Sunday, March 7, 2010

God is Never Late

I truly believe my patience holds me back from a lot of things in my life. It boggles my mind as to how I let the timing of things affect how I feel on a day to day basis. Why is it so hard for me to trust God's timing, when it is always so perfect? "Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And he shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord! -Psalm 27:14 (NKJV)

This blog, in particular, is going to be really hard to write, but I promised myself that I was going to share my testimony, and how Jesus has changed (and is continuing to change) my life. I am truly ashamed of my past, but the beautiful thing about it, is that Jesus has forgotten about it, and forgave me. I wish everyone felt the chills I just felt right now when I wrote that.

My life has always been consumed by a male-figure; ever since I can remember. I moved to Arizona almost two years ago, and really let my relationships with men get a hold on me. My love life has consisted of frequent phone/text conversations, and sex. Yes, I said it. Sex. I actually let myself believe, that giving a guy my body, was going to strengthen a relationship. Looking back on that, it sounds completely ridiculous, but this is the mentality that the enemy had given me. Our world is so broken, and anyone who tries to find hope in it, will also be broken. I've never realized how much pressure my generation has upon us. I always thought it was so cliche for me to say something like that, but when you sit down and really grasp the concept, it becomes so vivid, and so clear, that it can actually become life consuming. Sadly, it does for a lot of us. Your weight, your clothes, your makeup, your hair, and any other physical aspect is what gets you known in this world. The parties you go to, who you are having sex with, what cigarettes you smoke, the drugs you do, how drunk you get, and how awesome your hangover was the next day; these are the things that young adults consume their life with, because it's what's going to get them accepted. Sad, right? Reality isn't always pretty. I know that these things are what cause our broken world. How do I know? Because I have been there, and done that. I was so caught up in the ways of this broken world, that I became broken. In all this chaos, there is beauty. That beauty is Jesus. By His wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).That's what my tattoo says across my chest, closest to my heart, because it's true.

I continued these relationships, and held on as long as I could so that lonely feeling I always had, would go away. I just wanted that empty space in my heart to get filled, and I was willing to do anything to fill it. I used sexual intimacy with someone to hold on to them, thinking that it would work. I have never been so wrong in my life. Searching for emptiness with sex, only created more emptiness. So I tried to satisfy that emptiness with more sex, and then the vicious cycle set in. It became an addiction, which led me into depression. According to recent research, sexual addiction alters the shape of the brain and drains natural serotonin levels. The nervous system gets messed up. Deep sleep through the night is elusive and addicts often feels run down. Clinical depression, anxiety attacks and blood pressure problems start to creep in. Many sex addicts wind up on antidepressants or other medication to cope. So I saw a therapist, and she prescribed me anti-depressants to shift my neurons into the right place so my brain was able to produce sufficient amounts of serotonin. Talking with my therapist, and taking the medication helped a little, but it never felt like it was enough. I still felt that emptiness.

Many people have said, that it is in your lowest moments that God reveals himself to you. You just stop covering your eyes, and pretending he's not there. I had gotten to such a low point in my life, that I felt I had no where else to turn; So I turned to God. I prayed for an answer, and I prayed for healing. "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you." -James 4:8

"Return you backsliding children, and I will heal your backsliding." -Jeremiah 3:22

"Will". Such a strong word. It's not, "I might draw near you", its not "I can probably heal your backsliding", no! The word God uses is, "will". He will do what he says, because God does not lie, and God does not contradict himself. It he says he will do it, then believe that he will do it. I asked him for healing, and he truly healed me. It took a little bit of time, but that time drew me closer to him, and made me seek him more and more, everyday. That gap that needed filling, was really a space I was reserving for the holy spirit. I then came to a point in my life, where men and sexual intimacy were no longer a priority or a worry in my life. Those sinful desires, which never satisfied, had been replaced with a Savior. Jesus always satisfies. He has given me a new place to put my hope; My hope now lies in Him. Amen!

Waiting for that healing was hard, but it made me stronger, and the wait was well worth it. So how is it that I still get so impatient with him?

Through my journey, I met this fantastic guy. I really cannot put into words how much he has inspired me, and how his love for Christ has drawn me to him. We have been talking for about a month, but I feel like I have known him forever. We hung out, and not once did we try to go further than kissing. I didn't even want to, and when it seemed like I did, he stopped it. Wait, what? I can say, in all honesty, that this kind of stuff never happened in my past relationships. In fact, it was the exact opposite.

One small problem, he's a whopping three and a half hours away. So, needless to say, we aren't "together". He had come to the conclusion that we couldn't be together because of the distance. He said if he was going to be with someone, he wanted to "be with them". He said, "I think you're great, but it just isn't going to happen right now. But who knows, maybe God will put us together later." When he said this, I was crushed. It was weighing on my mind so heavy. It felt like someone was sitting on my chest, making it impossible for me to breathe. I finally found a decent guy. A guy that's devoted to Christ, and is so involved with his church. That's exactly what I'm looking for, and now distance is going to be an issue? I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and told God that I trusted him.

Key phrases/words to look at in that last paragraph: "Maybe God will put us together later", "looking", and "trust".

"Maybe God will put us together later"- I think I listened to everything he said, except for this minor (a.k.a major) detail. It seems that I am better at listening to the bad, and filtering out the good, instead of the other way around. I need to remember that if it's in His will, then it will fall into place according to plan.

"Looking"- Girls, stop looking. The whole world says you should be dating. God says you should be serving him while you are patiently waiting. There's that word I need to soak up. Patience. God is never late!! I have found myself holding on, as if God doesn't have better plans for me. Psh.

"Trust"- This is the most important word in this blog. Trusting God is so vital when you have a relationship with him. We have to have faith, and trust him in everything he does. If we don't, we are pretty much saying, "He won't be able to handle this problem", or "He won't care about this situation, He has too many other things to worry about". Really? Are we really about to belittle God? The almighty God? Did I really forget how much I am loved by him? He cares about all of my problems, big or small. It should be obvious that if I put complete trust in him, he's got my back. No matter what. End of story.

It's funny how I tend to believe that I'm going to plan out my life when I have God in the picture. A friend of mine would always say, "We plan, He laughs." If God is perfectly capable of writing my entire life (which he is), then I'm pretty sure my love life is in good hands. I have to learn to be patient in God's timing, because it is completely perfect. A pastor at a church I went to once said, "God is like molasses. He might be slow, but he is so so sweet." That couldn't be a truer statement. The more trust I have for the Lord, the more my patience is revealed. Lack of faith, and lack of trust has been the root of my impatience, and has not only hindered the relationships in my life, but has hindered my most important relationship- the relationship I have with Jesus.

"Trust in the Lord with all of your heart,

and lean not on your own understanding;

acknowledge the Lord in all of your ways,

and He shall direct your paths."

-Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

How the Mormon Missionaries Saved Me

I think my title catches the attention of the people who actually know me. Let me tell you why; I am a follower of the word of God. The Bible. The true gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe in nothing else, but the scripture that is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). So how did the Mormon Missionaries save me? I'll show you.

It all started not too long ago in December, 2009. My good friend Melissa and I went to the Mormon Temple in Mesa Arizona to check out the beautiful display of Christmas lights and decorations. It was quite a site. As we walked around, linked arms, and sipping on hot chocolate, we noticed a missionary handing out what looked like pamphlets. We decided to investigate. To be honest, we only felt it was necessary to investigate so that we had a reason to talk to him. What can I say? He was a good looking man in a suit. As we walked up to him, he glanced over, gave us a heart-warming smile and said, "Good evening ladies. How do you like the Christmas display here at the Temple?" We had a small chat about the decorations, but could tell he wanted to get straight to the point. He asked us if we new about the "Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ". Being a "Christian" myself, I was always under the impression that Mormons were just another denomination of Christianity. (I want to clarify the reason I put Christian in quotes was because I was not a devoted follower, I was just raised Christian.) So, since they were "Christians", like myself, I decided I wanted to hear a little bit about what they believed in, and why they were so obviously different from my version of Christians. ( Questions such as: If they were Christians, then why are they called Mormons?, Why are there so many Mormon Missionaries as apposed to any other Christian Missionary? etc.) He asked if I would like to meet with some missionaries in my area, and I responded immediately with a yes. I was really curious to see what was going on in this "denomination of Christianity" that I didn't know about.

A week later, I heard a knock at the door. I opened it to see the smiling faces of two young gentlemen in suits and ties. Oh, joy. Here they are. I was so completely unprepared for their visit and had no idea what was to come of it. They politely introduced themselves, and asked how I was doing. Such sincere, nice boys. Luckily they were there to make an appointment for a later day. Thank God. Literally. I did not want to deal with people coming into my cluttered apartment. They handed me the Book of Mormon, and told me to read through it and pray about it. They could not stress enough how important it was to pray about everything that I read. So I agreed, we set a date for the next week, and they were on their way.

Read the Book of Mormon? Not only did I hate reading, but I hated reading in an old English language that was really hard for me to understand. I didn't even like reading my bible, let alone a restoration of it, but I decided to keep my promise. I started to read the first couple of pages that included these things: The Introduction, The Testimony of the Three Witnesses, The Testimony of the Eight Witnesses, The Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and A Brief Explanation of the Book of Mormon. I will admit, I did not pray about it, because I never really found prayer necessary to begin with, so I didn't think I should start now. To my surprise, it was rather interesting. So, I decided to research, and find some things out about the LDS church, and their basic beliefs. I had many questions, so I thought I would ask someone I knew I could trust. Glenn.

Glenn is my best friend Courtney's boyfriend. He has been studying to be a Pastor for the last 10 years, and is very knowledgeable in Biblical Theology, or any sort of Christian Studies. Not only that, but he has been studying about the Mormon religion for the about the same amount of time, so I knew he would know the scoop on the subject. Since I did not know Glenn very well at the time, I decided to call Courtney and have her ask Glenn for a little more information on the Mormon religion and its culture. With no hesitation, he emailed me with even more than I had asked for. He told me it was going to be a lot of stuff to take in at once, but over some time, I would get through it all. It was quite overwhelming, but I decided to get cracking on it. I only had a week to absorb some of this stuff. I had an interesting road ahead of me.

The first thing I did, was listen to a speech given by Dr. Walter Martin, an American Evangelical

minister, author, and Christian apologist who founded the Christian Research Institute in 1960. This speech was called "The Maze of Mormonism". In just the first five minutes of listening to this man, I had come to the conclusion that Mormon religion was out of its mind (To clarify, this is the thought process that was going on at the time of listening to his speech). Let me explain why I was in such awe about this religion. Mormons claim to believe in the Bible, but they are convinced that there have been some mistranslations. They say this, yet they still reference back to Bible verses from time to time to prove their points. To me, this didn't make too much sense, but that wasn't what got me thinking this way. Dr. Walter Martin first started out with some prayer; a prayer for the Mormons salvation. I didn't understand why yet, because remember, to me they were just another denomination of Christianity. Then he continued with something that really got me thinking. He quoted a very intense Bible verse. I am using the King James Version only because this is the Bible that Mormons continue to use due to the fact that it was the version that was around when Joseph Smith had his "revelation" (Not to mention, they usually carry around a KJV/JST version. Meaning "Joseph Smith Translation").

Galatians 1:6-9 (KJV) "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."

To better understand this verse. Let me give you a little summary of Joseph Smith's first vision in 1820.

Joseph Smith was confused as to which sect he should join, since there were so many different ones. After reading James 1:5, he was determined to find out which one was true. He went to the woods, and knelt down to pray to God with a wholesome heart, and ask him this question. As he prayed, an overpowering feeling came over him. When he opened his eyes, he explained he had seen two beings above him in the light, who were supposedly the Father and the Son (God and Jesus). The Son had told Joseph that he was not to join any of the religious sects, for they were all corrupt in their teachings.

Just so that I clarify, I used the word "supposedly" because there about 9 or 10 different versions of this vision, ( but this is the vision that they use in the LDS church today. I am trying to be careful with my words, because I don't wish to offend anyone in their beliefs, I am just sharing what I have learned.

I was astonished, because I have grown up believing the Bible to be true. There is no way you could have mistranslated a verse like that. There are only so many ways that you can scramble up words and meanings for you to get a point across. Even the JST version of this Bible verse is getting the same point across. I didn't understand how they could be so blind, so instead of having Christ-like love for them, I formed a hate upon them. I was, in lame mans terms, absolutely pissed off. I couldn't get how people could be so idiotic, it literally made my stomach turn in disgust. From this moment (in my early research) on, my goal for this mission was to prove those Mormon Missionaries wrong. Anything I could do to plant seeds of doubt in their mind, I was going to do it. Whatever it took.

First couple of things I did: Bought a new Bible (ESV), history of the Mormon Church books, Cult books, and any other Mormon history books I could get my hands on, and started reading. I found so many things that caught my attention, that I could not even wrap my mind around the fact that people actually believed this stuff. I have never, in my entire life, done so much research. There was no way I was going to cram all this stuff in before the Missionaries came for their visit. I then realized that this was going to be a slow process.

The First Visit:

I let them talk. I let them explain their beliefs, and tell me why they "knew it to be true". I listened to their testimony, and to my surprise, I agreed with about 90% of what they had to say. They claimed to be followers of Jesus, and believed he died for our sins. They claimed to believe that Jesus was the only way to God, and that we must accept Him as our Saviour to enter Heaven. They claimed to believe in baptism. This list can go on and on, but my point is, is that they used my beliefs to persuade me into thinking that this religion is the only true way to Jesus Christ. As much as I dislike saying this, they got me thinking that they might not be wrong. Everything they said to me, were the teachings that I grew up with. How could they be wrong? At the end, they asked me if I had done my reading in the Book of Mormon. I told them what I had read, and apologized for not reading more into it. They were happy with the fact that I had even read any of it at all. They explained to me the importance of prayer. They told me I must pray, and ask if Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and in doing so, God would reveal the truth to me. They told me to continue reading, and scheduled an appointment for next week.

Wow. They were so nice. They cared so much for my salvation, and I have never had anyone care about something like that. Ever. I decided to look into more of the things that Glenn sent me. In all of this, I never realized the importance of my Bible. I was so focused on researching the history, that the Bible seemed irrelevant. Even figuring this out, I still didn't use it like I should have, and continued with my research. I found more and more truths about the history of the Mormon Church, and how disturbing this cult was. I noticed how much it was poisoning the minds of these people, and completely brainwashing them into believing this nonsense. There was mass amount of information that LDS officials were hiding from theses innocent people.

Every visit after that was a constant battle of who was right and who was wrong. I asked questions that made them uncomfortable, and ones that they were not able to answer. I noticed myself getting defensive of my religion, and using a tone of voice that would have been considered arrogant. I was fighting for a religion that I rarely even practiced. Looking back on it, I handled these debates poorly, and could of made more of an impact if I had used the tool that had been so obviously dangled in front of my face the whole time: my Bible. I decided it was time to pick it up, and do some reading so that I could prove my point. In doing so, I learned so much more truth in the Bible than anything I could have read out of some book. I started to feel a love that was so overwhelming, and something that I can honestly say I had never felt before. This is what the Holy Spirit felt like. I started reading the Book of Mormon out loud so that I could see what I could learn from it, and why it was so different from the Bible. What I felt when I read it out loud was unexplainable. It was uncomfortable, heart wrenching, and stomach churning. I felt darkness, and sadness. It was something that I felt was so evil, that I had to stop reading it out loud to regain my composure. Some may think that I am crazy for feeling this way, and that's OK. What I do want to point out, is that I read it out loud before I started reading the Bible. I read it out loud when I already started all of that research, and had already come to the conclusion that Mormonism was wrong. It wasn't until I started developing a love for the Bible, and Jesus' teachings, that I started to feel this overwhelming gloom.

So, I continued my research on a website that I trusted. I started reading about all kinds of contradictions between the Bible, and the Book of Mormon. Truths that were so vitally important for salvation. My heart dropped, and I started feeling sympathy for people of the Mormon Church.

I was asked to attend a church service with the Missionaries. It's always been hard for me to say no, and even though I really didn't want to go, I did. Besides, what could it hurt? This was only going to make me less ignorant, and help me learn more about their culture. I showed up, in a hot pink shirt, black leggings, imitation UGGS, and a black leather jacket. My hair was done curly, my eye makeup was heavy, and my piercings were placed in their usual spot (at the time it was my septum [bull ring], Medusa [top lip in the middle], and my tongue ring). Not to mention, my shirt revealed my giant tattoo bannered across my chest. I think it was safe to say, that I stuck out like a sore thumb. I was always used to a "come as you are" attire, so I was a little bummed that no one had told me what would be appropriate to wear to and LDS church service. Even though I looked different then everyone there, I didn't get as many dirty looks as I was expecting. I was greeted with sincere compassion, mostly by the male members, and was asked to sit with them. I laughed a little bit after that, because that's when I received more of the dirty looks I was expecting, mostly from the female members. I could kind of understand where they were coming from. I wasn't one of them, and this was a ward for young adults that were "looking for love". I wish they knew the reason for my coming, then they would have understood. The church service was traditional, and I didn't really take part in the singing of hymns, because I didn't really know what was being sung. I didn't want to sing something I didn't believe. There was no standing, and it all sounded very monotone. The whole church service was all about testimonies from LDS members. Shocking. Of course they would invite me to this church service. While I was listening, that overwhelming sense of doom came over me again, only this time, it was every time I heard the name Joseph Smith. This is not coincidence. No way. I felt the need to hold my composure until the end.

I attended their BoM/Bible study after the service to see what kind of information I could get from it. At the end, I asked the leader of the study some questions. I can definitely say that I had asked someone that was way over my head. He was so knowledgeable, and witty. I couldn't even compete with that. Not to mention, he was my age. Even with all his knowledge, he was still unable to answer the major questions I had, which put me at ease. Let me rephrase that. He answered my questions, but in a way where he sort of beat around the bush, and went on to a different subject to prove his point. That is what put me at ease. I knew I had the truth in my hands. The beautiful 66 chapter love letter that God wrote to us. There was no doubt in my mind.

In the last meeting with the Mormon Missionaries the week before, they told me to continue praying about it. They were hoping I would have an answer on what God had revealed to me the following week. In one week, I was going to have my fifth visit. This was probably going to be my last, considering that they were not there to be converted, they were there to convert me. So I prayed, for the first time in a long time. My prayer went something along the lines of :

"Dear Lord,

I know it's been a while, and I'm sorry for that. I just need a favor from you. Change my heart. Fill it with love and compassion for these Mormons, so that the words that come out of my mouth are loving. Guide me in my testimony, and help me not be discouraged. I don't know a lot about your word, but I'm hoping that the change that you put on my heart will be enough evidence to show them the truth.


The Last Visit

My palms were sweating, my heart was racing, my mouth was dry. This is where I discovered my biggest problem. Fear of man. I was not looking forward to telling them the things I have learned, why those things are true, and that my truth is nowhere near their truth. They knocked on the door, and let them in without hesitation. We started off with a quick prayer, led by yours truly, and continued where we had left off the previous week. They looked up at me, waiting for the answer they had come here for. I took a deep breath and told them exactly what I should have told them. Completely out of love, and compassion. I explained how much I cared about them and their salvation. I took the time to listen to their testimony, so that I had a right to tell them mine. I showed them Bible verses that revealed truth in God's word. The Bible I was holding in my hand was the only word, and nothing should be added or taken away from it (Ecclesiastes 3:14), His word is pure (Psalms 2:6), and Gods word is done. The end. Nothing else needs to be added because it is the true fullness of the Gospel (Revelation 22:18-19). In telling them all these truths, I literally started to tear up. I felt so sorry for them, because they truly believe they have it right. They are so close, but sadly, so far away from God. The most heart-wrenching part is that they don't even know how far they are. They were very impressed with the research I had done, and they were very surprised that I knew so many facts about their religion. Facts they already knew, and facts that they had learned that day. (All my facts were backed up with evidence, and doctrines, not from a Wikipedia Website.) I concluded my testimony with a "thank you".

This is where the beauty starts to unravel. I said "thank you" to them because it was well deserved. I told them that they may think they didn't show me salvation through thier word, but they showed me salvation through God's word. If they hadn't continued coming to my house to tell me about thier beliefs, I don't think I would have picked up a Bible for a long, long time, if ever again. They did a lot more for me then they know, and for that, I owe them so much.

This is where my passion has started. I am completely in love with the word of God, and have found so much joy in reading it. I am looking to go to school for Biblical Theology, and Christian Studies. My focus will be on God, and his word. I am so passionate about the Mormons, and showing them things that I have learned. Since God's word was revealed to me through them, accidently, I want to dedicate my life in doing the same thing back. Unfortunately, a lot of Mormons know that what they practice is in fact, not true, but continue to study it. Why? That I don't know. It is shocking considering this is what is preventing them from salvation.

If you are Mormon, and you have any questions about what kind of "contradictions", or "facts" I have talked about in this blog, feel free to ask me. I am not looking for a religious debate, I only want to help in anyway that I can. It is so important to take our focus off of our religion, and put it towards the relationship we want with Christ. Religion is man-made, but a relationship is pure, and true. God is love, and his word shows it. We just have to take the blindfold off, first.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Indwelling Sin

It's really crazy to think how easy we, as followers of Christ, get so caught up with things of this world. Considering that most of the worldly things these days are sinful, it's almost a guarantee that we are going to commit some sort of sin throughout the day, in doing these sinful things, it only leads to seperation from God. Sad to think about, but true none the less. So how do we prevent this? What can we do to become better disciples of Jesus? It is definitely difficult, and it is going to be a life long struggle. How many of us are going to take this issue seriously?

One thing that has helped me continue to overcome this problem is understanding that I am a sinner. I was born a sinner, and I am only human. We will slip, we will fall, but the trick? Get up, dust yourself off, repent whole-hearted, and continue with your purpose. Yes, you have a purpose. God made you with a purpose, on purpose. By God's grace, we are saved. One of the most helpful things I have ever thought of, was to focus on eternity. What does that exactly mean? "Focus on eternity". Eternity starts right this very second. Right here, right now. When this time on earth is over, where do I want to spend the rest of this eternity? As humans, our brains cannot even fathom the thought of that time-span. Think about it.
Eternity. Forever. Endlessness. Infiniteness.
Hard to think about, right?

First things first. Study your bible. Read it, learn it, love it. It is so important to understand what God wants from you, and reading the bible is such an important step to overcoming sinful desires. Sinful desires that never seem to satisfy. His words speak to you, if you let them.

It is so vitally important to understand that you and I have been yielding to the flesh of Satan's way for our entire lives. We have become so very good at it. Here is the coolest thing about this, though; the more and more you strive to overcome and resist the pulls at work within you, you will start to notice that wrong patters of conduct become a second nature to you. So true. No lies here. I am starting to notice it more and more, ever day.
Please do not misunderstand me here. Overcoming sin will definitely not happen overnight, unfortunately it's not that easy. Like I have mentioned, it is a life-long struggle. A life-long struggle against well-established attitudes and a former way of living that a lot of Christians have now rejected and turned away from. Amen.

As natural born sinners, we try to walk God's path, but a lot of times start to wonder off and forget what the point of this whole "path" was. (Focus on eternity). In doing this, we only have a harder time finding our way back to the beginning, and starting all over. The more and more we start over, the harder it is experience all that God has through the path he was originally trying to lead us down.
Read this verse. John 8:34; "Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin, is a slave to sin'."
When you sin, it overcomes you, taking over your life, and leaving you lost. We must overcome it.
One of the many, many wonderful things about God, is that he knows your heart. He knows your desires, and he knows the reasons you do the things you do. The more you want a sin-free life, the more God has the ability to change the views of your heart, hence the easier it will be to discontinue this life of sin. I know this, I have experienced it. I have noticed in my path, that if I trust him, and continue to grow in love with him, the less I want to sin. Do I still sin? Absolutely, but I don't let it bring me down; If I do, I lose my motivation. Never lose your motivation. Focus on eternity.

Faith. Such a strong powerful word. A word that plays a huge role in a sin-free life.
Ephesians 2:8-9 states, “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that [the faith] not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”
The faith of Christ in us is a gift. And salvation comes as a free gift, by grace—through faith! But Paul explains that even the faith must be a gift. Otherwise, it would be a “work” generated by human effort.

So I have said before, because I don't think I can stress it enough. This all takes time. More time than we would like. There will be frustration, anger, and fear; but remember God is there to help, to guide, and to love. His love is so fulfilling, so motivating. His love makes you want to continue, and make you want to please him. Pleasing him means doing what he wants, and following his ways. We are all "babes [babies] in Christ" (I Cor.3:1). He describes how they required "milk" instead of "meat" for food. The brand new Christian is much like an infant. In this analogy, he first learns to roll over, then crawl, before walking (in an unsteady, toddling fashion). Then finally he learns to run (spiritually).
Push yourself to grow and overcome. Grow in knowledge as well (II Pet. 3:18).

In his article “HOW TO PREVENT SIN,” Herbert W. Armstrong concluded with the following. Notice the important key he described. It will also help you:

“The way to put a thing out of the mind is to put an opposite thought in the mind. So often I have noticed parents of babies strive so hard to ‘shush’ up the baby when it is crying. There’s either something causing pain, which should be removed, or something is in the baby’s mind that is causing its crying or fretting. Just saying ‘shush!’ or commanding the baby to stop fussing doesn't usually get very good results. We have reared four children, and long ago I learned the trick of quieting the baby by getting its mind on something else. Instead of commanding it to stop crying, attract its attention with some new object—get it interested in playing with that object…and before you know it the child will forget all about its crying.

“Try using this same method on yourself. But instead of material or worldly things, a mature person should use self-discipline and set his mind on spiritual things. Open your Bible. Put the study of some spiritual subject in your mind. Next time you are tempted, try it. Pray over it. Ask God to help you. See how rapidly you begin to win the victory over temptation and sin, and how marvelous will be your spiritual and character growth.”

Christ taught His disciples to understand the pulls of human nature at work within them. Notice: “And He said, That which comes out of the man, that defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness” (Mark 7:20-22).

These same attitudes, pulls of the flesh and wrong patterns of conduct are also at work within you and me. They leave us fertile for temptation by Satan.

Therefore, many kinds of temptations will be thrown at you all through life. You must successfully resist them. They will often come when you least expect them. The devil will try to strike you where you are weakest—most vulnerable—least prepared. You must be on guard—ready! Do not assume that you are stronger or more prepared than you think.

So I researched things to help us prevent sin. In doing that, I found "Seven Steps to Permanent Change". I will admit, I have yet to try this, but I will. I challenge you to do the same.

Seven Steps to Permanent Change

(1) Honestly face the problem. Many people will not honestly face their problems. They hide their eyes from reality. Jeremiah 17:9 declares, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Most people willingly deceive themselves about their problems. Honestly face your problems. Look them right in the eye and see them for what they are.

(2) Do not get discouraged. It is very easy to get discouraged now that you have acknowledged your problems. It is easy to be disheartened. This is natural. Be ready for this feeling to possibly strike you, after you have honestly faced the weakness, sin or fault that you are now ready to tackle. Paul wrote of those who are “troubled on every side, yet not distressed…perplexed, but not in despair” (II Cor. 4:8-9). You may feel this way as you face your problems, but do not get discouraged. Move on to the next step.

(3) Set your will. Absolutely determine that you are going to defeat each particular problem and that each will not defeat you! Take a do-or-die approach to the battle that lies before you. It has been said that the hardest battle is the first battle. Set your will to address each sin or weakness successfully. Tell yourself that you are going to defeat it—that you are going to rip it from your character. But recognize that you cannot fight the battle on your own. You must move to step four.

(4) Form a partnership with God. If you set out to overcome on human strength alone, you will fail. That is assured. We have already touched on this. Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). Jesus said, “I can of My own self do nothing” (John 5:30). On another occasion, when speaking to His disciples and talking about those who have certain things to overcome, Christ also said, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26). Believe Christ’s words. If He could do nothing on His own, neither can you or I. Be sure that you have formed a partnership with God and that you are not working on your own.

(5) Start right where you are. Admit that the problem is whatever size that it is. Neither overstate nor understate it. If it is a BIG problem, admit it! This is part of honestly facing the problem. If you are trying to overcome any pull of the flesh or temptation that has existed for a long time—that has been part of you for many years—admit the size of the problem. It has been said, “The longest journey begins with a single step.” That is true for the Christian. No matter how long it takes, or where you are when you start, start wherever you find yourself. If you have wasted time in deciding to address the problem, admit it. Acknowledge where you are and “Redeem the time” (Eph. 5:16).

(6) Be willing to pay the price. The Bible describes some who “grow weary” and “faint in the day of adversity” (Prov. 24:10). Solomon wrote that “their strength is small.” Paul wrote, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal. 6:9). Everything of value in life comes at a cost—a price. Sometimes this involves pain, suffering. Pay the price. Paul wrote that even Christ “learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Heb. 5:8). None of us enjoy pain, but sometimes it is inescapable in the overcoming process. The Psalmist said, “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept Your word” (Psa. 119:67). Four verses later, he added, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Your statutes” (vs. 71).

(7) Do not give up before you have succeeded. Paul talked of running in a race and finishing his course. He said that he “pressed toward the mark” (Phil. 3:13) on his way to the kingdom of God. Solomon wrote, “For a just man falls seven times, and rises up again” (Prov. 24:16). Do not give up. Do not ever give up! Wrestle, battle and struggle until you have completely overcome whatever obstacle, weakness, sin or problem you are facing!

So, there it is. Some help, and little guidance. If you want this, you can do this-in Christ alone.

If you enjoy rap, or music in general, you should listen to a song called "Indwelling Sin" by a Christian rapper called Lecrae. This guy is so incredible. He is truly a man of God, and this song is so easy to relate to. I'm going to post the lyrics, so you should open another window and go to and search it. Follow the song with the lyrics, it's pretty impacting.

Indwelling Sin- Lecrae

Aye look what's good fam it's me again The one you used to call your friend
I know you aint forgot me?

Oh yeah you always get me caught in sin

Here you go with that again. You act like we aint cool or sumthin.
Lets go smoke a Kool or sumthin. Talk and sip a brew or sumthin.

Naw man I aint trusting you Aint nothing but lust in you
Thanks be to God I obeyed the teaching I was entrusted to
cause when you pass by you just want ya boy to backslide
Have me feeling sick like I'm coming down off a crack high

Man that's a flat lie you act like I'm the bad guy
you know when me and you get together we have a grand time
lets take it back. All the way to like the 6th grade
last thing on your mind back in the day was trying to live saved
remember house parties, kissing in the dark?
man that was innocent fun come on...

NOW don't start
See dawg I live by the Spirit so I don't gratify
all them old sinful desires that never satsify

Aye come on KILL THAT! Look me in my face and tell me I'm a lie
You aint feeling chasing women, getting drunk, and getting high
stacking money, staying fly, living up the playas life
we was having fun now gone try to be religious guy

Aye Yo man first of all LOWER YOUR VOICE! Who you talkin' to?
Handcuffed in August '02 I got caught with you
Truck flipped over on 35 that was all from you
I'll mess around and lose my life man tryna walk in you
I'm standing on these stages and got these people believing me
what I look like trying ta gratify this disease in me

So Now I'm a disease? Man please. I got yo back dawg
I aint saying drop the Jesus and be a rap star
All Im saying is when it's you and me lets be real folk
We aint gotta be selling drugs and tryna kill folk
Maybe just a lil...

What? A lil this, a lil that
a lil BET late at night, that's like a lil crack
see you aint gone lie to me I see how you be tryna be
BET tonight becomes addiction to pornography
and that's in no way honoring the God who's ruling sovereignly

Man you know you miss them old days

Yeah you right possibly
But after that I sober up and think of Jesus holding up
his skin up on the cross for all them drunken nights I'm throwing up
every thought of blowin up is captured in his flowing blood
I start thinking Philippians 4:8 when you showing up

You know I aint gone quit right?

Yeah I know but I'm dead to you
and one day I'll be present with Jesus who died and bled from you
Colossians 1:15 thats the God that I trust in
the Father crushed Him In doing so he has crushed sin

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Does God Exsist? A Former-Athiests Point of View

I found this article so interesting. There are so many things on this that I never realized. It is truly amazing.

Does God exist? Here are six straight-forward reasons to believe that God is really there.

By Marilyn Adamson

Just once wouldn't you love for someone to simply show you the evidence for God's existence? No arm-twisting. No statements of, "You just have to believe." Well, here is an attempt to candidly offer some of the reasons which suggest that God exists.

But first consider this. If a person opposes even the possibility of there being a God, then any evidence can be rationalized or explained away. It is like if someone refuses to believe that people have walked on the moon, then no amount of information is going to change their thinking. Photographs of astronauts walking on the moon, interviews with the astronauts, moon rocks...all the evidence would be worthless, because the person has already concluded that people cannot go to the moon.

When it comes to the possibility of God's existence, the Bible says that there are people who have seen sufficient evidence, but they have suppressed the truth about God.1 On the other hand, for those who want to know God if he is there, he says, "You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you."2 Before you look at the facts surrounding God's existence, ask yourself, If God does exist, would I want to know him? Here then, are some reasons to consider...

1. Does God exist? The complexity of our planet points to a deliberate Designer who not only created our universe, but sustains it today.
Many examples showing God's design could be given, possibly with no end. But here are a few:

The Earth...its size is perfect. The Earth's size and corresponding gravity holds a thin layer of mostly nitrogen and oxygen gases, only extending about 50 miles above the Earth's surface. If Earth were smaller, an atmosphere would be impossible, like the planet Mercury. If Earth were larger, its atmosphere would contain free hydrogen, like Jupiter.3 Earth is the only known planet equipped with an atmosphere of the right mixture of gases to sustain plant, animal and human life.

The Earth is located the right distance from the sun. Consider the temperature swings we encounter, roughly -30 degrees to +120 degrees. If the Earth were any further away from the sun, we would all freeze. Any closer and we would burn up. Even a fractional variance in the Earth's position to the sun would make life on Earth impossible. The Earth remains this perfect distance from the sun while it rotates around the sun at a speed of nearly 67,000 mph. It is also rotating on its axis, allowing the entire surface of the Earth to be properly warmed and cooled every day.

And our moon is the perfect size and distance from the Earth for its gravitational pull. The moon creates important ocean tides and movement so ocean waters do not stagnate, and yet our massive oceans are restrained from spilling over across the continents.4

Water...colorless, odorless and without taste, and yet no living thing can survive without it. Plants, animals and human beings consist mostly of water (about two-thirds of the human body is water). You'll see why the characteristics of water are uniquely suited to life:

It has an unusually high boiling point and freezing point. Water allows us to live in an environment of fluctuating temperature changes, while keeping our bodies a steady 98.6 degrees.

Water is a universal solvent. This property of water means that thousands of chemicals, minerals and nutrients can be carried throughout our bodies and into the smallest blood vessels.5

Water is also chemically neutral. Without affecting the makeup of the substances it carries, water enables food, medicines and minerals to be absorbed and used by the body.

Water has a unique surface tension. Water in plants can therefore flow upward against gravity, bringing life-giving water and nutrients to the top of even the tallest trees.

Water freezes from the top down and floats, so fish can live in the winter.

Ninety-seven percent of the Earth's water is in the oceans. But on our Earth, there is a system designed which removes salt from the water and then distributes that water throughout the globe. Evaporation takes the ocean waters, leaving the salt, and forms clouds which are easily moved by the wind to disperse water over the land, for vegetation, animals and people. It is a system of purification and supply that sustains life on this planet, a system of recycled and reused water.6

The human brain...simultaneously processes an amazing amount of information. Your brain takes in all the colors and objects you see, the temperature around you, the pressure of your feet against the floor, the sounds around you, the dryness of your mouth, even the texture of your keyboard. Your brain holds and processes all your emotions, thoughts and memories. At the same time your brain keeps track of the ongoing functions of your body like your breathing pattern, eyelid movement, hunger and movement of the muscles in your hands.

The human brain processes more than a million messages a second.7 Your brain weighs the importance of all this data, filtering out the relatively unimportant. This screening function is what allows you to focus and operate effectively in your world. The brain functions differently than other organs. There is an intelligence to it, the ability to reason, to produce feelings, to dream and plan, to take action, and relate to other people.

The eye...can distinguish among seven million colors. It has automatic focusing and handles an astounding 1.5 million messages -- simultaneously.8 Evolution focuses on mutations and changes from and within existing organisms. Yet evolution alone does not fully explain the initial source of the eye or the brain -- the start of living organisms from nonliving matter.

2. Does God exist? The universe had a start - what caused it?
Scientists are convinced that our universe began with one enormous explosion of energy and light, which we now call the Big Bang. This was the singular start to everything that exists: the beginning of the universe, the start of space, and even the initial start of time itself.

Astrophysicist Robert Jastrow, a self-described agnostic, stated, "The seed of everything that has happened in the Universe was planted in that first instant; every star, every planet and every living creature in the Universe came into being as a result of events that were set in motion in the moment of the cosmic explosion...The Universe flashed into being, and we cannot find out what caused that to happen."9

Steven Weinberg, a Nobel laureate in Physics, said at the moment of this explosion, "the universe was about a hundred thousands million degrees Centigrade...and the universe was filled with light."10

The universe has not always existed. It had a start...what caused that? Scientists have no explanation for the sudden explosion of light and matter.

3. Does God exist? The universe operates by uniform laws of nature. Why does it?
Much of life may seem uncertain, but look at what we can count on day after day: gravity remains consistent, a hot cup of coffee left on a counter will get cold, the earth rotates in the same 24 hours, and the speed of light doesn't change -- on earth or in galaxies far from us.

How is it that we can identify laws of nature that never change? Why is the universe so orderly, so reliable?

"The greatest scientists have been struck by how strange this is. There is no logical necessity for a universe that obeys rules, let alone one that abides by the rules of mathematics. This astonishment springs from the recognition that the universe doesn't have to behave this way. It is easy to imagine a universe in which conditions change unpredictably from instant to instant, or even a universe in which things pop in and out of existence."11

Richard Feynman, a Nobel Prize winner for quantum electrodynamics, said, "Why nature is mathematical is a mystery...The fact that there are rules at all is a kind of miracle."12

4. Does God exist? The DNA code informs, programs a cell's behavior.
All instruction, all teaching, all training comes with intent. Someone who writes an instruction manual does so with purpose. Did you know that in every cell of our bodies there exists a very detailed instruction code, much like a miniature computer program? As you may know, a computer program is made up of ones and zeros, like this: 110010101011000. The way they are arranged tell the computer program what to do. The DNA code in each of our cells is very similar. It's made up of four chemicals that scientists abbreviate as A, T, G, and C. These are arranged in the human cell like this: CGTGTGACTCGCTCCTGAT and so on. There are three billion of these letters in every human cell!!

Well, just like you can program your phone to beep for specific reasons, DNA instructs the cell. DNA is a three-billion-lettered program telling the cell to act in a certain way. It is a full instruction manual.13

Why is this so amazing? One has to did this information program wind up in each human cell? These are not just chemicals. These are chemicals that instruct, that code in a very detailed way exactly how the person's body should develop.

Natural, biological causes are completely lacking as an explanation when programmed information is involved. You cannot find instruction, precise information like this, without someone intentionally constructing it.

5. Does God exist? We know God exists because he pursues us. He is constantly initiating and seeking for us to come to him.
I was an atheist at one time. And like many atheists, the issue of people believing in God bothered me greatly. What is it about atheists that we would spend so much time, attention, and energy refuting something that we don't believe even exists?! What causes us to do that? When I was an atheist, I attributed my intentions as caring for those poor, delusional help them realize their hope was completely ill-founded. To be honest, I also had another motive. As I challenged those who believed in God, I was deeply curious to see if they could convince me otherwise. Part of my quest was to become free from the question of God. If I could conclusively prove to believers that they were wrong, then the issue is off the table, and I would be free to go about my life.

I didn't realize that the reason the topic of God weighed so heavily on my mind, was because God was pressing the issue. I have come to find out that God wants to be known. He created us with the intention that we would know him. He has surrounded us with evidence of himself and he keeps the question of his existence squarely before us. It was as if I couldn't escape thinking about the possibility of God. In fact, the day I chose to acknowledge God's existence, my prayer began with, "OK, you win..." It might be that the underlying reason atheists are bothered by people believing in God is because God is actively pursuing them.

I am not the only one who has experienced this. Malcolm Muggeridge, socialist and philosophical author, wrote, "I had a notion that somehow, besides questing, I was being pursued." C.S. Lewis said he remembered, "...night after night, feeling whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England."

Lewis went on to write a book titled, "Surprised by Joy" as a result of knowing God. I too had no expectations other than rightfully admitting God's existence. Yet over the following several months, I became amazed by his love for me.

6. Does God exist? Unlike any other revelation of God, Jesus Christ is the clearest, most specific picture of God revealing himself to us.
Why Jesus? Look throughout the major world religions and you'll find that Buddha, Muhammad, Confucius and Moses all identified themselves as teachers or prophets. None of them ever claimed to be equal to God. Surprisingly, Jesus did. That is what sets Jesus apart from all the others. He said God exists and you're looking at him. Though he talked about his Father in heaven, it was not from the position of separation, but of very close union, unique to all humankind. Jesus said that anyone who had seen Him had seen the Father, anyone who believed in him, believed in the Father.

He said, "I am the light of the world, he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."14 He claimed attributes belonging only to God: to be able to forgive people of their sin, free them from habits of sin, give people a more abundant life and give them eternal life in heaven. Unlike other teachers who focused people on their words, Jesus pointed people to himself. He did not say, "follow my words and you will find truth." He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me."15

What proof did Jesus give for claiming to be divine? He did what people can't do. Jesus performed miracles. He healed people...blind, crippled, deaf, even raised a couple of people from the dead. He had power over objects...created food out of thin air, enough to feed crowds of several thousand people. He performed miracles over nature...walked on top of a lake, commanding a raging storm to stop for some friends. People everywhere followed Jesus, because he constantly met their needs, doing the miraculous. He said if you do not want to believe what I'm telling you, you should at least believe in me based on the miracles you're seeing.16

Jesus Christ showed God to be gentle, loving, aware of our self-centeredness and shortcomings, yet deeply wanting a relationship with us. Jesus revealed that although God views us as sinners, worthy of his punishment, his love for us ruled and God came up with a different plan. God himself took on the form of man and accepted the punishment for our sin on our behalf. Sounds ludicrous? Perhaps, but many loving fathers would gladly trade places with their child in a cancer ward if they could. The Bible says that the reason we would love God is because he first loved us.

Jesus died in our place so we could be forgiven. Of all the religions known to humanity, only through Jesus will you see God reaching toward humanity, providing a way for us to have a relationship with him. Jesus proves a divine heart of love, meeting our needs, drawing us to himself. Because of Jesus' death and resurrection, he offers us a new life today. We can be forgiven, fully accepted by God and genuinely loved by God. He says, "I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you."17 This is God, in action.

Does God exist? If you want to know, investigate Jesus Christ. We're told that "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."18

God does not force us to believe in him, though he could. Instead, he has provided sufficient proof of his existence for us to willingly respond to him. The earth's perfect distance from the sun, the unique chemical properties of water, the human brain, DNA, the number of people who attest to knowing God, the gnawing in our hearts and minds to determine if God is there, the willingness for God to be known through Jesus Christ. If you need to know more about Jesus and reasons to believe in him, please see: Beyond Blind Faith.

If you want to begin a relationship with God now, you can.
This is your decision, no coercion here. But if you want to be forgiven by God and come into a relationship with him, you can do so right now by asking him to forgive you and come into your life. Jesus said, "Behold, I stand at the door [of your heart] and knock. He who hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him [or her]."19 If you want to do this, but aren't sure how to put it into words, this may help: "Jesus, thank you for dying for my sins. You know my life and that I need to be forgiven. I ask you to forgive me right now and come into my life. I want to know you in a real way. Come into my life now. Thank you that you wanted a relationship with me. Amen."

God views your relationship with him as permanent. Referring to all those who believe in him, Jesus Christ said of us, "I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand."20

About the Author: As a former atheist, Marilyn Adamson found it difficult to refute the continuously answered prayers and quality of life of a close friend. In challenging the beliefs of her friend, Marilyn was amazed to learn the wealth of objective evidence pointing to the existence of God. After about a year of persistent questioning, she responded to God's offer to come into her life and has found faith in Him to be constantly substantiated and greatly rewarding.

(1) Romans 1:19-21
(2) Jeremiah 29:13-14
(3) R.E.D. Clark, Creation (London: Tyndale Press, 1946), p. 20
(4) The Wonders of God's Creation, Moody Institute of Science (Chicago, IL)
(5) Ibid.
(6) Ibid.
(7) Ibid.
(8) Hugh Davson, Physiology of the Eye, 5th ed (New York: McGraw Hill, 1991)
(9) Robert Jastrow; "Message from Professor Robert Jastrow";; 2002.
(10) Steven Weinberg; The First Three Minutes: A Modern View of the Origin of the Universe; (Basic Books,1988); p 5.
(11) Dinesh D'Souza, What's So Great about Christianity; (Regnery Publishing, Inc, 2007, chapter 11).
(12) Richard Feynman, The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist (New York: BasicBooks, 1998), 43.
(13) Francis S. Collins, director of the Human Genome Project, and author of The Language of God, (Free Press, New York, NY), 2006
(14) John 8:12
(15) John 14:6
(16) John 14:11
(17) Jeremiah 31:3
(18) John 3:16
(10) Revelation 3:20
(20) John 10:27-29

Monday, February 15, 2010

Psalm 27:1

So, I really just needed to get something off my chest. I am truly hurt. Like, I have never felt my heart actually feel any sort of pain like this before. It was so stomach wrenching, to hear these words come out of his mouth. Why does it have to come from someone that I love so dearly. Someone who I am so close to. Someone that means so much to me.

I gave [my brother] the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I wish I could explain how hard it was for me to even do that. It's crazy how much easier it is telling someone you don't know about Christ, and the word, but when it comes to telling someone you're close to, it feels impossible. "Fear of man". Exactly what I am trying to get over. So when the opportunity came up to talk about it, I just sucked it up, and went with it.

I told him that the only way to know God, is to read and study his word, and pray. If you don't read his word, you will not truly understand how God wants us to live this life here on earth. Reading his word can and will remind you of what is truly important, and help you let go of the worldly things that so often distract us from his glory. I told him about prophesies that were, and still are being fulfilled according to the bible.I told him about the day that Christian persecution would be real, and we would be killed if we don't deny Jesus' name. Its so crucial to believe the bible, in its entirety. You cannot just pick and choose things that make your life easier to live. Unfortunately that's is not how God wants things done.

My brother and I were raised Christian, and he has always believed in Jesus, and that He died on the cross for the sins of this world. What he so painfully forgets, is that there is a difference between believing in Jesus, and following Jesus. In order to understand, there has to be a change made in your heart, or else there is no salvation. What I heard from his lips was so painful to hear, that I almost couldn't keep from dropping to my knees and crying. I told him I would pray for God to change his heart, and that I loved him.

When you love someone, it is only natural to want them to do the right thing, so that you may spend eternity in heaven with them. So I did, the best way I knew how. Being a Christian is not about being comfortable. I really can't stand how the gospel is being preached now-a-days. "If you become a Christian, YOU GET THIS. If you become a Christian, YOU'LL GET THAT." That leads people to follow Jesus for the wrong reasons. The truth is, it should be; "EVEN IF this happens, you will still follow, and EVEN IF that happens, you must still follow." Being a follower of Jesus can get really uncomfortable, and really hard to talk about. In reality, we must continue to teach his word, even if it is uncomfortable, even if people hate us for it, even if all of our friends and family turn their backs on us (John 15:18). That shouldn't matter, because in the end, those who did, and those who lived righteously through the teachings of Christ will get a better reward than anything the things or people on this earth could ever offer. Our life on this earth is like a vapor. One day, we are all going to die, and we truly don't know when that's going to happen.

Think about this. When you are on your death bed, and you know that you will be leaving this earth very soon, what do you think will cross your mind during those last hours? Will you be thinking about how you forgot to wash your 20 inch rims yesterday like you were supposed to? Will you be thinking about when your next paycheck is coming, or how much money you have left in your bank account? I highly doubt it, and if you do, then I truly feel sorry for you, and will continue to pray that you might have a change of heart.

In the Begining...

So here it is. My blog. To be honest, this kind of thing is all very new to me, so I'm quite nervous, but over all excited.

Purpose of this blog: To show everyone the steps I have taken in my life, which has brought be closer to God than I could ever imagine. If you chose to read it, GREAT!! I'm scared to reveal my true self, but want to change, and part my ways with my "fear of man". (Gal 1:10) If you don't chose to read it, that's OK too. I'm just hear to bear my testimony.

So I guess I can start off by introducing myself, right? OK. For those of you who don't know me, my name is Kristina Jauregui. I would suggest that if you don't know me, not to try to attempt the pronunciation of my last name. I'll give you an unauthorized version of a pronunciation key:(Hou-er-gee).

I was born, and raised in Southern California for 21 awesome years of my life. I lived with my parents, in a small 2 bedroom condo that I could walk from end to end in about 3 and a half steps. We lived in Newbury Park, a suburb of Thousand Oaks (which was ranked #11 of the 25 safest cities in America in 2009). The only problem with that ranking, is that I think my "hood" was completely ignored when they came up with it. You might be thinking that calling my neighborhood a "hood" is going a little extreme, but you would only know what I mean if had you lived there. I always used to call it "little Mexico", or "gangland", whichever term fit best at the time I was using it. My neighborhoods actual name was "Las Casitas", or translated from Spanish, "little houses". I found a lot of irony and humor in that.

My parents were both lower class citizens, and lived paycheck by paycheck. That being said, they managed very well, and did everything to the best of their ability. They didn't live there by choice, but by force. Thousand Oaks and it's nicer suburbs, were by far too expensive for people in their situation, to afford.

My father was born in Jalisco, Mexico in November 1963. Both of his parents died when he was very young, leaving him with six younger siblings, and two older siblings. Education was not a priority when it came to his family, and it was not forced on children in Mexico. My father didn't get to finish middle school. By the time he was 19, he decided that a change needed to be made, and crossed the US/Mexican border. He was determined to make a new life for his family by sacrificing the things he loved most, to work in California. Not just work, but hours upon hours of strenuous, hard labor. He was all alone, at 19 years old. I guess you could say he grew up pretty fast. Of course, being so young, it was so painfully easy to get involved with wrongful things, and be so easily influenced. Drugs and alcohol became a part of his daily ritual, but surprisingly functioned enough to get by.

My mother on the other hand had a much different story. She was born in Mexico, Missouri in January 1958. Her mother was a home-maker, and her father served in the Navy for the entirety of their short-lasting marriage. She has one brother, about 2 years younger than she. When my mother was about four, her parents separated, and her mother forced them to move out of state, to California. She rarely talked to her father, and when she did, it was no longer than a few minutes every couple of months. The image I got from the pictures I had seen of my grandmother, she looked like some-what of a partyer, and was very attractive throughout my mothers teenage years. Like myself, my mother was always the heavy-set girl out of all of her friends, and I don't believe having a mother that looked like a more attractive, younger version of her sister helped her self-esteem one bit. As far as her brother, they were your average, everyday obnoxious siblings. From what I remember in stories she has told me, they have been very close to killing each other, hopefully on accident. My mother married at a young age, to her first husband, and had her first child; my brother. That marriage didn't work out like she had hoped, so they separated when my brother was too young to even remember.

My parents married when my brother was just a toddler. My grandmother, in no way, shape or form, agreed with this marriage. She was actually so against it, that she did not even attend the wedding. My father, was not what she thought was best for my mother. Of course, she was just being a mother, and looking out for her daughters best interest. Just to clear the record, before everyone gets this horrid, "wicked witch of the west" image about my grandmother, I'll just share a small bit of info with ya. Throughout her life, she grew, and changed, and was one of the only people I have ever met that truly FELL IN LOVE with Jesus. She just happened to go through some hard ships in her life, like many of us have.

My parents marriage will probably be revealed throughout this blog, as some situations must be explained to really tell you what I have experienced that made me want to seek God, and accept him into my life.

This was probably a lot to take in at one time, but at the same time, crucially important aspects that should be mentioned in order to understand and relate with my blog.

Until next time, ONE LOVE, ONE GOD, ONE WAY.