Featured

I Lost 38 Pounds in 7 Months

“Jesus did come and die for me so that I could live a defeated life.” – iBelieve.com

 

It was inside of the master bedroom of my first apartment when I had realized that I had gained weight. I was lying-down, in between piles of clothes, with my jeans pulled half-way up to my knees. I remember crying hysterically in disbelief. At the time, I did not know just how much weight I had gained, but I knew that it was a great deal. I had barely noticed my weight-gain. I worked night shifts with little to no social life, and I hardly wore anything outside of my work uniform. There was no time in my schedule to get dressed-up in normal people’s clothes. I must have sat in a pile of clothes for an hour before finding an outfit suitable and appropriate for a night out with other Christians.

My story is like many who are on the road to healthy living: both terrifying and challenging, yet if you persevere you will eventually get to the reward.

Past of Skinny

So, here is the disclaimer: I have a past of being skinny. I think it is very important to share this with you all. In the 10th grade my metabolism sped up, and by the 11th grade I was 116 and a size 4. I maintained my 120s-130s from high school to mid 20’s. When my weight leaped into the late 130s to 140s, I tried a weight loss program to tone up. The program was unsuccessful for me, personally. I had no accountability, and I did not use the products correctly. Neither did I work out regularly.

Life As A Pescatarian

According to google, a pescatarian is “a person who does not eat meat but does eat fish.” I was a pescatarian for about a year and a half (2015-2017). I decided to go pescatarian because I wanted to lose weight. I was slowly climbing into the 140s, and I thought this diet would slow the process down. I know. Slap me now, right? Sigh. During this diet, I ate a lot of dairy and I substituted meats for more carbs. By the end of this journey I had gained approximately 50 pounds.

As a pescatarian, I faced many challenges outside of my diet and in my personal life. At the age of 25 I battled with stress, depression and anxiety. Unhappy with my weight, I went to see a weight loss specialist to receive help with over-eating. By the first day on his program, I was nearly hospitalized. The doctor placed me on a high energy appetite controlled diet. The doctor did specify that if I was dealing with anxiety to advise him, however it would be after when I learned of anxiety and depression from the doctor who responded to my house call. Once I learned I honestly did not want to believe that I was depressed, and let alone struggling with anxiety, so I pretended to not have those struggles and stopped the doctor’s program. The stress of being overweight and other personal stress related events really took a toll on my body and thought life. Depression set in more. Everything that I tried during this point yielded no results.

The Return of Meat

My return to eating meat was not an easy one. My first-time eating chicken left me sick for about a day, however I could not eat beef ever again. The smell of beef made me sick. With the return of meat came the love of snacks. Prior to the changes within my body, I was not a snack fan. I did not eat candy and I disliked sweets, in general. Tons of bad habits over the years were introduced like excessive sugar, coffee, lack of sleep and over eating.

Trainers Don’t Play

It was December of 2016 when I was co-leading a campus Bible-Talk (small group) on the Rutgers camden campus. A beautiful married, Muslim couple joined us one night for one of our Bible discussions. At the end of the lesson they asked many questions. One question, in particular, sent me into deep prayer. The husband asked, “Do Christians believe in discipline?” He was asking along the lines of honoring God with our lives. I immediately answered him without hesitation, “Yes.” Almost immediately The Holy Spirit convicted me. I was warned not to speak so quickly about what I was unsure of. I had much time to think over what the young man had asked over the Holiday break.

Once January had arrived I began to pray and ask God for His help with discipline in my eating. I began praying, specially, for God to place people in my life who could help me on my journey, and to help me to stay accountable. Accountability was very important to me.

One day I was sitting in my work vehicle when I noticed a woman with beautiful natural hair about to walk pass. I quickly put the down the car window, and yelled out, “EXCUSE ME.” She looked super scared. I recognized her face, but we had never met before. I can be very spontaneous like that, by the way. To my surprise she was a local trainer who had just became my instagram buddy a few weeks prior. She had sent me a request to promote her business as a trainer. Look at Jesus! Won’t He do it?!

I hired her immediately to be trainer. She and I quickly got started at her gym in my old stumping grounds. When I arrived to the gym, I first weighed in at 202 pounds. We trained for three months for about 30 minutes every other day. She would send me home with a strict meal plan and a meal schedule. At this time, I was strictly eating clean and following everything my trainer assigned me to. NO BEEF. Accountability was my trainer’s strongest quality overall. She did not play with me. In less than two months I was down 13 pounds. I felt amazing. The weight was falling off.

Vegan-ish

I was having the time of my life training. Before leaving I was able to bench up to 40-50 lbs. Which is a huge deal for me. However, my training days came to an end. Not only did my move to a different city took a toll, but depression crept its way back into my life. I gave up on losing weight and began eating in larger amounts.

After getting off of work at 10:30 at night (sometimes later), I would go buy myself a hoagie, a bag of chips and a milkshake. Some days I would order two medium pizzas with wings. I would come home, by-past my family and go straight to my room and turn on the tv. Although I wanted to change, I knew that in order to fix the outside, I must first repair the inside. Therapy. Do not be ashamed of it! It helps.

By May of 2018, I had almost gained back the weight that my trainer helped me lose. I continue to see my therapist despite all that I was feeling. Stress was causing problems with my weight which led to me going to the hospital. I was told that my weight was stress related and that it was causing nerve issues. I was terrified. Seeing my Mother rush from work to the hospital really scared me. Hearing my Father say, “Z, I am worried about you” really scared me. I grew in fear of “what ifs.”

In June of 2018, I decided to leave Jersey for a few days to destress. A friend of mine and I chose Los Angeles to vacation. We had the most incredible time with God, one another and other Christians from our churches in the area of L.A. county. On our second to last day we visited Long Beach, California. After praying at the Pacific ocean we walked around a main strip full of natural, vegan restaurants. I can still remember how beautiful the sun was as its light bounced off of the people and local store fronts. It seem like every one there were super healthy. As we got back into the car, I noticed older people on bicycles. I think that is when it hit me: go vegan. My goal as a pescatarian was to go vegan eventually after I had watched a bunch of documentaries. Yet this was the sign I had been searching for. All of sudden I thought long term: Do I want to live a long, healthy life? What message will I send my future children? My decision to go vegan and clean up my life was not just talk. This was one decision, I prayed about and sought God about.

Disclaimer: Being a vegan is not a cure for depression, anxiety or stress in any way. However, healthy eating and exercise can help.

When I returned home from California, I cleaned out my refrigerator, went shopping and created a plan! I have now been vegan-ish for almost 8 months now.

What Can I Eat?

Vegan-ish is a word I created for myself. So if you use it tag me! I consider myself vegan-ish because although I eat like a vegan, I value human life over animal life. Oh and I still have honey every-so-often.

I do not eat or drink:

Dairy {Milk, Butter, Eggs, etc.}

Meats {Chicken, Beef, etc}

Fish {Tuna, Salmon, etc.}

And I am not a huge fan of soy beans or heavy carbs.

I am plant-based.

Where Do I Get My Protein?

Food. Duh.

No, seriously. That question is so overly used. Vegans can still get their vitamins and protein from the foods they consume. Many vegetarians and vegans get their vitamins and protein from dietary supplements and protein substitutes.

If you do not know if you are getting the proper nutrients, you can always see your doctor for tests and consultation. I do.

Exercise 

Exercising is important to weight loss. I do workout with the same time and day structure I learned from having a trainer. It is during exam times that I find it most difficult to execute. Working out is 10% of how I manage my weight loss. During the first few weeks of no meats I lost the most weight all at once.

I started off with a gym in my townhouse community. It was free! I remember looking in the mirror while on the treadmill and making the decision to only speak/think positively about my body. Before that time I would crack inappropriate, yet sad jokes about myself in front of others. It was as if I was beating them to the punch—I guess. This decision to speak/think positively about myself was inspired by a woman from my church in Philadelphia who over heard me in a McDonalds’ restroom. She rebuked the mess out of me. Chile. So now I make efforts to correct my thinking as soon as I can, and I will even apologize if I have said it around someone else.

I now have at-home equipment and my school’s gym to work out at for free.

Tips and Advice

  1. Go to God. Pray and do not give up praying. Ask for help. He cares for you, My friend.
  2. Make the decision. Ask yourself these questions: Why do I want to lose weight? What is my motive? If it is self-ish or shallow in any way reexamine your reasons for why.
  3. Talk to yourself. Speak to yourself with love and gentleness. When my trainer and I would work-out, she would tell me to do go harder and I would physically feel as if the task was too big, and so I would encourage myself through prayer in that moment.
  4. Do not be afraid of weight-loss programs. Be wise, but do not take someone else story as the “be-all, tell-all.” There are some great programs out there.
  5. EXERCISE and MEAL PREP.
  6. Invest! Spend wisely! Start off small. I started with just a floor mat. Now I have weights. Ease your way in there. Do not go spending money just have what you bought collect dust.
  7. Invest in a good blender.
  8. Hire a trainer! At least learn from them! Learn accountability, workouts and how to structure your meals. Most great trainers are studying your body type and knowing what works for you—learn that from your trainer.
  9. Go Vegan! Just kidding. You can eat clean and still yield these results. I lost 13 lbs from eating clean in less than two months. I lost 38 lbs in 7 months of being a vegan. What works for me may not work for you but #9 is just here to encourage you.

 

 

Friendships ft. Elin Vasquez

“The righteous should choose his friends carefully, For the way of the wicked leads them astray.” | Proverbs‬ ‭12:26‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

The topic of friendships can be either an exciting one or it can be pretty-sad to discuss depending on both the nature and context of it and/or the person(s) involved. In the featured video, Elin and I will briefly touch on our own experiences with different friends from both our past (before Christ), and our present (after Christ).

We will be sharing the good and bad sides to friendship. Our objective is to show you what God wants for us in relationships. However, we mention, also, our very own convictions. We are both young Christians who are still learning, and maturing in our faith and we would like share with the Rutgers Camden Grace Club (TM) community on our thoughts on friendships. We will explore what it means to be a good friend to one another and to our individual friendships within the church and out of the church. Tune in today.

Questions to think about:

What qualities do you bring to a friendship? Do your friendships glorify God? What areas can you grow in with your friendships? When choosing a friend do you go to God first?

Looking for a place to worship the Lord this upcoming Resurrection day? Click here.

I Divorced My Exes

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.” John 4:16-18


It had all started after my baptism in the summer of 2014 when I was led into a 40-day fast. The idea of sustaining from food and water for an entire 40-day period terrified me. In efforts to be as obedient as possible, I gave up choice foods, drinks and activities instead.

During my fast, I did not consume meat or any meat products. I gave up coffee as well. I did not watch tv at the time, but I was very much in to social media. So that meant no social media. Down-time became spending quality time in reading God’s Word and daily devotion to prayer.

The fast was incredibly eye-opening. It had felt as if I had freely invited Jesus Christ into my life. The Word had given me a strong sense of clarity. I had faced opposition during this time as well. Colleagues challenged me in ways I had never image. I lost friends and strong relationships within my own family. However, one thing I was most intrigued by was the effectiveness of God’s Word and the results of many answered prayers prayed during that time.

The first few months after my baptism, my mentor (discipling partner) helped me understand the scriptures further. I relied on her a lot. As far as I could tell she was to be around forever for me to call on. Or so I thought. In an unexpected, yet great, turn of events she was accepted into a graduate program in another state. This was something she and the church had been praying about. The news excited us all. I was sad to see her go, but also excited for what God was doing in her life.

To give you a better depiction of our relationship, I have attached a photo below:

hero_warroom_2015_1

…Actually picture the character, Ms. Clara (left) as a woman in her early 30s, and the character, Elizabeth (right) as a woman in her early 20s.

My mentor left New Jersey shortly after getting accepted, and I soon felt alone. I thought: “Who can I turn to when I do not understand The Word?” Well, of course God, through His Holy Spirit reassured me that He would answer any and every question I had whether I asked or not. Our relationship grew very close (God and I). For an entire year and a half without a discipling partner, I was able to have deep, intimate time with Jesus. Not that discipling partners are bad. I struggled with replacing God with people back then, and I needed to be alone with Jesus. My prayers grew stronger, and I studied The Word with great anticipation of hearing from the Holy Spirit. It makes me smile just thinking about it.

During this piece of the wilderness season, God taught me about marriage. Marriage was a topic I was not a fan of. In the world, before getting to know Jesus, I did not believe in marriage. I did not have the best “role model” relationships and/or marriages to look up to growing up. In the past when I learned of the cost of a divorce (among other information), it sent me on this rollercoaster of anger toward to the concept of marriage and anyone who supported it. Back then I had a well-calculated argument for anyone who opposed my newly found conviction.

Knowing my heart, it was important that The Lord and I went through what marriage meant to Him, and why He does not want me to have sex outside of marriage. Any of us for that matter.

In 2015, the movie, War Room , by the Kendrick brothers hit theaters. I must have seen it in theaters twice and I purchased two copies of the movie on DVD. After my first time seeing it, I went out to buy washi-tape, note cards, and sticky notes. I cleared out my entire bedroom closet and hung up Christmas lights. I could not fit a chair in the closet, so I settled for a pillow. Then, I went to war.

My prayers did not start on marriage. It started at the beginning: My dad. My first example of a male figure. Then it went on to the grand father who I knew most. There was a point of when I also went through a list of my uncles. I prayed for them specifically by name because whether they knew it or not, they were setting an example for me my entire childhood. I picked up on behavior patterns in my youth and accepted things in my adulthood.

I did not know it at the time, but God was preparing my heart to pray for my exes. I prayed for each of my ex-boyfriends wholeheartedly. I asked God to forgive me for those I hurt as well. I even prayed for the one who hurt me most. Which was really hard for me. Week by week, I took it just a little further and I began to pray diligently for the women in their lives. I prayed and begged God not to allow those who hurt me, hurt the current women in their lives.

The Holy Spirit soon led me to ask God for a divorce from my exes. This was challenging for me to do. I wrote each of their names down on a piece of paper, and I prayed with all my heart. This included so much more, but prayer was vital. By this time I had known that I was forgiven at my baptism, but there was something I needed from this.

I held on to things from my past even after my baptism that I needed to both acknowledge and work through. I had to get on the path to healing. Not that I have fully obtained this. I had to be able to tell my story without it hurting. I had to have a healer’s perspective. From there I decided after my first two (encouragement) dates to not date in the church. (I had already stopped dating outside of the church.) My mission was to unlearn the negative things the world taught me about men, women, children, marriage, and family. Most of all, I had to unlearn what the world taught me about myself and get to know the real me. I am still learning. 

To find out where I am now:

Have I started dating?

How’s my relationship with God?

Be sure to catch my next post next Sunday night. 

The things I have mentioned were not posted for anyone to run and do what I have done. The things mentioned were through the Holy Spirit; I was led personally. There were things I battled with. However, I encourage you to invest serious time into your relationships with Jesus Christ. Build a deep, intimate relationship with Jesus and go to Him with your concerns about your dating life: regardless of whether or not you’re waiting on marriage, a virgin or simply not sure whats happening within your sexuality. Allow Jesus in. He’s the One who loves you deeply–not even the sea can understand His love for you.

You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide

You Can Run, But You Can't Hide

I had looked forward to Sunday morning all week.  After an unexpected, poorly planned move to a different city at the beginning of my semester, I had been running late to just about everything every-single-day. It was quite a small change that impacted me tremendously. Before I knew it I was driving longer distances, and it challenging for me to plan ahead.

What had use to be a 6-minute drive to church was now almost a 30-minute drive. I know, I know. That’s nothing to you daily commuters. Right? I grew in great anticipation for, my Pastor, Josh’s message all week. It had only been a week that I had been staying with a friends.

The cuing up of Mary Mary’s song, “Sunday Morning.

“Good morning, I had a good night’s sleep

And it’s, my favorite day of the week

And I, I believe I’ll start with prayer

Then get ready cause I gotta get there

Soon as I get through the door

My hands up, feet off the floor

Cause all the saints we go to work (ah)

That’s how we do it down at my church (ah)”

On the ride to church, I prayed and sung worship songs to God to keep myself from the reminder that I was going to be late. As I pulled up and onto the church’s path, I noticed right away that there was no available parking in our lot, but there was parking along the hill. While parking on the hill, I had a bright idea. It was raining by-the-way. I began to turn my car around with a goal that the hood of my car would face the exit. On each side of the hill, there is grass and a dip (ditch).  On one side there is more grass and hills, and on the other is more of a wooded area. As I was turning my car around slowly, my car slipped into the dip toward the wooded area. Instead of immediately getting help, I decided to try and take care of it myself. This eventually is what landed my car further into ditch and more into the mud. I took a deep breath, turned off my car, turned on my hazards, grabbed my bible, and locked my car door.

As I was walking up the hill, I felt in my spirit, The Holy Spirit telling me that someone needed to be blocked in, and that they could not leave right away. I then turned and looked at my car. My car was blocking the entire path which leads to the exiting of the church’s lot. Before I knew it another car had parked right behind my car. No one could get in, and no one could get out. I chuckled and said to God, “God, what are you doing?” I entered the church, and immediately warned a few men in the church about my car. It was the start of the communion message, and I had to waited in the lobby. I would giggle to myself at the thought of what God was up to. I was excited. My amusement, of course, was cut short by the strangling, and entanglement of insecurity when a brother walked in. He was in the rush to get out of the parking lot and insisted one of the cars near me be moved. I had never seen him flustered before this day or after, which is why I began to blame myself.

As the man was leaving a few other men from the church gathered around my car in efforts to help me. Be advised—It is still raining. Not only was mud slung everywhere, those brothers were soaked from the rain, and to top it all off my car was surrounded by poison ivy. The poison ivy made it impossible for them to lift and push my car out of the dip (ditch.) I was left with no other choice but to call roadside assistance. A customer service representative informed me that it would take almost an hour for a truck to get to where I was. Anxiety increased as I worried about the time and everyone in the church who would eventually have to leave church. I began to have thoughts like, “Why me?” “Why now, and in the rain, Lord?”

Once I was back inside of the church, I noticed a woman whose face struck me as familiar. I did not know her personally, but I did know that she was a part of my church, somehow. It made me smile to see her because it had been long ago since I have seen her. Finally, I was sitting in my chair, with my eyes glued to my Pastor, Josh Bryd. “This is what I came for! Let’s go, Josh!” -I thought to myself. The moment Josh spoke maybe four sentences, my phone rang. I rushed outside to meet with the man from roadside. At this point there were more than one car behind my car. After getting a few cars moved, I was heading to my car to further assist the man from roadside. As I was walking, I noticed a woman inside of her car crying.

In an attempt to comfort her, I knocked on her car window. To my surprise it was the woman I had noticed just moments before. I asked if she was alright and if there was something I could do to help her. In her response she exclaimed, “I just want to leave.” She then continued saying, “[H]e just will not leave me alone.” She ended with implying that a man had been chasing her. I grew concern for nearly a minute until learning that the “He” she as referring to was in-fact God. I stood outside of her, in the rain, in efforts to comfort her when a friend of mine approached the car. I assumed she was only coming out of the service to move her car, but she had actually been looking for the woman I was talking to. “She is trying to run from us.” My friend said. It had turned out that my friend was a friend of hers, and was concerned about her. So she rushed out of the service looking for her, but my car and I were in the way. Literally. In a few short minutes after my car was eventually pulled out of the ditch. Glory be to God.

I share this story for a number of reasons, but the one that is most important is God’s love in the midst of one daughter’s insecurities and another’s despair. I cannot ignore how God literally blocked in his daughter, and use disciples of Jesus Christ to comfort her. I believe that she had experienced what life has done to many of us. It weighs us down and wears us out. I do not know for sure, but maybe she thought she would come to church and not get noticed. She could have possibly thought that no one understood what she was going through. I really do not know. But then she came, and felt the anointing on Josh, my pastor, and in the room. She hopped up, got into her car, and while in reverse noticed from her rear-view mirror my car blocking the exit. You can run, but you can’t hide. Wow. I know that the important part for me, was noticing just how insecure I had become in situations I could not control. The situations where only God, Himself, could get me out of.

Are you like the woman who ran from God? Or are you like me: it is hard for you to trust God in situations you cannot control? Let’s say you are more like her. Running away from God can be an unconscious response towards life’s challenges. However, we could also run away knowingly. The Holy Bible says in Psalm 139:7-8, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” God loves you very much. There is nothing, not even trouble or persecution, that can separate you and I from the love of God (Romans 8:31-39). I want to challenge you, to make an effort to spend 15 minutes with God each morning and night. Just get as open as you possibly can. If you do not understand why you are running away ask Him to show you why. Pray through the psalms—look at King David. He was a man who was open and honest with God no matter how he was feeling.

Let’s say you are like me. You want to control every little detail in your life; making no room for God to be His Sovereign-self. I have attached a very short piece from, Our Daily Bread’s online community. It just a few seconds it has blessed my life. I feel like crying out to God even as I type. Surrender, my friend. Read Romans 8:1-11 as suggest by Our Daily Bread, blog piece, entitled “Yielding Control.” Here’s a prayer for each of you. You may insert your name in this pray.

True freedom comes not from choosing our way, but from yielding to God’s way.

Dear Heavenly Father, in the Mighty name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Honor and respect be to Your name! Thank you for the love You have shown on the cross and in each of our lives. Thank you that there is no place we can go to get away from You. The truth is, Jesus, we NEED You. Forgive us when we run away and/or reject you. Have mercy on us and lead us back to you. Thank you for being The Shepard who leaves the 99 other sheep in search for the one (me, you, us.) You are an incredible Friend who really wants to see us grow and prosper. Please forgive us when take control. Help us to no gratify our own flesh’s desires. Teach, O Lord to rely on You and not our own gifts, and talents. Lord we love you and we praise. It is in Your Mighty name Jesus we pray. Amen.

Watch a video on what happen below:

Reckless Love: Soldiers Edition

“It was a fabulous day at Doughboy Stadium on Fort Benning as roughly 2,000 Army Soldiers gathered together to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As the words of the song ‘Reckless Love’ by Cory Asbury was sung the Holy Spirit moved among the crowd not just encouraging the men and women present, but causing some to give their hearts to Jesus for the very first time. Hallelujah! There is nothing like “the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless LOVE of GOD!” –I’m So Blessed Daily

If you have not heard the song, check it out. It’s amazing!

Do We Seek The Living Among The Dead?

The Traveling Lamp

“Why do you seek the living among the dead?” Luke 24:5 NKJV

During our church’s Resurrection Day service (2018), my pastor referenced Luke 24. We were reading as a church when he stopped at a question. In Luke 24, the women wept after learning that Jesus’ tomb was empty. There were two angels who appeared to the women, and asked “[W]hy do you seek the living among the dead?”

In honor of Jesus’ resurrection it would most appropriate to reference this passage, but there was something about the question that two angels asked that would not leave me alone. I just could not shake it. After service, I grew really tired that I decided to skip out on family dinners, and go home. While lying down, The Lord placed a message on my heart.

With this message, I decided to share it with all of you. Here’s a short video…

View original post 32 more words

Do We Seek The Living Among The Dead?

“Why do you seek the living among the dead?” Luke 24:5 NKJV

 

During our church’s Resurrection Day service (2018), my pastor referenced Luke 24. We were reading as a church when he stopped at a question. In Luke 24, the women wept after learning that Jesus’ tomb was empty. There were two angels who appeared to the women, and asked “[W]hy do you seek the living among the dead?”

In honor of Jesus’ resurrection it would most appropriate to reference this passage, but there was something about the question that two angels asked that would not leave me alone. I just could not shake it. After service, I grew really tired that I decided to skip out on family dinners, and go home. While lying down, The Lord placed a message on my heart.

With this message, I decided to share it with all of you. Here’s a short video from what resonated within me when asked the two questions (in one), “[H]ave I sought/do I the seek the living among the dead?” Take a look and share with me your experiences.

 

Have You Stopped Listening?

The Traveling Lamp

“But they did not listen” {Jeremiah 7:26}

Have you ever been in a super long Starbucks’ line, waiting to place an order, and hear the conversations the people in the front—and the back—of you? You ever notice how you cannot make out what they are saying? Or—maybe I’m just the weird one in the room. For the most part I cannot understand them because the conversation does not concern me enough to draw into it. I hear them, but I’m not listening. Does that make sense? Well, let’s first start with Google.com’s definitions of what it mean to “hear,” and to “listen.”

Hear: “perceive with the ear the sound made by (someone or something)”

Listen: “give one’s attention to a sound.”

Listening and hearing are two separate things—but, they each support one another. Truthfully we must be willing to do both in our relationship with God.

“While you…

View original post 481 more words

Have You Stopped Listening?

“But they did not listen” {Jeremiah 7:26}

Have you ever been in a super long Starbucks’ line, waiting to place an order, and hear the conversations of the people in front—and in the back—of you? You ever notice how you cannot make out what they are saying? Or—maybe I’m just the weird one in the room. For the most part I cannot understand them because the conversation does not concern me enough to draw into it. I hear them, but I’m not listening. Does that make sense? Well, let’s first start with Google.com’s definitions of what it mean to “hear,” and to “listen.”

Hear: “perceive with the ear the sound made by (someone or something)”

Listen: “give one’s attention to a sound.”

Listening and hearing are two separate things—yet, they each support one another. Truthfully we must be willing to do both in our relationship with God.

“While you were doing all these things, declares the Lord, I spoke to you again and again, but you did not listen; I called you, but you did not answer.” {Jeremiah‬ ‭7:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬}

In Jeremiah 7, the generation of Israelites of that time were so consumed with their practices, and worship to false gods that they had stopped following truth. God, in all that the people had done, still spoke again and again to His people. They did not listen and nor did they answer Him when He called. They, instead, trusted in “deceptive words” that were worthless than in the words from God. The people of Israel would not “reform” their “ways and actions.” Neither did they “deal” with one another “justly.” The Israelites did not obey God. In turn, God said that He would abandon that generation for their disobedience.

How can anyone obey God without first listening? I believe that generation’s biggest downfall was not listening. Not listening is disobedience and disobedience is rebellion. Our lives can get consumed with many things—both sad and great things. We can get burned out and put our relationship with God on the back burner.

God wants to be in your life. You are His child. You’ve been adopted, my Friend! Before you belong to yourself, your marriage or your responsibilities—you belong to Him.

I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return]. {Philippians 1:6 AMP}

No matter which season you are in, always remember who created you and why He has created you. You have a calling on your life. A friend of mine once said that we must ask the question, “Whose am I?” We’re just walking around thinking we belong to ourselves and/or to our responsibilities. Nope. We belong to the One and Only true King—God Almighty, the Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ. It’s through Jesus that God has saved us. Our God is faithful to us, and in turn we must remain faithful to Him—our Creator.

No excuses.

Listening to God can, and will help us with life’s struggles and troubles. We cannot get through our lives on our own. I wonder what it will be like if you, and I surrender to God’s will for our lives? What would happen if we surrender our responsibilities to Him? Let’s FIND OUT. Start today.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

We humbly come before you asking that you will show us how to be still and to listen to you when you are speaking to us. We surrender our own lives to you and our responsibilities. Guide us through your Word, through your messengers of the gospel, and through the power of your Holy Spirit. As we learn how to listen and to surrender, LORD, help us to be faithful to you in obedience to You and Your Word.

It is in Jesus Christ’s mighty name we pray. Amen.

Grace Through The Cross

“[A]t just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”

-Romans 5:6 NIV

Over 4 years ago, I was sitting in the living room of my first apartment with 3 women from my church. I was studying the bible for about a month, and the topic of sin came up. I was asked if I knew what sin was, and I simply answered the question with a yes, followed by a “but, I haven’t sinned.” To support my response, I introduced into the conversation a woman that I had known. I compared our lives, and managed to squeeze in a bunch of critical remarks about this woman.

By the time I had finished what I was saying, the women had loved me back into a healthier conversation. They introduced to me what the Bible says about sin, and who sins. I was shocked. All of my life I thought that I was a “good” person. I hadn’t stolen anything since I was a kid, I hadn’t told any huge lies. By the end of the week, I had grown afraid of God. He went from non-existent, in my own mind, to existent, but scary. What was I to do with such an unhealthy fear of God?

When I shared this months later with my mentor, she encouraged me with scripture and further encouraged me to pray about it. It was not until 6 months after confessing what I had been feeling to my mentor that I began to pray about it. I kneel before God, close to my bed, and I cried. I did not stop praying until everything was out before Him. I confessed to Him all of my sins, and begged for His foreverness. I even began reading His word on my own. There were times when I would be working, and random people would bring me scriptures and lessons that they had heard some place. They would even pray with me. Thinking back on it, it was as if God was sending me kisses as I sought after Him.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” -Romans 5:8 NIV

When Jesus was handed over to the Roman Governor, Pilate, the opportunity presented itself for Jesus to not go to the cross. Instead Jesus endured the cross for us anyway — accomplishing His Father’s will. Jesus Christ had to die baring our sins to resurrect, and once resurrected He had to ascend into heaven that the Holy Spirit may live amongst us, and in us until that Great day of His return. What king serves? What king protects? What king cares for all men, women and children? What king dies for his friends? What king defend his friends?

“Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” 

Christ’s death brought forth reconciliation between mankind and The Father. Psalm 8:4 says, “what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” God is justice, but He is also merciful. God is love, but He is also jealous for you.

“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

22 “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.24 “He himself bore our sins”in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”25 For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

Grace is freely given favor. It has been freely given to you. You did nothing to earn it. Yes, you are unworthy to receive it because of your sin. I am unworthy to receive it because of my sin. BUT,  “to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.” (Ephesians 4:7 NIV) There is grace through the CROSS.