I used to jump out of moving cars…

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I wasn’t the most smartest kid there was…

When I think of the word “jump” adrenaline starts coursing through my body. I can vividly remember being told to jump on multiple occasions when I definitely should not have. I can also remember telling my friends the same thing.

I have jumped out of moving cars. Me and one of my friends made it a competition. It started at a mere 15 mph and progressed to over 35 mph when my friend Kyle jumped out of my car window and into a ditch.

I have jumped off of houses into swimming pools, onto trampolines, and simply to the ground to hit and roll like a ninja/ parkour runner.

I have attempted to jump on top of things that were too tall because my friends made me believe that I could make it. The result was scraped up shins and elbows.

There was a time when my friends and I were joined to swim. Off next to the swimming pool about 8 feet from the edge was a fire pit that stuck about two feet off the ground.

This from the outside looked like an easy jump. But, there was a catch. From the edge of the pool under the surface of the water sat a ledge that was about a foot and a half wide.

So, to make the leap from the fire pit to the water safely, you would have to clear the 8-foot jump to the edge of the pool and then an extra foot and a half to clear the ledge.

It was scary. Most people chickened out. They were scared that they wouldn’t make it or that they would make it past the edge and scrape their back on the ledge right underneath the water.

But, my two friends and I did it. We made the jump. Despite all common sense telling us not to. Despite the risk of destroying our bodies. And, despite the fact that most people were telling us not to because they had chickened out.

It was a glorious feeling.

Just to clarify, I am not encouraging you to jump out of cars or to do dangerous stuff. I am encouraging you to take jumps of faith.

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Taking leaps of faith

I’m sure you have heard this saying before, “just take a leap of faith.” For the sake of this particular blog, I will be referring to it as a jump of faith.

But regardless, what does it mean? How does someone take a jump of faith?

Although the Bible talks about many jumps of faith, I would like to refer to one specifically.

Matthew 14:22-23 talks about Peter’s jump of faith. In this scripture, Peter finds Jesus walking on water. Upon seeing this, he asks Jesus to allow him to come out with Him.

Jesus says come and Peter takes a jump of faith. This was soon diminished by the fact that he doubted and began to sink. Peter immediately cried out to Jesus and there He was to come to the rescue.

A lot of people get caught up on the fact that Peter began to sink.

“Silly Peter, how could you.”

“You sunk!”

But, I would like to focus the attention on the other disciples that sat faithlessly in the boat who never even attempted to go out onto the water.

I think this lesson teaches us two things:

1) Taking a jump of faith takes a commitment to having just an ounce of courage.

Peter got really excited and just needed Jesus to tell him to come to jump.

In the same way, I just needed an ounce of belief that I was going to make it in order to leap off the fire pit and into the water.

And it is the same for you! All you need is an ounce of courage to jump into faith or into what God is calling you into today.

2) Being successful in the jump of faith requires that we fix our eyes on Jesus.

Had Peter fixed his eyes solely on Jesus rather than his fear and anxiousness he would have walked on water for a long time.

It’s like my personal leap. Although I had the courage to jump, if I didn’t have the physical abilities then I just simply would not have made it.

In the same way. We can have the courage to do anything God wants us to. At that point, we must fully rely on God to see us through.

We must channel all of our focus to Him and trust that he truly will see us through.

When we become anxious or scared, we must remember the promises that He has given us.

Here are a few scriptures that I love and have memorized for times like these:

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” 

Isaiah 41:10

“Tell everyone who is discouraged, Be strong and don’t be afraid! God is coming to your rescue…” 

Isaiah 35:4

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

 

“Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6

It’s beautiful. We have no reason to fear. God is good, and God is with us.

I’m sure you have noticed it by now, but I have bolded every jump.

That is my challenge for you this week. Muster up just an ounce of courage and jump.

And, when you do, trust in God and remember that He WILL see you through.

 

 

 

Photo Credit

Guy Jumping

Guy Walking

Jump

 

Sometimes I feel distant from God…

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4 hours of work 20 seconds of destruction

When I was younger, I use to make bridges out of cards. My brother and I had a collection of Pokemon and Yugioh cards laying around that I would use.

I would start with five cards and eventually, after hours, I would have a hallway length bridge that had no real use.

I would spend hours and hours making this bridge that allowed my hot wheel cars to roll across, and my brother would come over and in the matter of second reduce it to a pile of cards again.

I don’t know what was worse, thinking that my card bridges were impressive or thinking that my brother wouldn’t destroy them as soon as he saw them.

I get this way a lot in my faith. I build what I think is a wonderful relationship with God. I spend days reading more than normal or praying more than normal. From the outside looking in, I would have a “sturdy bridge,” or a solid relationship with God.

All that is ruined and demolished at the simplest signs of trouble or stress. That’s why I end up confused as to why I feel distant from God or why my relationship seems so temporarily hollow.

How can this be? How could I feel so confident one second and so empty the next? How could I have this seemingly strong foundation one moment and a pile of rubble the next?

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I don’t eat from dirty dishes

Matthew 23:25-26 says, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First, clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”

Jesus was talking to the Pharisees here. He was making it clear that you can look great on the outside, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

If you clean your dish on the outside perfectly, I mean you scrub them, and they are shiny and nice but leave caked up food and gross stuff on the inside, you probably won’t use that dish.

In the same way, we need to focus our hearts on Jesus rather than what we look like on the outside. If our bridge looks beautiful from the outside but is made of cards only, then it will just crumble to the ground at any time.

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Apple Trees don’t make oranges

Mathew 7:18 describes it a different way. It says, “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.”

I love this depiction as well as others throughout the bible like a fresh well won’t produce salt water and vice versa.

Regardless of the illustration, the point is clear. The Pharisees were so worried about their outward religious appearances that they neglected the issues in their own heart. That’s why Jesus had to knock them back down to reality in Matthew 23:25-26 to make it clear that focusing on the heart will lead to the genuine change and permanent foundation.

That’s why Jesus had to knock them back down to reality in Matthew 23:25-26 to make it clear that focusing on the heart will lead to the genuine change and permanent foundation.

So where are you? Are you needlessly building a bridge of cards only to be destroyed? Are you an apple tree trying to produce oranges? Are you a dying tree that you are trying to

Are you needlessly building a bridge of cards only to be destroyed?

Are you an apple tree trying to produce oranges? Are you a dying tree that you are trying to

Are you a dying tree that you are trying to revive with living fruit?

Here is a quick test to see:

Read Galatians 5:16-25 and see which on you fit in with most.

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentlenesses and self-control. Against such things, there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Here is you challenge this week.

  1. If you found yourself mostly in the acts of the flesh
    1. Ask God to tear down your fake bridge and uproot your tree. Ask God to build you a new bridge with the foundation of Christ and to plant a new tree that will bear the fruit of the spirit.
    2. Ask God to forgive you for your sins and continue to walk in the newness of Christ.
  2. If you found yourself mostly in the fruit of the Spirit with the occasional bad fruit
    1. Ask God to remove the bad fruit to make way for a more plentiful harvest and fresh fruit and to continue to grow your healthy tree.
    2. Find ways to remind yourself that apple trees don’t produce oranges.

 

John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

 

 

 

Cards

Bowl

Fruit

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m a fraud…

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Things are not always as they appear

I was at the local YMCA the other day, and a stranger approached me.

He came up to me, introduced himself, and told me that he had heard me talking to my friend.

I started playing the conversation back in my head. My friend and I talked about fantasy football, basketball, and some other just absurd and meaningless things.

What could this guy have to say to me?

  • “I heard your conversation, and I have to tell you that I am embarrassed to be an American. Both of you are idiots and should have your mouths sewn shut.”
  • “I tried to hold my tongue, but you picked up Tony Romo on fantasy football?” At this point, he would laugh hysterically, bend over, and start slapping his knee. “Hey guys, did you hear that? This guy (pointing at me) drafted Tony Romo…. Go get Frank and Steve, they have to hear about this absurdity.”
  • “I can’t believe how bad you are at basketball. I’ve never seen you play but based off what your friend was saying, you are horrendous.”

Any of the above would have been traumatizing but ultimately could have been a possibility. We are both idiots, I did draft Tony Romo, and I am pretty awful at basketball.

But what came out of his mouth next was unexpected. He said, “I heard you talking to your friend, and I can just tell you’re full of happiness.”

What? Happiness? Me?

I know what you’re probably thinking, “Yea that makes sense, Isaiah is always happy and bouncing off the walls. Doesn’t surprise me.”

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I get this happiness comment a lot and, although I can see where people are coming from, I have to admit, I feel like a total fraud.

When people tell me this I kind of laugh. They don’t know how anxious I get all the time. They don’t know how little faith I have at times. They don’t know my frustrations, pain, sorrows, or struggles. How can they look at me from one experience and say I’m full of happiness?

Okay, I don’t want to give off the wrong vibe. I am a very happy person. I guess what I am saying is that I still get confused as to why people constantly point it out.

In my head, I just think, “Yea, like,  I’m kind of, like, happy but so is, like, the person at that table so, could you, like, go tell them instead.” In my head, I’m also a ripped surfer, but that’s irrelevant. (I also got a lot of points taken off all my speeches in college for the use of ‘um’ and ‘like.’)

Q: What is relevant?

A: The difference between joy and happiness and why I think people notice it in me.

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Happiness vs. Joy

Happiness – Temporary and based on circumstance

Joy – Everlasting and NOT based on circumstances

When I was in elementary school, I got a brand-spanking-new Nintendo DS. It was awesome! I loved the thing, and it brought me so much happiness.

Until… bum bum bum… it broke.

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The whole front screen shattered. I panicked and did what I did best, hid it under my sister’s dresser. No one would ever look for it or find it there. Every so often, when my sister was away, I would go into her room and get the DS and look at it hoping that it would magically be fixed.

It was never fixed and I eventually had to find a way to tell them I broke the gift they gave me.

This is the thing about happiness. Happiness is awesome. Happiness is great. But, happiness will leave you and you will feel empty if you don’t have joy.

If I put all my happiness in a house, or a car, or a phone eventually it will depreciate and I will no longer have the same happiness that I once did.

If my house burns down then where would my happiness be at then?

If I come outside and the new car that I bought gets hit and ran then where will my happiness be?

If all my happiness is my phone and it get’s stolen, where will my happiness be then?

This isn’t just materials either. If you put your happiness in a relationship, what will happen when y’all break up? Where will your happiness be?

If you put your happiness in money, where will your happiness be if you lose your job or, God forbid, you have medical expenses or a huge bill? Where will your happiness be?

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*Tag in joy*

Once we realize happiness is only temporary and fleeting we must tag in joy. Joy is praising God during our suffering (James 1:2-4). We then begin to learn that our trust in God through trials is what gives us deep and genuine joy for the Lord.

We can begin to learn that even when we are not happy, we can be filled with joy knowing that we can talk to God about our unhappiness and He will give us His eyes (Psalms 73) (I wrote a little about this HERE).

I think this is the difference in why people approach me. I may not be temporarily filled with happiness but  I always have joy.

I believe that joy is a necessity for Christians and their walk with God through:

  • Focusing on the truth of who God is.
  • Praying and developing an intimate relationship with God.
  • Participating in fellowship with other believers to push you towards joy.

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“The Joy of the Lord is my strength”

We sing a song called ‘Joy of the lord’ at Fort Bend Fellowship. (Click Here to listen to it. It rocks and I recommend everyone jamming out to it.)

Here are some of the lyrics:

“Though tears may fall
My song will rise, my song will rise to You
Though my heart may fail
My song will rise, my song will rise to You
While there’s breath in my lungs
I will praise You, Lord

In the dead of night
I’ll lift my eyes, I’ll lift my eyes to You
When the waters rise
I’ll lift my eyes, I’ll lift my eyes to You
While there’s hope in my heart
I will praise You, Lord

CHORUS
The joy of the Lord is my strength
The joy of the Lord is my strength
In the darkness I’ll dance
In the shadows I’ll sing
The joy of the Lord is my strength”

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Here is my challenge for you this week: Let the Joy of the Lord be  your strength.

Are you dealing with a tough breakup? – Choose Joy

Are you struggling with depression from an uncontrollable circumstance? – Choose Joy

Are you having a bad day? – Choose Joy

Whatever it is… Choose Joy

Say it now if you have to, “I choose Joy.

If you want to have a joyful life it starts by conquering one fear, one struggle, or one problem at a time. It’s a small difference that makes a huge impact.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12

 

 

 

 

Lyric Credit

Challenge Photo

Joy of the Lord Photo

Tag Team Photo

Red DS Photo

Joy vs. Happiness Photo

Sad and Happy Photo

I’m a fraud Photo