Archive for Faith in Hard Times

Anger and Bitterness part 1- Introduction

I think I decided my next series of lessons would be on anger and bitterness. Why? Because I am really struggling with these things when it comes to God, and what better way to face my problems than to talk about it? I once heard that when you try to teach something to someone else, you better understand it yourself. While you are attempting to explain it someone else, it starts to make more sense to you. And that’s my motivation. I would really like to get past this. I hope you would like to, too. 😀

A lot of people get angry at God. A lot of people get bitter. Christians recognize God as loving, but everyone hits points in their life when they have hardships. They begin to get frustrated with themselves, the world, and God. They start to think, “why is this happening to me? If God is so loving, why doesn’t he take care of me?”

This is also how non-Christians may see God. They look at the suffering in the world and think that there is no way that God could be real, because what kind of loving God would let the world suffer so much?

Someone you love dies. Someone breaks your heart. You don’t get what you want. Someone gets sick, divorced, you world falls apart. A lot of people end up getting angry and bitter when something bad happens in this world that they cannot control. I feel that way sometimes, thinking ‘I can’t control this. But you know who can? God. So this is obviously his fault.’ I feel that way a lot, when I am in so much emotional pain, I cry and I feel like I could die. It’s not fair. He knows how to take care of me, yet he refuses to do it.

Well, there are many ways to approach this issue. For one thing, it’s important to realize that it’s okay to be angry, in that we are human imperfect and can’t help being angry. Instead of playing it off like everything is okay when we feel horrible inside, we need to look at ourselves and acknowledge that something is wrong. A good friend of mine, who talks to me on my forum, had to keep reminding me of that. I am such a perfectionist at times, but we must realize that we are not perfect, and will never be. That’s why Jesus had to die for us, so he could achieve on the cross and through his perfect life what none of us could ever achieve alone. He bridged the gap between us and God, between our imperfection and God’s perfection. I am slowly learning that because God obviously knows that I am not perfect, he sees that I get frustrated and angry.

Another friend of mine told me that sometimes you just have to let it all out, you can’t keep it bottled up inside. You have to pour out your heart to God, let him know what is wrong and what’s going on in your world. He already knows what’s going on in your world, but you will feel much better just to tell him yourself. Don’t see away out of your misery? Confide in him. Even if you break down and cry, if something is bothering you, just be honest with him. He cares about you.

Now, sometimes I take this to the extreme, screaming at him in my head (and maybe cussing a little), and I’m not saying it’s right to blame him for everything or that you should disrespect him when you open up, saying he’s so wrong and whatnot. But just let him know how you really feel. Some people try to act like it’s wrong to ever be upset with God, to never have anything wrong in your world. Those people wouldn’t be acting very honestly if that’s what they say. It’s impossible to not be upset sometimes. It’s called being human.

Instead of looking at it likes it’s a bad thing to have things wrong in your world, I look at it this way: You have a best friend in the world. They make you really happy. But one day, they do something behind your back, and it really makes you angry. So you confront them and let them know what’s wrong, why you are so upset. Then you feel so much better. They are still your friend at the end of the day, you just hit a bump in a road.

Even though God is perfect, sometimes it seems like the things he does (or should I say things he doesn’t do) seem so wrong, it can just drive us nuts. So let him know how you feel, get past this bump in your relationship, and you can still have this wonderful companion at the end of it all. I believe that’s a better way to look at it.

He likes honesty. He likes when we call out for help, because that means we depend on him, it means we need him; when our world gets chaotic, we are forced to trust him because it’s out of our hands.

“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Paul is right. When we are weak, it gives God the chance to reveal his power through us. His strength shows in our weaknesses, as he demonstrates how he is in control of a world we obviously can’t control. God is glorified in our weaknesses, in this way. This not to say that he likes to see us suffer; because as a father, he can’t stand to see us suffer. But in some instances, it is necessary, as much as I hate to say it.

After letting him know how you feel, you have to eventually start to trust that he is looking out for you, that he knows what’s best for you. Not nearly as easy as it sounds. But I will explain how to get to this point in my next posts. :]

Happiness?

I normally don’t feel happiness. I mean, I have fun, I do interesting things, but I never feel a real state of happiness. It just feels like fun here and there, and then, I begin to sink in an ocean of sorrow.

I’ve always been this way. Before I accepted Christ into my life, it was waaaay worse, though. I couldn’t enjoy anything in life at that time. Waking up was horrible. Being at school was horrible and I felt lonely. Planning things was horrible, hanging out wasn’t much fun, and fun things weren’t really fun at all. It’s as if this greyness kept getting thicker and thicker around me, causing me not to be able to see or breathe. It got so dark and so thick that I just suffocated to death.

After accepting him, all the grey fog didn’t just magically disappear. Yes, I felt more freedom, more capable of doing things, more competent. I felt love, more peace, and I certainly enjoyed things more. But still, something lacked- I still never really felt happiness. In all of my years, I can only remember glimpses of it, but never really seeing it; I can recall grabbing bits and pieces of it, but never fully holding it. It just seemed to always slip from me.

I don’t know if it was boys breaking my heart too much, feeling too left out, school being too stressful, family being too crazy. I believed in Christ but still felt overwhelmed and depressed. But then recently, I started focusing on doing the things I loved.

I had loved Christ for awhile, but I started letting that love transform my actions and the things I do. Whether through music or writing or giving or speaking, I just kept living more and more for him, dreaming I could change the world and saying it and feeling that from the bottom of my heart.

I payed more attention to myself, to my needs. I needed to connect more with people and build more friendships, and I have started focusing on that. I reward myself for the hard work I do, and I am more in tune to my desires.

Then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, came this small, dynamic sensation, stirring in the pit of my heart. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t imagine it. Happiness. Through all the grey burst forth this feeling of immense joy and excitement. I kid you not! It sounds ridiculous, but that’s because it was ridiculous.

I was actually happy. It almost hurt because it was so strong and unbelievable. Like when the Grinch finally started being nice and stopped taking over Christmas, and his heart grew larger. It overwhelmed him, but it was a good thing!

Some people seem to walk around, happy all the time. But I was never one of those people. I just faked like I was to not seem like such a weirdo. I’m sure plenty of people fake it. But now, it’s not fake. It just grows and grows on the daily basis. I was terrified that it might just disappear, but it only grows stronger. I was worried it would go away when I got stressed out about school and work again, but it persisted even through that.

It’s so strange. But I firmly believe that my hope in Christ made this possible. Not instantaneous, it didn’t come as soon as I started trusting him, but possible. That’s all I needed. I was willing to put forth the effort and chase after it, he just made me believe it was possible, that I could actually have it. And that, my friends, has made all the difference.

Having that faith, even when things seem impossible. What’s impossible for us is not impossible for him.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

He will see you through the hardest of times. He will make a way out of no way. In a world overcome by poverty and need and remorse, we could use more hope such as this. If more people would put their hearts into it by trusting him and putting forth the effort, he certainly can make it happen.

Dying to Our Sinful Self

“And for the next ten minutes, I described to him, as best I knew how, the paradox of following Jesus and finding life by giving it away. That when I died to my sin and selfishness by the power of the gospel, I became alive in a much more real way. And because I had experienced the death of my old self, my new self was really alive, like hyper-alive. I was now willing to die for the gospel, but also was willing, and indeed was literally, living for the gospel. And that every day of living for Christ was allowing me to become ‘deader and deader’ to the way I used to be before I was saved from my sins.” Dying to Live, by Clayton King

Dying to live. It’s a strange paradox that I am learning to embrace, just like Clayton King. When we follow Jesus, we have to put ourselves aside, so that Jesus can lead our lives, instead of leading our own lives. We have to gradually learn to put aside the things we want, so that Jesus can achieve the things that he wants for us, instead. We die to sin and selfishness, die to our small dreams and small goals, and we let God take over. He pushes away our selfish wants, and replaces them with his supernatural goals and plans.

I find that the more I let him take control over my life, the more free and powerful I feel. Contrary to how it may seem, when I trust in God to lead me in all the various areas of my life, I don’t feel like I am going crazy because of the smaller amount of control and power I have. I actually feel I have more control over my life than ever before. That’s mainly because before I gave my life to Jesus and let him lead me, my life was always chaotic; I never had enough strength to keep me grounded, and so I constantly drifted in this sea of confusion.

When I let him lead me, he armed me with his strength and his love and his hope. I felt more secure, in that I knew I could handle all the difficult things in this life as long as I trusted him (that certainly doesn’t mean it will be easy, though). I felt protected, and that even when I didn’t know where God was leading me, I could trust him to get me whereever he wanted me to be.

I’d like to be very careful and delicate with my words, though. Trusting him doesn’t mean it frees your life from chaos, insecurity, fear, panic, etc. I constantly feel those things, even with him. He is always leading me some place, and I am not sure of where we are going, or sure of what we will do when we get there. But the difference is that without him, I am just surrounded by chaos, drenched in fear, without any real hope. With him, I still am surrounded by chaos, it’s just now I have hope that I can survive it, because I depend on his strength. Knowing that I always have that sense of peace in the back of my mind, despite what happens to me, always has a way of keeping me sane when I start to lose it.

Anyway, back to the point. God is perfect, glorious, holy, mighty, awesome. We are imperfect, flawed, sinful. Our human nature will always cause us to be greedy, selfish, wanting things that only benefit us. When we are saved, the Holy Spirit comes and lives within us. It begins to do a good work in us, making us more and more like Christ in our hearts. Without the Holy Spirit guiding us, everything we do would cause us to sin, and ultimately lead to death and destruction. We would end up living very unfulfilling lives, missing out on the good blessings God has in store for us.

But when the Holy Spirit lives in us, we are at war against our sinful self, and we have to fight that battle every day, never giving up. We always have 2 options: Do what God wants us to do, or do what our sinful self wants to do. Do we spend the morning reading the bible and spending time with God, or do we be lazy and lay around watching TV? A friend calls with a problem. Do we tell them what they want to here, or refer to the bible and tell them how you think God would want them to respond, through the bible? It’s Sunday. Do we skip church again or force ourselves to get out of bed and spend the morning worshipping Jesus? Our sinful self or our Godly self?

We have choices all around us, and we have to make these decisions all the time. We must continually choose to listen to our Godly self, and die more to our sinful self. It is not something that happens over night; it takes a life time, committing to putting ourselves aside for God on the daily basis.

The more we die to our sinful old self, the way we were before we met Christ, the more we start living for Him. We get to really live, and not just exist. We get to feel super alive and passionate for God. It’s like you used to walk through the days with your eyes closed, sleeping all your life. Now you are awake and you get to live! We die to our old selves to live for Christ. We are dying to live!

Fear and Faith Co-exist

“And though it seems impossible that fear and faith can dwell in the same vessel at the same time and take up the same space, they co-exist all the time. They must. It is not faith on my part at all if I don’t choose to believe in the midst of ear and uncertainty… I think we have gotten the idea of ‘faith’ all wrong. Faith does not mean the absence of fear. Faith actually means choosing to trust in the midst of fear. It is admitting your fear and forging ahead toward an uncertain outcome, believing all the while that things will turn out right. God brings peace in the moment of panic seemingly out of nowhere- out of a dark and quiet corner of your heart you have not heard from in awhile. But right there, just in time, when you need it most, while the sky is falling and the bills keep coming and dark clouds keep gathering, peace comes. Faith wins out. Fear may not go away, but it is trumped by faith in the God who loves you and cares for your every need.” From Clayton King’s Dying to Live

I love reading his book. He is so right, 100%. Faith isn’t only trusting God when it’s convenient, when it’s easy for you. A lot of people wonder why God doesn’t seem to be there for them, and some want so much proof before they really believe in him. There is a huge disconnect between that person’s heart and God’s heart and his wonderful grace. That disconnect is not having enough faith.

People have to learn to trust God, even when it’s difficult, even when they aren’t exactly sure how things will turn out. All they have to be sure of is that God loves them and wants to take care of them, and be convinced that he will lead them to the right place at the right time. Faith in Christ is trusting him, even when you can’t see him, even when you don’t know exactly where he is taking you in life; just recognize that where he is taking you is for your ultimate good.

“These troubles come to prove that your faith is pure. This purity of faith is worth more than gold, which can be proved to be pure by fire but will ruin. But the purity of your faith will bring you praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is shown to you. You have not seen Christ, but still you love him. You cannot see him now, but you believe in him. So you are filled with a joy that cannot be explained, a joy full of glory. And you are receiving the goal of your faith—the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:7-9

At the time when I accepted Christ, I had to trust him where I had once tried to trust myself and had failed. I soon realized that his strength was better than my strength, and that he could take care of me better than anyone else could take care of me. It was scary, I wasn’t sure how things would turn out if I gave him complete control over my life, but I gave it a try. It seemed to be my only chance, my only hope for survival.

I was terrified that I would still feel alone, that all my pain would be the same, that I wouldn’t change internally. But God lead me to peace in the midst of all my fear. He healed me, he taught me, he gave me courage and love in the place of emptiness and hurt.

Even now in my walk with Christ, I trust him, even when I have constant fears. I fear I will lose my old friends now that I am in college, I am afraid that the next boy who breaks my heart will make me call it quits for good, that family stress will build up so much I will want to shoot myself (or at least everyone around me!) I’m terrified of being alone, of others who have love, of my emotions being completely out of whack and me crying all the time, that my anxiety might go up.

But I am trusting Christ. So often when I feel like I am about to lose it, I find something beautiful in Christ that I had not really noticed before, and that gives me strength and courage to face another day, to trust God more. The saying goes, “every cloud has a silver lining.” In the midst of panic and uncertainty, that silver lining is a quiet, yet strong peace in Christ, that begins to gush out and rush through my body and soul. But I have to trust him to experience it.

Folks! You have to jump before he can catch you, be willing to fall so that he can life you up. You have to have faith in the midst of fear, so that he can lead you and guide you to the right place, at the right time.

I quote him again:

“And though it seems impossible that fear and faith can dwell in the same vessel at the same time and take up the same space, they co-exist all the time. They must. It is not faith on my part at all if I don’t choose to believe in the midst of ear and uncertainty” Dying to Live

Go buy this book, it is a great book, and I feel stronger and closer to God because of it. Here!

Jesus is your: Protector! Con’t 2

“At your side one thousand people may die, or even ten thousand right beside you, but you will not be hurt.” Psalm 91:7

This is how it goes when we trust the Lord in our lives. Whether someone gets sick or dies, we lose or gain money, we have everything or have nothing we want, in all things, our hearts will remain strong. If we believe that in all our circumstances, God will keep us strong and help us get through them, he will always be with us. Then he can use everything that happens to us, whether bad or good, for his glory!

He attaches purpose to everything we suffer through, and uses it for our ultimate good through himself. That’s why even though there is a ton of suffering in the world, if we believe God can lead us out of the constant, bleak darkness that surrounds us, he can take away the suffering, use it to build character, and create strong hearts that rest in eternal hope.

But to me, Psalm 91:7 says other people will place their trust in themselves and in the things of this world, and they will be destroyed because of it. But the Lord’s people will trust in him, and at the end of the day, they will be spared. He is our protector! 🙂

Jesus is your: Protector! Con’t

“‘The Lord sees the good people and listens to their prayers. But the Lord is against those who do evil.’ — Psalm 34:12–16 If you are trying hard to do good, no one can really hurt you.” 1 Peter 3:12-13

When we are trying hard in our hearts to please the Lord, he hears our calls. When we manage to stay focused on him when everything gets chaotic, he always sees our effort. This is something I am struggling with right now. I feel like I am constantly doing my best to please the Lord, but that all my efforts are in vain, and that he doesn’t see any of it. Seems like he notices everyone else’s problems and hardships except mine.

I believe it’s true that I still have hope, though. Sometimes I feel like I am going insane, but he is still here somewhere, watching over me. I know that even though I hurt, I am indestructible. I know I have his strength when the going gets tough. He sees our intentions. If our intentions are good, if we are trying to please him and not do evil, he will create a light out of the darkness.

Jesus is your: Protector!

“If you listen carefully to all he says and do everything that I tell you, I will be an enemy to your enemies. I will fight all who fight against you.” Exodus 23:22

If we are obedient to the Lord, doing all that he asks of us, he will protect us. We listen to him and obey, and he becomes our strength, our courage. He keeps us guarded when times get difficult. When we listen to him, trust him, and give ourselves completely to him, we are on his team, and no longer on the team against him. And being on his team, he is our leader, and we can accomplish anything in Christ.

This is because we no longer depend on our own strength, but instead, we have his strength. We no longer depend on our own guidance, but instead, have his guidance. If we would do what he asks, he will stand up for us and go ahead of us. He will fight for us, to keep evil away. And who doesn’t want to be on God’s team? Sometimes, we lose various battles. But every Christian can rest assured, that if we hold tight to our faith until the very end, we will win the war.

Not necessarily every battle, but definitely the war. Because Jesus has already gone ahead of us and won that war for us, and we get into heaven because of it; we get to be sons and daughters of the living God because of it. Satan can try to be all cute and clever, confusing people by making it look like we are on the losing team. But in the end, we have full victory through Christ. We must learn to maintain focus on the end goal, pushing away various distractions in this world. This could be people, hobbies, vices, etc.

Bare in mind that just because Christ protects us in our various struggles, it doesn’t mean that sometimes things will get unbearably hard. I feel like currently, I am going through a very painful time in my life, struggling with feelings of constant alienation, but that is okay. Sometimes he takes us to places that make us very uncomfortable and very afraid, and we might feel like we can’t make it.

However, this is still different than living without him. Yes, without him, we feel that same horrible feeling in our hearts when faced with troubles. However, when we are with him, through trusting him, he fuels our strength, so we can resist giving up when the going gets tough. So when we might give up on our own, he makes us stronger, so we can tolerate the pain more.

That is why before I was saved, every little thing in my life seemed impossibly hard to face on my own. But with him, yeah, I still face struggles and hardship, it’s just that I feel 10 thousand times less likely to give up. Why? Because I am not depending on my own strength, but Christ’s strength in me. That’s the difference. And in a world where everything seems to fall apart and we seem to lose so much control, who couldn’t use his anchoring strength? It grounds us during tough times.

He is surely our protector. ‘Cause when the going gets tough, the tough get going!

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

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…

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