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

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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“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. 

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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.

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 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.

 

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.'”

FOMO: Who’s Really Missing Out?

Have you ever encountered a Christian and just been like, yo what are you on? I used to hate Christians.  I didn’t understand how they could be so happy…all the time. It seemed fake. I felt like they were missing out on all the world and life had to offer, if they could just enjoy it for once.

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I never wanted to change. It’s not necessary, right? We say to ourselves, “I’m a good person. I don’t hurt anybody. So what do I owe God?”

Recently, I watched two faith-inspired films (both I HIGHLY recommend).
1. I’m Not Ashamed is about a girl who tries to live her life for Jesus, but is constantly swayed by peer pressure. A line in this movie struck me: “I don’t think you’re making an impact. I think you’re the one being misled.”

2. Grace Unplugged is about a girl brought up in a worship background who tries to make it on her own in the secular music industry. The line that struck me here was, “If you want it just for yourself, there’s always going to be something missing.”

 There’s always going to be something missing.

DEFINE FOMO

FOMO = the fear of missing out. The anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere.

For the last seven years of my life, it was impossible to be a Christian. There was just too much going on! Why would I let God hold me back from living a carefree life? Doesn’t he want us to enjoy ourselves and not miss out on the blessings, good times, and friendships?

But here’s the question: Who’s really missing out?

Those who are in the world but not following it (Of it)? Or those who are living “in the moment” and all about it? Take me the wrong way if you must, but there has to be a limit to happiness if it is only being supplied by the things around you. There has to be a limit to your own “goodness” if it’s not based on God’s. And that’s the truth.

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After years of justifying my behavior by, “I’m a grown-up, I can drink and go out and date whoever I want!” “I’m a bad girl, that’s what I’m known for, I don’t care what people think about me!” “I don’t care what I get myself into, so what, I’ll face the consequences!” Well, that led to alcoholism, five failed relationships and an addiction to love (that’s a real thing), an FHM cover a month after giving my life to Christ (oh, irony) a bunch of offers for indecent roles, people I turned off and hurt, self-harm and abuse…and the worst, attempted suicide.

You may have a different story but let me ask again, who is really missing out?

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Yup, I don’t miss that.

If you’ve ever been a fan of OTH, remember that scene where Brooke brings Mouth to a strip club and he’s so ecstatic but he sees her face, and she’s just bored? Brooke says, “Thanks, but this gets old, pretty quick.” Beyond drugs, drinking, and having a good time, what does the world say you’re missing out on if you’re not part of it? Success? Beauty? Popularity?

I don’t know about you, but if I could take back the years I wasn’t a Christian and relive them for Christ, I would. Party’s over. Everything I thought would satisfy me back then is either gone now or did not turn out as I had imagined. An empty heart crushed by empty dreams swallowed by an empty world. Yes, I’m telling you now, this world has nothing to offer. It is temporary and you will not get your satisfaction from it.

BUT WHAT DOES JESUS SAY

But let me also tell you this. When Jesus said in Matthew 16:26: “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world (materialism, living for one’s self, instant gratification) yet forfeit their soul?”; he didn’t mean you had to suffer and never have fun. If there is anything I can assure you of, living a FREE life is fun.

It is fun to get home at 8:00 p.m. on a Friday night, and spend time with your family. It is fun to wake up without a hangover or crash. It is fun to not date around, or be in a relationship you constantly worry about. It is fun to hang out with friends, drinking soda.

It is fun to care about others and not yourself. It is fun to read the Bible every day. It is fun to pray and talk to God about absolutely anything. It is fun to go to church and Bible study and LEARN. It is fun to blast praise and worship music in the house. It is fun to be content in Christ and to trust Him in everything.

SO WHAT NOW

Is Jesus Christ who you’re living for? If He is not, then my friend, frankly I think you’re missing out. Slow down and stop running from God. He loves you so much and He doesn’t want to see you hurting over a world that could care less about your problems or situation. A world that is on to the next thing already when the thing now hasn’t even finished its sentence. A world that denies God, denies JOY (happiness is momentary,) and denies real love. I once asked someone dear to me, “Stripped of everything you know and you have, what then?” His answer? “I don’t know.” And he was the happiest person I had ever known.

It is our society that is experiencing the biggest FOMO because they’re missing out on God’s grace. So I leave you with this:

Ephesians 4:22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its DECEITFUL desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

We don’t do the same drugs no more.