Friday, December 4, 2015

Life is Not As Hard As We Make It: Zack's Testimony

Why do we do what we do?  Why do we go to church? Why do we love people? Why do we hate people? Why do we drink or smoke? Why do we live the way that we live, or is it even the way that we want to be living? We do what we want to and live the way we chose to live for many different reasons.  Some of us do it because we are depressed, some because we are simply bored.  I want to share with you guys a little bit about my story and how my life has began to change.
I grew up going to church every Sunday.  My parents are both saved.  I was expected to behave and treat other people with respect.  As I got older I wanted to fit in.  I started becoming a fake person and leaving old friendships for new ones.  
High school came around and I wanted to become someone that I wasn't to fit in.  I had a lot of fun doing this in the moment, but eventually I became miserable.   I began drinking.  I couldn't do any drugs in high school because the school that I went to drug tested.  
Once I graduated I began messing around with a lot of different drugs.  Pretty much anything I could get my hands on.  I started to become depressed and confused.  I was confused because I didn't want to be doing the things I was doing, but continued to go back to the same old things.  I would ask for help from youth ministers, friends, or anyone that would listen.  I would listen to what they would tell me, but I would never put it into action. When I was 19,  I remember one particular person telling me that they wish that they would’ve stopped living the lifestyle that they had lived when they were my age.  That person was 23 at that time.  I am now 23 and wish that I would’ve listened to them at 19.  Its funny how I have always had to learn from my own mistakes.  
If I would’ve listened to that person I wouldn’t have ended up in rehab, and I would’ve saved myself from a lot of other misery.  I always struggled with wanting to fit in.  I would do anything to fit in.  Deep down I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I would fight those feelings for temporary happiness.  
At the age of 20 my family moved to Spanish Fort, Alabama.  I struggled with pride a lot at this point in my life.  I thought that I was better than other people because of the things that I had.  I realized that my pride was a problem and I asked the Lord to help me with it.  Sometime after that my mom sat me down and told me that we were going through some financial problems.  I was so mad at God.  How could he do this to my family?  I started to hate God.  I wondered how my family could stay faithful to God when He did something like this to my family.  I got involved doing the same things that I was doing back in Montgomery.  That wasn't the only reason that I continued doing the same things, but it was one of the reasons.  I often would go out and do certain things because I was mad at God for the financial situation that I was going through.   
I got so caught up in the lifestyle that I started doing things that I never thought I would be doing, and I was okay with it.  Around this time my brother Garrett got saved.  I thought it was just a phase.  He got sober too.  I was proud of him, but never thought it would last.  My cousin was going to Atlanta Leadership College at the time and insisted that Garrett come tour the school.  I ended up tagging along to tour the school back in April.  I had no intentions of going to the school at all.  I wanted to come to Atlanta to party and go out to the bars while Garrett toured the school.  
God wrecked me while I was at experience.  Experience is when you tour ALC.  
I came home with the intentions of staying sober forever and living for God.   Hahaha, I was so wrong.  I knew that God wanted me to go to ALC, but after a couple of weeks of being back home I was doing the same ole stuff, and I didn’t care.  I got so far back into my old ways that I was telling Satan that I didn't care what he did with me as long as I got what I wanted.  It wasn’t until the day before I came to ALC that I stopped drinking and doing other things I was doing.  I wouldn’t have stopped then if I had had to.  
Since I’ve been here I decided to finally live for the Lord, it’s not easy, but I will say it’s better than before.  I don’t wake up daily overflowing with happiness, but I also don't wake up with a million regrets.  I’m not writing this whole message to try to convert all of you or try to push my faith on any of you.  I just want you to think.
We all go through life with ups and downs.  We wonder why life is so bad, but when it’s good we don't think anything of it.  We live our lives doing what we want when we want.  Some of you may have had similar backgrounds or stories to mine.  Some of you may have struggled or are struggling with different things.  Do you want your life to get better? Or are you happy the way it is?  God isn’t going to make you want to live differently one day.  He gives us free will.  Whether we chose to walk with him or not it’s all up to us.  All we have to do is ask, and mean it.   Don’t compare your life to others around you because you are your own person.  If you’re not happy with the way that your life is going then do something to change it, but don’t sit around like I did waiting for change to come to me because change will never come until you do something about it.
Don’t ever think that you have messed up too much for the Lord to have your back or for the Lord to want you.  If he wanted me after all of the things that I did (most of which I didn’t even list above), then he will want you too.  I was so far off that I was telling Satan to have his way in my life.  God loves us people.   He has freed me from so many things: depression, addiction, suicidal thoughts, and even more.  Yes, I still wake up and have some days where I want to do the same things I was doing before, but it's a daily walk.  I have to rely on Him daily.  God’s love is something that everyone always told me about.  I've always known that He loved me, but I never fully understood it until now.  It's almost like when you take your dog outside to use the bathroom, and then they come inside and use the bathroom.  We would punish our dog and put them in time out.   If we were dogs and God was the pet owner he would love on us when we do wrong and tell us it's okay.  Yes, it disappoints Him, but he still loves us and wants us as his.  “Who am I to accept this grace that just falls like rain?... ‘Cause we all know I chose to lay my head in this desert.”
If you guys have any deeper questions please message me. I’d love to talk to you about whatever it may be, or even share my full story with you.  If you’re struggling with anything like I was or anything else that you may keep from other people I encourage you to share it with someone.  Don’t share it with everyone, but to someone that you can trust so you can move forward, because keeping it in the dark will only torture you more and make things much worse. It hasn't made my life better overnight, but it has helped me.  Also please don’t take this as me trying to act like I have it all together now because I don’t.  AT ALL.  I just want all of you to experience.  Love you guys.  Please share this.





Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Why Living In The NOW should be your daily goal!




Our minds are constantly racing. A fact every human being experiences to be true. Think of this moment as a brief example. Relax and feel your breath and body and be as present as you can be. You'll notice very quickly that thoughts about the future such as, "I need to get this done" "What should I eat for lunch" other thoughts and critics such as "This is boring" "Im uncomfortable in this position" or thoughts about the past. Either way it is the same, the mind is never truly 'here' it is always seeking to be somewhere else, some distant future that seems better than the present one, but once you get there its just another 'Now'.

As a follower of Christ, imagine how your personal life would look like if you lived in the present as intentionally as you could? This answer may vary, but one thing that is sure is that we would hear and know God's voice and will in every scenario. Being present isn't just a fancy term nor a grandous philosophy. It is a life of intention and alertness. When you are present in a conversation you are fully there and both you and the other individual get something out of it. Being fully 'there' at work no matter the condition. Being fully 'there' in alone times, rather for studies, prayer, or tasks. When the family is gathered together in the living room, imagine the increase in relationship and intimacy you can create when you are present and fully 'here' Now.

Taking a look at the ministry of Jesus Christ, every moment was a significant one. Rather he relaxed on a Well and decided to engage in a conversation with a Samaritan women, who as we all know, became saved and touched by the Father after. Rather He was confronted by a Pharisee in the middle of a discussion with civilians. He remained centered and allowed the Spirit to move through Him and speak the Father's words. When men or women needed healing, He was there. When men and women cried to him for a plea only He could solve, He was there and fully engaged. The lifestyle of Jesus shows an intense focus towards the will of the Father and the opportunities to meet such needs. Jesus wasn't living in his head; critiquing and daydreaming about being elsewhere. He was intent and had his eyes set on others. Ephesians 5:15 says "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise. Making the best use of the times because the days are evil." It is God's will for us to have to be fully alert and awake so we may hear his voice and move towards the needs of others.

Living in the Present isn't a feel-good New Age concept. In fact it isn't always pleasant. It forces you to begin embracing and facing your struggles and weaknesses head-on. To have an alert and open eye towards all aspects of your life rather it is outside or within. People who live more in the future than they do in the present unconsciously ignore their opportunities to grow and take action towards their goals. They have goals, dreams, and aspiring desires, but they end up living more inside their heads than they do in the now. Because of this, opportunities pass by, and the lack of discernment keeps such a person from learning the daily lesson of the day that will serve importance in the future. People who live in the past create more of it in the present. They remain in bondage to a never ending cycle that whispers "This is the way its always going to be." No matter what their attachment may be, it is the same cycle for all who hold on to the past.

Your life depends on your focus and intense presence in the Now. Your career, relationships, health, well-being, spiritual life, and mental life are all a result of the decisions you make rather consciously or unconsciously. Many struggle with addictions and destructive though-patterns that seem to get worst as such a person grows older. Why is that? Is it just the way it is? Is it the way God made you? of course not. On a psychological level, a habit grows stronger and stronger the more a person repeats it. Before we know it, our subconscious mind has been conditioned and almost all of your actions are unconsciously birthed out of the condition. As if one was a robot. For many of us, we tend to ignore habits we are doing now that will destroy us in the future. By the time we become conscious of it, its tough to break by such a time because of its subconscious roots. Thank God for the grace and power when we choose to dwell with the Holy Spirit. The more we dwell with Him, the more the light shines on areas that slow down our progress. The more we submit and flesh out those habits or thought patterns, the more we reap peace and positive fruit. But we cannot bear fruit unless we become intensely focused on His will and what He is doing around us Now. Not tomorrow, not next year, nor a prophetic word given to you but Now.

To conclude, This moment is all you have. Techniques such as Meditation, Prayer, reading, accurate reflection and self-evaluation will train your mind to be sharper and clear. The clearer your mind is, the more present you are, and the more present you are, the more you 'know' God is here. Don't allow your life to pass you by. Face fears that you have been avoiding, flesh out habits you have been procrastinating to confront, and most of all live your life fully and intensively now!
  





Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Run!

Run!

That silent demon
Like parasite consumption
Grab a hold of your thoughts
In its wrath, it controls your functions.

Flesh. It screams. Keep going. Keep going.
You’ve got nothing to lose. It’s already growing.
He’s watching you. You’re falling.
Deeper and deeper.

Run! No…no..not away from Me. TO Me.
My child, can’t you see?
You’re trying to fight this battle, without Me.
One blow and you’re knocked out, cold.

Run! TO Me.
Call unto Me!
Look at My Hand! Reach!
You yearn to scream out for Me, I know it.
But that pride…that pride, you show it.

That silence. My child, break free.
Come to Me.
I am your refuge, your rock.
Why hide? Why?
I know you. I’m no stranger.
From my Hands I created you.
Stop looking back. Stop looking away.
Don’t hide your face.
Look at Me.

You think I can’t see?
Stop trying to avoid in order to fill A void
Only with Me will it be filled.
Talk to Me.

Say it. Say the word.
Lust.
You’re fighting it, I know.
Open up to Me.
I want to see you grow.

The next time Lust knocks on your door,
Run! TO Me. Not away from Me.
Dependence upon Me is all you need.
My child, stay with Me.

I love you.
Believe Me.
I just want to take you in My arms.
You don’t have to hide.
My child, you are Mine.

Run! TO Me.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

100 to 0 Real Quick

100 to 0 Real Quick

I mean it when I say I've learned more about myself, school, and life in general in just the 4 short months I've been in college than 4 years of high school EVER taught me. Anyways, back to the topic.

Typical Phone Conversation with my mom:

Mom: Hey baby, how are you?
Me: I'm good.
Mom: ok. How are your classes coming?
 
Me: They're going alright..
*continued small talk*

I never have in-depth conversations with my parents about school unless I made a really good grade or some cool event happened. That's where the problem comes in. I would never discuss if I'm struggling or having problems. I would hide it because I was afraid of being lectured or being told what I'm doing wrong. The real problem is...I'm too prideful to let people know I'm struggling. So I try to cover it up and hope I fix it. Bad idea. Because that very mentality is what led me to end up in the current rut I'm in with my grades. Again, I thank God for opportunities to grow, learn, and improve.
 

Because I thought I knew, I didn't seek the help I needed. I just kept telling myself I got this and just continued on ( that is, mixing my priorities up and getting caught up in the wrong things).
 

Moral of the story: EMBRACE YOUR WEAKNESSES. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR STRUGGLES. It's taken me a couple times to finally come to the realization that you get so much freedom from simply admitting you need help when you have a problem. We fear that we'll look weak if we confess our shortcomings, that people will know all our business. Well, get this. Those who are quick to highlight others peoples' mistakes and discuss other peoples' problems may either be trying to mask their own problems, be afraid to admit they may be going through the SAME problem, or have an even bigger problem.
 

Self-check. Whenever you get confronted with an issue, do you realize your mistake, pray, and use it as an opportunity to grow? Or do you start pointing fingers and shouting out names of everyone else...but yourself?
 

Proverbs 21:2-4 "Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but
The Lord pondereth the hearts. To do justice and judgement is more acceptable to The Lord than sacrifice. An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin."

To yourself, what you're doing is alright because you're using only yourself as an accountability partner...and probably not a very good one. Of course we don't want to tell ourselves when we're wrong at times, because it kills our pride. Are you afraid to tell your parents
about a bad grade? Are you scared to confront that really deep, personal issue you've been fighting with in the dark for so long? Do you not want to tell anyone because you fear you're going to become a burden to them or that they will harshly judge you? Here's where the Presence of Christ just works wonders. We belong to HIM. In times where we feel inadequate, his arms are open wide, yearning for us to come to Him. He WANTS us to confess, he WANTS us to communicate with him. When we do, it is then that he is able to lead us and give us peace in the midst of adversity. Any emptiness that we harbor in our hearts can only be TRULY filled with the Presence of Christ. He will take our burdens, worries, and fears and use them to bless us, lead us, and guide us in the right direction. He longs for us. He wants us to be in communion with Him.

No one wants to be around someone who is negative all the time. In our minds we're all thinking "I got my own problems to deal with. I don't need to hear about yours all the time." We don't want to hear about people's problems every minute of the day. We do not like negativity, especially if we have negative spirits in our hearts that we’re already trying to deal with. The problem is, we’re trying to deal with it on our own. No help, no guidance. We depend on ourselves and our ever-changing impulsive emotions. God sees your hurt. He sees you struggling. As difficult as it may be to believe at times, it is true.

1 Peter 5:7 “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”


God wants us to lay all our plans, cares, and worries at His feet. He does not want us to continue carrying our burdens on our backs and run around in circles trying to figure out what to do with ourselves. In my devotional today, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young (it is amazing, I highly recommend it, especially if you want to start learning how to study your Bible J ) it stated, “An ongoing problem is like a tutor who is always by your side. The learning possibilities are limited only by your willingness to learn.” Our continuing problems are like teachers ready to teach us the lesson. However, we can only learn as much as we want to learn from them. Same goes for our relationship with God. He will bless you accordingly. But you have to be willing to listen, obey, and remain in constant communion with Him. You are as close to Him as you want to be, through the gift of free will. He shows you the consequences of going astray, but is always ready to teach, guide and love you when you come back, repent, and truly surrender to Him. That means that it takes being willing to confess, acknowledge and most importantly…die….to our prideful ways…to our arrogance and on a daily basis. More freedom comes from allowing God to bless you through your weaknesses and letting Him work through you than to continue hiding in the dark, fighting that demon. Be willing to grow. Be willing to learn. Be willing to be set free. One day at a time. Gradually. In order for God to build you up, he has to break you down and mold you.

He must remove the filth and debris of your past in order to make room for the new, beautiful creation He plans to make you into. J <3

Friday, August 22, 2014

How Boredom Can Make Or Break You.


90% of our actions come from boredom. It is crucial to make use of our God-given moments. It is easy to self-indulge ourselves with lofty entertainment and self-gratifying activity. In the end, they leave us empty and seeking for more. Those who succeed in their calling are not only those who believe in Christ but SUBMIT to his will to discipline oneself.
Our culture was built on a self-suffecient spirit. When arriving to the New World, we mastered our aguralcutlure, social, military, industries, and technological skills. It is the reason our American ancestors called for 'independence' from Great Britain in the first place.

We are more advanced than ever as a society. Major changes in technology and scientific instruments, have helped us live more comfortable lives. The issue lies in the self-indulging distractions this has caused. We have become more concerned with the next ppv event than our own personal lives and relationship with our Higher self, Christ. 

Here is a link to a graph of the word usage of 'boredom' through the year 1800-2010 and up:

https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?
content=boredom&case_insensitive=on&year_start=1800&year_end=2008&corpus=15&smoothing=7&share=&direct_url=t4%3B%2Cboredom%3B%2Cc0%3B%2Cs0%3B%3Bboredom%3B%2Cc0%3B%3BBoredom%3B%2Cc0

No matter what journey you are walking towards, you will have to take your time seriously as if your life depended on it. For it does. The journey to success whether you want to live healthier and hit the gym, start a business, move into ministry,Have a happy relationship etc. You must develop the discipline of making boredom your best friend. How? Like a basketball legend once said "When Im sleeping someone is practicing" You must develop a sense of urgency and take actions 'Today' that bring you closer to your desired future. 

Boredom is a 'state' of mind where an individual feels dull and lifeless. At least he or she believe so. The graph shows how as the years increased from 1800 up to 2010, The term gradually grew and keeps increasing. The irony is, our conditions and state of living have dramatically improved throughout the years.  The things the early Americans never even thought was possible to attend, we now do so. If that is the case, why do so many fall prey to boredom and get sidetracked from their True life's purpose?

The real root is within ourselves. The 'pressure' and temptation to, as Author Robert Greene put it, "run away from ourselves." The majority of us are afraid of our own thoughts, fears, and even aspirations. For every fear, our culture promises a temporary escape. Whether it be drugs (prescription or non-prescription) entertainment, events, games, etc. We escape our own individuality by either ignorantly joining a club, cult, religious church, or a gang. We self-indulge in temporary escapes, not realizing that the key to a great livelihood lies in the present. We go to school on Monday longing for Friday. Instead of putting our focus and energy in the present moments of our lives. 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with entertainment and other activities. But we must learn to make our moments count and consciously sow seed into our moments 'today' so we may reap purposeful futures. A child who plays basketball for his school team is most likely to succeed in his personal life then the child who wanders around with no specific goal, hobby, or purpose. Those who succeed in whatever calling make use of their God-given time and privilege to create the life they desire. The enemies greatest weapon is to cause us to drift and wander like zombies. When we drift from one useless or over-indulged habit or idea to the next, our ambitions lower as well as our sense of alertness. Keeping us able from understanding what the Holy Spirit is instruction us to do in our current season.

Matthew 24:42 "Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming."

Luke 21:34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap."


Thursday, May 1, 2014

"Present."

Present.

I lament alone, staring at the same four walls
Drown myself in a sea of self-pity
Claiming to resist comfort
But You are present.

I’ve ceased to seek You
I search for comfort on a screen with dark images
Trying to alleviate my self-induced grief
Justifying erroneous ways
Still, You are present.

Loved ones deem me troubled
I refuse to speak
They say they fear those who utter no words
For they are dangerous
I promise, I am not
You are present….still.

I sit here wrapped in a blanket of emotions
My confidence and esteem continues to shrink
I begin to question my existence, worse, have it taken from me
You. Are. Present.

You are present through it all
You call my name
I hear it, but refuse to move
When will I learn to unveil the mask?

All You seek from me is faith
You want to bring me joy
There is no reason for my unhappiness
For You have blessed me and then more

Though I struggle to acknowledge you
Though I feel inferior
It remains in the back of my mind
You are present.
……..And all you want is for me to cry out…”I need You, Lord.”



Friday, April 18, 2014

Five Methods To Master Your Day.

Today counts as much as tomorrow. More than anything, this moment we call "NOW" is slowly slipping into the past. The dangers of unclaimed time is how we don't consciously realize  how much of it we waste before its too late. It is true that we all have different set of pressures, expectations, plans, devotions, and recreational activities throughout our day. But if we do not habitually obtain awareness and control of our habits that keep us from enjoying 'Today' and taking care of our priorities, the visions we have, dreams we want to pursuit, and goals wanting to be reached, we will face constant stumbling blocks because of our habits of not making 'Today' count.

For my fellow readers who are interested in making 'Now' and 'Today' count. In this Article is written a simple step by step method on mastering your day instead having the daily troubles of it mastering you and getting in the way of your priorities and activities.


  • Plan Your Day Ahead.


"Today is a manifestation of past thought." Explained by writer Enoch Tan Author of "Reality Creation Secrets eBook."The reality you currently see is created by you through thought, word, and deed. Simply put, there is no accident of why your 'Today' may have repeated patterns of dislike as it did weeks or even months ago. To master your day, you must master your intentions and thoughts at will.

The first step is to "Plan your day ahead." Before going to bed intentionally plan the way you want the following day to be. Visualize and mentally see yourself finishing that task, making that important phone call, active and productive, and doing any other activity that will involve your focus. Since it is proven that one, thoughts have energy , and two, "The best way to predict the future is to create it." (Enoch Tan) This exercise helps millions of other highly productive people stay sharp and alert with a subconscious drive toward their goals.

How this works is this, as stated in Jack Canfield's best seller "The Success principle's: How to get from where you are to where you want to be" that the brain is a goal-seeking organism. Whatever problem, goal, request, or command, you give your mind, it will work night and day to solve it. As you plan your day the night before, do it with intent and clarity. The clearer you are about how you want the following day to be, the more effective the subconscious will be in manifesting that vision effortlessly.

This gives you mental clarity on what needs to be done and how it needs to be done the moment you awake.


  • Give Yourself A Focus/Goal

We have planned our day the night before and are clear about what we wanted and how we wanted it done. But the first method cannot be applied if you do not take this one seriously. It is crucial to have a focus and a goal. Both are different entirely. A goal is a milestone, something to be reached at a desired time. Focus is a center of interest that aspires your actions. 

A goal within itself requires massive focus and concentration, for the more there is focus on a particular object the faster it grows and magnifies. What you focus on grows. The mind desperately needs a focus. A vision, A mission, A purpose. It is that focus alone, that will align you what matters most 'Today' and show what matters less. 

Without focus, The mind is a sponge and it will absorb negativity with passiveness throughout the day. Focus makes the difference. Focus runs the day.

  • Invite God Unto Your Day

If morning prayer isn't a habit, add it to your list of priorities. Make it your business to spend some undisturbed time with the Holy Spirit every morning before going about the day. Doing so aligns your focus and most importantly, increases your sense of Self as you personally connect with God. 

This can be done anytime throughout the day. There is no need for special invitation when engaging with God. From a small five minute personal devotion with Christ, to a twenty or thirty minute worship and intimate prayer. "Inviting" God unto your day is an intentional choice to allow the influence of God to carry you with guidance as you enter the battle of 'Today'. 

  • Priorities First

If you have heard this before than it is meant for you to hear it again. Priorities must be the first task engaged before any other. Priorities vary from person to person and task to task. It may be an important phone call, Class registration, project, adding a chapter to a book, finding a client, etc.

Taking care of priorities first leaves more room for multiple task once they are taken care of. Many prefer to do their priorities in the 'middle' or push them as the last task to do. What tends to happen is when we push it far aside to the point of ''last minute'' there isn't as much time to complete the task as effective as we want to. Another problem with that approach is it increases the habit of procrastination. Causing you to 'set-aside' future priorities.

Imagine how much more you would get out of life, when you make it a daily habit to take care of priorities first. Your work/school life would be more impacted considering the fact that you are on top with your assignments. You would also have more room for family time and other activities. 

This gives more peace because, as you complete an important task your mind is rested on the issue and not only do you get a sense of completion, you are forming the habit of productivity and eliminating procrastination.

  • Prepare For The Spiritual Warfare

The last and most crucial is to prepare yourself for war. You must be ready to encounter, thoughts, people, and circumstances, that will attempt to bring you low and throw you off of focus. You must have it in mind, that the spiritual enemy is at work to misalign you from your God-given assignment. 

Too many are surprised at events and outcomes that don't seem to work for their favors, as if every good deed is easily going to be achieved. Too many are surprised at unwanted feelings and thoughts that attempt to discourage the believer into his or her task. 

You must make a choice to mentally and spiritually prepare yourself for war. Prepare and equip yourself with the Power that is within you given to you by Jesus Christ. As you go about your day, don't be quick to react to everything you perceive to be 'bad'. Instead, keep your focus on what matters most during the day. Do this habitually and you will see different results in different areas of your life.