Voicemail Box Full 

How often do I send God straight to voicemail?

Lately I have had absolutely no motivation to post on this blog. I’ve just been holding it off, each time telling myself I’ll do it tomorrow; it’s been an endless cycle of procrastination. So I’m about to go to bed when I see my tablet, on which I write these posts, across the room and a single thought rolls through my head:

Jesus is calling. 

And literally, before I can even process my thoughts I hear my own voice saying, “Hi Jesus, it’s Lauren. Can’t answer right now but leave a message.” And I immediately burst into tears when I realized what I was doing. I had just, in a way, subconsciously sent Jesus to voicemail. 

Then it dawned on me that this wasn’t the first time and unfortunately it probably won’t be my last. It’s so easy to just ignore the Holy Spirit and then refer back to the messages when we feel like we need them. However that’s a terrible mentality to go by because the truth is, nothing about Gods plan is random. He doesn’t just call to say hi. If God is trying to talk to you then you need to hear it right then, whether you think you do or not. So my 12 AM epiphany has challenged me to think over this:

How often do I send God straight to voicemail? And when I do answer His calls, do I listen before I speak?

Reinventing Vulnerability

Every weakness you have is an opportunity for God to show his strength in your life.

I would like to preface this by saying that having weakness is not a bad thing; everyone has weaknesses. But vulnerability comes down to how you choose to use and share those weaknesses. Every weakness you have is an opportunity for God to show his strength in your life.

Vulnerability is one of the hardest things to master because there is a balance between too vulnerable and not vulnerable enough. God calls us to let our defenses down, yet not become weak. But why? And how?

Well, let’s start with getting our defenses down, since that is where many people struggle (myself included). In order to truly connect with someone, which is an important part of spreading the Word, we need to be able to let our guards down and really share our lives and testimonies with people. But showing our weakness and failure is always difficult because we fear being judged or ridiculed. However, if we are using our failures to glorify God as a part of his plan, then being judged by a fellow sinner should be the least of our worries. If you would like to read a post I’ve written about fear, check out my post entitled Fear Is a Liar

It’s a psychological fact that being vulnerable to others makes you more respectable and friendship worthy. So, let’s say we open up, what’s right on the other side?

You’ve let your guard down and suddenly you’re stripped bare in front of people you want to impress. This triggers a fight or flight response, to hide or to build your walls right back up. Why? Because vulnerability has become a synonym to weakness. But for a missionary and for someone of compassion and empathy, vulnerability can be a strength if used correctly. 

Take, for example, Jesus who comes down to earth in a vulnerable human state and eats our food and washes our feet and gets brutally crucified on a cross. Yet he is the strongest spirited man to ever live. How can one subject himself to so much vulnerability and yet still show no weakness?

His strength came from God. 

Vulnerability may be a synonym to weakness in the English dictionary, but it doesn’t mean you have to be perpetually weak. It’s not something that needs to cause fear. Even if you let your emotional barriers go, God will be right there to defend you. And if you truly know Him then people can get to know Him through you. 

Building walls up to other people keeps us from reaching our full potential. If you feel like you’ve been keeping things from people or you have walls up against a certain person, God’s laying it on my heart that the barriers need to come down. We need to find someone we can trust and let them know what’s going on in our lives. Out of your vulnerability will come your strength. And now, knowing we have an eternal security and strength that comes from God, let’s reinvent vulnerability.

Slow Your Roll

“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” – James 1:19

When was the last time you slowed down and actually listened to the person you were talking to? When was the last time you thought about your words before just blurting them out? When was the last time you forgave someone instead of snapping at them?

When someone gets on our nerves our first reaction is to bubble over with anger, especially if they are not seeing things our way. This then causes them to become angry and suddenly the initial problem is lost behind the hurtful remarks stemmed from rage. Everyone feels anger; the difference is how you deal with it.

I read a quote that said, “the same boiling water that hardens the egg, softens the potato”. Now, how silly would it sound if the egg got mad at the potato for reacting differently? It sounds ridiculous, but that’s exactly the kind of thing most of us do on a daily basis. Someone has a different opinion than us or doesn’t want to do what we want to do and, boom, suddenly we’re opponents in a fight. Anger is like a snowball rolling down a hill. The more you let it build up inside of you, the larger and faster it gets until it crashes into something at the bottom.

So how do we stop it? Simply put, slow your roll.

“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” – James 1:19

Keep in mind there’s a difference between an argument/fight and a debate. A debate becomes an argument when the words you choose are specifically crafted to hurt the other person and/or you no longer have logical control over what you are saying. Statistics say that an average of 60-75% percent of things said in a single argument are later regretted.

If you start to feel yourself getting heated and out of control with anger and you happen to catch it in the moment, it’s important to slow down. 1. If we slow our own thoughts we’re more likely to hear, not only what the other person has to say, but what Jesus has to say. 2. Most of the time, if we actually let the other person get their point across we’ll (not necessarily agree with them) understand their view and agree to respecfully disagree. 

It’s also important to remember that yelling at someone is almost never the best way to persuade them to side with you. If anything, it pushes them away. But if you show them the respect and love that Jesus would and listen to them, you will be rewarded and you’ll probably learn a thing or two about the people in your life.

On the flip side, if you let the anger consume you in the moment, (let’s be honest here, it happens) then pray that the other person hasn’t hardened their heart towards you and apologize. “I’m sorry” are two of the most overlooked words in the English language, often because they aren’t said with sincerity and aren’t said enough. After an argument a feeling hits where it seems too late to apologize, but it’s never too late. Show them some love and be sincere and most importantly let the Lord guide you. 

The Daily Cross

Take a step down and ask yourself if you are willing to sacrifice your social life for your faith. 

“Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.'” – Luke 9:23

Many of us, while reading this, think of the “cross” as some burden that we have to carry (i.e. stressful jobs, maintaining relationships, physical illness, etc). However, this is not the interpretation that Jesus had in mind when he said it. It means so much more than that.

When Jesus carried his cross to be crucified, no one was thinking about the symbolic nature of the burdens human beings had to carry. To people in the first-century the cross meant death by the most painful and humiliating way that human beings could think of. The Romans forced convicted criminals to carry their own execution device while facing ridicule on the way to their death.

So, taking up a cross is no self-pitying manner of mustering up the strength to make it through with the burdens of life on your back; taking up a cross entails being stripped down and being willing to die in order to follow Christ. 

Now here, in the United States of America, we have the privilege of freedom of religion so thinking to the extreme of having to die for our faith is hard (although there are still places in the world where this extreme is a reality). So maybe, if your physical life isn’t being threatened, take a step down and ask yourself if you are willing to sacrifice your social life for your faith. 

Am I willing to look like a fool for Jesus? 

Well, let me tell you, it won’t happen overnight, and it won’t be easy. But a believer in Christ should certainly be willing. This has been added to my daily prayer list: Lord, make me a fool if it means I’m following you.

And of course, as most things to do with faith, it’s easier said than done. It reminded me of something a pastor from my church said, “if you chose Christianity as a hobby, you picked the wrong hobby”. It’s not just something to put on your resume, it’s a lifestyle (and a challenging one). But as long as you pick up your cross daily and follow him, God will give you the strength to handle everything that’s thrown at you.

90% Jesus, 10% Me

Every echo of the gospel, and every step someone takes towards Christ, is a reason the angels of Heaven are rejoicing. 

When trying to grow in your faith, it’s a good idea to make short term goals as well as long term goals. If you want to see a glimpse of how I’ve decided to outline and organize my short term goals, check out my post entitled A Bitter-Sweet Truth. In this post I’m going to share my long term goal throughout this blog and throughout my young adult life.

I was at a church in San Antonio called Life Restored Church and the pastor was speaking and right away you could tell he was just animated with Christ. Everything he said resonated with every soul in the room and we were all glued to his every word. I was amazed at first by how passionately and powerfully he spoke. When he finished his talk someone commended him for speaking so well and he replied by telling us that God truly deserves all the glory. He said, “when I speak on stage I’m 90 percent Jesus and only 10 percent me”.

Woah. Imagine having so much Holy Spirit inside of you that everyone who looks at you or hears you speak can’t help but remark how powerful it is. Imagine having so much Holy Spirit in you that when someone compliments you, all the glory truly belongs to God because every word you speak has been crafted by Him. That is what I want. I want to live in a way that speaks life into every stranger I meet. 

I want to be 90 percent Jesus, and 10 percent Lauren. 

Is it going to be easy? No. I’m not perfetct and I know for a fact that I can’t do it alone. Is it going to be worth it? Absolutely. Every echo of the gospel, and every step someone takes towards Christ, is a reason the angels of Heaven are rejoicing