What Is Grace?

Recently I was flipping through an old notebook and I found something I wrote in May 7, 2013. This is titled “What is Grace?”

Sure grace is a good thing..but what is it? The definition is “To honor or to credit someone.” But what is God’s grace? Romans 6:3-4 says, “Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined Him in His death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And Jesus Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.”

Titus 2:11-14- “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”

Romans 6:13

Revelation 22:21- “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”

Advertisements

The Battle Inside

So here’s the thing..

I watched video on YouTube last night that really moved me. I won’t link it here and I won’t go into detail at this time. But the bravery of this man was truly inspiring to me.

You see, a lot of people talk about struggles and things they’ve dealt with in their past. But how many people ACTUALLY talk about these things? Do we just sugar coat it to make others think our mistakes don’t still affect us? Do we leave parts out because we’re scared of the judgement? Or do we just keep it buried inside and fight a losing battle day after day because we’re scared to share with others because in a way we would be reliving it?

The answer? Yes. Yes to all of the above.

We do sugar coat our stories so we can make it look like we’re just a badass who can get through anything. Why? Society tells us not to be weak.

We do leave parts out because we’re scared of the judgement. Why? Because the world sucks. We live in a generation where people like to tear each other down in order to build themselves up. It doesn’t matter if its something you did five, ten, or fifteen years ago. We’re in a day and age where we live for the approval of others. That’s the sad truth.

And yes, some of us do just keep it all buried inside. Some of us are fighting an internal battle day after day. Why? Because talking about a horrid past involves reliving it for a brief moment. All of the memories, good or bad, come flooding in. We bring them to the surface while we feel buried beneath them. They swallow us up. We drown.

The sad truth to the matter is that whether we keep them buried or we share with others, they still have control of us. As painful as that is to admit. That’s the truth. Forgiveness also includes forgiving yourself. God forgives the moment you ask Him to. Why can’t you forgive yourself that easily?

What I’m ending with is this.. Focus on yourself. Be nice to everyone around you and treat everyone how you would want to be treated. But focus on yourself. Your happiness is important. Your safety is important. If you don’t feel safe with yourself, talk about it. It may take days, weeks, or months to even get a sentence out. Talk about it. Get it out.

I hope to one day do this myself.

“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”

Take A Breath, Joseph!

Sometimes you can be sitting in your living room, having a pretty peaceful evening alone, when the next thing you know you’re having a complete anxiety attack. The fear, sadness, and anger that suddenly overtake you can make you feel like you’re drowning.

What causes this? Well, this evening it was caused by a simple text message. This text message led to some “investigating” (browsing Facebook to see for yourself).

Next thing you know, you’re 2 years deep into someones profile and wondering how they ended up so whacko!? You think of all the “good times” and ask yourself if you were as self-absorbed as they are. You start the question everything you’ve done. You start to question whether or not YOU’RE a good person.

Then you take a breath. You get pissed at yourself. And then you start laughing uncontrollably at how crazy the last 10 minutes have been.

Am I crazy?

I don’t think so.

Do certain individuals trigger my nerves? Absolutely.

I’m human.

Take a breath, Joseph! Take a breath.

To Whom It May Concern

Dear Close-Minded Individual,
While I thought it was great to see you again, your negativity and hatefulness has shown me the kind of Christian I won’t be. After not seeing someone for several years, instead of being kind, you chose judgement. So thank you. Thank you for reminding me why I’ll never return. Thank you for proving to me that I am actually where God wants me to be. You see, what you don’t understand is that you can actually be saved outside of your four walls. There is far more out there than what you choose to believe. 
As a child of God, I choose to show love and kindness to others regardless of their lifestyle or beliefs. Why? Because in Matthew 22:39 you will find “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It’s that simple. It’s in the same bible that says “Do not judge one another.”
So, while you continue to cast judgement, I will continue to show love. While you continue to condemn me to hell for not sharing your exact beliefs, I will continue to show love. Why? Because that’s what we’re called to do. We’re called to love one another and to lift each other up. Why? Because “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man would lay down his life for his friend.”
So, ma’am, I will continue to pray for you. I will pray that God opens your eyes and turns your heart to show love instead of hate. I pray you not only show love, but that you show HIS love. And when I see you next time, I will continue to show you love regardless of how you act. God bless you. 

Being Used By God.

We’re in a sermon series at church called “Mercy Rising” and each week I feel more and more like this is all directed at me. Today we the topic was “The Kind of Person God Uses.” A few things stuck out to me so I figured why not blog about it?

2 Corinthians 4:5- “Our message is not about ourselves. It is about Jesus Christ as Lord. We are merely your servants for Jesus’ sake.”

We went over the 5 secrets to being used by God:

  1. I keep it real.
  2. I remember it’s not about me.
  3. I use my pain to help others.
  4. I stay focused on eternity.
  5. I realize my ministry is a gift motivated by God’s mercy.

The one that really hit me is number 3, I use my pain to help others. “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” 

I have struggled with so many different things in my past. I have let past mistakes take hold of me so much where I had this voice in the back of my head keep saying “You’re not good enough. Remember what you did.” Finally over the last year I have moved on from that. I’m not 100%, but I have definitely made improvement. Everyone has a past. It doesn’t define you. It’s your story. God knows the plans for you. He knew every decision we would make even before we were born. Why wouldn’t I trust Him?

Pain. The pain of my past. The pain of loss. The pain of guilt. Even the pain of dealing with heavy anxiety. All of this pain can be used to help others. You don’t have to be perfect to be used by God. But you do have to be authentic. My past does not define me. It has led me to exactly where I am today. For that, I’m thankful.

I have prayed so much, “God, please use me. Take me deeper than I can even imagine.” One of the things I heard today was “If we want to be used by Jesus, it needs to be all about Jesus.” That slapped me right in the face. Here I am saying “God please use me” but the unsaid part is “..but use me from my comfort zone. I don’t want to do anything too crazy.” Shame on me. Life begins outside of your comfort zone.

This is just what is on my heart today. If anything, this is something I will go back and read down the road.

Until next time…

Got Me Feeling Emotions..

I’m sitting here getting ready for bed and in the last 15 minutes I have gone through so many different emotions. Fear. Hurt. Sadness. Happiness. Joy. Excitement. Pain. Regret. Love.

I know I’m not alone in this. But while sitting here, I replay my day. This leads to a wandering mind. This leads me down paths I hadn’t planned to revisit. This leads me down shadows that I thought light had already cast out.

Fear. -A wandering mind leads me to the fear of the unknown. Fear of not knowing if there is a tomorrow. Fear of simply not knowing.

Hurt. -My thoughts lead me to past decisions. I remind myself that I don’t live in my past and that it is just that, my past. I still wonder what would life be like if I had the chance to have the talk I wanted to have or if I had made a different decision.

Sadness.

Happiness.

Joy. -This is brought on by the hope of tomorrow.

Excitement. -Knowing whether my tomorrow is on this side of eternity or the other, there’s peace.

Pain. -This one is easy. I still feel pain that is brought on by death.

Regret. -This is something I am working on letting go of. Easier said than done.

Love. -There is a God who loves me and who wraps me in His arms. He gives me peace in the storm and calms my fears. I don’t reach out for Him as much as I should. (not doing so brings the above emotions). He has put people in my life who also show me I’m loved.

Notes To Self

  1. You are NOT your family.
  2. Your past does NOT define you.
  3. You get to choose your own adventures.
  4. You are in control of your happiness.
  5. Follow your gut.

Being lost somewhere in between a teenager and a successful adult can be terrifying. Realizing that you can actually survive without the people you thought you couldn’t live without is extremely eye opening. Feeling alone in a room full of people who love you is beyond frustrating.

Life is weird, man! Super weird! Whoever came up with the phrase “this rollercoaster we call life” is genius. I daily feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. I question purpose. I feel like I should be doing so much more. I sit at home alone and just think “Well, now what..?!” and then I just get mad at myself.

So let’s revisit this list..

  1. You are NOT your family. – This doesn’t mean you were raised wrong or that you hate your family. This just means that while your siblings have their own families and your parents are having this new “empty-nesters” lifestyle, you’re just kind of like, “What the hell should I be doing??” Get out there and take advantage of life! Go for a walk. Go explore the city. Don’t feel bad for doing things that you like or having your own opinions or beliefs! This is YOUR life and it’s really just now beginning. Choose happiness.
  2. Your past does NOT define you. – Everyone has a past. It got you to where you are today. Stop living life like you’re stuck there. Every day is a new opportunity to do something exciting. So you have a story.. So does everyone else on the planet. Stop playing victim to yourself. Get up, brush yourself off, and life your life before you waste it away by living in your past.
  3. You get to choose your own adventures. – You’re now at the point where you realize you don’t need permission to go out and do things. If you want to take a random road trip, do it. If you want to get a tattoo, do it. If you want to go for a walk at 2am, do it. This is YOUR life. YOU get to choose the adventures you go on. That’s the amazing part.
  4. You are in control of your happiness. – You are in control of your life. Stop waiting for happiness to come to you. Go out there and find it. Go out there and make it your own. You only get one life, don’t waste it.
  5. Follow your gut. – Your parents raised you right. You know what’s good and what’s bad. That being said, follow your gut. Do what makes you happy. If you feel that uncertainty inside you, trust it. If you feel like something isn’t right, trust it. Live your life but don’t be stupid.

Sometimes you need to start typing out your thoughts and then you end up making a list for yourself. Maybe I’m not the only one who needs to hear this.

Until next time…