Victory doesn’t always feel Victorious

Last night I had dinner with a brother of mine. He was telling me about all these things that God had been doing in his life, and then I began to tell him what had happened to me in the last three weeks. I shared with him my victories but they felt overshadowed by my failures. He was filled with joy and I was exhausted and frustrated. For some reason though I went to Wednesday night worship with him. 
As we stood there before the service I was still frustrated and honestly didn’t know why I was even there. While I was standing there though God began to work on my heart. He began to show me what victory really was, that sometimes victory doesn’t look like victory should. Sometimes a victory is falling down, because every time you fall down, you learn. Most importantly falling down makes you look up to God. 
Last night I was reminded that our sins and falling flat on our face helps us look to God. If God just took away every struggle and every failure, we wouldn’t need Him. Our constant failing reminds us that we need God more than ever to pick us up and carry us through this life that is filled with brokenness, frustration, and pain. God is there to teach us in our struggle, to grow us in trials, and carry us through pain. Even as Christians we are still human. We are not perfect and never will be, and we will always need that constant reminder that we need God. 
So last night I got that reminder: that even when I fall, I can look up. I can look up to a God that loves me; A God that died for my sins, and His blood covers my every fall. Last night I learned that sometimes the greatest victory takes place from the ground when we look up to King of Kings, and He picks us up and dusts us off, and sets us back on this great, adventurous path He has set before us. 
Keep getting back up with the strength of our King Jesus Christ.
Joseph Hulsey. 

We’ve Already Won

I don’t know about you but the last few weeks have had victories mixed in with failures. Its been kind of frustrating going from such amazing things such as seeing your friend come to know the Lord, and God opening doors to go back to a four year Christian school, to just really struggling through old past things. As the apostle Paul says, “I keep doing the things I don’t want to do, and the things I want to do I don’t do.”
A few days ago I wrote a post about being redeemed from your burdens. That we don’t have to carry those anymore once we know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. This morning though I was showed this: 
That God has already won. 
“You will look for those who contend with you,
but you will not find them.
Those who war against you
will become absolutely nothing.
For I, Yahweh your God,
hold your right hand
and say to you: Do not fear,
I will help you.”
(Isaiah 41:12-13)
Are you feeling overwhelmed today? I’ve been feeling pretty overwhelmed as well. I’ve been trying to fight a fight that has already been won, struggling with temptations that have already been covered by Christ’s blood. 
There is a new song out by Big Daddy Weave called Redeemed. Here are the lyrics. 

Seems like all I could see was the struggle

Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past
Bound up in shackles of all my failures
Wondering how long is this gonna last
*Then You look at this prisoner and say to me “son
Stop fighting a fight it’s already been won”*

I am redeemed, You set me free

So I’ll shake off these heavy chains

Wipe away every stain, now I’m not who I used to be

I am redeemed, I’m redeemed

All my life I have been called unworthy

Named by the voice of my shame and regret

But when I hear You whisper, “Child lift up your head”

I remember, oh God, You’re not done with me yet

I am redeemed, You set me free

So I’ll shake off these heavy chains

Wipe away every stain, now I’m not who I used to be

Because I don’t have to be the old man inside of me

‘Cause his day is long dead and gone

Because I’ve got a new name, a new life, I’m not the same

And a hope that will carry me home

I am redeemed, You set me free

So I’ll shake off these heavy chains

Wipe away every stain, ’cause I’m not who I used to be

I am redeemed, You set me free

So I’ll shake off these heavy chains

Wipe away every stain, yeah, I’m not who I used to be

Oh, God, I’m not who I used to be

Jesus, I’m not who I used to be

‘Cause I am redeemed

Thank God, redeemed

I believe that being redeemed and knowing that we’ve already won goes hand in hand. I’ve starred the part in the song that says just that, this fight has already been won. We do not have to question our redemption or the fact that Jesus Christ has already won this war. One day satan will be thrown into the fiery pits of Hell. As we struggle here on this earth we can look to Jesus and know that He is holding our hand, through the pain, through the strife, through the confusion, He is always there. Christ defeated satan when He died on the cross for our sins, and Christ has defeated our sins and won this battle. We do not have to continue to walk around thinking we are prisoners of this war, because we are freed, and our chains have been broken. 

Today I am encouraged to walk in victory even in the midst of my failures because Jesus has already won the war and so have we!
Go and live victoriously in Christ, 

Redeemed from the Burden

My whole life I tried to carry everything: my past, my mistakes, my life all by myself. I thought that I was strong enough to carry this burden. And everyday it weighed so heavily upon me, so much that I fell hard and often. But I kept trying to get up, bruised and battered but the burden was too heavy. Last year though I thought I had fallen for the last time. The burden had gotten heavier as each year passed and last year the burden had cost me my family and my friends. I lay there on the ground, ready to give up my life and die. Then a man came along and saw me laying on the ground and said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30). And on January 6th, 2012, I gave up my burden and my life completely to this man, Jesus Christ. He has taken the burden completely off of me and has taken it all upon Himself. He has replaced my burden with joy and peace and purpose.

Last week I had a chance to share with a friend this truth. It was hard sharing with him that he would never be able to carry this burden on his own, but the shear joy came from the part that Jesus Christ wanted to take this burden off of him and give him peace and joy and purpose. And to my amazement my friend surrendered his life to Jesus Christ and now his burden has been lifted off of him and I can already see evident in his life the peace that Christ has brought him.

“For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. He was chosen before the foundation of the world but was revealed at the end of the times for you.” (1 Peter 1:18-20)

All of us have burdens and hard stuff we deal with. I am here today to tell you some hard truth: you will never be able to deal with it on your own. You can try to lug this heavy load around all day by yourself and it will just leave you exhausted and depressed, because the fact is we were not made to do this on our own. Believe me, I tried for twenty years of my life to carry my own burdens and it drove me to depression and anger. But Jesus Christ wants to take all of that frustration and depression off of you. He wants you to know that yes you can never carry this burden on your own but that you don’t have to. He wants to take all the pressure off of you right here and right now. He already took all of our sins upon Him when He died on the cross for all our sins and I do mean all. He died for our past, present, and future sins. We will never be justified in God’s eyes by what we do, or how good we are. We can never be good enough. But Jesus Christ steps in front of us and covers us with His blood, so that when God looks at us, all He sees is Jesus Christ. He doesn’t see our mistakes and failures and the disgusting sins we have committed, He sees Jesus Christ’s blood covering us. You may think that you have done way too much for Jesus to be able to take your burden. That’s the lie satan told me too, but it is just that, a lie. Jesus wants us to come to Him no matter where we have been, no matter what we have done. He can redeem anyone’s life, I’m a testimony to that. No matter how far you think you are from Christ, He is closer than you think. He is calling out to you today, wanting to redeem you. Don’t let your past or your present hold you back.

Cast your burdens on the Lord and just watch and see how He will redeem you completely.

Rejoicing in a New Creation

Earlier today I wrote a blog about planting a seed. Tonight I experienced what it was like to see a seed reaped. God reaped the seed in my friend’s life last night and he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.

As I listened to the voice mail that he had left me, I was overwhelmed with joy and thanksgiving. I thanked God for revealing Himself to my friend, for allowing me to be a part of this process. God pulled me out of my  own darkness and then gave me this friend to show His love to. I was so overwhelmed at first. Didn’t even know where to begin with him but throughout the year God showed me what to do. It all just started with giving my time and spending time getting to know him. God used my friendship to show him that God loved him, and what exactly a life changed by the Lord looks like.

As this semester started I knew the Lord wanted me to be more intentional with my life, and really do intentional ministry the rest of this year. And last night I knew it was time to really tell my friend about Jesus Christ and explain to him how much the Lord loved him. God used me last night to share with him the gospel and then just to back away, and let the Lord reveal Himself to him. Well last night God did just that, and I’m just so blessed that I had the opportunity to see the before and after of a life changed by Christ.

I was beyond happy when I heard the news. I was overwhelmed by God’s goodness and as I drove home I thought to myself, “If this is the only person God uses me to reach, then I would be okay with that, because God used me, an empty vessel, to bring a friend to Him. This will change this guy’s life, and ever since he poured out his heart to the Lord last night, he has become a new creation.

Tonight I’m reminded how God specializes in the crazy and the impossible.
Tonight I’m speechless and overwhelmed by God’s goodness.
Tonight I’m thankful that another life has been changed forever because of the love of Jesus Christ.

Have a blessed night to you all,

Planting A Seed

It all starts with one seed, one word. A life changed by the love of Jesus Christ is a process, just like the planting of a tree. 

“Now the One who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for all generosity, which produces thanksgiving in God through us.” (2 Corinthians 9:10-11)
Planting a seed sometimes just starts with giving your time and your energy. Becoming that empty vessel and letting God use us however He wants to. 
I’ve experienced this over the last year. God brought someone into my life to show His truth to. At first it was all about time, building that friendship, allowing this guy to see a life affected and changed by the love of Jesus Christ. Last night though, we went deeper and my friend came to the realization that he really didn’t know Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. And it has been a blessing in itself to just see how far this friend has come over the last year. God has allowed me to share my struggles and fears with him, to love him as a brother, and to walk beside him through the good times and the bad. He is so close to accepting Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, and it has truly been a blessing to know that God used me in this way of planting a seed. 
These verses are very encouraging to me and they should be to you to. God calls us to plant seeds everyday, sometimes we see the product but sometimes we don’t. But we can rest assured that God is multiplying those seeds, and increasing the harvest. That without even knowing it everyday, by your actions, your words, your stands, you are planting a seed in someone’s heart, that God will bring to fruition in His timing. God says, “The harvest is plenty but the workers are few.” We as the body of Christ have to start planting seeds. The Bible says that some seeds fall on the rough ground, and some seeds are choked by the thorns, but then there are those seeds that fall on the good soil, and they take root. We don’t have control over where our seeds land. God controls that. We just have to be faithful in knowing that Christ will bless our planting of the seed. We may never see the reward, but everyday its happening. I’m the result of constant seeds being planted in my life. A lot of them fell onto the rough ground and a lot of the seeds were choked out by my anger and depression, but God used an atheist to plant the seed that fell onto the good ground, and now I’m the one throwing the seeds out, and sharing the good news that it only takes one seed planted in the right place, the arms of Jesus Christ, to completely change a life. 
Happy Planting and Blessings, 

One Body; Many Parts

“For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body—so also is Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.  So the body is not one part but many.  If the foot should say, “Because I’m not a hand, I don’t belong to the body,” in spite of this it still belongs to the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I’m not an eye, I don’t belong to the body,” in spite of this it still belongs to the body.  If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed each one of the parts in one body just as He wanted. And if they were all the same part, where would the body be? Now there are many parts, yet one body.
So the eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” Or again, the head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”But even more, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are necessary.  And those parts of the body that we think to be less honorable, we clothe these with greater honor, and our unpresentable parts have a better presentation.  But our presentable parts have no need of clothing. Instead, God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the less honorable,  so that there would be no division in the body, but that the members would have the same concern for each other. So if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it.  And God has placed these in the church:
first apostles, second prophets,
third teachers, next miracles,
then gifts of healing, helping,
managing, various kinds of languages.
Are all apostles? Are all prophets?
Are all teachers? Do all do miracles?
Do all have gifts of healing?
Do all speak in other languages?
Do all interpret?
But desire the greater gifts. And I will show you an even better way.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-31)

Hey guys I know this is a lot of scripture but I believe each and every piece is very important. At first the apostle Paul begins by describing the Christian Community as a body. We all have different parts, but we all have one thing in common, Jesus. We are all apart of Christ’s body. No matter what race, or gender, we are still one in Christ. Paul says we have been baptized by one Spirit, into one body. As a body, Paul emphasizes the importance of each and every part. No matter what part you have in the body, whether a really big one, or a very small one, God still needs and wants each and every part of His body. Paul also talks about what if the body were only an eye, where would the hearing be? And what if the body was made up of only hands or arms, how would we get places without our feet and legs. But Paul explains that Christ has placed and given each one of us the part He gave us for a reason. Paul even goes on to explain that the parts that are seen as weaker are so important to the body. What if you took off a finger off of your hand? It would probably make things more difficult to hold and to grasp. Even the least important parts in the body are the parts that God uses in great ways. I work at Target and never thought God could use me there, but He has. He has taken this thing, this part that I thought was so insignificant and used it for His glory. No matter what you do or what part God has given you God will use you, if you allow Him. As one body we rejoice when our other parts of this body rejoice, but we also suffer and mourn for those when hard times come. We are a huge family. We need to come together and stop being separated because of our different denominations. We need to hurt for those who are hurting and rejoice and be glad for those who are winning victories in their life. Over the last year I have seen the power of the body of Christ. They do not wane, they do not faint, because God is holding each and every piece in place. Even when a piece is struggling, the other parts come to its rescue. Even when life gets hard, you have back up. We are not called to all be ministers, or pastors or teachers, but God has a special place for your part to fit into this body and thrive. 
Have a blessed day ya’ll, 

Critical Thinking

Something this semester has brought so far has been a lot of reading and a lot of discussion and thinking. Quite honestly, my brain hurts. But I was prompted to write this post because of something my ethics professor said. 

As class ended, my professor blurted out, “By the way, the golden rule is !@!!!.” Couldn’t believe my ears, and it made me kind of angry. This guy for the past week has talked about the power of self, and how we have all the answers without God, without anything. We are our own gods. But I’m not here to bash this guy. As I drove home, the sentence that had shocked me so much, played back through my head. Well I knew this came about for a reason, so I began thinking about it. First I broke down what the golden rule was, or what I thought it was. I actually to my surprise was using what our teacher had taught us about critical thinking, trying to figure what something was. Well the golden rule says: treat others as you would have them treat you. Actually its biblical. I looked it up when I got home. 
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

But so I started breaking down what it looks like to treat others as yourself, even as far as to love others as myself. And I realized that we can’t truly love others until we love ourselves, and then ultimately leading back to how do we love ourselves. We can truly love ourselves when we know that God loves us, and then He gives us the power and love to love others in a way that He loves us. And in that revelation, I realized where my professor was coming from. The statement of treating others as ourselves, ultimately leads from our image of ourselves. And our image of ourselves without Christ is not complete. We are missing a piece. A hole that can never be filled completely until we come to know Christ, our completer. Before Christ, I didn’t know how to treat others as myself, because I didn’t know how to treat myself. I didn’t like myself. But when I met Christ, He showed me how to love myself, and then how to love others through loving His image of myself. Without Christ, our image is in flaw, which in turn makes it hard to love others in the way that Christ loves us. 
Have a blessed night ya’ll,

Keeping my eye on the Prize

Last Sunday I was on top of the world. It was my one year anniversary of knowing Christ as my Lord and Savior, and I was surrounded by friends and family as they watched me profess my faith in Jesus Christ in baptism. A week later, I am frustrated and tired. What changed? Well I took my eye off the prize.

“Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away. Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

At the end of chapter nine of first Corinthians, the apostle Paul describes life as a race. A race in which everyone runs in a manner of winning the prize. He encourages believers to run in such a way as to win this prize. What prize is he talking about? Is it a trophy? Medal? Plaque? Paul describes that all runners exhibit self control but that some that race or compete, compete for a prize that will fade away, but as believers we run to gain a crown that will never fade away. This crown that Paul is talking about is the crown of life, the abundance that Jesus Christ pours out onto our lives when we follow Him and do this life in a matter that brings glory to His name. Paul says that we should not run aimlessly or without purpose. We need to intentionally seek out God’s purpose for our lives each and every day. We also need extreme discipline to make sure that we are practicing what we show and tell to others. We have to train ourselves just as athletes do, so that we can continually be made into the image of Jesus Christ.

Life is such a long race, but also a short one as well. We never know how long this race truly is but we must persevere with the love of Christ to use all the time He has given us to bring others to Him and to show others the hope, purpose, peace, love, Jesus brings. This race is not easy. There are bumps and kinks in the road that try to trip us up. But as long as we keep our eyes on the prize we will persevere. As long as we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, no matter what comes before us, and whatever may come against us, we will make it through. Jesus will pick us up and carry us to the finish line and we will receive the ultimate prize of all, basking in the glorious and holy presence of Jesus Christ in heaven.

Have a blessed day ya’ll,

Sinners in the Hands of a Merciful God

The other day in English our homework was to read Jonathan Edward’s Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. As I read it, I became very angry and upset. Edwards focused on hell and how God was just this angry God but he didn’t focus at all on His grace or love. But as my professor went over it the next day in class, I was showed how merciful that picture or portrayal Edwards put out there really was. In the sermon, one of the main points is the picture of this spider dangling over a fire. Edwards sees us as that spider. That just like a human holding a spider in their hands, with the ability to crush it with no effort at all, this is just like how God could crush us if He wanted. And that is ultimately what our fate is. We are in His hands. We are sinners, terrible, horrible sinners, that God could just crush with the blink of an eye or a wave of His hands. But He keeps us from Hell, His hands hold us as we dangle over hell, and at any time, God could remove His hands and let us fall. But He doesn’t. He gives us chance after chance. That even though God is a perfect, Holy God, He allows us to live on in sin, even letting evil people reign on this earth. He even allows satan to rule this world and tempt us, even though God has already defeated death and the devil. And in that picture of the spider dangling over the fire, it really did show God’s ultimate grace. That God is really so merciful beyond what we can even imagine. He sent His one and only son to take all of our sins, past, present, future, as our sacrifice, to justify us before God. Jesus, a sinless, Holy God, took all our sins, on Himself on the cross, and gave us passage to Him through His death and resurrection. He died for everyone, knowing that not everyone would choose Him, but He died anyways. In a horrific, terrible, painful way, He died, knowing that people would curse Him and reject His love. But He gives us so many chances to accept Him, when He should crush us. We are all sinners and do not deserve what Christ offers, we deserve to be crushed like a spider. And that is Christ’s grace, in that while we were sinners Christ died for us. We don’t deserve His love, but He pours it out on us everyday, every minute. He has offered us the adventure of the lifetime, the abundant life that we can’t obtain without Him. That’s grace, that’s mercy and we don’t deserve any of it.

Have a blessed night ya’ll,

Seeing the Promise

After praying for the last six months, the Lord showed me finally over the break where I would be going for school in the fall. And I’m so close now that I can see it, but I’m still one semester away. Just one semester away from the promise. But God’s not done in Charleston, not yet. I started my first semester at the main campus of the tech school today and immediately God began doing amazing things. He brought me community right after my first class, a guy from my church downtown, a guy that last night emailed my bible study leader last night and was joining our Bible study on Wednesdays this Wednesday. And then in Ethics I wanted to speak up, and share what I believed, but I folded, I got scared. I missed out on a chance to be bold for the name of Christ. But in History I got an unexpected second chance. Our history teacher walked around and asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. My heart pounded as she passed each student and got closer and closer to me. I began to pray that God would give me the boldness to say where He was taking me. I thought to myself, I don’t talk to people on the first day. I don’t want to go out of my comfort zone. I could just bend the truth a little I thought. But I prayed harder and harder and finally before I knew it she came to me. With my heart pounding I began to speak of being a college minister and also trying to get a degree in biblical counseling as well. Passion came spewing forth and confidence flowed in a room full of 20 so people that I didn’t know at all. And in that moment I knew this semester that the Lord wanted me to be more vocal at school about my relationship with Him. That He wanted me to be bold and run with Him all semester as I would see people healed, and saved, and come to know Him. This semester at this school would be my ministry and I was here to live in His boldness, to show His power, to show His love, and to continue on in the next part of His promise.

:Have a blessed night ya’ll,