In my life, I have struggled with being really hard on myself. There are days where my struggle is worse than others. Sometimes I let that critical voice in the back of my mind rule over me like an iron fist. However, I am learning not to let condemnation rule over me one day at a time. After all, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).
Sometimes I can be my own roadblock, because of certain things I tell myself. For example, I quit doing certain things in my life because I think that no one wants me to be a part of the overall mission and vision. In reality, I know that these things are not the truth. After all, when I take a step back I realize that Jesus has set me free from sin and death (Romans 8:2). Since I know this, I can hold on to the promise that I am forgiven and love by God.
Despite those archaic tapes that will sometimes play in my head, Jesus still died upon the cross, and shed his blood for the forgiveness of my sins. Because I know that my sins have been paid for by the blood of Jesus, I am no longer in bondage to that condemnation. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). These are the promises from God that I have to remind myself of also.
As a result of being set free from sin, I need to live in to that freedom one day at a time. I will admit that some days are easier than others. As I continue to put my trust in God one day at a time, God will direct my steps (Prov. 3:5-6). On days where I do beat myself up, I have literally felt God answer me through the Holy Spirit as I have cried out in desperation to Him. Therefore, I am grateful that we serve a God who will answer us and deliver us from our fears. After all, there is no need to be covered with shame (Psalm 34:4-5).
Even though, I can be my own worst critic at times, I believe that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). I know that the Lord sees me for who I am. After all, Jesus was fully God and fully human so he knows what it feels like to be condemned. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us (John 1:14). Because Jesus came to understand our pain and misery, he still made a way to set us free from condemnation.
From my experience in the past, I have observed how exclusive the church has been when people are marginalized. I have found that there are people within the body of Christ that often feel alienated. As a result of this, people can often become hurt by this. I would like to argue that the church is supposed to be a place where people can feel welcomed and that there is a place for them within the body of Christ. Those that are on the margins within the body of Christ need to be heard and listened to.
In the past it was hard for me to go to church. I thought that most of the people weren’t authentic, and didn’t know what it meant to carry one another’s burdens during difficult times. Sometimes going to church felt like I was going to a “social club,” rather than worship. So that made getting to know people difficult for me. Eventually I quit going to church because of how marginalized I felt.
During the time that I was away from the church I didn’t want to have anything to do with the church. I was very hurt by how alienated I felt. There were times when I was very lonely, and didn’t know what to do. I would often cry out to God and ask him for his help. I desperately wanted to experience the presence of God with other believers again.
As a result of my past experiences with the church, I believe that it is important to listen to those who are on the margins. They have a voice as well, and also need to be heard. I think that it is important to include those who are on the margins of the church because they have something valuable to offer and say. By listening to one another, and hearing one another in unity will bring transformation to the church. Through this transformation, people will feel more welcome to join the church at large.
From my observation I have seen the church alienate and show exclusivity in my life. I have also known people that have often felt marginalized because they didn’t feel welcomed. This has caused people to feel hurt and walk away. I believe that if we stop, listen and hear those who are on the margins the church will see transformation. I am hopeful for this change.
When I was growing up I was never taught how to deal with my emotions correctly. As a kid I either reacted or stuffed my emotions. Becoming a follower of Christ has helped me to see the need to change my behavior. In the past few years I have begun to learn the importance of dealing with my emotions in a healthy way. Dealing with my emotions in a healthy way has brought me closer in my relationship to Christ.
Growing up I was never taught how to deal with my emotions in a healthy way. I would typically model the behavior that I saw in my household as a child. I remember either “stuffing” my emotions or having a huge “blow up.” As time went on I began to become numb and repress the pain of my emotions. For many years I held back those tears of pain that needed to be released.
When I began to really follow Jesus I was able to finally release those tears of pain. Releasing my tears has helped me to confront my pain, and be able to identify the source of where that pain is coming from. Doing this has helped me to learn to deal with my emotions in a healthy way. What has helped me to deal with my emotions in healthy way? Realizing that the way I react or respond matters first and foremost to God, and can have also have its effects on those around me.
In the past few years I have had to learn from my mistakes several times. I have gotten better over time but I still make mistakes. Realizing and knowing that God has grace with me has been crucial in helping me to grow. Growing has been a good experience for me. Through this experience I have been able to become closer to Christ.
Not knowing how to deal with my emotions as a child was difficult. Since then I have become a follower of Christ and have been able to confront those emotions, and deal with them in a healthier way. I have made mistakes. I have chosen to take the opportunity to learn from them, by deciding to grow. Throughout my faith journey I am still growing closer to God on a daily basis.
Being a person who can easily identify with pain and suffering, I was able to let go of the pain I’ve been caring around lately. Having the courage to make my pain known and be vulnerable took a lot to do this morning at church. Being “real” with myself and confronting my pain and suffering has allowed me to become more authentic in my relationship to Jesus Christ. In becoming more authentic in my relationship to Jesus Christ, I have realized that I absolutely can not avoid the pain and suffering that I have been dealt with in my life.
I have been carrying a lot of “baggage” with me as of lately. That can however cause a toxic scenario depending on my mood that day. Due to my past, I tend to live into my emotions more than I would like. Living into my emotions has gotten me into trouble before. Sometimes it has been so difficult because I can not see a way out. If I stop living into emotions and be able to forgive what will that be like for me?
In church this morning, I could feel Jesus nudging me to have the courage to make my pain known by standing up from my chair. In doing that, I knew Jesus wanted me to make myself vulnerable, and find freedom in forgiving those who have offended me in my life. When my wife prayed for me, I was able to let go of that bitterness, hatred, rage, and resentment that has been eating at me for the longest time. As I was crying those tears of relief, I was able to let go and find freedom in forgiveness. Finding that freedom in forgiveness has taken that pain I have been carrying away.
Looking back on this morning and reflecting on what the Lord has done for me has allowed me to become more authentic in my relationship to Jesus Christ. When I am able to be “real” with myself and examine the pain in a healthy way through prayer I find that there is freedom in Christ. I hope that by being authentic in my relationship with Christ will be an encouragement and example to others along the way. I also hope that by others seeing my authenticity, it will make them want to have a relationship with Jesus. Most importantly, I hope that by doing all this, I will build godly relationships with others.
In finding the freedom to forgive I have been able to find a way out of that dark hole I have been going through. Having the courage to stand up in church this morning, and forgive those who offended me in my past, has begun to bring about true healing in my life. Drawing closer to God through this experience has helped me to create more of an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ. Being “real” and letting go of the pain has allowed me to truly find the freedom of forgiveness that the Lord has been waiting so patiently for me to see.
“Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God.” (Romans 15:17)
Last week, I had the privilege to wash pots and pans. Was it challenging at times? Of course. But I will say that doing the pots and pans was a transformational experience for me in my relationship with God. Throughout the course of the week, I was able to glorify God, and worship him in my service.
Having the honor and privilege of washing pots and pans before God is humbling. While I was washing pots and pans, I could feel God pouring his love, and blessing from heaven. Doing work unto the Lord soothes my soul. Glorifying God in my work is very healing for me. It is as if I am surrendering myself to God, and worshipping him in my work.
Nothing we do unto the Lord is a walk in the park. Why? Sometimes, we let our flesh get in the way of our service to God. When that happens we need to stop and pray. When we stop and pray we remember who we are doing this for.
Why was doing a simple task, like washing pots and pans, a transformational experience? God is most content when we take joy in the simple tasks he puts before us. Prayfully doing our work unto the Lord brings a smile to our Father in heaven. Surrendering ourselves, and letting God work in our hearts brings about powerful spiritual transformation.
These are just some “nuggets”of truth that God revealed to me as I did pots and pans last week. These “nuggets” of truth that God shared with me definitely helped to deepen my relationship with him. I found that deepening my relationship with God in my service throughout this week, has allowed me to appreciate laboring for the kingdom of heaven. Through my laboring I was able to give thanks in my worship, and glorify my Father in heaven.
When I moved to the city three and a half years ago, I instantly fell in love and chose to stay. Instantly, I found that there would be a reason and purpose to grow in my faith, and serve God in the city. Due to these desires I knew deep within my heart that I was supposed to stay. My decision to stay in Chicago was made when God had made it clear to me that I needed to stay in one place, and put down roots. Another reason I chose to stay was that I knew that God had called me to a place of ministry. A third reason in deciding to stay and put down roots in Chicago had to do with my passion for people coming to know Jesus.
Deciding to put down roots, and stay focused in one place, has been good for me. It has been good for me for three reasons. The first reason that staying settled in one place has been good for me is that I have been able to learn the value of what it means to stay connected to one place. Another reason that staying in one place has been good for me, is because I was able to meet my wife. Lastly, by staying where I’m planted I have been able to build meaningful relationships.
Being part of a ministry has given me a meaningful purpose in life. There are three points that I would like to touch upon as to why I have found purpose and joy in doing ministry. One way is that I’ve found joy is through the discovery of my gifts and talents, and being able to utilize those gifts and talents. Another way that I’ve discovered purpose and joy through ministry is through utilizing the gift of listening to others, and having meaningful conversations with those who speak encouragement and truth in my life. Lastly, I must not forget those whom God has given me a heart for, “the least of these,” who are unseen in our everyday lives.
Seeing people come to know Jesus is a great passion of mine. I would like to share three reasons that God has called both my wife and I to reach people for Jesus. First, Chicago is a city that needs to build a foundation of building relationships with one another. Secondly, showing God’s love is extremely important, especially in a city that is full of violence. Thirdly, my wife and I have a huge heart for reaching out to those who want to know Jesus.