Monday, February 16, 2015

Why I believe in Jesus (church edition)

So I'll start out by saying, I was born in Lexington, Ky. I was right in the heart of Wildcat country. I was blessed to live in a christian home. I was dragged to church. Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night for Awanas. Every Sunday night felt like nails on a chalk board. I just didn't like going then. I had this  giant book of bible puzzles and activities to work on during the services, to which i would work on mostly on Sunday nights. One Sunday night in particular, I overheard my Pastor ask, do you know Jesus? Do you want Him to come into your heart? I had heard this many, many times but, something felt different that night. I knew I wanted to go to heaven because of my oldest brother, Daniel was there. So that night, without telling my parents, I go up and tell the pastor that i wanted to invite Jesus into my heart. I remember praying with him as he led me in the sinners prayer. I got baptized that next weekend.

 So fast forward a couple of years. I am a teen and in the 6th grade. I love going to my youth group mostly due to one thing, the worship music. My brother is in the praise band so it is really nice to see him use his gifts and talents for God. One specific Wednesday I remember was when our house got broke into, my youth pastor called me up and prayed for our family. It meant so much to me at the time. I felt that Lexington was home for me. Then my dad tells me that we are moving to London. I was not at all wanting to leave. I began to get real moody. I call my best friend and tell her I am having to moving. I wouldn't be able to go to the mall on the weekends anymore. But God had a plan. He knew exactly what He was doing. I would start a new school. I would see and hear new things that I have never heard of before. I remember coming to Corinth Baptist Church and meeting Mrs. Marlene Webb. She has a special place in my heart. She helped bring me out of my shell. She encouraged me to go to the youth group. At first, it seemed fun and exciting. I liked going to Rick Gage camp and doing all the fun activities we did. But as time went on, I felt like an outcast. I didn't seem to fit in with the group as a whole. But then something happen. We started a youth praise team band. I was really excited about this. I had picked up my moms old acoustic guitar before moving to London and started to learn a few chords. I liked coming to youth group just for that one thing. But as time went by nobody would show up. I got a mad. Amongst other things as well, I just decided not to come to youth group for a long while. I had been talking with this girl, Christis. At first she seems very odd. I had never been around her personality before. She was just different.  But it was good to see her in youth group.

 Then I graduate high school on May 19th 2005. South Laurel High School basketball state champs.  The weekend of my graduation  was supposed to be awesome. Sunday morning after Sunday school my mom and I go down to my nannies house in Georgia and to stay for a full week. This is when I feel my life would slowly start to go down hill. Monday morning,  I wake up at my nannies house to hear that my dad had called my mom. She came in to my room and told me that i needed to get up and get packed to go back home. I asked her why and she said because he had just been to the doctors and had been told he had cancer. Knowing that my brother Daniel had died from Liver Cancer when he was only just 10 months old, it kinda scared me a little bit to hear that dad had cancer too.  I can already see some tension with mom. But God knew what He was doing. He has had his hand on us the entire time. I did not even get to swim in the pool.

 We get back home and I go into a depression. I stop going to church.  I really want to find that happiness again. Then another night came and I find myself on the computer really, really late. I see an ad for something and click on it. I didn't think twice and before I can comprehend what I am doing, I am looking at things i should not be looking at.  Night after night I am up looking at it. It satisfies an emptiness in me for those brief moments, so I thought.  After a while, I feel i am staring down a dark road. I start asking God to forgive me, but the addiction is relentless. I ask a close friend of mine to help me. They tell me every time I even think about looking at it I would have to call them.  I know that I don't want to call them in the middle of the night so I try to stop cold turkey. I start coming back to church.
 After going back to church for a while, my friend Christis finds me and asks me if I had heard anything about an event called Passion. I was like, what is that? She told me that it was a movement for college students to gather and worship Jesus. I told her I never heard it or anything like it.  She asked me if I knew of Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, and Louie Giglio? I said yeah just Chris.  She told me that Louie was the main pastor guy and asked me if I wanted to go to the Passion event at the beginning of that next year. I really didn't want to go so I told her I would pray about it.  She would see me at church from time to time and keep asking me if I wanted to go. We would have to get tickets very soon before the price went up. So I told her yeah, I'll go. Why did I just tell her yes?  I really just wanted to get her off my back. I didn't want go at all.  But I go with her anyway to the event and come back feeling different.  Passion for me was about being real. It was the spark I needed in my life. It helped me put some dirt back into the big hole I dug for myself. Louie, the main speaker, used an analogy in his sermon that first night.  He said,  When you strike a match on the box, it is only lit for a moment and then it goes out. But then you have to ask yourself this question, what did that flame do?  He goes on and says: If your life was lived in that little flame, what would it have accomplished? Then if Jesus had entered that flame, what would it have done then? We will have trouble in our life, guaranteed. But when it comes we need to keep our eyes on the cross. When all things turn to the end in the worst way, only God can bring good back in it! Suffering and hardship can not snuff out our mission!

 I come back from the event and try to do things the right way. I stop listening to the music i had been listening to and try to keep everything positive. Christis and I start to become very close. I am still looking for this happiness and joy but still really have not found it yet. I start really praying to God to forgive me for unconfessed sin in my life. Then the devil starts to tell me lies. He tells me that the bible is just another book and that I should not read it. He also tells me that I am worthless. I start to believe him. I thought that it was God talking. I have so much fear and anxiety. I become very discouraged. But it seems the only one I have to listen to me is christis, who is always encouraging me. Thank you Christis.  I don't know how many talks I have with another special friend, but from what we really dig into, I start to see that I really don't trust anyone but myself. I had trusted in Jesus Christ as my Savior.  A Savior to get me to heaven and that was it. So when i realized that I needed to trust Christ not just as my sin saving Savior but as my everyday Savior, I went to my room and told Him about everything I was holding on to. Everything that was weighing me down, for Him to just take it. I told him that I trusted His judgement and He completely took it all. From that moment on, I felt like i could breathe. I had carried that guilt and selfishness around with me for several years and now it was completely gone. I was 100% real with myself and real with God.  Jesus now meant something to me. He does not condemn me. He came to give me a new life in Him. He loves me for me. He waited patiently all of those years for that moment when I was on my bed handing everything over to Him.   My whole life started to change. I want to pick up the bible and read. I want to go to church now and participate. I never want to go back where I was. If He waited that long for me, how much longer do you think He will wait for you?

 In closing, I would just like to say:
1. Nothing is too big for God to handle.  Never think that you can work things out on your own. Just give it to God and let Him deal with it. That's what He wants to do.
2. Stay in church. If something stirs up within the church walls, pray about it and give it to God. DO NOT quit going to church. That will not solve anything, it just makes it worse.
3. Trust Jesus. Plain and simple. He has been proven worthy and wants to take our faults and fears away.

Thank you for listening and may God bless us all. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

I just want to be real....

I don't want to be a fake. I don't want to even have an inkling of fakeness. I want to be true to who I need to be in Christ.  I want to be real. I want to His light to shine through me.  I don't want to die and at my funeral or viewing people come up to my casket and say: man, jo was a fake. She talked all about how there is a God and how He loves us but never showed people who He was.

I have been thinking about this for a while....