His timing, not mine

After a three month hiatus I’m finally back to writing in my blog. I didn’t plan to take a break or anything, it just kind of happened. I normally tend to write about something the Lord has taught me or that I feel needs to be shared with others who don’t know Him. He has taught me a vast amount in these past three months, which I intend to share soon, but today I felt the need to get something off my chest that may have subconsciously been holding me back from writing lately.

You see, I started this blog a little over a year ago a few days after I became a Christian. I experienced the love of God and surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. As one might expect, I certainly didn’t just wake up one morning and say, “I want to freak out all my friends and family and become ‘that guy’ who becomes a crazy ‘Jesus freak’ overnight!” It was a process of God doing things in my life that I wasn’t even aware of at the time that eventually led me to surrender to Him. Because of this, I decided to start this blog explaining what happened to me and why I decided to accept Christ. Mostly, I just thought it would be easier to direct people to my blog rather than unravelling my entire story over and over again.

Before I became a Christian, I always thought the people who tried to get me to go to church with them or talk to me about Jesus were weird, crazy, or a combination of the two. My roommate freshman year went to church every weekend and always invited me to go with him, but I never went. I was too busy “living it up” like you’re supposed to do in college, so I always came up with some lame excuse as to why I couldn’t join him. I actually thought he needed to loosen up and enjoy the college experience so I would in turn invite him to come to parties with me. He never did, and I never understood why.

That all changed about three years later. Suddenly, I became ‘that guy’ that I always thought was crazy. God opened my eyes one night and in an instant I thought, “Wow, this is what life is all about.” I had been blind to the truth for 21 years, but now I could finally understand my roommate and all the other Christians who seemed way too serious and way too evangelical. Because I had been on the other side of things my whole life, I felt as if I needed to try my hardest to convince my friends and family that I wasn’t crazy, but that I was right. I found the truth and I felt as if every blog post I wrote needed to be an advertisement for God’s existence or the divinity of Jesus.

Well, as I was lying in bed last night, it hit me. I don’t need to defend God. He doesn’t need a spokesperson or constant blog posts trying to convert others. There is nothing I can say or do to make someone see the truth of God as I did that night. Only He can reveal the weights from someone’s eyes and show Himself; and it’s on His timing, not mine. See, my roommate tried to get me to go to church with him all the time, but I wanted nothing to do with it. I even remember a couple months before accepting Christ someone sent me a facebook message telling me about a local church I should check out. All I thought was, “Why are you sending me this? I don’t care.” So, my point is, I get it. I understand. I used to think the same way. Now I see with different eyes though, and things make a whole lot more sense.

As much as I wish all my friends or people I share with could understand the secrets of the kingdom of God the second I plead my case, not all of them will, so I must be patient. While it is my duty to share my faith with others and warn them about the lies of the devil and this world that keep them from seeing the truth, I must remember, and all Christians must remember, that only God can open their eyes and He will do it when the timing is right. Until then, all we can do is pray.

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What does it mean to believe in Jesus?

In today’s society the term “Christian” is used pretty loosely. America is considered a “Christian Nation” for the most part, right? But what does it mean to be a Christian? Is it just believing in God? Is it believing in Jesus? It it going to church every Sunday?

It’s funny to me now when I think about this because growing up I always considered myself a Christian. I went to church as a kid, so I assumed that’s what I was. I go to church and recite some stuff from a booklet and when I die I’ll go to a place called Heaven. Well, it wasn’t until last year that I realized none of these things secured me a spot in Heaven.

You see, God is perfect. He is holy. We are sinful. God is also just, and since He is just, sin must be dealt with… “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” -Romans 3:23. “…”For the wages of sin is death” -Romans 6:2… God knew that we couldn’t make up for our sin and earn our way to Heaven, so He did something about it.

Enter Jesus Christ.

God sent His son to take on the sins of the world and restore all of mankind back to their creator. Through Jesus, we may know God and have a personal relationship with Him. We are also granted eternal life through Jesus, and He is the only way to Heaven. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” -John 14:6.

Growing up, I had a vague knowledge of these principles. But having the knowledge or even agreeing that Jesus is God isn’t enough. It sounds pretty straightforward that if we believe in Jesus we will have eternal life, right? Well, to truly be saved, we must accept God’s provision for our sins through Jesus by taking up our own cross and following Jesus. You must become born-again. To believe in Jesus means to repent and turn from sin and turn to Him.

About a year ago, I accepted these truths and made the best decision of my life by receiving Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I gave my life to Him and experienced a new birth. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” -2 Corinthians 5:17.

If you haven’t accepted Christ and repented, I pray and hope that you would seriously consider it. Death isn’t a period, it’s just a comma- and once we die we will stand before Jesus for judgement. Get to know Him now before it’s too late.

You can receive Christ right now through prayer by repenting of your sins and thanking Him for paying the cost. Tell Him you open your life to Him and accept Him as your Lord and Savior, giving Him control of your life. Thank Him for giving you eternal life and ask Him to make you the type of person God wants you to be.

“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” -1 John 5:11-13

You were created to have a relationship with God, turn to Him today!

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When the thrill is gone

Power, money, drugs, alcohol, sex. Ah, the thrill of chasing all the world has to offer. Can’t ask for anything more right? Power makes us feel important and worthy. Money can buy happiness. Drugs and alcohol make everything more fun, and sex just feels good. So why not pursue all of these things while we’re alive? After all, that’s what the media feeds us and tells us life is all about right? Look at any rap song, actually, look at every rap song today, and what do they talk about. Me, me, me, money, sex, drugs, and more me. Well, what happens when money doesn’t buy happiness? Or when it runs out? What happens when you come down from the high and sober up? What happens at the end of the day when the thrill of it all is gone? What’s really the point in all of it?

There is no point in all of it. None of these things can satisfy our soul’s deepest longings. You can’t stay drunk or high forever. You can chase money and guys/girls your whole life, but the more you get the more you want and it just becomes a vicious cycle leaving you feeling more and more empty inside.

I just finished reading the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible and it goes like this: King Solomon had everything this world could offer. He had power, wealth, fame, women, you name it. What was his conclusion about all of these things? “Meaningless, meaningless. Utterly meaningless, everything is meaningless.” (Ecc. 1:2) Solomon goes on to say that the beginning of true wisdom is the fear of God, and that nothing under the sun is of any value except a relationship with our Creator. Humans were created with a natural instinct to worship. The problem is, most people worship everything but God, leaving them to question the meaning of life and wonder why they feel so unfulfilled. We were created to worship the God of the Universe and be in constant fellowship with Him, but we’ve learned to consume ourselves with so much crap that we are blind to Him.

If you didn’t have any money and couldn’t constantly party, what would you do with yourself? Could you be happy without the things of this world to consume you? Well, if you would have asked me that a year ago I would have said no way. But because of God’s grace, I have come to know Jesus Christ and entered into a relationship with Him and now I can say that yes, I would still be happy without the things of this world, because only God can give your life meaning and the ultimate fulfillment.

What will you do when the thrill is gone?

“Humanity has searched long and hard for answers to our ills, pains, and unsatisfying lives. While we were created emotionally, spiritually, and physically healthy, sin has caused us to turn away from God and separated us from Him and His goodness. We need restoration, healing, and rehabilitation back to that original state of unity with God. Jesus is our rehabilitation. The Christian life is an entrance into Rehab.”

“Around every corner is the lure to consume. A desire to be satisfied. Unfortunately no human being has found anything under the sun that brings satisfaction. So we consume more, and more, and more. Eventually we overdose. However, there is hope if Christianity is our Rehab. In Jesus satisfaction can be found. Grace, love, peace and hope can be found…and there is always more. Consume more of Jesus. Overdose.” – Lecrae

Seek out God today! Peace!

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Came to my rescue

After listening to some worship music earlier, a particular line really stuck out to me.

“I called… you answered… and you came to my rescue…”

This is only a brief snippet of the song, but it opened my eyes to the last 7 months of my life and really got to me.

You see, less than a year ago, I was literally crying out almost every night to a God that I didn’t even know if I believed existed- to save me. I didn’t know that I was lost or even needed to be saved, but I was severely depressed and had no hope in life at all. I had tried everything through the course of the previous 6 years: drugs, alcohol, counseling, medication, you name it.

Well, drugs and alcohol couldn’t fill the emptiness inside of me nor could they work as an antidepressant forever. No counselor or psychologist had any answers I was looking for, and no amount of medication could help me either. I was completely hopeless.

I remember laying in bed and praying, “God, if you’re real, you have to take this depression away. I’ve tried everything, and nothings worked. If you’re real, take this away, or else I don’t think I can live any longer.”

I called out to God. God answered. God rescued.

God replaced my depression, emptiness, and hopelessness with the ultimate happiness found in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. He replaced my drive to find satisfaction in drugs, alcohol, and women with a desire to grow closer to Him.

So, I guess my question to you is: have you called out to God for answers?

When you come across problems and troubles in life, do you turn to the created things of this world for help, or do you turn to the Creator?

God wants us to rely on Him and give our troubles over to Him. He’s waiting patiently for you to call on His name. It’s a lot easier to get through life when you give control over to your Creator. He knows what’s best for you.

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God reveals Himself, rattles my soul

After a day composed of many doubts, I wasn’t feeling connected with much of anything. On my way to church I told my friend I didn’t understand why my faith hasn’t gotten a lot stronger, and that I wish God would just do something so I knew for sure that everything I’ve been doing lately was real, and pleasing to him. He laughed and said, “Oh, don’t worry, God will show you he’s real. He’ll remove all doubts, just you wait.” All I could think was, “I sure hope he does that soon.” Throughout church I was in a daze and just going through the motions. I remember thinking before communion, “Can I truly be taking this communion if I don’t believe with all of my heart, mind, and soul that there is a God, and he is Jesus, and everything I’ve experienced in the past five months is completely real?” It scared me knowing that I was even questioning that. I thought I was doing all the right things, but it was like the more I pursued God, I was feeling like I couldn’t say with 100% confidence that God was real, and I’ve experienced him. (Which is nonsense because looking back He was so present and worked so many miracles in my life.)

Anyways, after hanging out with two friends most of the day, they were finally going to go home so I could study, but feeling down, I suggested we all go get dinner. Even talking during dinner, I continued asking my one friend (who’s been following Christ for about five years now) questions, and just thinking that this whole following Jesus thing is all too much to ask for, and too hard to do. I was struggling with doubts big time. I thought, “I’ll never have a true peace of mind… I’ll always have pointless, anxious thoughts that make me question things.” My whole focus of the conversation was that I’d been getting stressed out and anxious, and therefore losing hope. How could I call myself a follower of Christ if I wasn’t 100% sure in my heart that he was even real?

Well, those doubts were all removed about an hour or two later. And boy, was God direct. We got back to my house, and once again, my two friends were going to go home, but still feeling bad that I was struggling with doubts, I suggested we hang out for a little longer, hoping something would click while we all talked about it. My one friend was reading through the book of James and explaining some things to us that were making sense, and I was slowly starting to feel a little better, but still thought I needed something huge to happen to remove this fog from my mind. While he was reading, his Facebook account was up on my computer and I grabbed it and joked that he had two messages in his inbox and I was going to read them. I figured they were from girls, but he said to go ahead and read them because they were probably just his daily Bible verses that he receives. I opened up the message and read the daily verse. My jaw dropped. Chills ran through my entire body. The verse read, “CASTING ALL YOUR ANXIETIES ON HIM, BECAUSE HE CARES FOR YOU.” 1 Peter 5:7. I was suddenly filled up with an incredible sense of love. My face burst into the biggest smile I’ve ever experienced. I’ve been filled with God’s presence and overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit before, but this was on a whole other level. I felt weightless and out of my body almost. I continued to read what came next and was in complete shock and awe of what I was reading:

“Life can get hectic and extremely stressful. Our responsibilities and commitments become more than we can handle sometimes. We have tests to do well on and standards to live up to. It seems like we have rubrics for everything. We stretch thin to accommodate for the pressures of life and the expectations of us, and we eventually reach our limit. Once this happens everything just seems to get very tough and hard to handle: school, jobs, relationships, friendships, or whatever the case may be. Our stress levels rise, and we start to break down and feel weak because we think we can’t ever do anything right. This is ok because we have someone strong to lean on: God. He is here for us and wants us to rely on Him in times of stress and need. He cares for us and wants us to be ok, and only true peace comes through trusting and relying on Him to take care of us when we need Him to. As Christians, we need to remember this. When we are going through a rough time, we need to remember to turn to God first, to rely on Him to get us through, and, ultimately, to do our best with anything that comes our way. With God’s help, the pressure we are under can be significantly reduced.
-What are you struggling with? Turn to God and spend time in His word. He will help you out. “

WOW. All day I’d been talking about how I wish God would just show me one final sign to prove his existence and relationship with me. Sure enough, he came through. Everything I had been worrying about and saying that whole day, this message described. The next half hour was indescribable. I can honestly say, it was a pure, 100% spiritual, whole-heartedly connection between God and I. It was at that time that the past five months all came together, and I realized: GOD IS REAL, HE REALLY IS LOOKING DOWN ON ME, HE REALLY DOES HEAR MY PRAYERS, AND FINALLY: HE DOES LOVE ME AND KNOW WHAT’S BEST FOR ME. I sat in complete awe and disbelief of what I was experiencing. It was like an out-of-body experience. My mind was completely taken out of the equation for those thirty minutes or so. All I could feel was the most powerful force from deep within my heart and soul. It was a complete spiritual realm that was unlike anything of the physical world. It was at that moment that I realized God knows me and my heart better than I do, I need to fully trust him, get over my doubts, and know that HE IS GOD. I felt like I was on drugs or completely drunk, and it was better than either of those two feelings. This wasn’t in my head, but totally spiritual. It was unlike anything I’ve ever encountered. God was speaking directly to me, and he said:

1) I AM REAL. 2) I KNOW WHAT YOUR STRUGGLING WITH, QUIT QUESTIONING ME AND TRUST ME WITH YOUR LIFE. 3) I DO HEAR YOUR PRAYERS, YOUR’E NOT CRAZY. 4) THIS IS ME SHOWING YOU I AM REAL, I DO LOVE YOU, AND I WANT ALL OF YOUR HEART. 5) CONSIDER YOUR FAITH STRENGTHENED, NOW QUIT DOUBTING AND LISTEN TO ME. AND FINALLY, 6) I LOVE YOU, AND I HAVE THE BEST IN STORE FOR YOU. Wow. I’m still shaken up because what I experienced was so powerful. I felt like I was coming down off drugs and sobering up later that night and most of the next day too. I was without a doubt in the direct presence of my creator God and he was without a doubt speaking directly to me. He IS God. I can’t do justice any of what happened, words can’t explain who He is and what He showed me that night. It’s more than my mind and thoughts. There’s a living soul and spirit inside of me, and God showed me a small glimpse of his power and glory. It was a defining moment in my walk with God and hands down the most powerful encounter I’ve ever experienced since coming to Christ in April. I’m done doubting. God answered my prayers and requests and hit me like a freight train with Himself to forever wash away my doubts.

After that moment it makes complete sense to me now why so many people can doubt God’s existence: We are so disconnected from God and we try and figure everything out with our minds. Well, our minds are nothing in comparison to God. And it completely made sense during that experience, only from a true spiritual realm can you understand that God is real and can he fully connect with you. He is the creator, and we are the created. I don’t see the pancakes I made for breakfast figuring me out. Anyways, I had to get this written and out for people to read because God showed me that He is real, and Jesus was his son. I still find myself wondering why God chose me to transform my life and encounter his love, but my mind can never figure God out. There’s way more going on in this world than the human eye can see, and I will never forget that night; and finally, with everything I am, I can say to anyone I know for a fact Jesus is who he says he is. Now it’s time to go make disciples of all nations!

One last thing, I came across the following the next day reading God’s word and it does a good job explaining what I experienced:

1 Corinthians 2:6-16

“Wisdom From the Spirit”

6We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9However, as it is written:
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him”— 10but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.[b] 14The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment: 16″For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?”[c] But we have the mind of Christ.

God Bless, PEACE!

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Unashamed

It’s been a few months since I’ve written anything, so I’ve got a lot on my mind. I’ll try and cram the last two months into several paragraphs, even though I could write a book on what I’ve learned during this time. Here goes…

I was happy to find some really talented Christian rappers recently and that has been a great change of pace. I quit idolizing the music icons who worship money, sex, drugs and themselves months ago, so finding some new rap that focuses on Jesus and his amazing love was pretty sweet. It says a lot about these rappers who could easily go mainstream and make it big, but instead, dedicate their lives to Christ and communicate that through their rhymes. Among these artists is Lecrae, who I would have to say is my favorite at this point. His style, flow, and beats are anything you would hear in a club, but his lyrics are speaking truth into the hearts of all people. One of his songs, “Unashamed,” talks about how he doesn’t care about what non-Christian rappers think about him because he isn’t afraid to proclaim the Gospel. Romans 1:16 says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.”

This is definitely the stage I’ve arrived at. I’ve come to the realization that I am a new person, free from my sin because of Jesus. My identity is in Jesus. I get my strength from Jesus. I’m finally living life because of Jesus. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. My life revolves around Jesus! Just typing that makes me smile because of what he’s done for me. I wish I could put into words what it means to be born-again in Him. It’s almost impossible though. Words truly can’t describe the life that Jesus restores in those who put their faith in him. All I can say is this: I can never, ever, go back to being a slave to sin and living for myself. We were made to glorify God, and when we start doing that, he transforms you heart and mind into the most amazing thing you could imagine, and then some. The more I put into this, the more I’m blown away and thinking, “No way! This is too good to be true! Why me God? I don’t deserve it!” And then, before I can even get an answer, he gives me more. I feel like I’m hardly doing justice to how great all this is, but I’m explaining it the best I can. It really is true when you hear someone say you won’t understand it unless you’ve experienced it.

Has this been an easy walk in the park for me? No. Dear God, no. It is tough. I have suffered, but through suffering comes growth, and through growth comes great reward. It’s all on God’s time, not mine. He knows that if he gave me everything overnight that I would go back to my old lifestyle in a heartbeat, so he doesn’t. My faith gets stronger over time, and despite the minor suffering from time to time, it’s well worth it. I really wish more people my age could experience what the Christ-centered life is. It’s hard to give up the earthly things that society tells us are natural. It’s hard to not get caught up in the ways of this world. It’s hard feeling like an outcast when it’s so easy to just follow the crowd. But, when it’s all said and done, I’m 100% sure my rewards are waiting in Heaven. I see life through the lens of God now, and though it may seem weird or crazy to some people, I know we all have to face judgement when Jesus comes back. I can’t imagine how glorious of a day that will be, and until then, I’ll be living life to the fullest through Him.

It’s not about me anymore, but it always is, and always will be about JESUS.

I’m Unashamed!

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The Atheist debate

A few weeks ago I watched a video online with four people debating the question of Satan: Is he real? One of the four was Evangelical Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church. Becoming a fan of his in the past year, I was excited to watch the video and see what he had to say.

I had been watching videos on You Tube of the average person’s perspective on God. I was a little disappointed to see many Christians arguing and stooping down to the other people’s levels when it came to this subject. Most atheists’ videos claimed the usual stuff: God doesn’t exist, Christians are delusional, if there’s a God why is there so many bad things going on in the world, etc. etc.

For me, I’ve read plenty of books and done my own research to determine if there’s a God, and I’ve always believed. While I used to doubt at times, due to the past four months I need no further explanation. I’ve experienced God. He came into my life and transformed my heart, mind, and soul. Now, I don’t need people to convince me with facts, because I’ve lived it, felt it.

Though I can understand why atheists have their doubts, I do feel bad for them. They spend so much time arguing, debating, and building up anger towards Christians, that it makes me say, “If there’s not a God, why are these people making it a top priority to try and prove Christians wrong?” Well, if the subject of God has become such a big part of their life, maybe it’s because God himself is trying to get their attention.

Anyways, while watching the debate with Mark Driscoll, I was intrigued at some of the atheists’ views and responses. They don’t believe in intelligent design, yet they have no idea how we got here. They think we evolved from monkeys, yet they can’t explain where we automatically receive our morals from. “We’re human, that’s why we have morals,” they boldly proclaim.

Out of all the nonsense I heard from the two atheists at the debate, one thing really stuck out to me and hit home hard. A Christian audience member asked on of the two a simple, yet powerful question, “What if you’re wrong?”

When asked this, the mad dodged an actual answer and turned the question around on the audience member saying, “What if you’re wrong about the man in the sky?”

His response astonished me. It seems obvious that his answer should have been, but he didn’t answer, he tried to be witty and turn it around on the audience member. Well, I will answer the question for him. As a matter of fact, I will answer both questions:

To the Atheist: “What if you’re wrong?”

-Well, If I’m wrong, then I will burn in hell for eternity. I will wish that I had listened to others and let down my pride. I wouldn’t have tried to outsmart God. I will want so badly to cry out to Jesus to rescue me from hell, but it will be impossible because I’ve never known Jesus, and I never accepted him as my Lord and Savior. My life on earth will have failed miserably and I will be paying the price eternally.

To the Christian: “What if you’re wrong?”

-Well, if I’m wrong, then it won’t matter because when I die nothing will happen. But if that’s the case, I will have lived the most fulfilling life humanly possible. I lived humbly, helped others, and was all around a genuinely great person. I know that the life I lived was the only way to experience true happiness; happiness you can’t find in alcohol, drugs, sex, or money. Overall, I will have lived a great, fulfilling, happy life.

So, knowing the difference between the two answers, it’s a no-brainer to me that the Christian life is the only life to live. Not only do we know it’s true because of the Bible, but we know it’s the most fulfilling life out there. Is it really worth risking your eternal life because you don’t think there’s a God? Is it worth this short, short lifetime to debate and try to disprove God, risking that once you die you’ll forever live in hell?

It saddens me to see people living their lives blind to the truth and assuming there’s no Heaven or hell. Are you really going to risk your eternal life based on an opinion? It’s truly, truly sad, and shocking to me that people are willing to do that. I don’t want anybody to live for eternity in hell. But more importantly, neither does Jesus. He wants you to live with Him in Heaven forever.

Take some time to really weigh the positives and negatives of living for God. Do your research. Look up the historical accuracy of the Bible and be witness to the billions of Christians worldwide who have personally experienced God in their lives. It’s your decision. Heaven, or hell?

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