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.

 

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.