Archive for December, 2010

Reflecting on Romans 8:7-9

“When people’s thinking is controlled by the sinful self, they are against God, because they refuse to obey God’s law and really are not even able to obey God’s law. Those people who are ruled by their sinful selves cannot please God. But you are not ruled by your sinful selves. You are ruled by the Spirit, if that Spirit of God really lives in you. But the person who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Christ.” Romans 8:7-9

This means that people who are not saved and not yet changed in their hearts by God live sinful lives, getting caught up in all the bad stuff of the world. It could be drugs, sexual behavior, gossip, etc. But what captures my attention is how it says “really are not even able to obey God’s law.” It says not only do unsaved people not want to obey God’s law, but that it is actually impossible for them to.

No matter what they do, even if it is not necessarily bad stuff, if their actual hearts are not changed so that they love God, they cannot ever please God.

There are so many people who want to try to get into heaven by the things they do, but it is only by faith in Christ alone do we get into heaven. It is important to understand that it is literally impossible to get into heaven if we do not have faith in Christ.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” Romans 5:1-2

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

But Romans 8:7-9 says we cannot please God unless we have the Spirit of Christ in us. But when we are ruled by the Spirit of Christ, we stop living for the things in this world, and start living for him. We become slaves to God:

“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” Romans 6:16-18

I think this is a good way to tell if I am encountering a genuine Christian or not. A genuine Christian is changed from the inside out. It’s important to remember that the transformation starts from the inside, changing the heart, and works it’s way outside, into the things you do. So first, the person’s heart changes and they develop a genuine love for Christ and God. Then, the internal love starts to pour out, and it reflects into their actions: they start living for God, trying harder to avoid sin, like gossiping and lust, etc. And they grow more and more humble as they learn to seve others and serve God. Their actions will begin to reveal that the Spirit of Christ lives in them.

I look at it kind of like a disease. A person with the true Spirit of Christ in them once had a horrible disease, but they found the source of the problem to cure the disease, and so all the symptoms of the disease went away after they were cured. The source of the disease represents the sinful heart, and by starting to love Christ with all their heart and trusting him, they are healed, and so the bad things they do stop, as a reflection of their heart. They start living out what they feel inside.

A person without the Spirit of Christ, a false believer, they see the disease in themself and they do things to get rid of the symptoms, so they can convince others that the disease is gone. But even if they hide the symptoms, the disease is still there, tearing them down internally. Their hearts are not changed, they are just trying to convince everyone that it has been changed by what that do, and it phony because they still are evil inside.

To me, it’s typically fairly obvious to see who’s hearts are genuinely devoted to Christ. A false believer may try to act godly, but a genuine one, I can tell that everything they do, they do it to please God. They aren’t as caught up with trying to please men. When I see these people, they often wow me.

I have a friend who says he loves God, but he does drugs and drinks and totally gets caught up in the wrong crowd of people. I can tell his heart has not chagned, that he doesnt’ have the Spirit of Christ in him. If people have a changed heart for God, it should shine in their lives. It shouldn’t just be that they go to church. It should be that they eat, sleep, breathe, loving God. They give and share because they are trying to be like Jesus, and they are trying to get people to see that love in them.

They are genuine, with real hearts, real love, real care, good character. For these people, following Jesus isn’t just a thought, but it is a radical change in lifestyle. They are living for something bigger than themselves, for something more temporary than making themselves great. They live to make Jesus’s name famous, helping to advance the kingdom.

And that’s what Christians should do! 😀

Click here to Accept Christ!

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You Have God’s Love Simply Because You Are His Child!

Some people believe that they can do enough ‘good works’ to earn God’s love. That if they act good enough, help enough people, don’t sin, don’t curse, don’t gossip, steal, etc., God will love them and allow them to come into heaven.

But imagine these scenarios:

A baby, screaming her head off, her dad doesn’t know what to do to make her stop crying. He’s exhausted, trying to feed her, burp her, make her happy, change her… but she won’t stop crying. Snot is running down her nose, tears down her face, she has this ear piercing scream. Dad can’t take it! Does he suddenly not love her anymore? Because she won’t behave, is she suddenly not important to him anymore? Of course she is! No matter how she acts, she is still his little girl, and he’ll love her no matter what she does.

A 16 year old boy is acting up in school, always coming home way past curfew. Got caught up with drugs once, lies to his parents to get what he wants from them. He sounds pretty horrible! His dad hates his behavior, wishes he would pay attention is school, stop wasting his life, stop hanging with bad people. He yells at his son because he never listens, and he’s very disappointed in him. He breaks his heart so much. But if that boy ever really needed his dad for anything, he would be there to help him out. In an instant, if he had to die to let his son live, he would be willing to die, no question about it. He’s angry at how he behaves, but that doesn’t mean he doesnt’ love him anymore!

You cannot earn God’s love. Stop trying! God already loves you, just because you are his child. Guess what? You’re the screaming baby girl, the messed up 16 year old boy. And even when you do nothing but mess up, Jesus still loves you. There’s nothing you can do that is so horrible that could ever change that.

“Yes, I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor ruling spirits, nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers, nothing above us, nothing below us, nor anything else in the whole world will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

“Because of his love, God had already decided to make us his own children through Jesus Christ. That was what he wanted and what pleased him, and it brings praise to God because of his wonderful grace. God gave that grace to us freely, in Christ, the One he loves. In Christ we are set free by the blood of his death, and so we have forgiveness of sins. How rich is God’s grace.” Ephesians 1:5-7

“But if we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins, because we can trust God to do what is right. He will cleanse us from all the wrongs we have done.” 1 John 1:9

We cannot go to church enough to win God’s love. How many times have you messed up, and your parents forgave you? God knows we are not perfect. It’s for that very reason that he sent his perfect son Jesus to the world to pay for our sins. Because we are imperfect, and we cannnot get to heaven by ourselves, God noticed this imperfection in us and sent Jesus into the world to correct us in our hearts, so all that we have to do is trust Jesus, let him be Lord in our life, recognize that he takes away our sin, and we can get into heaven.

“So do we have a reason to brag about ourselves? No! And why not? It is the way of faith that stops all bragging, not the way of trying to obey the law. A person is made right with God through faith, not through obeying the law.” Romans 3:27-28

All we can do is try to do the best we can in our walks with God. We have to try to be obedient to him, listen to him, live like the bible tells us to live. And we’ll screw up all the time. Heck, I screw up every day. But God doesn’t say we have to succeed, but we have to really and truly try. As long as our hearts are in the right place, Jesus takes care of the rest. If we stumble in our walks with Christ (which we will), we are caught in his grace.

When we mess up, if we maintain faith in Christ, he will not let us be ruined. He will help us get back up when we fall. However, this means we have to give our hearts to him, and trust him. Many people reading this post have not even given our hearts to Jesus, and it is impossible to please God until we have faith in his son.

“When people’s thinking is controlled by the sinful self, they are against God, because they refuse to obey God’s law and really are not even able to obey God’s law. Those people who are ruled by their sinful selves cannot please God.” Romans 8:7-8

So you want to please God. You have to trust Jesus to lead you in your life, and stop trying to lead the life yourself. Pray that he comes into your life, takes over, confess your sins to him. Trust him, he will forgive you. We get to be in heaven with God by trusting that Jesus saved us by dying for us on the cross, and rising 3 days later. Pray that he comes into your heart and takes over, know that he is Lord. He will rescue you. You are his precious son or precious daughter. He knows how to take care of you better than you know how to take care of yourself.

“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

“for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'”Romans 10:13

If you believe in your heart that Jesus has rescued you from sin, you will be saved. Stop trying to be in control, let him have control. You have his love, he is waiting for you to start loving him back!

Paradox: Become Greater By Becoming Less

We, as human beings, want to be treated like we are the greatest people ever. In our own sinful, selfish nature, we naturally want to put ourselves before others, be taken care of first, put everyone else second. We say “my life is about ME, ME, ME.” In our walk with Christ, our own evil heart wants to be the center of attention, we want to make decisions for OUR lives, we don’t want Jesus to make them for us. WE want to lead. WE always have the answers.

But that’s an interesting paradox when it comes to living for Jesus:

“Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 10:26-28

We must put ourselves last to become first. To Christ, humility shows much greater strength and deserves much more honor than pride does. A proud man in God’s sight is a wicked man, he is about himself, not concerned with the wellbeing of others, so long as he gets what he desires.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:3-11

So essentially, because Christ, who in his nature is God, decided to humble himself and be a servant and serve others, rather than trying to be equal with God the Father, God made him the greatest person, ruling over all the others. Because of his complete humility and obedience and willingness to be beneath others, God honored him and gave him glory and gave him everything.

Strange paradox, but true. When we fight the desire in our heart to be first, and instead truly desire to serve others, help them when they are in need, show them how to live upright lives for God, and take care of their needs before we worry about our own, God will take care of us. When we make ourselves like nothing, we will bring him glory and he will honor us, and we will be the most blessed.

It’s because God admires humility so much. When we put others first, he puts us first. He loves humility because when we are humble, he really gets to be in charge of our lives, and we help others more, love others more, are more compassionate, caring, and we can change the world with such love. Humility means we stop being arrogant and recognize that others have needs, too. We serve others, and these other people we serve are God’s children, and he sees how we help them. To become great in God’s sight, we have to become less. We have to be second, instead of being first.

“Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.” Proverbs 18:12

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2

“In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’” 1 Peter 5:5

Jesus was abused, cursed at, spit on, died on a cross for us. He was obedient to his father to the point of death. He could have called angels to kill all the people who hurt him, who caused him nothing but pain and misery. He is God! But he did not. He loved them, he still prayed for them, still died for them. Humility. Serving others. Obedient. And God sees his son denying himself for the sake of others, and now Jesus is the greatest one ever, and it is impossible to get to heaven with out him. He is the greatest one in our lives, the most important, most significant.

When you want a position like that, and you aim for that, being proud and depending on yourself and being all about yourself, trying to exalt yourself, God makes you last and the least among men, and you will never achieve such greatness.

A lot of people don’t understand the paradox. When others are trying to make their names great, they get caught up in sin and really aren’t great. When I am trying to make Jesus’s name great, and I am serving others for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, he sees that, and I will achieve more than the selfish person.

Embrace the paradox. Or face the frustration of constantly trying to succeed and only finding failure. Make Jesus’s name greater. When it comes to yourself, become less.

A relationship – time= the death of that relationship

I have a friend named Tabitha. During our junior and senior years in high school, we became really close until we were the best of friends. I loved Tab. We had a lot in common, we both had strange boyish qualities: her love for wrestling and crazy rock music and her more ‘not caring’ attitude, and she always thought of herself as a tough SOB. She actually got me interested in wrestling, and I already loved crazy, heavy rock music. I always had this rockstar type of mentality, feeling like I am the craziest and the greatest. It was this kind of strange stuff that brought us so close together, and we were different from everyone else by our unique mentalities.

We both had the sadistic/pyscho kind of view of the world. So we always had fun together. We enjoyed talking to each other and hanging out, united in our weirdness. We talked tons on the phone, and I really started enjoying high school because of her. I used to just always feel alone, but the time we invested in each other made for an awesome time and an interesting friendship.

But the more we got wrapped up in our own worlds, the more we neglected our friendship. I missed her, but I started working. I had school and work. Soon, I really started aching to see her. I feel this way to this day. It is so painful and sad, knowing that our wonderful friendship is wasting away, and there is a burning of sorrow in my heart.

Whenever I finally found time to call her, we would talk for hours, until I had to go somewhere. Then it would be weeks before we talked again. I feel like if I don’t call her up to do something, our friendship will quickly keep evaporating until there is just nothing left to hold on to.

Relationships take a lot of time and effort. They don’t just survive ontheir own. We have to work long and hard to develop lasting connections with people we care about. I could cry for how much pain I’m in over Tab, because I’ve never had a lot of close friends.

Well, our relationship with Jesus is the same way. It takes time and effort and lots of energy, like being willing to get up early on sundays to go to church. Like giving God time in the morning through prayer and reading his word, to try to prepare ourselves for the day. Like spending time with a struggling friend, telling them that Jesus won’t give up on them, even when they give up on him. Like listening and being obedient when he tells us to do something. Like putting ourselves aside and putting away our selfish desires so he can get what he desires. Like trusthing him with our problems, with our money, with our everything.

Sound like a lot of work? Well, that’s because it is! Any relationship with having is worth fighting for. If we don’t spend time with Jesus, our relationship dwindles away. The firey passion we once had for him dies down into tiny flames. Then one day, we end up missing him, we end up screwing our own lives up.

A relationship – time= the death of that relationship.

If me and Tabitha never bother to keep in contact with each other, our relationship will eventually die, and it will cause a painful withdrawal for the both of us. If we don’t spend time with Jesus on the daily basis, we will lose our love for him, and it eventually will cause us a lot of pain, whether it means being stuck in a rut we can’t get out of by ourselves, feeling empty, or living a life we bitterly regret. These are some painful consequences of neglecting this relationship. Life builds up until it is impossible for us to handle on our own. The pain we feel when we neglect our relationship with Jesus is a million times worse than the pain I feel by neglecting my relationship with Tabitha.

Tabitha is my friend, and our relationship is important to me, so now I have extra encouragement to try to keep in contatct with her. Jesus is not only our friend, but also our father, our saviour, our redeemer, our hope, our love, our freedom, our strength, our Lord, our master, our everything. That means we should be infinitely more encouraged to spend time with him. I only had fun with Tabitha. I get to do that with Jesus while I grow more mature spiritually. I get to be stronger in my walk with him, and therefore stronger in my decisions of what to do in my life. I get to live a fulfilling life with my best friend, a life more awesome than I could ever imagine.

I will work on my relatinship with Tabitha, I will work on my relationship with Jesus. Time, effort, energy, pain, heartache, blood, sweat, and tears. Whatever it takes. Any relationship worth having is worth fighting for. What are you going to do to spend more time with our Lord and Saviour Jesus?

*Poetry Corner- “Waterfall of Grace”, art

Waterfall of Grace

Falling, falling
In a waterfall of grace
When I hit the bottom
I will not break
Against the rocks
I will not break or falter
I’ll land right in the water

Waterfall
Graceful fall
Sinking and sinking
Plummit into
The depths of his mercy
Crashing into
The hope of eternity
And the love inside his heart
Lets me loose, sets me free
Sinking
In an ocean of grace
And the bottom,
I will never reach
I keep falling and falling
Immsersed in his mercy

When I fall, I never hit the rocks
I’ll never drown
I actually breathe for the first time
By all the love I’ve found
Or that’s found me
Sinking in a waterfall of grace
For all eternity

copyright Jennifer Clayton

A picture I recently drew, which coincidently goes with this poem:

Hope you guys feel this way. 🙂

Sponsoring a Child through Compassion?

I have been entertaining the idea of sponsoring a child through this program called Compassion.

It costs $38 a month, and you get to provide for the physical needs of a child, such as food and clothing. You also get to help them with their spiritual needs, telling them about Jesus, and how he offers strength for them, even during hard times.

Even when they are in poverty, he places an anchor on their soul of love and mercy, in the midst of a listless sea that keeps them turning in poverty and sorrow. He grounds them and gives them peace, where they otherwise could not find it. I have learned that during hard times, Jesus will carry faithful people through all kinds of turmoil and they will come out on the other side:

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. When you cross rivers, you will not drown. When you walk through fire, you will not be burned, nor will the flames hurt you.” Isaiah 43:2

I work at Chick-fil-A, make minimum wage, and I really would like to do this. I can tell them about Jesus through letters I could send them each month, and they would write back to me. They would get to be emotionally connect to someone, and in a sense, they are my child (really Jesus’s child, he’s just using me to get to them :)), and I adopt the responsibility of taking care of them. I have money saved away, and I am working a lot.

My mom thinks I should give money another way, because it really is a lot of responsibilty. I will pray on it more. I am planning on sponsoring them on Christmas day, but I want to keep getting pulled by the Holy Spirit to do it, because I know that if he tells me to do it, I am supposed to do God’s work and ignore what my mother says.

There are other ways to give and tell about Christ, but my heart breaks for all the young children all around the world who just need to know of Jesus’s love, his compassion and friendship. My heart breaks because I could take this opportunity.

How could I turn away from them? I feel like I am so capable of doing this. I get so angry at my mom, and I know she is just looking out for me, but I get angry when she tells me to just save my money. It’s like really? I’ve already put a lot away and what do I do with what’s left? She says just to save that, too, or buy something I want.

But what I want deep down in my heart is to sponsor a child. Broken heart in a world of distress. It’s like my mom is looking out for me, but my heart is too big for Jesus that I can’t freakin’ help but give and give and give, and even after I give, I have enough for myself.

But I will pray. Anyone have any idea what I should do? I know Jesus won’t be mad at me if I do it. I am just trying to consider the weight of the responsibilty, looking after a child for years. For $38 a month, I’d still have more than enough money to do what I want. I’m only 18, though. Should I tie down my life with such responsibilty? For the sake of a hurting child?

Jesus worked so hard for us and sacrificed himself, so that we may live instead of him, through him. I want to be self-sacrificial because his love runs through my veins like crazy, and I want to do anything I can to show I love him.

But most likely, I will adopt. I will keep praying. Please keep praying for me. 🙂

In the Midst of the Pain, I Grow

Following Jesus is hard. I constantly put aside what I want to try to please him. I find myself falling over in his love, wondering if I can pray harder, run faster, say more, draw more, write more to tell about Jesus. I feel myself immersed in his message, pulling my hair out to share about his good news, even when I’m tired. Constantly tired, defeated, but I push on.

Lately, I feel like my heart has been kind of on the rocks. I love God with all my heart, but he has been silent with me for so long, I desperately want him to talk to me, because I’ve been in a lot of pain. I want him to explain why Lacey Mosley gets married or my friend hears God speak to him or why everyone seems to be on their way, following the path God leads them to, and why I feel left behind.

I ask God every day why I feel empty, unloved, left out. He doesn’t respond. I cry and my heart breaks, and he doesn’t make a peep. I know he loves me, but I don’t understand why I am in so much pain. I look back: what sin had I committed? Where did I go wrong? Why is Perry Noble or my friends so much more special than me? Why will he help them with problems that seem so tiny, while I have problems that honestly make me want to shoot myself?

I hate to admit it, because I want God to actually talk to me like he has done in the past, but I hate admitting that even when he will not please me by talking this way, he is in in actuality talking to me all the time. He speaks to all of us all the time. How? He speaks through his word- through the bible.

I admit, it seems soooo unfair. Why do other people get the easy way out, when I have to dig deep to find the meaning myself, do the research? How can I handle doing so when my heart is in pieces, when it’s so hard to focus without bursting into tears because of my emptiness? I don’t know. I find myself constantly frustrated and furious with God because of this. But when I force myself through the pain, and read my book of quotes from the bible, it helps to heal my heart a lot. I’ll be hating how God is treating me, and I’ll look up something about being depressed and find:

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. When you cross rivers, you will not drown. When you walk through fire, you will not be burned, nor will the flames hurt you.” Isaiah 43:2

“His anger lasts only a moment, but his kindness lasts for a lifetime. Crying may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

“My friends, do not be surprised at the terrible trouble which now comes to test you. Do not think that something strange is happening to you. But be happy that you are sharing in Christ’s sufferings so that you will be happy and full of joy when Christ comes again in glory.” 1 Peter 4:12-13

“I will give them a crown to replace their ashes, and the oil of gladness to replace their sorrow, and clothes of praise to replace their spirit of sadness. Then they will be called Trees of Goodness, trees planted by the Lord to show his greatness.” Isaiah 61:3

And each time I read these little sections, I find myself uncovering pieces of God’s heart.

My heart bomb about to explode with anger gets defused little by little. It seems so freakin’ impossible, when all I want to do is hurt God like he has watched me get hurt. But each time I read, his spirit of peace is like weights on my soul- holding me down and grounding me in his outstanding love again. It’s like when I read, I see the true face of God. I feel I can dig myself out of all my impossible holes I dig myself in. Even holes I get stuck in that I have not dug for myself.

A characteristic of my suffering heart lately is that I feel so fragile and that I am certainly about to break at any moment. But somehow when I am floating aimlessly in a sea of confusion, these words anchor my soul:

“God will strengthen you with his own great power so that you will not give up when troubles come, but you will be patient. And you will joyfully give thanks to the Father who has made you able to have a share in all that he has prepared for his people in the kingdom of light.” Colossians 1:11-12

“He gives strength to those who are tired and more power to those who are weak. Even children become tired and need to rest, and young people trip and fall. But the people who trust the Lord will become strong again. They will rise up as an eagle in the sky; they will run and not need rest; they will walk and not become tired.” Isaiah 40:29-31

“I will not leave you all alone like orphans; I will come back to you.” John 14:18

“He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

“If my father and mother leave me, the Lord will take me in.” Psalm 27:10

This love anchors my soul, and I find myself waking up on God’s boat, knowing I am traveling in the right direction. I was lost at sea, and this truth and his unbelievably glorious and strong heart pulls me in.

A lot of times, I used to feel like it was crap that the bible could heal your broken heart. But when I’m in so much pain that any sane person would consider it too much and kill themselves to get out of it, I trust in the Lord, and just as I think he is about to let me die, he pulls me in and brings me back to life. When I feel like I am absolutely without a shadow of a doubt breathing my last, he breathes life into me.

The Lord is mysterious in this way. You always expect him to be there for you, but not quite in the way you had in mind. The same way bandages cover up cuts and bruises, his words take the sting out of the unending pain, and I can make it through another day. I get so freakin’ furious that I can’t be like everyone else, even to the point that I wanted to strangle him. But I pull tight to his grace, and wrap myself in humility, and take on this challenge to be different in the Lord.

The bible heals and challenges you and helps to strech and grow you. It reveals the very character of God. Take time to read it for maybe 10 or 20 minutes every morning. Pray that the Lord will reveal his heart to you, and show you what he wants you to see through reading. If you are in a lot of pain, look for sections that talk about healing. There is always something to find.

I’m praying for all you guys. God bless you all! 🙂

*The bible quotes books I’m reading: GOD’S PROMISES for every day

Don’t Talk the Talk, Walk the Walk!!

It breaks my heart to know that some people think that if they just believe in Jesus, just believe in God, they are doing enough. But it is not just enough to say you believe. When people doubt my faith in Christ, I don’t like to sit there and argue with them. I could argue about my faith all day, win an argument, but by my actions, show that I was lying and that my faith was false.

Like I could convince someone I was sweet and loving and giving, but never give a dime to anyone, never offer help to anyone who needed it, and just be incredibly selfish. Yeah, I won the argument, but that didn’t mean anything.

The same is true with faith in Christ. Anyone can discuss all day how good a Christian they are, but if they say that, and then never do anything to prove that their faith is as great as they claim it is, then as far as I am concerned, their faith is dead.

One thing I learned about being a true Christian, with a truly changed heart for Christ, is that if you love him and have really accepted him as Lord and Savior of your life, putting him first and putting yourself second, you will yearn to do things for him.

Like when you love your husband or wife or boyfriend or girlfriend, you want to do whatever you can in your own power to make them as happy as possible. You want to buy them gifts and do what they say and shower them with love. Well, Christ is the same way. I know in my life, I love him with every ounce of love in me, and so I constantly desire to pray more, and help others more, and write more about him to affect more people, and to give money in his name, and to trust him, etc.

My actions show that I love him. I work, I go to church and tithe, I sing about him in my music, I draw him in my art, I write about him in my poetry. In doing everything I love to do, I try to make sure he is a part of it. Because I live to glorify him and make his name famous, not mine.

When people question my faith, I don’t argue because I don’t like to talk the talk, I like to walk the walk. By walking and walk, and doing what God tells me to do, people will see what I do and there will be no need to argue. They will see I am truly faithful to God and my faith will affect them in a positive way.

“If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.” James 2:16-18

Faith without works is dead. If you truly believe the message of Christ, and do nothing, how will other people truly believe? Someone had to act to reach out to you, so you could be touched and changed in your heart by the message of the Gospel. They had to ignore doing other things they wanted to do and focus on doing what God wanted them to do, and that was to act on his behalf. And by acting, they introduced many people to Christ, and many people had their lives changed.

To say you believe in Jesus, and then not tell a soul about it or live the way he tells us to, means you are a deadbeat in the body of Christ. If I go out and preach and write more about the powerful turth of the Gospel, more people will change.

I feel like, if we don’t do anything for Christ through our actions, we are just a story in a book, we are just pictures on a page, flat and 2-dimensional. But by committing the words of God to our heart and letting that eventually transform into what we do and how we live, we are no longer a 2-dimensional story, but we are alive..

like instead of watching a movie on a flat screen, we become a live play on a stage, living a life devoted to Jesus on it. The difference between a movie and a play? A story in a book and real life? One is a lot more real, a lot more genuine, personal, reaches people a lot more effectively.

We shouldn’t let the world see us as hypocrites. We should practice what we preach, so when people say crap about us, it won’t be true. We, as the church, should sparkle and shine as the bride of Christ with no blemish, no defect. People should see us and not think we are a bunch of hypocrites and liars, but think, ‘wow, this is an amazing group of loving people with hearts for God, and I want to be a part of it’.

Practice what you preach! Commit the words of the Lord to your heart, and let that transform how you live your life. 🙂

What do I think Jesus wants his followers to do?

Pray; trust him; be obedient; listen to everything he says; love unconditionally, him and everyone else, with every ounce of love in our hearts.

Work hard in his name- meaning in everything we do, we should do it in the name of Christ. Commit to excellence for him, in everything we do, so people will see us and should be blown away with how awesome he is. He wants us to give, be selfless, be humble, be involved with our Christian family, inspring each other.

Always, always, always find ways to improve as a Christian, trust ourselves less and trust him more, never give up, never lose heart, depend on his strength to get us through literally anything and everything. Never get tired of working hard. Hold tight onto the faith. Show our faith is true through our actions!

I’ll admit, I don’t pray nearly enough, I get tired and don’t feel like doing it. I get sick of people from time to time, not feeling like showing them the love I am supposed to show them. But Christ has called us to action. So I will grow from my weakness, and let my actions prove my faith, not my words.

God bless, Jennifer

Jesus Is A Bridge

I drew this picture on neondragonart.com.

Took about 8 hours. (Click pic. for actual size! :))

This picture rings so true in my heart. Mankind is on 1 side of the world. God is on the other side of the world. We could never reach God because of our sinful nature:

“There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24

Without Jesus, we would have to be perfect to get into heaven. But because Jesus was perfect and sacrificed himself to take on our sins and free us from them by paying for them by death on the cross, the broken connection between God and mankind is now fixed. His strength and love and mercy allowed us to have a relationship with the Father, allows us to get into heaven.

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.'” John 14:6-7

Jesus was perfect where we couldn’t be perfect, and he was perfect for us. God is too glorious for us to reach alone, but because Jesus was just as his father, he bridged the gap, healed the broken family. Wow.

So while we might try to do many different things to get into heaven, for example, go to church, pray, not curse, not gossip, give money to those in need- none of these things will get us into heaven. Because when we sin, we are out of reach of heaven. The bad thing is that we sin everyday, all the time. It’s very natural for us. The good thing is that we are saved by having faith in Jesus Christ, having faith that he saved us from our sins and died on the cross from them and rose 3 days later.

We are saved as we allow him to lead us in our lives instead of letting ourselves lead. Just having faith in a general ‘God’ will not get us into heaven. It’s having faith in Christ. Jesus was our only chance, and he did not let us down. Now we have to choose to take a leap of faith and take that chance.

We are saved not only from hell, but from the bondage of this world, saved from being trapped in sin. After we accept Christ into our hearts, we are no longer slaves to sin, but slaves to righteousness. We no longer belong to the world, we belong to Christ.

“We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” 1 John 5:19

Ever since being redeemed by Jesus, I have felt a sense of peace and an everlasting eternal freedom.

Freedom to grow, love, be strong, survive, thrive, be happy, have hope.. my whole spirit was reborn. Where before, I always felt way too inhibited to do those things, trusting in Christ and trusting in God helped me to have that freedom in my heart again. It gave me freedom to stand against the crap in the world and feel awesome doing it.

I hated feeling alone all the time. I hate that even my best days, when I belonged to the world, even those days really sucked. I love the fact that with Christ, the worse days I’ve ever had with him are better than the best days I’ve ever had in the world.

I have literally cried over and over and had my heart broken and stumped on and been mad at Jesus and been in so much pain- and it does not come close to the pain I had when I was in the world, even when I was doing my best there. It’s so insane! Why would anyone not want to have this strength? It’s awesome that this strength is not even my own strength, but Christ in me.

I used to write so much poetry to ‘make my heart heal’, but it never worked. My heart only broke even more. I remember I thought I was gonna die and felt like I was gonna go insane before I trusted God. I’d sit at the computer and not be able to really write, because there were so many thougts that I just could not freakin’ keep up with! That was my strength alone- to try constantly to succeed at making me feel better and only fail. That’s where I died; in that room, on the computer, fighting to getting the words out, loosing an eternally impossible battle. Trusting God- that’s where his life started in me.

So the heart I have now is does not contain the desires that I want, but rather contains the desires that God wants: to reach the world, to save all the broken people, to let them know there is strength more than they could ever know; to let them know there is strength and so much mercy that they could have peace, no matter how horrible their circumstances are. Jesus is funny like that, awesome like that.

You could be beaten half to death and still feel a sense of peace in your heart, because no matter what people try to do to you in this world, he gives you freedom from them, because you belong to him when you trust him. I’ve gone through so much agony in Christ, and felt this endless fountain of love and hope and strength.

Following Christ is not easy, but it has always been easier for me to do this than to wrack my brains out trying to write poetry to heal myself and what not.

I never say “I want to be famous because I am awesome,” or, “this life is all about me, me, me”. Because that selfish little “me, me, me” heart died at that computer screen. The reason why I am so eager to please the Holy Spirit and obey him is because I gave up myself that night, when I realized I was going to die if I trusted in my strength.

I don’t mind tithing my money to church, or devoting time and money into relationships that help tell people about Christ. Because Christ is the true answer to all the hell in this world. There was a kid that accepted Christ once, and his dad was into sorcery and what not, and he tried to beat Jesus out of his son.

He beat him from his head to his feet. He kicked him out the house and said he was dead to him, because he loved Jesus suddenly. But the kid didn’t even care. He had that fountain of strength in Jesus, his friends said that they saw peace in his eyes, despite what had happened to him.

So I’ve learned that even kids in the most difficult circumstances- whether in poverty or having a tough time with family- if they have that true hope that Christ rescued them from sin by dying for them on the cross, they gain that fountain of strength, and can endure the craziest of circumstances!

This is how even the people in the most disasterous of situation can survive in their heart and spirit, where they couldn’t survive in this world. Paul the Apostle new what it was like to love Jesus, be treated like crap for it, and completely be able to handle it, for he said:

“Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” 2 Corinthians 6:4-10

“Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.” 2 Corinthians 11:23-27

This shows that Paul the Apostle suffered so severely for Christ, but he had strength to endure it. Who else has the strength to go through so much pain and tolerate it, no matter what? He has the strength of Christ in him. That boy who got beaten by his father has that strength. Me, even with all my bad days, feeling better than I’ve ever felt before… I have the strength of Christ in me.

This bridge from this world to the next. Faith in Christ. Freakin’ awesome. Are you ready to devote your life to him? The bible says:

“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Romans 10:8-10

Pray in your heart: “Jesus, come into my life, take over, be my Lord. Lead me, show me how to live for you. I know you paid for my sins on the cross. Be my king”

As long as you truly mean that when you pray it, you will be saved. How many of you have already made this decision? Let me know! 🙂

God bless, xox, Jennifer Clayton

*Poetry Corner- “Wrapped Up in Chains”

Wrapped Up in Chains

So much pain,
I can’t feel
Anything at all
Lord, I did not give you half of my heart
I swore I’d give it all
And so I gave it all

Even with you Lord, I fall hard to the ground
And in chains, forever I’m bound
And I scream in the pain
But internally, I pace myself
And I constantly reflect on
The love in your heart
And even as I hurt, I’m okay
Your mercy, your power, your glory,
Hardwired in my brain,
Excuse me-
I mean, hardwired in my heart

And I stand in the flames
Wrapped up in your chains
And head strong, I move on
If I’m in pain, I’ll resist running away
As long as it brings glory to you
Will it make you happy?
Then I’ll fight my way through
Whether I live or die,
I’ll stand by your side
This world cannot shake the love
I have gained in you
Each bullet in my soul,
I’ll take it for you
At the end of the day
When I’m burning, sitting on the pain
I am running this race
And I will pace myself
So I can make it through
Forgetting myself,
I’m living this life for you

You sacrificed yourself for my freedom
And as a Christian, I cannot live without sacrifice
You were in pain so spiritually, I could survive
And to say following you is easy
Is nothing but a lie
But it’s certainly worth a try
And the preachers preach and they preach
But if they tell everyone this is easy
It is a lie
But I know the grace I’ve recieved
And so I will try
Running this race
Face to face with the pain,
Wearing your name
By carrying chains

But I won’t fall over dead in my heart
This pain is nothing compared to the
Freedom you’ve given me
And I will pace myself
Until I pass the finish line
And I can look you in the eyes
Be by your side
In Heaven

And you laid down your life for mine
As a Christian, I can’t live without self-sacrifice
I’ll see you in heaven when I cross the finish line
Because you are well worth the race, worth the fight

—————————

copyright Jennifer Clayton

I wanted to write a poem about how following Christ isn’t easy, but it is soooo worth the fight. The reward in heaven, the love, the strength.. freakin’ amazing. To be able to stand out in this world as something different, have self-respect, to live for something bigger than you.. to have a purpose, to know the direction you are going in life, to have something to ground you in the midst of all the craziness, to have a relationship when you are lonely… nice.

But it’s not easy. It’s hard work, sacrificing the things I want to live for Christ. I have to lay down my desires and pick up his desires. Carry my cross. But I truly don’t mind. It’s nothing compared to the hell I used to live in before him. Being in pain for him doesn’t hurt nearly as much as having fun without him.. seriously! We have to learn to let him lead us. It is hard, since we are such individualistic people, who want to be independent and go after our goals and make ourselves bigger. But everything I once held dear, I count it all as loss…