Taking Care of Busyness

I know…it has been awhile since my last post. Life has been crazy, and I simply haven’t gotten around to the blog. Today I will share a few updates, what’s new, and what some hopes are for the future. To be honest though, it has been a pretty tough time, physically, mentally, emotionally, and especially spiritually. It has been truly difficult to balance everything. I suppose most people are good at it, but I am not. For me, I start taking care of one thing, only to let the other things suffer. Spiritual life going great? Awesome! But while that’s going on, I’m neglecting my health, then that starts to suffer. It’s crazy to think how hard it is to have a nice balance in taking care of everything. With the introduction out-of-the-way, here are some updates.

I’m going to college! Which is both exciting and crazy! I’ve been enjoying it for the most part, but it’s adding to my workload, which means I have to really learn to manage my time. And as mentioned above, I really need to work on. This first semester has flown by. I did end up missing a couple of weeks due to sickness, which put me behind. I’m almost caught up now though. I’ve also been getting some hours in at the grill on campus. So everything is going pretty well all in all. While this all may seem like no big deal to some, we’re talking about someone who used to not like going through drive-thrus, or answer the telephone, because of social anxieties. Those anxieties were only for a season though. Growing up I never had a problem with that. It was only during my later teenage years those issues arose. The Lord has brought me so far!

But alas, it can’t be all good things, can it? For there is some things that seem to be doing worse. While I’m still learning about living life, I find it difficult to remain focused spiritually. It’s easy to spend time with God when you don’t have so many things going on. It really has to become intentional when you are so busy. It may not seem busy compared to others, but for me, I’m the busiest I have ever been. Throw in still trying to maintain proper diet, exercise, and not to mention keeping up with ministry, and that’s a full schedule. They just never tell you how much responsiblity being an adult really is. Everyone says enjoy being a kid while you can, but you never realize why until it’s over. I just hope and pray that I can stay rooted and grounded while being busy, that I don’t get too busy for the One that really matters.

Please do not take me wrong, I know how writing about a subject can make it seem exaggerated and bigger than it really is. I’m enjoying all of this journey. And I cannot wait to see where the Lord takes me. It’s just that in all of this, I’m learning to prioritize. It’s very important how and what we spend our time on. We’re only given so much, and I don’t want to waste any of it. Love y’all!!

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Flight Control

I’ve always wanted to fly a plane. To me it just seems so amazing to be able to leave the ground, and take flight in a giant metal bird. Such freedom, seeing the ground from a bird’s-eye view. It’s so humbling seeing how small the ground we live on really is just by changing your perspective. I do plan on getting my private pilot’s license, Lord willing. But while I do love planes and flying in general, they also form a great metaphor for my personal life.

The last couple of weeks have been very odd. I haven’t felt this down in a while. It’s nowhere near what I use to deal with, but it’s still been enough to notice. Sometimes it can come without any reason, like now. Without any one specific thing being the culprit. While other times it can be brought on by a situation or circumstance.

There have been times I’ve felt like my life was spiraling out of control, like an airplane that has stalled trying to climb too steep of a grade. There are always, of course, times when control is regained, and steady flight is maintained.

Lately I think this time it’s mostly been brought on by spiritual reasons, and health reasons. Sometimes you can begin questioning things, and the more you question things, the more answers you seem to lack.

Don’t give up based on emotions. Don’t give up based on feelings.

But one thing I have learned through everything is this: don’t give up based on emotions. Don’t give up based on feelings. It’s easy to trust in the Lord when you feel like it. It’s easy to worship when everything in your life is perfect. The true test comes when trials come. For that is when you’re left with a choice. Will I stall out, spiraling out of control? Or will I push the engines a little harder, and navigate through the rough turbulence, trusting He will see me through?

I have chosen the latter. If Job went through what he did, and never wavered, then surely anything I might go through is nothing. So, big or small, drought or rain, I want to be someone God can trust. Uncompromising, unwavering, and completely sold out for my King. Proverbs 3:5 says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”

We’ve got to learn to trust Him with everything, for our lives are but vapors anyway. His timing is not our timing, and His ways are not our ways. He’s God, and we’re not. The creation never supersedes or knows more than their Creator.

We’re truly nothing without Him. But I find comfort in that. It takes the burden off of me, and He gives me a yoke to take up, for His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.

Sold Out

Are you sold out? Are you totally committed? You have to be to jump out of a plane like in the photo above. Either that or you’ll be forced to jump!

Hey everyone! I know, it’s been a little while. This summer has just been so busy! I’ve learned so much, grown as a person, and especially found the Lord in a deeper way!

Where to begin? Let’s begin with our youth group’s cabin trip. Our trip took us to Pigeon Forge, TN, the usual place we go to for summer retreats. When we got there, the cabin we originally booked was trashed, so we had to scramble and book another one. Praise God we not only were able to book another cabin, but it ended up being the best one we’ve ever stayed in!

Each night of service was amazing. Full of prayer, worship, and being sensitive to what the Holy Spirit wanted to do. Chains were broken off of people’s lives, and hearts were set ablaze with the love of Jesus and fire of The Holy Spirit. I personally really learned how to push through and worship even when fatigued.( Our services would start around 7-8, and sometimes end in the early a.m. hours. Not to mention our daily devotionals and activities throughout the day, including team games!) Needless to say, I truly learned how to push through.

So it’s personal testimony time. I’ve written before about over thinking, depression, etc. I’m glad to say I’ve been set free from those things!! I’m learning to walk in my newfound freedom, but it’s amazing to see where God has brought me from. I was at points throughout my life where I wouldn’t even go through a drive thru, because I didn’t like talking to strangers or anyone I didn’t know. I’ve even noticed things I’ve been set free from I didn’t realize were a problem until they were no longer there. I no longer feel lonely and much of the fear I’ve had is totally gone. God is so so good!!

Jump forward a couple of weeks to this past weekend, and I gained even more freedom at Summer Warrior-Fest 2018. I experienced even more of the freedom I learned on the cabin trip, freedom in shouting, dancing, and crying out to God. And hunger.

Sometimes we reach a certain level in the Lord, and become comfortable. It’s pretty easy to do, but I just keep getting pushed into pressing in, and asking the Lord for more! I just want more of Him! I’ve come to realize we’ve got to be sold out.

Sold out. Unashamed. Uncompromising. Relentless. I want to be so in love with Jesus that everyone knows it! I see Him drawing me closer to Himself, asking me to go deeper. I’m not sure how to go deeper from here, but I’m trusting He’ll show me the way.

I don’t want to go back! Back to the mundane! Back to no passion! I want to be on fire and passionate for Him! Keith Green’s Biography, No Compromise, is really pushing me to seek Him out more. And there’s a deeper longing to be His hands and feet. I want to see myself sold out for Him, along with the rest of the church. Then we can truly take the gospel to the nations, because nothing will hold us back.

Everyone talks of revival, but how many are truly willing to do what it takes? Revival starts with me. It starts with you. It starts with repentance, and throwing off the weight that so easily besets us. I want to see the lost saved, the sick healed, the broken hearts be mended.

So I guess that’s all for now. Love y’all!!

Fix Our Eyes

What we look at, or dwell on, becomes magnified. Not literally, just in our own view, or perception. I have learned, and seem to have the need to keep on learning this truth.

Our perception or viewpoint really determines how we see our world. Whether sitting in an auditorium or stargazing at the night sky, where we’re seated and how feel at the moment can affect what and how we perceive what we’re looking at.

I’ve been learning in my own life lately how keeping my focus on Jesus just changes literally everything in my life. The storms in my life, the fears and insecurities I fought, all seem to just melt away when my focus is on Him, and His goodness.

I feel like everyday, I’m Peter asking Him to call me out on the water.

I feel like everyday, I’m Peter asking Him to call me out on the water. And everyday I have the decision to step out of the boat and walk to Him. But also everyday I want so badly to make it to Him without taking my eyes off of Him. But day after day I still seem to fail. I partially have my eyes on Him, but, just like Peter, the storm rages, I lose my focus on Him, and begin to sink. I then cry for Him to save me from drowning, and He pulls me to safety.

Most recently especially, I feel like I’ve just been in one spiritual battle after another. The more I want Him, and the closer I seem to get, the more the battle rages. Just tonight I realized something was very wrong, and I had to get back to the simplicity of pursuing Him. Without an agenda, without a time clock. Just Him, and I.

He is so Good. And don’t even know how Good He is. He is so mighty. So just. So pure. So holy. So loving. I don’t even know where to begin in understanding Him. I just know I can’t live without Him. There is nothing good in me, and everything good in Him. The only thing good in me is Him, and without Him I can do nothing.

Chasing God is not easy, and I wouldn’t want it to be. But He wants to be found. He wants us to find Him. He wants a relationship with each one of us. That’s the very reason we were created. So if you’re discouraged, or feel like your problems are just too big, two wonderful chapters of God’s word I recommend you read are Isaiah 40, and Job 38. If you need to be reminded how big God is, how small your problems are, or just need some humility(these chapters work great in humbling me for sure) give them a read, and ask the Holy Spirit for help. He so wants to help and empower you.                                                                                                Shalom and Love,                                                                                                                                                                     Joshua

Looks Like We’ve Got A Runner

We’re all runners. We’re either running to God, or away from Him. There’s not really any in-between. Except being luke-warm I suppose, and that’s not a good place to be.

Today I want to talk about running. As I’m trying to get back into running, I know I need to do it, but I have a love hate relationship with running. It’s hard, and breath-taking, quite literally. But the benefits far out way the cons. Plus nothing good ever comes easy.

Sometimes I run half-heartedly, just enough to get the job done. But if I was running in a race that mattered, where there was a great prize, I would run with everything that I had. I would run until I couldn’t run anymore, and hopefully that wouldn’t happen until I crossed the finished line, victorious.

I usually hear about those people who run to God whenever they’re in trouble, but I’ve usually been quite the opposite. I used to run from God, when I needed Him most. I don’t really know why exactly, but I would run from Him when I needed Him, knowing that only He could fix whatever the issue was. I would only stay close when things were going well. When I ‘Had it all together’. But let something come up, and I would try and rely on my own ability.

We humans are very complex creatures. We have a body, soul, mind, and spirit. Not to mention emotions, and everything in between. As life goes on, I’ve learned more and more to trust God, and NOT my emotions. Does that mean they’ve settled down and don’t try to have their way? I thought they had settled down. But no. They’re still showing up crying out from time to time wanting to take the reins.

But what I am learning, is, when I’m sad, I go to God. When I’m overjoyed, I go to God. When I’m upset, or bewildered, or lonely, or afraid, I go to God. I used to just sort of wallow in whatever emotion I was experiencing, and still do sometimes. But I’m learning more and more to hold fast to the Word of God, and His promises. To take my feelings and fears to Him, so He can replace them with His Joy, His Peace, His Love.

Part of the problem can be that I’m looking at myself too much. When I keep my eyes on Him, and embrace His Love for me, and know that He will never leave or forsake me, that’s when everything becomes alright.

On my journey to find Him, the One I Love, the One I need to Love so so much more, I find myself running. Running fast after Him. Even in my imperfections He still loves me. Even when I fall, His Grace is sufficient. And His Grace is enough to empower me to keep running. My salvation, my healing, and my eternity were all purchased with a very great price. The Precious Blood of Jesus.

Will you run after Him today? Will He become your everything? I pray that He does. And that you run after Him with every atom of your being.

Where is Your Heart? Part I

Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. -Matthew 6:21 NLT

What is it to truly follow Jesus? I’ve been asking myself that question for some time now. It seems like I, along with many others, have only been partially following Him. What do I mean? I mean, I worshipped on Sundays and Wednesdays, and from time to time on ‘non-church’ days. But I have to say I hadn’t given Him everything.

A few months back, I decided, along with a dear friend, to read the Bible from start to finish. I grew up with the Bible, but never have successfully read through it in its entirety. Also around that time, I decided that I knew God was real.(After questioning it from time to time.) But I wanted to know Him for myself. Not what others said about Him. But an actual relationship with my Creator.

My faith had mostly grown cold, so it was almost like starting from scratch.

Over the past several months, l have experienced far more growth than I was expecting. In some ways I feel like it’s not as fast as I want, and in other ways I feel like it’s just a process and relationships take time.

Lately my Pastor has been preaching on being apart from the world, and how to cultivate a culture pleasing to God. Honestly, at first, I thought it kind of sounded like legalism. We’re saved by Grace, right? Well yes. Are sins are washed by the blood of Jesus, and we’re saved by Grace through Faith, but it does so much more than that.

Grace not only saves, it EMPOWERS.

Through my Pastor’s teaching, reading the word for myself along with various other teachings including John Bevere and Perry Stone, I’ve come to a new realization. Our actions really do matter! Of course I’ve always known this, but just not to the new revelation I now have. Grace not only saves, it EMPOWERS. It empowers us to live Holy and Righteous before God.

1 John 2:15-17: Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the Love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. -KJV

Lately He has really been dealing with me, especially with separating myself from the world. If we’re supposed to do everything for His glory, honor, and praise, can we truly say that we do? Is that movie full of sin and death worth watching? Is that song everyone listens to worth taking your eyes off of Jesus?

I feel like I have so much more to say than I really can in a blog post, but I’ll touch on a couple more things real quick.

Prayer, Reading His Word, and Worship are VITAL. I always heard it, but never did it to the extent I do now. It truly makes all of the difference in the world. How can you get to know someone if you rarely speak to them? If you rarely spend time together?

God wants us to be so consumed with Him that there’s no room for anything else.

Another thing. Do we hate sin? Really. Do we hate sin? Then how can we, (me included), be tolerant of it? We allow it in our homes every day, then wonder why we’re not feeling the presence of God like we used to. I used to be like that. I got to the place where I still new sin was wrong, but I tolerated it in movies and tv shows, because, ” I don’t live that way, so it’s okay”. It will even affect your concern for the lost. Without Christ, their sins will take them to hell. And we cannot tolerate or be okay with that.

Let me say something. If the Word of God feeds our Spirit Man, and it’s even called the Bread of Life, then that means you can spiritually feed on other things. I used to think, As long as the majority of my time is with God, it doesn’t hurt to watch a movie or anything here and there. But that ideology is so wrong.

Physically, if you’re on a strict diet, lifting weights, working out, that diet is what sustains and supplies the necessary fuel and nutrients to do the work in the first place. If you eat anything you’re not supposed to, you’ll pay for it. How much more important than that you feed your Spirit the necessary nutrients!

What it all comes down to is your love for Jesus. Is He your first, or your Only? I want to do everything for Him, and Him alone. My Love for Him is not where it should be. But as I grow in Him and get all of the world out of me, I know it will continue to grow. I encourage you today, to search your heart. If you marry someone, you commit yourself to them only. Jesus is coming back for a Bride, without spot or blemish. I truly want to be found to be a good and faithful servant. I hope and pray that you do too.

“He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.” – Ephesians 5:27

The man answered, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!” -Luke 10:27,28

“If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans–I will come to you.” -John 15:15-18

“The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ -Matthew 25:23

Fear? Or Faith?

Are you afraid? Am I afraid? And should we be? Maybe it’s a fear of heights? The dark? Spiders? Snakes? Sharks? Or maybe it’s a fear of something more serious and life altering. A fear of death. A fear that nothing will ever work out. A fear of being alone.

We have powerful scriptures to quote, such as: God has not given me the spirit of fear; but of power and of love and of a sound mind. We have beautiful songs like No Longer Slaves that proclaim we’re no longer slaves to fear. But are we? Are we really free from fear?

When you were a kid, if you had the bravest, fiercest, most kick butt dad on the block, who would you be afraid of? No one. But the Bible portrays the Creator God as our Father. So if an earthly Father would make you feel unafraid and secure, how much more would our Heavenly Father, THE ONE who holds the world literally in the palm of His hand, make you feel completely secure and fearless?

Why does fear come so easily to us? Even in the knowledge of God, fear seems to abound.

What do you dwell on?

“Do not be in awe!! Do not be afraid!”

It can be so easy to dwell on the natural. To dwell on what we can see, and what seems obvious. But while yes, we do live on a physical, natural earth, that isn’t the whole story. We also have a spiritual, SUPERnatural side to life. And we are to put our trust in GOD, and HIM ALONE.

As I’m reading through the Old Testament, I’m amazed at how many time God has to tell the Israelites, “Do not be in awe!! Do not be afraid!” If He’s constantly telling you not to do something, LISTEN!! because it’s got to be important.

In who or what is your faith?

Fear is the opposite of Faith. Perhaps that’s why God constantly says to not be afraid, because without Faith, it is impossible to please Him! We cannot even be saved!  let alone live a victorious life, without Faith.

As a child, for I don’t even know how long, I lived in constant fear. Not because home life was bad, it was great. But because I didn’t have my Faith in God, I was always worried about bad things happening. I was afraid of bad things happening to me, to my family, to my friends. Let me tell you, it’s a terrible thing to live with! Living that way, there was just no peace.

I came to the point where I just thought I cared too much. Maybe I loved people too much. Which lead to what I’ve talked about in previous blogs where I “lost love” so to speak. If I didn’t ‘love too much’, I wouldn’t ‘care too much’, therefore no longer worry.

But that wasn’t my problem. Loving too much wasn’t the issue at all. My issue was, I wasn’t trusting that we are all in the Loving arms of the Father. I wasn’t trusting that He would take care of us. If I had, I wouldn’t have lived in constant FEAR, but would have been living in constant FAITH.

What are we to do then?

Last summer, I found my Faith at an all time low. I’m not even exactly sure what all happened, just that it did, and it was the worst. After I realized where I was, I began on a journey to get my Faith back. A friend gave me an idea to read through the Bible, something I had never accomplished. I’ve been through the New Testament and some of the Old several times, but never from start to finish. I’m so glad to say I only lack a little over two books left and I’ll have finished the old Testament!

I tell you all of that to tell you this, I’ve always HEARD about the importance of reading the Word, but I’ve never actually, truly, KNOWN the IMPORTANCE of the WORD. It has made such a tremendous difference in my Life, in my Faith, and in my Walk with God. Daily reading, not out of religious obligation, but out of Love and Devotion to God, simply wanting to get to know Him more.

Now it’s not easy to read daily. I mean at first you think, ugh this is so hard. I had no desire to read multiple chapters. It takes discipline. Buuuuut after a while, Reading the Word, combined with Time in Prayer, has become one of my favorite parts of the whole day!

They say you are what you eat. Are you feeding yourself wholesome foods, low sugar intake, and abstaining from junk foods? Or just anything you can get ahold of? In your spiritual life, are you feeding yourself God’s Word? Are you praying and talking to Him daily? Are you building your Faith, thinking positively and only believing what God says? Or are you feeding on negativity, doubt, fear, and despair?

So the question is, Fear? Or Faith?