STOP FOR THE ONE

It’s amazing to think all that Christ did to bring us back to Him. Even to the ends of the world He would passionately pursue His children because of His incredible love for us.

Think for a second about when Jesus walked the earth. Think about all the people that physically followed Him on a daily basis, or the ones that came from miles away just to be close to Him. Despite all of the commotion of a day in the life-of, it amazes me how He always intentionally took time to stop for one person.

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!” Luke 15:4-6

With Jesus as our model and the Holy Spirit empowering us, we’re able to express His intentional love to others. In a fast paced world, we often skip past that one person that needed to hear they are loved. On our way into the grocery store God might be pointing someone out for you to tell them they have a plan and purpose for their life. A simple prayer, conversation or word of encouragement can be the light they needed to see their Heavenly Father. It could be the ‘come home’ signal for them, and how greatly will God rejoice!

Maybe we can’t reach the entire world, but there are people in YOUR world or sphere of influence every single day that can be impacted by the love of Christ!
When Jesus stopped for one person for one moment, one soul moved into His Kingdom forever.

Ask God, “Who can I stop for today?”

-Jonathan

GOD CARES

Earlier this week I was approached by a close friend. My friendship had changed quite a bit over the past few months with this person and to be honest I was hurt. I felt like we were growing apart and deep down I was saddened by it… But didn’t know how to approach it or deal with it.

I hadn’t expressed these feelings to God in prayer, I didn’t utter a word to my husband about it. It was just one of those things that I planned to keep to myself and hopefully just forget.

This friend approached me this week acknowledging that they had been pulling away and we talked through it all. I left the conversation really pleased with knowing what I was feeling was valid, but more than that, I was overwhelmed with the fact that GOD CARED.

This friend said God placed it on her heart for weeks to talk to me. That God continued to press her in her prayer life to acknowledge what was happening.

I felt so loved in that moment. That this thing that I never brought up mattered to God. Aren’t you so thankful that we serve a God who sees it all? He sees us individually.

Matthew 10:30-31
“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. “So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.

God is present in the details. He’s in the areas that you won’t show to anyone else. He’s in the big things and in the mundane tasks of each day.

I challenge you to reflect on your week and find those moments that you may have overlooked God’s subtle ways of showing you that he’s with you.

– Zzaj Collins

A Love Response

Whenever I reflect on my testimony, I can take myself back to the very moment I said “yes” to God. The moment I said yes, my life turned into the most exhilirating adventure! But what exactly was I saying yes to?

I was saying that after all God had done and all that He is to me, I was going to respond with how I lived. He saved my life and so I gave it to Him. My yes was a lifelong commitment and response to His love.

One of my favorite portions of Scripture is found in John 21 which includes Simon Peter. Peter had been questioning his own loyalty and figured he was as good as his past. So back to fishing he went. Jesus had just been risen from the dead and wanted to show Peter He loved him despite his wrongs.

When Peter saw Jesus on the shores of Galilee, he swam hastily over to meet Him. Did Jesus yell at Peter for betraying Him three times? No. Jesus was found there serving him breakfast. My favorite part happens when Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him, three times. Not only does Peter respond yes with his mouth, he responds yes with his life.

Peter saw the powerful grace of Jesus, and experienced the unending love that He is. Peter saw that after all he had done, God’s grace was always sufficient.

Peter could not ignore this love, and his response was yes. Jesus replied “Feed My sheep.” In other words, if you say yes, let your actions follow. Peter dedicated his life to preaching the good news and serving people. His heart was comitted to God, a lifelong response to all that He had done for him.

What has God done for you? What has He saved you from? The truth is He gave up His life so that we could LIVE. What will your response be to this incredible love? I pray that it is one that says “yes”. A life that responds with unending gratitude to all that He is, all that He has done and all that He will continue to do.

-Jonathan

My Circle of Friends

Where would we be without friends?! I guess you could answer that in many different ways depending on your experience with those you call/called friends. Maybe you read that question and are filled with positive emotions. For others you read and start feeling hot (not the I’m beautiful hot, but I wanna beat somebody-up kind of hot) and negative emotions begin to affect your attitude.

I can already hear my mama saying, “show me your friends and I’ll show you who you are.” God cares about the people we allow to influence our lives. The Bible teaches us to be open to new friendships, but also teaches we should be very cautious of who we allow to speak into our lives. Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man of too many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Not everyone needs to know your business. We’ve all been hurt by friends, none of us are perfect. We will let each other down.

Anything worth keeping takes work to keep. With that said, God calls us to be inclusive, not stupid. Invest your time don’t spend your time. I’ve had to stop and ask the Holy Spirit to lead my friendships. Take a moment, pray, and ask yourself a few questions:

1.) Are the focus of my conversations more about “someone” or “the One”? (Jesus).

I know it sounds corny, but relationships built on gossip are only a conversation from being torn down. You’ll break it with the same thing that built it. Read Proverbs 16:28.

2.) Are my friends allowed to call-me-out and still hang-out?

Keep the people that can lovingly tell you the truth. Be careful not to translate their love for hate. Return to friend mode ASAP, keep your friendship united.

3.) Do you know the difference between solitude and isolation? (First Mentions, Keenan Collins, thanks for this!)

Solitude says, “I need some time alone in order to refuel and keep the main thing, the main thing.” Jesus walked away from the crowd to rejuvenate and be with the Father. Isolation says, “people hurt me too much, I’d rather be alone instead of getting hurt all the time.” The pain is real and so are the wounds, but you don’t want that to keep you from healthy amigos/amigas. Satan wants you talking to yourself instead of seeking and expressing your thoughts to God and the counsel of the loving people He’s placed in your life.

Please let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment. I can always learn more about healthy friendships, help me!

-Jonathan

Two Things You Can't Live Without

It’s not always easy to believe that God can really do the impossible. We’re all on this journey called “mi vida loca” (My crazy life). We are jumping the hurdles & ducking, while stones are being thrown at us. It’s not always that way. Sometimes the sunshine gives us the perfect tan, we’ve got money in our pocket, and our friend just offered to pay at our favorite Thai restaurant.

Life – it’s never what you think. 

Do you know that God is with you on this journey? He wants you to work together with Him (2 Corinthians 6:1). There’s a big difference between empowering and delegating. Delegating says, “here’s the plan, now implement the plan I’m giving you.” Empowering says, “here’s the heart behind what we’re trying to accomplish, let’s create a plan together and take over the world!!!” Jesus wants to empower you to work as partners together with Him. There are two things we can’t afford to not take on our super-outta-control voyage:

  1. Holy Spirit – Our comforter, encourager, teacher, and counselor.
  2. Bible

    “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” – 2 Timothy 3:16

A friend for the journey and a map to guide us on the way.

Enjoy the expedition!!!!

-Jonathan

Your Faith Has Healed You

Accepting that God is a loving God has been a very hard concept for me to grasp. It is something I still struggle with, but I feel God has asked me to examine the evidence of His love in my life to better understand who He is and to prove that He is love.

I was nine years old when my mother passed away in a car accident. This was a very abrupt traumatic event that has affected who I am to this day. I grew up a very confused girl, not knowing how to express my femininity. My mother was the kindest, most loving person I knew, but she was very mistreated while she was alive. She sacrificed her entire life for her children, but I remember all the times she was beaten in front of us, which is the part I associated with motherhood and marriage. So, I grew up with very negative connotations towards becoming a wife and mother.

I chose to pursue a career instead because I couldn’t bear living a life that resembled anything like my mother’s. However, I found chasing a career to be completely unfulfilling and it eventually broke my spirit and willpower. This became a very crucial turning point in my life because, in my brokenness, I found Jesus and this is where my healing began.

The pain of my past was still there but I had no idea God planned to heal that pain. I have always been one to face my fears, so I trusted that God would heal me even when it was hard or painful to trust Him. During Mother’s Day church services, I recall doing my best to hold back tears, but was eventually subdued by them.

Three years ago, I got a text from one of my friends after attending a Mother’s Day service. She believed God wanted her to tell me that He knew that holiday was hard for me, but one day I am going to be an amazing mother and have new memories with my own family. Another friend tried to counsel me about loss; he said that even though we lose people we love, God gives us other people to help with that pain, like other women in our lives that are motherly who take care of us. At the time I didn’t believe him and I thought it was just nice “Christian-ese” talk. I knew no one would ever replace my mother or make me feel as loved as she did.

Now, fast forward to Mother’s Day Service 2015. Last year, I was five months pregnant with my son Ashten and still had my doubts about motherhood. But during that time, I trusted that God had better plans for my life than I did. It was strange to sit through the entire sermon and not feel sad in the slightest bit, considering the year before I could barely make it through worship. I was thinking about how I wanted to be a good mother and all the memories we would make as a family. Not once did the thought of growing up motherless cross my mind.

That’s when I realized God had healed one of my deepest hurts in my life. I never saw it coming because motherhood was an idea I rejected for most of my life. Little did I know that the love I have for my son would heal the pain of my past. The thing I resisted the most is what God used to heal me. In the moments of doubt, I really had to trust that God knows best. So when the enemy tried to lie to me about my new life as a mother, I referenced Psalm 127:3:

“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him.”

Nothing could be truer. The love I have for my son is the greatest blessing I have ever received from God. My husband asked me a few months ago, “If you could travel back to any time in your life, would you?” I confidently responded, “No, this is the happiest time in my life.”

The point of my story is to trust that God will always have the best for you even when it’s hard to believe (Proverbs 3:5-6). God is in the business of changing lives. He wants to give you a brighter future and heal the areas in your life that are hindering you. If you are going through a storm, I want to encourage you that help is on its way (Matthew 8:23-27). God is in your corner working in you and through you to change your life for the better (John 16:33). He is your biggest fan and what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later” (Romans 8:18).