You call it religion, but it’s more.

Growing up my family was in ministry, we were basically in a different church every week. I have been to almost every denomination. And I have seen what divides, and destroys are unity as believers. Religion and Doctrine.
People tend to rely on those two things more than God.

Now this is all personal opinion coming from a teenager, but do not despise me for my youth, thinking that what I have to say and what I think are worthless, and pointless.Or that I am being foolish. Just because I am a teenager doesn’t mean I don’t know what’s up in the church.

You Call it religion.I saw this photo about a month ago, it put my disorganized ideas into a simple statement. I have always hated how people act when it come to their religious beliefs in God. Because for me being a believer in God isn’t just a belief system, it is more like a relationship between friends.

For me God is like that friend that I can talk to when I am in trouble, sometimes I am just like, “Umm, hey God? Can you help me?” He feels like he is right next to me, everyday, in every way. When I say relationship with God I am NOT say that it’s like, “I don’t have a boyfriend, Jesus is my boyfriend…” because I don’t think that way, like, AT ALL. I am talking a true friend, a relationship that can never be broken. Since I very young age my faith in God has always been tested.

Long story short, when I was ten I doubted that God even existed. When I was 11-12 I was strongly tempted got in some big trouble, but God scared me out of it in a big way. And I don’t know how, but he did. Apparently he needs me.

My relationship with God didn’t come all at once. It built up. I started truly studying the word of God, and not just praying to God but more of talking to him.

Religion always seems to be more of people who view God like: “Holy savior, we can’t touch him. He is too holy for us.” Seriously? I mean, yeah God is more powerful than anyone can imagine, and yes, no one can touch him. But Jesus came, he took on flesh. He dealt with temptation. He Bruised. He Bled. He Died. He was no different from us, except the fact that he is God’s son and rose from the grave again. Religion is dead, Jesus is alive. If you Google “religion is dead” what comes up is articles saying “God is dead.” which we all know is the stupidest lie the devil has ever come up with. People are under the misconception that Religion = God. Well, news flash…IT DOESN’T.
Having a relationship with God is much more simple than people think. But all that religion brings in Churches and in communities is trouble.People start arguing about things that aren’t even true, they start doubting their doctrine and it causes them to doubt God. But God didn’t command all those little legalistic details.
Deuteronomy 10:12-13 says basically what God does require of us…

“…what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?”

Did it say follow God’s doctrine? Nope. Just his commands and decrees. It’s the people that have added everything else. Our religion is based in doctrine.  Our religion isn’t God. Our Religion doesn’t define us. Knowing your doctrine doesn’t get you into heaven. I don’t mean to offend anyone, but we need to break the division. Just because I don’t believe in what you believe has caused us all to fall away from each other. We stick to our own groups that have the same doctrine and same religious beliefs than us. It breaks us down, causing the United Brethren people to not talk to the Church of God people. Or the Mennonites to most certainly keep away from the Assembly of God people. (those are the only denominations that came to mind right now, I have nothing really against any of you!) And every other denomination in between, from east to west, north to south. We are not united. I bring in denominations, because every denomination has their own doctrine and religious beliefs. There are so many churches in my small town, we don’t need so many. We don’t even need the churches, yes it is good for us to get together and encourage one another, but  “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1st Corinthians 12:27) One body in Christ, not a bunch of individual ones. We are all connected with one mutual friend in God.

I am sorry if my thoughts are a little scattered in this post, I didn’t exactly talk about the difference between a relationship with God, and a Religious view. But in the end I got to the same point (I think). I want you to know, that religion doesn’t matter right now. In these times we have to come together, set aside our religious differences. God says, “love your brothers (and sisters) as you love yourself…” When I was little I wondered why there were SO MANY churches across the USA, my mom said it was because they couldn’t agree on the same thing. Can we just all agree that God loves us? can we just agree that He saves us? And that in him we are like one big family? I feel like God gets sad that his children (us) don’t get along. People have made God’s rules more complicated than they need to be. Let’s get back to basics and work together to change the world, to change people’s hearts for God. Just because you might be apart of a different denomination then me doesn’t make you a better Christian. In the end we all go to Heaven. Let’s just try to save as many people as we can before the end comes? Okay? Can you deal with that?

I will do another post soon (Hopefully) about my relationship with God. I don’t want this post to sound like a “hate post” because it’s not. I just want you to know that God is closer than you think, and religious mindset and doctrine really just closes us off from him. That’s all for now, thanks for reading.

Leave a comment below if you’d like! 🙂

One Year of Blogging!

Today marks one year of my blog. In just one year I have met some people who have really encouraged me. Although I wanted to get bigger hits than I have, I can’t despise small beginnings! God has perfect timing for everything, and slowly but surely my range of readers continues to grow! I want to thank all my followers and family for helping me improve my blog!

I hope that one year from now I can improve my blog even more, post more, and up my designing skills to make it look better, too! 🙂

Thanks for a great first year!

Will You Stand?

It has been on my heart the past few months about having the courage in God and taking a bigger stand for my Faith. Especially since everything with Isis started. Since early fall I have heard nothing but stories about Christians and Jews being persecuted. World War Two only ended 70 years ago, but we forget. It’s all happening again, and I have to ask myself, Am I willing to stand, even if I stand alone. The funny thing we forget is that we are never really alone. God is always with us. But it is still scary. I have been reading through the book of Daniel, and talk about standing up. The book of Daniel has always been one of my favorites, and the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego has always inspired me. But it has never fit my life quite like it did when I read it again yesterday. I have been wanting to inspire more people to stand up and I have been praying to God, just asking him to use me, and use me now! And I was talking to my mom and she said something that has stuck with me, “Don’t say or challenge people to something You aren’t willing to do yourself.”
I took a step back and asked God to make me ready, to give me courage and strength to stand in the storm, to have wisdom and knowledge when trouble arises.

” If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord…”   James 1:5-7

Wisdom is key. I can’t tell you how many times I have read about asking God for wisdom. In the first chapter of Daniel it says:

“As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom…” Daniel 1:17

Of course the four young men are Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego/ For those who know the story, you know how God used them.

I want to focus on Chapter Three of Daniel. Where the King builds a statue and demands that all the people bow down and worship the god, but Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego refuse to. While everyone else is bowing, they stood alone. Of course the king is furious, demands the bow, again they say no. The King says he will throw them in the furnace. To which they replied: 

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.  But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”  ” Daniel 3:16-18

In any circumstance-whether they died or lived, they wanted people to know that they served one God and one God alone, and they stood alone for God. Of course God did save them, but they weren’t sure if God would or wouldn’t. They only knew that they wouldn’t conform with the law the king had made. It is interesting, this time in our world when doing what’s right is wrong in everyone else’s eyes. Being a Christians doesn’t just meaning following the rules, it’s about following God and his rules and his laws. The story reminded me of the numerous stories coming out of the Middle East and one in particular  which greatly impacted me. 4 teens under the age of fifteen, were told to renounce Jesus, to which they replied:

“No, we love Yeshua*; we have always loved Yeshua; we have always followed Yeshua; Yeshua has always been with us.”

They were beheaded for saying this.

I don’t know if it’s because they were close to my age, or the fact that Isis started threatening more and more countries (mine included), but those words ignited a spark, these four young teens gave their lives, they died, yes- but Yeshua/Jesus was still with them. They inspired me to stand up. Even in everyday situations, I get timid talking about my faith, and my love for God. Just because I am scared of what people will say or do. People might start thinking I am a loser. But this is no time to back down, I have to make sure I am willing to risk both my social and my actual life. But nothing will kill my spirit, nothing will put out my fire for God. No one can push me down, I am taking a stand for God, and my faith.

I can’t dare someone to do something I wouldn’t do. So I am taking a stand, and I dare you to stand with me. Talk about your faith more, in your home, with your friends, to the cashier at the store. This fight is as old as sin itself. Sure the enemy and their “gods” change, but our God stays the same.

So will you stand with me? 

*Yeshua=Jesus 🙂

Hello Everyone!

Hello everyone,

I am sorry I haven’t posted in so long. Every time I went to write I never felt inspired, sure there is a lot to write about but I never felt like writing. I know I said I was going to do a Bible study on the book of James, but I got busy and forgot. Over the past few months God has really been doing a lot in my life, even in just some little ways. I have felt his calling on my life to share, and to speak up about various things. I have been working on some personal projects, and I just haven’t had to time to share about it, and to be honest I am not quite at a place to share what God has been putting on my heart, I am praying and seeking him, and I honestly am hoping that in 2015 I will be able to a lot for his kingdom. I have been looking forward to 2015 for no reason other than pure excitement. I am going to try to post more in 2015, so stay tuned! 🙂

God Bless!

-AJ

Voting Matters!

Today is voting day. I am not old enough to vote, but I wish I were. I have a message for everyone who keeps saying they aren’t going to vote today because it “doesn’t matter.”

It does matter.

I don’t even care who you vote for, just vote. Why? Because it is our power, and our right. You don’t think it matters? Okay then, tell that to the soldiers who have died defending our rights of freedom, tell all 2,717,991+ wounded, missing and dead soldiers that have fought for our country. Go back in time and tell the suffragettes, tell them that there is no point in trying to get the right to vote, go back and tell the African-Americans that they might as well give up on trying to get a vote. While you’re at it stop the 56 men from signing the Declaration of Independence.  Because I mean, it doesn’t matter

I am asking you to please go out and vote. Our country is slowly falling a part. You not voting is just chipping away another piece of our country. Our country was established so that the power would be in the hands of the people, if you don’t vote it’s like you’re handing the power right back to the government. We need to show the government that we still care about our country. And if you don’t care what happens for yourself, please consider all of us who can’t vote. I don’t want to see this country completely fall apart in my life time. Think about your kids, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and every kid in this country. If the soldiers, suffragettes, African-Americans don’t matter to you. Think about the next generation. It’s pretty selfish of you not to vote. Because maybe it doesn’t matter to you, but it matters to US.

So please vote.

James Bible Study: Faith in Trials

Today's Trials

James 1:2-8 says

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Verses 12-18 say
Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown,brings forth death.Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
Having trials is apart of life. You can’t have ups, without the downs. I read a quote that I really like it applies to what I want to try to say,
Today’s trial is tomorrow’s testimony,
Imagine if we didn’t have trials. Now imagine life if we didn’t have times to rejoice. Life wouldn’t be very great. We wouldn’t be unique, we wouldn’t be able to have a story, we wouldn’t have a testimony, and God would never be glorified.
We can’t blame God for letting us fail. He has never failed us, we have failed him, but in it our faith has been made stronger. If we are lacking anything, God is willing to give it to us freely, verse 17 says; “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above…” God isn’t the one causing our trials, God is the one giving us what we need to conquer our trials. God gives us, wisdom to make the right decisions, and patience to get us through the hard, waiting times.  And in the end it has built up our faith. But when we ask for these things we ask it in faith, with no doubting. We can’t ask God to help us then think, “Oh well, if he can’t then I will just—” NO, if he can’t? What are you thinking? Of course he can he is God, if ever you have asked for something and you don’t receive don’t think that it’s because GOD CAN’T, it’s probably because you either weren’t ready, or GOD HAS A BETTER PLAN. When we are living and walking by faith we need to make sure that we are trusting God completely, with no doubts of what HE can do. Yes, in life we are tempted, but there is no greater victory than us saying NO to temptation. Verse 12 says, Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
We have trials in life, but God will help us through. Someday we will look back and see what happened in our life, and we will be thankful for what happened, because in the end it will build up our faith, and our trials will become our testimony. And when we conquer temptation and walk away from sin God will be there waiting for us, because there is no greater thing for him to see than us coming back to him.
 

Faith, a bible study through the book of James.

Faith1

I wanted to start a bible study on my blog, I flipped through my bible thinking what book would be great to study. I found the book of James, So I thought why not study it? I usually don’t read the openings to the books of the bible, but I decided to this time I would and I read the following:

“Faith without works cannot be called FAITH. “Faith without works is dead!” and a dead faith is worse than no faith at all. Faith must work; it must produce; it must be visible. Verbal faith is not enough; mental faith is insufficient. Faith must be there, but it must it must be more. It must inspire action. Throughout this epistle to Jewish believers. James integrates true faith and everyday practical experience by stressing that true faith must manifest itself in works of faith.
Faith endures trials. Trials come and go, but a strong faith will face them head-on and develop endurance. Faith understands temptations. It will not allow us to consent to our lust and slide into sin. Faith obeys the word. It will not merely hear and not do. Faith produces doers. Faith harbors no prejudice. For James, faith and favoritism cannot coexist. Faith displays itself in works. Faith is more than mere words; it is more than knowledge; it is demonstrated by obedience; and it overtly responds to the promises of God.Faith controls the tongue. This small but immensely powerful part of the body must be held in check. Faith can do it. Faith acts wisely. it gives us the ability to chose separation from the world and submission to God. It provides us with the ability to resist the devil and humbly draw near to God. Finally, faith waits patiently for the coming of the Lord. Through trouble and trial it stifles complaining.”

I was like, YES, this is the perfect to do a bible study on this fall! 🙂 I am so excited to share with all of you this fall, so keep checking back bible study updates! 🙂

Are you ready to put your FAITH into action this Fall?

They confirmed my mission heart.

I haven’t had to travel half way across the world, I haven’t had to go to a third world country to have a heart for missions. In fact I haven’t even had to leave my state. I recently finished helping my parents lead a VBS in a town nearby.
Each night I would lead a worship song whole the kids came up for prayer. But I don’t want to tell you about what I did, I want to tell you about what the kids did, for me.

There was a group of teens that would join us in the sanctuary at the beginning and at the end, they would go to another class room for their own teaching. There was one particular teen girl that caught my attention the moment she walked in. She wasn’t the kind of girl I would think would be going to church, and I wondered why a girl like her would be going to church. She would wear dark clothing, dark eyeliner, her hair was short in the back and longer in the front in a crazy awesome style, with blonde dye. At first glance you would think goth, but honestly I think she is trying to find who she really is, and is being influenced. But then I realized that its people like her that need to be at church. On the second to last night was the best night of prayer. Normally teens didn’t come up for prayer but that one night they did!
I was singing ‘Your great name’ I know that song pretty well so I was able to look around. The “goth” girl had cone up, I was surprised but blessed. I didn’t see who prayed for her but when she went back to sit I saw her crying.
There was another teenage girl, about my age. I hadn’t seen her until that night the terns came up for prayer. The front was full of kids, so she was sitting near the front pew, kneeling, no body praying for her yet, and she bent forward crying. I had an immediate feeling of a heavy heart. When I was finished si ting and prayer was over I saw her in the back pew where all the youth were, but she was sitting alone, still crying. Looking back I wish I would have gone to pray for her. Instead I sat up on stage praying tounges and asking God to be with her and the “goth” girl.

On the third day of VBS, I had gotten up that day looked in the mirror a d thought to myself, “Eh, I’ve looked prettier.” (#GirlProbs, lol) I know vanity is bad, but it is nice if your hair cooperates, and you don’t mess up your make up, and if your favorite pair of jeans aren’t dirty so then you have to wear a pair of jeans that don’t fit quite as nice of the other pair of jeans…but anyway…nothing was going my way.
That night I was still feeling “Eh” about myself. There were these ADORABLE 6-8 year olds. They had the younger groups in front. And I had a lot of adorable girls keep looking at me, I walked by to go back stage to do puppets to a song, and a little girl said “You’re really pretty!” I realized she was talking to me. Through out the whole night I had little girls telling me that I was really pretty.
There were two girls that stole my heart, they were both about 6 years old, both had blonde hair. The one wore glasses and was always smiling at me. The other would stare at me with big blue eyes. These two told me I was pretty on the third night. But the last night they both came up for prayer. The girl with glasses walked op smiled at me was prayed for and she sat back down. But the little girl with beautiful eyes, sat as close to me as she could. The kids weren’t aloud to be up on stage but this little girl sat on the steps looking at me the whole time, when the pastor prayed for her she didn’t even pay attention she just watched my hands strum the guitar. If I would have been able to I would have let her come up with me, if I would have had time after the service I would have let her strum the guitar. My mon told me, that even if I don’t realize it, I was their role model for those few days. There was another girl about 11-12 years old, I saw her name tag pinned to her shirt but I didn’t think to look at her name. But use told me she lime my voice.

What do all these kids have in common?

They all confirmed my missions heart.

I never once knew their names. There was even a boy about my age that I thought was nice, I heard his name being called and I thought, “I’ll remember that.” But I didn’t.


The little girl was right in front of me with her name tag…I never looked at it.

And I realized what God was doing. The names didn’t and don’t matter at this time. What matters is that I got to look at the faces of the different situations I have been wanting to minster to. For about a year I have wanted to start a ministry for children and teens. But I am homeschooled so I don’t really know too many “troubled” kids. But all of the kids at VBS were being brought in by a bus. They all came from rough situations. And even though I was personally blessed by some I know that God is calling to minister to all. Maybe not those exact kids at that church, but I feel like kids in community’s around the US and possibly the world.

I don’t know any of their names so I will never be able to thank them for blessing me in ways I can’t even explain. I have tried giving you a glance of nh excited heart, but honestly it is so hard to explain!  But God directed them for me to see that I was needed.

To the goth girl and the girl alone who cried, I’m sorry I didn’t to to you and pray. But I noticed you smiling the next day! So I guess God was helping you!

To the little girls who thought I was pretty and had a nice voice, thank you! I hope you realize that you are beautiful too. Because God loves your hearts that are filled with his love.

To the boy I don’t remember your name. You were always happy, keep rejoicing in The Lord.

I wish I could tell the kids these things. But I might never see them again. Even though they have blessed me so much. And even though God used them to confirm my ministry.  They all made me have that feeling that missionaries get when they look I to the eyes of an orphan. Or feed the hungry. I got that feeling when I looked into the eyes of the 6 year old girl, and when I saw the “goth” girl smile, I knew that she had been fed spiritually.

And in my heart I know now that I am being called to missions.

Sorry this is scattered brained. But I am so excited of what God is doing in my heart it is hard to put into words.

Have great day. And remember, even if you don’t feel like you are helping someone, you never know when they are looking up to you. Even on your lowest of low days! 🙂

*I wrote this on my tablet so if there are any words misspelled I am sorry. Sometimes auto correct takes over, too. 🙂

Barrier of Fear.

I am currently reading ‘Do Hard Things,’ this summer, and it is really encouraging me in my walk with the Lord. (I am planning on doing posts about how it is challenging me!) 
Today as I was reading they were talking about how we have our comfort zones, and how often times our comfort zones are really based off of our fear, our fear for trying new things, the fear of ‘what if someone will pick on me because of this?”, there are lots of fears…
We mostly stay in our comfort zones because it’s where we feel safe.  But God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of love and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7) God can help us step outside of our comfort zones because he isn’t the one who gave us the fear to stop us, but he is the one who will help us conquer our fears. 

I know that there are many times that God is going to need me to go to places and do things that I personally will not be comfortable with. But I am the one stopping myself from seeing the great works of God, just because I am scared to have to do what he needs me to do. If God told me right now to go to a country that I don’t know the language or the culture, I would literally say “Yeah…uh….NO!”
But sometimes our comfort zones aren’t quite so BIG, it might be the little things of God saying that you need to go pray for a stranger, posting on facebook that you had a nice time reading the bible (I did today, and only my mom liked it….now leaving comfort zone.) No matter what it is, don’t let your “comfort zone” get in the way of God’s plans for you. 

Seek God.

“The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed. A refuge in times of trouble. And those who know your name will put their trust in You; For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.”

Psalm 7:9-10

“You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for me with all your Heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord.”

Jeremiah 29:13-14