While He is able, He is not obligated

While He is able, He is not obligated: my story of freedom from sexual sin.

I tried to come up with some funny or clever way to lead into what I feel like the Lord is screaming at me to share, and well, I cannot come up with anything. There is no funny or clever way to be vulnerable. There is no way to make sharing your deepest secret with the internet funny. I have fought sharing this part of my life for a long time, and even now as I type this, I am begging God to not make me share.

I struggle with unwanted, homosexual desires.

This struggle makes you hate every fiber of your being and feel more alone than you thought possible. It makes you question the goodness of God. Heck, it makes you question the very existence of God. You do whatever you can to avoid it, but eventually it becomes so overwhelming that you actually start considering the possibility that you weren’t meant to avoid it but rather embrace it.

So, you do.

You give up.

You stop fighting.

What’s the point in fighting if nothing is gonna change anyway?

But then…there’s this other side—the side that knows the bible and what it says. The side that knows that God is good. The side that knows the love and forgiveness that is found in Christ. But still, there is no way a good Christian like me should be struggling, right? not with this anyway.

So, you read more.

You participate more.

You do more, all with the hope that you will get too busy and so distracted that you just forget it’s a part of you. And then for a while you actually do.

It feels as if the church is all about love and broken chains, except when it comes to this. It feels like there is no where and no one to turn to. It feels like this is just simply something that should be kept secret at all costs, BUT that is a lie. Feelings don’t dictate truth as much as they seem to.

You see, I just finished a book that sort of messed me up. It messed me up because I realized that I do not have a right or a reason to hide.

No matter how uncomfortable it may be.

No matter how awkward things may get.

God does not call those who claim to follow Him to conceal anything because it robs Christ of the glory that comes in faithful obedience to confess.

Trust me, I wish more than anything that this one struggle was something that the Lord would allow me to hide. I have so many other struggles I could share about, so I can just keep this one hidden, right?

Now you may be wondering what the point of this sudden confession is.

Well, I don’t really know.  What I do know is that this is not a struggle that the church has made easy for me or those also fighting to come clean about, and this is not me hating on the church, just making a statement. I am tired. Tired of feeling ashamed for a feeling I don’t really want to feel. But, I also know that am not alone in this. I know that the Lord wants to use me to tell someone else silently struggling to keep going. Keep fighting. I know it’s hard and I know it feels pointless, but following the Lord and the plans He has for you is anything but pointless.

I often wonder why God chose this to be one of the crosses that I have to daily bear. I have had to come to peace with the fact that I may never get an answer to the “why me?” question I ask God daily. Yes, this may be a struggle I carry around the rest of my life (that’s honestly terrifying), but if I am going to carry this around, I would much rather see God use it for the furthering of His kingdom rather than continuing to allow Satan to have a field day in my mind.

So, what does this mean?

This means that I rest on the truth that Paul writes in 2 Corinthians that says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” I have begged God to take this from me, and what I have realized is that while he is able, he is not obligated. This is one way the Lord is choosing to make his power known through me.  God wastes nothing in our lives. We only have to be willing to lay it at the cross and surrender it.

This means I have had to learn to place boundaries in my life that may seem extreme to others.

This means I have had to learn how to not conform to this culture’s pattern of thinking, but allow my mind to be transformed by the Word of God.

This means that I am learning to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.

This means I am daily scared that this struggle means I will never have the blessing of a biblical, God honoring marriage, or that when some people read this they will view or treat me differently. That’s okay. I have learned the hard way that my identity is in Lord. It cannot be found in man.

This means I am scared. This means the enemy is relentlessly pointing out every reason why I should be scared to share this.

This means I have come to realize that in order to be used fully by God, we have to be willing to be fully open and fully vulnerable before others. After all, our savior was more vulnerable and uncomfortable than any post could ever make me.

This means that the Lord is still teaching me and molding me.

Okay, I know those of you who have actually read this far in the post may still have a few questions.

No, I do not consider myself gay. Yes, I am very much attracted to boys. No, I have never acted upon these desires. Yes, I think homosexuality is a sin. No, I do not hate gays or seek to turn every gay person straight. No, I do not think of those in the LGBT community as lesser or committing a “worse sin”.

I am fully aware that every person’s story and struggle is different.

My prayer and desire is that people would experience the freedom that is found in Christ. My prayer is that people would just talk to someone. My prayer is that those struggling would know that they are not alone.

My deepest plea is that people would come to know Christ as savior through this confession and that the Lord would reveal himself to every person who reads this.

I wish that writing all this out and sharing this part of me meant that the Lord would take this temptation away from me. Sadly, that is not the case. I still struggle, and if I am being honest, writing this has just forced me to be hyper aware of everything. I don’t have a “quick fix”. I could never write any combination of words that would make people who are struggling suddenly stop. This post isn’t meant to “cure” you but to encourage you. My hope is that we would stop being so scared to be honest with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. There is freedom in confession and speaking truth over your weaknesses.

If you are reading this and feel alone, talk to someone. No matter how scary. No matter how “dirty” you think you are.

If you need to, you can talk to me. Trust me, I get it.

 

Autora

 

***The Book I read is called Openness Unhindered by Rosaria Butterfield***

As always, the Woven Together team is open to be here for you. If you would like to contact us for prayer, encouragement, advice, or just someone to talk to, you can reach us on our  Facebook, Instagram ( @_woventogether) or Twitter ( @_woventogether). You can also email us at woventogetherministries@gmail.com.

 

 

Missing the Miracles

How many times have we prayed asking God to teach us to trust Him more or teach us to have more faith?

I know I’ve prayed that many times and sometimes I just feel like I’m waiting and waiting and I never get an answer.

I have been reading in Mark and really trying to grasp the details of Jesus’ ministry. Chapters 6 and 8 caught my attention because this is where you find the two miracles in which Jesus fed thousands of people using basically nothing.

The disciples doubted Jesus’ ability to get enough food for these people in both of these situations. Honestly, I probably would’ve done the same thing if I was in their place. It would throw me off to see that many hungry people in front of me, while holding in my hands an amount of food that wouldn’t even fill the disciples’ bellies.

As I was reading, I saw something truly awesome in the text. During both of these feeding miracles, Jesus blessed the food and gave it to the disciples, who then distributed it to  thousands of people. This is mind blowing, and I’ll tell you why.

The disciples were struggled with doubt so often during Jesus’ ministry, and in these cases, Jesus literally let them hand out the miracle. They had miracles passing through their hands every time they handed out another piece of bread, and they didn’t even realize it. They followed Jesus because they believed in Him. Jesus was trying to teach them and disciple them, but their growth was stunted by unbelief.

I thought to myself, how many times do I have miracles literally in my hands or within my reach and not even know it? It’s because I don’t trust God enough or let Him work because of my fear. It’s always scary to trust something you can’t see. This could look like trying to find enough food to feed thousands (twice!), getting out of a boat to walk on water, or firmly living out the Christian principles you say that you believe in. It will be hard but it’s worth it.

God is readily teaching His children to trust more and more. He provides even when we don’t ask. This applies to learning to trust too. He teaches us trust whether we ask for it or not. While asking God to teach us trust definitely invites more situations to come, situations will still come if we don’t ask for them, because we are His children and He is maturing us spiritually.

This isn’t a shocking thing that I learned this week but really, I have been moved by it.

It was re-establishing the fact that God is super involved in each one of our lives (because I know we all tend to forget sometimes). It was learning that God WANTS me to mature in my faith and grow to be the best I can be through His power. It was learning that even though I am afraid to step out and trust Him, He is all-powerful and able, so I have nothing to fear. He asked the disciples, “How many loaves do you have?” Both times they replied with a single digit number, but just because it looks insignificant doesn’t mean that it is. God is able to take the smallest thing and create a miracle out of it. We just have to have our eyes open to see it. God is putting miracles right in front of you, are you seeing them or are you missing them?

God is able to provide and He’s showing you that. He can show you even more if you would just ask. Christianity is not easy, but it is worth it. Christians tend to put up a fuss when it comes to trusting God, but it’s in those times that we miss the miracles. Don’t listen to the lies of Satan or the lies of your flesh. Open your heart and soul to trusting God. Open your eyes to see the miracles right in front of you.

How many loaves?

More than enough.

With love,

Lauren

Let us know if you like this blog and if it affected you in any way. We would love to hear from you hear how it impacts your life. As always, we are praying for you and love you all!!

I AM

“I AM”

Two small words we use to identify ourselves. I am a college student. I am a teacher. I am a sister and daughter, but this phrase is more than all that. It is the holy name of God, one of the holiest from which we get the words Yahweh and Jehovah. While it may seem simple at first, it has a complex meaning that shows the timeless sovereignty of our God.

The first time this name is used is in Exodus 3, where Moses encounters the burning bush. God had called Moses to return to Egypt, a where his people were enslaved but he had fled. The people had been waiting to one day return to the land the Lord had promised to their fathers. When asked, God reassures Moses to tell the people he is “I am”.  

Later, Jesus also refers to himself as the “I am”. When the pharisees are questioning him, he responds “before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58).  Jesus is claiming He is God, and that He has been here much longer than even the earth. He is the “I am”, not the “I used to be”. He stays consistent. Even before God had promised the land the Israelites would have one day, the plan was already set, the redeemer knew what would be done. He knew mankind would fall away with sin and would need a savior. He stepped in for us before we were even born.

See, the name “I am” refers to the fact that He is the God who always was, is, and is to come. He is the God of our past, present, and future. He knew everything about you before the earth was even created (Ephesians 1). He was there for any hardships you went through, your entire life he has loved you (Psalm 139). He was God when the earth was made and when man entered into sin. He has seen the worst of humanity yet still sent His son to save us. He is the I am who always was. The I AM who got you through those hard nights. The I AM who saw that the greatest penalty was headed for you and moved into the line of fire to shield us. There is nothing too big for this sovereign creator.

“I AM” shows that He is God in the present. As you go to work and go about your day, even as you are reading this, the same God of the Bible is the God who stands by His children. Sometimes we look around and all we see are the horrors of this world. We see the ugly side of depraved humanity bent on sin. While it may still seem hard to understand or see, God is still in control. He is the great “I AM,” so to him a thousand years is like a day (2 Peter 3:8). We may see the ground view and only what is ahead, but he not only sees the big picture, he is in control of it. So even when we feel discouraged, we know that God is in control, and He promised that all things will work together for good for those who love him (Romans 8:28). All we need to do is cling to Him.

“I AM” also shows that God will always be. He is the God of our future, as well as our past and present. This past semester I was in a Bible study with a group of awesome girls. They were strong and growing in the faith, and at the end of the night we always took prayer requests. Every time almost everyone would ask for prayer about their future, be it academics, jobs, internships, etc. These people were committed to God, but still had doubts and worries about what was next in their life, and that was ok. Personally, I tend to really struggle with this concept. I like controlling my life and having a plan and a back up plan. But ultimately, those could all be derailed in one second or one incident. Maybe you have experienced a sudden change like this in your life. Maybe you are living in fear of the future or uncertainty. But the I am of the Bible, the God of the then and now, is also the God of your future. As I said earlier, even when we do not know where we are headed, God does. He already won the battle, and for those who seek Him, He is always our end game, our soul is secure in heaven with God.

“I AM”. Two words so holy that when Jewish scribes wrote the Hebrew translation, “Yahweh” or “Jehovah”, in the Bible they took certain precautions (like changing pens and taking a bath). God, the great I AM, who always was and is to come. This was God’s identifier. I am a child of God. No matter what happens or how my outward life changes, this identity will remain. He is the only one solid enough to stand my identity on.

Alpha and Omega

Right now, nothing seems constant.

I’m a recent Liberty graduate transitioning to employment. In the meantime, I’ve been traveling three different places this past month. Now, I am home for the first time in four years for good and it is weird. I do not really have a new normal until I have a job and can once again start a routine.

My nomadic life has led to the contents of my apartment now sitting in my parent’s living room. Clothes are stacked high and there are all sorts of Pinterest-looking rustic décor scattered over the floor instead of adorned on the walls. The mess is in piles, awaiting to be stored away in boxes until I am once again out on my own.

My mind is kind of like that too – trying to store away and process all of the memories of the past several months. To not just make sense of it all, but to capture every detail of squinty eyes caused by smiles and laughter.

Because the season of college in my life has come to an end and my adult life has begun. Yet, as surely as this stage is just beginning, it too will mature into another stage and another. I’m beginning to realize that nothing will probably ever seem constant.

Except God.

Just as the ocean’s tides come in and out daily, God is my constant and forever. Routines, homes, jobs, and people may come in and out of my life as I go through different seasons, but the Lord is who I can cling to for eternity.

Therefore, He is my Alpha and Omega. Not only was He here before the world began and created the world, He will be here even after a new heaven and earth are created. Even so, as great and mighty as God is, He is still my personal beginning and end. He had plans for my life before I was born and, when I made the decision to follow Him as a child, He became my new beginning and the end of my sinful self.

Psalm 73:26 says, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

So wherever He leads, I will follow. Sure, life is bound to throw me some hard circumstances and I am likely to make mistakes. We live in a sinful world. But I will chase hard and fast after the One who loves me dearly all of my days. After all, this life is too short to not be spent with my Forever.

Lizzy Long

God as a Rock

When I was a little girl, I used to collect rocks. I am not quite sure how or even why I started collecting rocks, but I soon had a giant box that was filled with nothing but rocks. Something about them intrigued me. They were solid and stable and I liked it. Although I do not collect rocks anymore, there is still something about the image of a rock that resonates with me. Maybe that is why, when I think about all the names of God, the one that sticks with me the most is, “God the Rock.”

When I think about a rock, there are a few characteristics that come to mind. First, rocks are solid. They are immovable. They are constant. You cannot just pick up a rock and change it to fit whatever shape you feel like. All of these things are consistent with the characteristics of God. Our God is immutable, He does not change. Hebrews 13:8 assures us that He is the same, “yesterday, today, and forever”.

Throughout my life, I have experienced a lot of change. I graduated from college in December, which was the biggest change I have ever faced. The majority of my friends moved away, I moved away from my family and my hometown (which I had lived in my whole life) and I became an unemployed adult instead of a college student. I struggle with anxiety so any type of change is not fun for me.

During the period immediately after I finished school, I struggled a lot with unhappiness. So many things were changing and I felt like I had nothing to hold onto. However, I was able to find comfort in Jesus and knowing that He does not change. My circumstances changed and my friendships changed but He did not. God still loved me, He still provided for me and He never left me during that tumultuous time. God does not change. He will always be faithful.

In addition to being solid and unchanging, rocks are also a place of shelter. Psalm 18:2 says, “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” That verse reminds us that God is our fortress. In this life, we are promised to face hard times. I have faced many hard times in the short 23 years that I have been alive.

Last year, I walked through one of the hardest seasons of depression I have ever experienced. The only thing that got me through that time was clinging to God and His word. During that period of depression, I found a new love for God’s Word. I threw myself into reading the Bible, praying, and listening to hymns. I cried out to God many times asking for comfort. Thankfully, I was delivered from that time and I now live free from depression, but it was only though taking refuge in God. No matter what we face in life, we can be sure that God will give us refuge.

Calling someone your rock has become commonplace in our society. People call their parents, significant others, and best friends their rock. The truth is that the only rock we have is God. God is the only one who gives us strength. He is the only one who is unchangeable and solid. He is the only one in whom we can take refuge in when times are tough. Our God is truly our rock, take refuge in Him today.

Love,

Krista

Who Is God to Me?

What comes to mind when you think of Jesus and who He is to you in your personal life? Do you think of Provider, Healer, Father, Redeemer, King, or Holy Spirit? Or do you think loving, gracious, all-knowing, strong, powerful?

Through the course of my life, Jesus’ name has held different roles. He was my healer as I was recovering from double knee surgery and had to sit back on many things I used to enjoy. Another time, I saw Him as gracious when I was not pouring into our relationship like I should have been. He loved me and pursued me despite my selfishness.

When I think of Jesus, I think of Father and Provider. My dad died three weeks after my 18th birthday due to a tragic accident. My dad worked for the county cutting trees on the side of the road. One turned the wrong way and killed him instantly. This was not the path I wanted for my life. After all, I had prom, graduation, and high school all coming within the next 6 months.

When I lost my dad, I had to learn to look to Jesus in times of trouble. I no longer had an earthly father to call on the phone when I was sad, upset, distressed, or even excited. I had to learn to call out to him when things did not go as planned and since then, I have found myself in a state of prayer much more than I used to be, because I know that God is eager to listen to His children.

It is safe to say that this tragedy turned my entire world upside down. Losing my earthly father has been the hardest thing that I have faced. However, it also taught me to fully rely on Jesus, so for that alone I am thankful. I am thankful because I know one day I will be reunited with my earthly and heavenly Father. What a day that will be!

I know for a fact that God can provide us with everything we need because I have seen this take place in my life. I have seen God restore my parent’s marriage. I have seen God heal my heart after losing my grandpa and dad. I have seen God provide financially in amazing ways. The list goes on.

It is freeing to know that God is the ultimate provider, and we are not. Go to Him in prayer and believe that He is capable of providing for our needs. We are called to have faith and trust in Him and if we do so, He can move our mountains!

If you do not know who Jesus is to you personally, I encourage you to discover what His name specifically means in your life. It is an amazing thing to know God in this manner and be able to look to Him as a friend, rather than a judge or ruler.

 

Kasey Prikkel

God Is My Comforter

God…just the mention of His name brings up many thoughts and feelings.
God is not His only name. Our God goes by many amazing and powerful names. Some of those names include, Abba, Alpha & Omega, Yahweh, Redeemer, Almighty, Healer, Deliverer, and Comforter. These are just a few names that tell us more about who God is.
I believe that through God’s many names, we can learn more about who He is and experience Him in a more personal way. I have experienced God in so many ways in my life. In this writing I’m going to specifically talk about God as my Comforter.
John 16:7 tells us, “But very truly I (Jesus) tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the comforter will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you”. The Comforter is a gift to us.
This life is not an easy one, especially with all of the negativity, crime and loss in the world. There are so many people struggling with the loss of a loved one, loss of a job,  a difficult divorce or a loved one fighting cancer.  Then, there are so many people struggling with anxiety and depression. This is just a small list of trials that people face in this journey called life.
How do you get through when one of these trials affects you or someone you love?
I’ve been through a lot in the 24 years that I have been alive. I have lost my sister, my grandma, my closest aunt and, within the last year, my grandpa and uncle passed away, my parents, sister and I moved 700 miles away from our family and friends.  I used to be consumed with fear over so much in life.  A little over a year ago, I struggled with a bad case of anxiety and depression. Throughout every single one of these trials and struggles I endured, God was there as my Comforter and gave me peace, hope and healing.
Matthew 5:4 states, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (ESV).
Through the loss of my family members God was there, giving me strength and comfort when my world felt like it was falling apart. When we left our family and friends in Indiana, God was there to comfort us through the transition by sending godly people into our lives, who helped to encourage us.
As I mentioned in my first blog, fear took over my life for a while but, instead of letting  fear win, I filled my life with scripture which helped diminish those fears. I could feel God’s comforting hands surrounding me whenever I started to feel fear creeping up. Even now when I start to feel fear creep in, I turn my attention to scripture knowing that God is always there to comfort me.
A little over a year ago I was not living for God like I should have been. I was more focused on people than I was on God. Still, God never left me. He gave me comfort and direction, helping me turn back to Him. During that time, something in me broke. I was having bad anxiety attacks and my depression was the worst it has ever been. I spent most of my time shut in my room, I did not eat as much and I would barely talk. Everyone who knew me and was around me knew that I was not myself. It is hard for me to describe the way I was and what I was feeling during that time but I do know that I would never have made it through that trial if God was not there comforting me. I have never experienced God the way I did during this time. I underwent a tremendous transformation of my thoughts and actions.
2 Corinthians 1:3-11 is a section of verses devoted to God as a comforter. Specifically, in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 it states, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (ESV).
When we have God, we will never walk alone or go through any kind of trial without Him right there with us. These verses tell us that God will comfort us, but it does not stop there. We are comforted so that we may be able to comfort those who might have gone through the same things we have gone through or are going through. As we go through tough times in our lives, we can be drawn closer to God. As we are drawn closer to God, we are able to use what He has taught us and helped us through to help others and share God with them.
If you are struggling with anything or going through something you do not think you can handle, remember that you are not alone. There are others out there that have gone through the same thing you are going through and God is always there for you. I encourage you to remember who God is and know that He comes alongside us when we go through hard times. Before you know it, He brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us and comforted us.
You never have to walk through anything alone.  If you are feeling down or depressed, remember God is right there with you, arms open wide, ready to hold you and comfort you.  Sometimes the hardest times in our lives can turn out to be the best times when we are able to walk with someone else who is hurting too.
As always, feel free to message us if you need to talk to someone. We would love to hear from you, pray with you and encourage you through whatever it is that you are living right now!
Love,
Hope