honest, I’ve been told that there were times someone desperately needed my help and they couldn’t believe they were being sermoned at. And it’s true! I tend to feel inadequate too when a Christian goes, “Well, it says in the Bible…” Hey, I want to hear what the Bible says, believe me.  But how about some solid advice ACCORDING to the Bible? Because if the Word has truly been invested into our hearts, anything we say will have the knowledge and wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Dropping a verse at every person’s woes and then standing up and OH MY GOSH, saying “I’ll pray for you,” just isn’t as sincere as lending an ear or hand. Your memorization of Scripture will go a long way if you can apply it more so than recite it. No one likes a spiritual smartypants! 

3. Stop telling people how to live their lives.

resized judgmental

Because let’s face it, you never had to go through anything quite as sinful or severe as them, huh? We got to stop doing this guys. 

I mean it’s okay to judge a brother’s circumstances and decisions appropriately, but unless you’ve taken that plank out of your eye…yeah. You know recently, I kind of got hurt but convicted at the same time when I joyfully reported to a sister about how happy I was for a common friend we have who came to my small group for discipleship. You know what her response was? “Tell her she needs to stop going out and drinking.” 

True. I mean, yeah, true. We all should probably stay away from the night scene and booze too, but you’ll never know a person’s struggles until you walk a day in their shoes. Maybe you’ve been delivered from a certain kind of lifestyle and no longer see desire in it but some friends are still fighting their way out. It’s not to justify it but the best we can do is pray for them to fully surrender their bondages and be there for them. We can’t dictate what they should and should not do. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in gentle correction and calling things out kindly, but anything said without love is just a waste of breath, and it really makes you look judge-y.

4.Stop debating over being a Calvinist or an Arminian.

calvinist joke

I got a joke. An athlete, a vegan, and a Calvinist walked into a room. Guess how I know? They told me in the first five minutes.

Now for some reading this, if you don’t quite understand these terms, these are schools of thought within theology that yeah, I think you should be aware of, but no, I don’t think you should stress over. It just came to my attention that it’s frequently debated about and I noticed how big of a deal it was to certain groups. Like an almost, I’m right, you’re wrong, life or death situation. 

A lot of the times, we get so focused on our love of theology that we don’t see it’s drawing us away from our love for God. And that’s sad. And honestly, it causes a lot of division in the church. My prayer for my fellow Christians is to always be gospel-forward. And I really do encourage you to study the WHATS, but not so much that you forget the  WHO.

Last.

calvinist joke 2

5. Stop saying your church is better or “right”

my church is better

“Man, that church that speaks in tongues, they’re just…weird.”

“Man, that church is really strict about a lot of things, I feel like I’m going to a seminary.”

We can all learn a thing or two from each other, right? Wherever God has led you to attend and possibly serve, I strongly believe that’s where he’s planted you and that’s where he intends for you to grow. So many churches nowadays compete for the bigger congregation, the cooler worship, the better series, the more “correct” doctrine. If you’ve been attending and serving for a while, you probably know this and have made your choice as to where you fit in. If not, I suggest you church hop. You will see a lot of similarities, but you will also see a huge amount of differences. And guess what? I really don’t know that there’s a right or wrong, except for the maybe extreme. So go where God tells you, and for those of us Christians who are already planted, please stop selling your church like it’s the best thing since sliced bread. 

6. To the girls, stop tripping out over being a Proverbs 31 woman. 

proverbs 31 resized

Oh man, I’m going to say it, I’m going to say it…here it goes: You’re not a servant. You weren’t simply created  to do a man’s bidding. Your essence isn’t only to birth kids and take care of the household. You are some of this, sure, as gender roles go, but you are so much more. I am so burdened by sisters who just want to give up their dreams so they can find a good, Christian husband and iron his shirts and make him dinner. Praise God for your heart of service, but by golly, if you have a vocal gift and powerful calling, please stop being brainwashed by this idea that you can’t teach, that you can’t lead, that you can’t have a platform to advance His kingdom. And if you truly think marriage is going to keep you from fulfilling that, revel in blessed singleness.

The right man will also support you and God will make you ready for those things in his time. A Proverbs 31 woman is strong, honey. Let’s remember too, that this is a book of wisdom…and it’s just not realistic to do all she does in one day. She’s a representative of many women in different callings and of different seasons. 

6 1/2. Stop looking for Boaz

You know who’s better than God’s best? 

God. 

7.  Stop being a Facebook Christian.

Facebook Christian

 There is such a beautiful thing as zeal…then there’s being overly zealous and misplaced. I see this primarily, in those new to the faith. It’s awesome dude, really, but sometimes I cringe and want to throw out a lasso. A Facebook Christian just HAS to make a “Christian” comment on everything, HAS to make sure you just read his latest devotion, HAS to show you all the Hillsong she listens to…and again, these are great things but they’re not necessary all the time. Facebook, IG, Twitter are useful platforms in sharing the gospel but they can also be very misconstrued by others. We can’t just put Christ out there for face value, and expect people to get it. It goes so much deeper than that. If social media is the only way of of expressing your faith, there’s something wrong, my friend. Silence, is a beautiful way to respond. There’s wisdom in it, too. But your walk doesn’t match your talk, this is going to sound harsh, you’re insulting God. Plain and simple.

 

I know that was a pretty heavy load to drop but writing this is just in the hopes that we as Christians can learn to be a little, less annoying. Legalism, spiritual pride, unloving knowledge can get really, really ugly. And I pray we always come to our knees first before presenting ourselves to the world. Grace and peace, brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

What’s Your Real ID? Finding Your Identity In Christ

Last July 29, I gave a talk at the Christ’s Young Professionals (CoffeeTalks) 6th Anniversary. I feel like God downloaded on me right away what he wanted me to say. Downloaded is just a term my dad uses when he knows the Holy Spirit has impressed something onto his mind and heart. So it’s kind of like a eureka moment, but not as spontaneous.

Anyway. I knew this topic was dear to me because well, my testimony (The Nth Chance: A Personal Testimony) is basically about how lost I was, and how God found me in my brokenness and showed me who I am again. Identity is honestly the most important thing in this world, secular and non-secular.

But did you ever stop and think that maybe your identity has nothing to do with you? That your identity is not even about you?

 

This was my message.

What We Do: Overthink, Overcompensate, Overachieve

We all do it, all the time. We overthink the things we say, the things we do; we make such a big deal out of the pettiest things in life, and worry and dwell on them over and over again. I seriously remember times when I would replay a conversation I had in my head the whole night that I would barely get any sleep. Should I have said this instead? That might have not been received the way I wanted it to. Oh, I would have sounded so much better if I had said it THAT way. 

 

We second guess ourselves until it feels like we probably shouldn’t have moved at all. And that creates confusion. So what do we do? We gotta get rid of this confusion. We gotta cover up our mistakes. We can’t let people see that vulnerability or inability next time, no. So then we overcompensate. What was once just one or two things on a goal list now becomes a schedule of commitments we can’t stick to. A conversation becomes more of you adjusting rather than listening to the other person, making sure he or she views you the right way, or that by golly, you get your point across like a scientist. You either talk too much, sound arrogant, or give your resume when people ask you, “How are you?” Let’s just make sure they know you’re doing good, you’ve got life down pat.

Right?

And then the tantamount of it all is when we trick ourselves into believing that overachieving is the way to go. Our accolades become us. We’re defined by the friends we associate ourselves with. Where we’re seen, who we’re seen with, what we do, and what Facebook and Instagram MUST know we’ve done or are about to do. Let’s not forget how many times we’ve checked back to make sure people know and approve. Oh, and how many times we’ve compared ourselves with others to make sure we’ve got a one up on them, somehow.

Shake your head, but that’s you. That’s me. Still a struggle from time to time, YES. But there is an answer. And it’s as simple as this.

 

Jesus.

I’m sure you’re probably familiar with this girl:

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Image Credit: @tayasmith via Instagram

Taya Smith, female singer of Hillsong United, now beautifully bald, is one of the girls I  looked up to in the beginning of my walk with God. She just seemed so…confident. Like she knew who she was not because of anything she had done, but because of what her Savior had done. As she says here:

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“I identified myself completely with Him.” When I read this on her bio, I was like, “That’s it. It’s that simple and that straight-forward.” And in a way, our identity relies on where our confidence lies. The only reason we’re constantly bothered by our sense of identity or are constantly trying to change it is because we have no confidence in who we are to begin with. But if you place your identity in Christ, the Savior of the World, knowing He is on your side, wouldn’t that give you all the confidence you need?

So I’m going to try this three-point thing:

New Creation

You are a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Your past doesn’t define you. Those mistakes, that vulnerability you experienced before doesn’t matter anymore. Not in the eyes of God. If you’ve repented and accepted Him as your Lord and Savior, He’s forgiven and forgotten all about that. And then our identity begins to transform.

Unique

You’re fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)

Do you know what’s so cool about our Creator? He predestined us and that means he loved us even before the start of time. His creation is the only creation that’s original so if you’re a creation of His, that means He’s never made someone like you before and he never will again. Just chew on that.

Have A Purpose

Or to use another term, “calling.” (Ephesians 2:10)

In line with your unique abilities and traits, God’s given you gifts. These are basically specific skills or talents you have that benefit others in service. Because the truth of it all (the bottomline) is that we’re called to love. And when we love God, we love others. We serve them with our abilities, and again, IT’S NOT ABOUT US. It’s about Christ. But since we have such a good Father, He wants us to hone those skills and show these talents, for His greater glory. 

 

So I leave you with these questions you might want to discuss to yourself or with someone else:

  1. What about your personality now doesn’t fit with your identity in Christ?
  2. List three things that resonate about you.

Follow-up question: Are these gifts? And do they glorify God?

 

And I’ll leave you with this statement:

The only person you ever have to prove anything to is Jesus Christ. Ironically, when you please Him, it takes the burden off of you. Because He’s already done what needed to be done. So you can live free in His love and assurance of who you are: a child of God.

Coffee Talks will be having another talk come August 26 with weightlifter, Hidilyn Diaz! Check out their page for more details.

How A Breakup Can Be The Biggest Blessing

“We need to break up,” I said as I looked at him longingly across the table. We were seated in a Starbucks, I had just come from a shoot and he had just come from work. We had really just come from a fight a day and a half prior to our meeting.

After one whole day of not talking to me and me allowing him time, he was finally ready to fix things. And so was I. The only sensible thing to do was to break it off. He would probably be confused as I had been messaging him the entire day of silence to please talk to me, but it was what God told me to do.

 

That’s not how it happened.

He apologized for his wrong actions and I broke down. The truth is, I couldn’t break up with him. I needed to give it one more shot. And so we went to visit our friend at the hospital wherein a short while after upon leaving, we got into another fight.

 

“I think it’s time we went our separate ways,” I said as I was sitting right next to him in the car. He had just told me exactly what my conflict was. “You’re confused between your love for God and your love for me.” He was right in every sense of the statement. I was praying the entire time we were there.

 

I didn’t do it. Again.

I looked over at him and forced a smile. “Let’s talk about this another time. Good night. I love you.”

 

 

“We can’t be together anymore, and I’m sorry.” I was walking a little ahead, I saw the park bench and we both sat down. We had had one of our first crucial memories here. Both drunk, we decided to keep drinking in the lawn next to the bars of Capitol Commons. It was around 2:00 a.m. and the caretaker let us stay. I knew then I was in love with him, and he looked at me differently that night. He felt the same way.

What better place to end things cordially, with maybe just a hint of that forlorn memory? But I couldn’t.

I kept walking past the park into the bar we frequented. After excusing myself to go to the bathroom where I pleaded with God to give me one more chance, and I knew I had none, I came back to the table. I stopped a few feet away and studied his face. I wasn’t going to break his heart.

Sitting down beside him, I grabbed the menu. “What are you getting? A beer?” I ordered and swallowed the tears I had been choking back. God was merciful, He’d give me time.

 

Three times. It should have happened. Three perfect moments to end what I considered my most beautiful relationship to date. My partner-in-crime, my twin, the Deadpool to my Vanessa, the crazy that matched my crazy.

See, it’s not every day that you find the male version of yourself. And it’s not every day that the entire universe agrees. We were twins. We came in a package. You buy him, you gotta buy me. Inseparable. Invincible. Impossible to break.

Well, look at that irony.

How we really broke up? In respect to what we had, I will never share online. Those details will not be misconstrued by my lack of judgment and understanding, till now. And I still care about him. Why else would I have delayed writing this?

So let’s get to the point. How does seemingly the hardest thing to do in life (a breakup) end up becoming the biggest blessing of your life?

That was the question I pondered on as I looked out over the ocean with a blanket wrapped around me. My hair still rain-soaked, my eyes bloodshot and swollen, my tongue and throat dry, my stomach grumbling from hunger, I was a wreck. The images of the night before kept flashing before my eyes. Him walking out the door, the last time I’d ever see him. He was gone. He had really left me.

The night before we broke up, we fought and I ran out. I stood at the same shoreline crying to God in desperation, and I still remember clearly my very loud prayer. “YOU DO IT, GOD, I CAN’T DO IT, I CAN’T BREAK UP WITH HIM, SO YOU DO IT.” A few minutes later, a dog was about to lick the side of my face when I felt arms lift me up and hug me, “We’re going to be okay.”

Man would have I rather believed him.

I’ll tell you what a relationship is like when you become a believer and the other person isn’t. It feels like being in prison during visitation hours. First, you think you’re the visitor, trying to get through to the other person despite the glass between you two. He sees you and maybe something different about you but he doesn’t really understand.

He has questions, you don’t have answers, but he’s just astounded every time he listens to you as you go on and on about this Jesus because you look so happy, so he just stops asking.

You’re there constantly trying to make contact. Trying to apply what you just read in the Bible in a subtle manner, secretly praying while you’re together (even laying hands when he’s not looking), putting on a worship song when it’s your turn to Spotify (yes, I did this). And even bringing him to church in HOPES the pastor would say SOMETHING that would affect him.

And no, no, no, no. No matter how hard I tried, he just wouldn’t get it.

And that’s when you realize: this whole time you thought you were the visitor, trying to miraculously somehow connect him to God, all this time, YOU were the prisoner.

I know, take a breath, that sounds harsh but it’s true. Especially if you both entered the relationship lost. You start noticing that he’s pulling you back and able to control your emotions. I’m not saying he doesn’t care, I mean he’s happy for you but he seriously thinks he doesn’t need salvation, you do. You’re the one who needed help, you’re the one who needed Jesus.

 

Truth bomb: You can’t save anyone. No matter how on fire you are for God, or even how long you’ve been walking in Christ…only God can save a man. And only God will. It’s just not your job. And the longer you stay in a relationship that is for lack of a more modern term, unequally yoked, sometimes you have to just let go and give that person to God, FULLY. No leftovers or crumbs.

But can I just say, that the second he walked out of the room…Jesus walked in. I remember clearly hearing Him whisper, “Do you see now how much I love you?” And that morning alone, by myself, the sun had finally come out. My Prince of Peace was standing right beside me as I continued to pray.

 

2 Corinthians 6 says it all. And again, it’s not to be mean, but hearts will be broken. Healing will come. And you always have to ask yourself, who’s more important, this person or Christ?

Now that I can safely say and only by God’s amazing grace, I have healed and am moving on, one thing is for sure: No man beats Jesus. In the end, whoever I even marry has to accept the fact that Jesus will always come first because He’ll always be the perfect man no matter my season ( I wrote Dating The Perfect Man two weeks after this break-up, just for your reference.)

My pastor said he knew it was going to happen. I asked him why. He said because I was falling in love with Jesus faster than I could even break up with my boyfriend.

And if I ever doubted that God answers prayers in the snap of a finger (like the very next night), I don’t doubt that now. Despite how tough the answer is or how much it really hurts, He’s got your back.

So for anyone reading this, please be encouraged that a break-up is not the end of the world. If anything, it’s the start of a new life. A new beginning, a new chapter. And even though your thoughts and dreams may drift to that person constantly, it’s always your chance to lift him or her up in prayer and know that God is moving in their life too. He loves them just like he loves you.

And you too, will one day, love again.

It’s Totally Cool To Feel Out Of Place

The coined term, O.P., always has a negative connotation. You don’t fit in. You can’t get along. You’re not comfortable with your surroundings. In society, if you’re the odd one out, you’re the weird one.

But in God’s eyes, you’re probably the right one.

When I realized that God had chosen me and it became a daily decision to follow Him, I went through a season of pruning (still am, actually). Pruning basically means God is taking things out of your life that honestly don’t need to be there so you can follow Him without hindrance.

He took away bad habits, vices, and worldly ways of thinking. He gave me good habits, healthy desires, and a new mindset. For a time, I didn’t want to leave the wing He put me under. I was enjoying it so much there, feeling sheltered and precious, His little daughter all tucked in tight.

But I had to get out. I had to say get up Jules, God has a purpose for you. And you may not like the world very much, but you MUST love it. You have to go out there and love on people and share the gospel. In the first few months of my walk, God was so patient every time I said, “Lord no please, just one more month, I don’t want to face people, I want to stay at home and read the Bible and write songs. I don’t want the world to hurt me anymore.” (I can work from home.)

Of course, He had given me Christian friends and events to go to and we need these, oh do we need these. But sometimes, we are going to go places that will test our faith the most and make us feel very uncomfortable.

My first few encounters would be with friends I truly loved. But they still wanted to talk about the same things, in other words, other people. Bing! My messenger would go and oh no, I didn’t want to participate in gossip, but how do I not talk to this person? My head would be flashing like a red alarm, “That’s wrong,” at comments they’d make in personal conversation with others, and I couldn’t budge. It would be cursing, which would be nails-on-a-chalkboard for me. It would be a hateful statement about another person, and my mind would go, “You should forgive her.”

Mind you, I do NOT think to become a Christian makes you better than anyone else, NO.

But it sure does give you A LOT of conviction. Which in turn, when dealing with non-believers or those who don’t really follow Christ, makes you feel out of place. The thing is, you SHOULD feel out of place in society.

ARE YOUR CONVICTIONS BIBLE-BASED?

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I ask myself, why do I feel convicted? I know it’s because what’s happening right now around me is SO not of God. Okay. Then I ask myself, is it my mind or my heart?

When you become sensitive to the Spirit, the first part of you that is addressed is your heart. When you know in your heart something is wrong, most likely, IT IS. But sometimes what happens is, you use your mind (knowledge) of the Word too much, that you become really judgy and preachy, and no one likes that. Nah.

When your mind AND your heart are set on God, the Word will allow you to observe, not judge others, act accordingly, respond with wisdom, and get you out of there unscathed.

Furthermore, search in the Bible where it says what the right thing to do is. I truly believe this is where the fruits of the Holy Spirit, like PATIENCE and SELF-CONTROL, grow beautifully. But as much as possible, try to avoid compromising situations. We can’t help that at school, or at work, or at a special occasion, we’re going to be faced with lies and temptations from the enemy. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says God will provide a way of escape. My advice? TAKE IT. Don’t engage in gossip or their activities. They start calling you holier than thou, well, huh. I don’t think Jesus broke a sweat telling the truth.

CONVICTIONS VS. GUILT

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“Oh come on, Jules, you’re so confrontational!” The truth is, yeah. I could tell a person to their face if I didn’t like them. And the enemy likes to use this on me. It’s called condemnation or guilt.

My past tries to catch up to me and when I’m so firm in God, I love to watch it trip over a rock before it even reaches me. Sometimes though, sometimes, I remember who I was. I remember how much I used to drink, how badly I thought of someone, and  I cringe. How could I call myself a Christian, I was worse than everyone around me.

God’s grace covers and changes everything. And if you believe in Him, you MUST believe that you are forgiven. That even when lies (and they come from the mouths of even those close to you) say, “You were like that before”, “You used to do the same thing too”, YOU KNOW that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

IT’S NOT YOU, IT’S THE WORLD

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I broke up with the world, hard. I was lost and blind and numb. And guess what, the world is still rotating around and around lost and blind and numb. People think they know, but they don’t. People think right moral character and action is to each his own belief, it isn’t.

The world has grown farther and farther away from God, and as a Christian, it’s tough but I gotta keep swimming upstream against the current. If they pass the bottle, I’ll pass it right back.  If we’re going to talk about someone, we should be praying for them, understanding them, and helping them. And in no way, should we ever think we’re better.

But we do know the truth. We know right from wrong, and the Holy Spirit convicts us of these. If we slip up, miss the mark, we ask for forgiveness from God and from others; we’re not perfect either. But we DO NOT have to feel bad if we don’t feel good about the world. If you’ve given your life to Christ, you’re different. You’re set apart.

You are so out of place that you’re the coolest person in the crowd because you are obeying God.

So I leave you with this passage:

John 15: 18-25If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.'”

Please Stop Putting God On A Prescription Bottle

“Hey, good for you man! Whatever works for you.”

Man, this line started getting to me. There I was, sharing my story of salvation to a friend or a friend of a friend (when asked), and I would get this huge smile in return (which I totally appreciated) and that line.

I started to wonder: Do people think God is needed only by people like me? Was I one of those cases that just couldn’t stand up on her own two feet, thus Jesus?

It’s funny how whenever we’re listening to someone speak, and suddenly their thought process gets really dark, we think to ourselves: She needs Jesus. Or we see some dude acting WAY out of line and we’re like, he needs Jesus.

As if God, were a case-to-case basis. As if God, were some kind of prescription of medicine we could just take to get better and not feel bad anymore.

By all means, I DO think God is the source of us getting better. But not for the select few. For all.

See the thing is after we hear that person talk about how dark her thoughts were on say, her family and how she hates them and wishes they would just die…we go home, and truth be told, we barely talk to our own family. Or after we saw that person commit a heinous crime of stabbing someone, we sit on our phones, and gossip about someone we know or scroll through Facebook, judging, judging. As if that wasn’t stabbing someone in the back. As if not even trying to communicate with our family wasn’t some sort of open wound in the house.

Let me quote the most widely recognized verse in the Bible:

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, will not perish but have everlasting life.

Keyword: WORLD.

Not just the drug addict. Not just the unfaithful wife. Not just the bully in school. Not just the boy in and out of rehab. Not just the lonely man sitting in the corner. Not just the woman so full of herself, trampling over others. ALL of us.

And the only thing stopping us from admitting that to ourselves is because we’ve been sitting so long on a moral high horse of our own, we haven’t even looked down to see our feet scraping the bottom. What’s usually the excuse?

“I’m a good person. I don’t hurt anyone.” “My life is fine, I have everything I need.” “Hmmm…I don’t think Christianity really applies to my way of things.”

I will not try to debunk those statements because I believe many of us still to some degree (even Christians) fool ourselves thinking these things. But in the few months I’ve gotten to know God, I’ve learned enough to know this.

No one is a good person. Even that person you consider a saint, would never volunteer to have his or her thoughts read for just one day. Sure, you may never have hurt someone physically or directly, but even unaware of it, you probably have hurt someone by something you said or worse, didn’t say. You’re a hard worker, you do what it takes to get the job done, your standard of success is all or nothing…and that’s why you’ve never given yourself a break. You say I spend this much money, then I’ll make more money. I can provide. I can do anything I set my mind to. But where is your mind? You’re so focused on the next thing in your life, your kids have been sitting at home. Your mom waits up for you all night.  But it’s okay, you provide for them anyway right? You love her anyway, right?

Christianity couldn’t fit into your already well-rounded, fully scheduled life because you personally don’t need God. He could be there for back-up, say when you’re dying or really sick, but just not now, you’re okay. You know you’re going to be okay. Everything’s good, you’re having fun, if something goes wrong, you’ll fix it. You got this. If you get tired, you just need to sleep it off. You’ll be fine.

Isn’t it sad that to be honest, we’ve all thought and lived this way until we’ve been driven to our lowest point? And even then, some of us still don’t want to take God? He’s for the weak. He’s for the sinners.

By golly then, He must be there for you and me.

I think we need to realize our “goodness”, no matter how we applaud it or say it’s good enough, will never measure up to God’s goodness. That’s why we need Grace. I think we all need to realize that our own moral compass is going to falter at some point, no matter how hard we justify another person’s actions as wrong or even try to put the blame on ourselves. That’s why we need Mercy.

The thing is, when you take a little God every day, you see less of the flaws of everyone around you, and more of the flaws of yourself. Is that awareness what you’re scared of? The more God you take every day, you start to change and it’s so weird because you thought you were fine before and how come all of a sudden, you feel even better? A little more patient. A little more forgiving and understanding. A little more loving. Is that change what you’re scared of?

Pride. Man, I have learned to hate pride with a passion. Most especially, in myself.

I’ll leave you with this. A good friend from fellowship (a Bible study I go to) said people are walking around on this Earth, with a cross-shaped hole in them. Sometimes, they have no idea what that is, but they’ll justify why they don’t need it to be filled. Until their justification points their own fingers to the mirror.

I’m still figuring this out guys, I’m far from(and never will get to) the point of knowing all of this down pat.

But of this alone I am sure, my God is love. Not the human love that gives up when it’s been wronged or it’s tired. Not the human love that cares to listen but never to help. Not the human love that is happy for someone getting better, but fails to see what that person could potentially make them realize one day. So whatever you believe in, I again, will respect that. Put please do not slap my God onto a prescription that “works for me.” The truth is, we all need Jesus.

Romans 3:23-24

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of the God and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.