Exploring Alpha

After attending Church regularly for a few weeks, and feeling as though God was trying to tell me something, I decided I really should find out more.  But where does one go about finding out more??  I had no clue…and God knew it.  That very next Sunday it was announced they were going to put on another Alpha Course in a few weeks and the sign up table was in the lobby.  This course would be covering “the basics.”

“Ok God, I’m listening,” I thought.  After the service was done I stepped into the hall and signed up for Alpha…My first Bible Study, and I was going alone!  Oh the nerves!!

At my Church, we are lucky enough to have our Pastors lead the Alpha Course, however the weekly lessons are available on YouTube.  I think it is worth it to find a local Alpha Course.  Being able to discuss your thoughts and questions with fellow Christians in a small group setting is what it’s all about.

After week 3 ended, I was hooked, God had once again pointed me in the right direction.  Small Groups are not nearly as scary as they sound, it really will be a rewarding experience!  Since I completed my Alpha Course last fall, I have participated in 3 Church sponsored bible studies.  I am also taking the time to explore some studies on my own.

Please check out the Alpha Course information, and find one near you.  I will be attending my Church sponsored Alpha Course again in the fall of 2013.  I challenge you to do the same.

Why I need Jesus Christ in my life

Why do I need Jesus Christ in my life?  The sort answer, grace.

I need His Grace to get me through life.  The beauty of God’s grace?  YOU CAN’T EARN IT! And thank God for that!  The Skit Guys do an excellent skit on God’s Grace.

Right before I started down my Walk of Prayer, I was very close to bottoming out…again.  I was in a place where I was trying so hard to be everything for everyone, not taking any time for me.  This made me miserable, and I made sure everyone knew it.  Looking back, I think I probably wanted everyone to be miserable with me.   I was trying to keep too many plates spinning up in the air, I was barely hanging on.  I was a walking oxymoron…making sure everyone noticed how miserably unselfish I was being…but it was still all about me (which last time I checked is the definition of selfish).

I needed a break, some relief, someone to take these worries (my plates) and take care of them for me.  I wanted to be happy and I had no clue how to get there.  I was drowning in the hole I had dug and filled myself.  My misery was my own doing, but I was positive it had been put upon me by the universe.  This may sound over dramatic, but this really was the world I was “living in” at the time.

The funny thing is, half of those plates I had spinning up there, I really didn’t need to worry about spinning.  I was worried about the wrong things, worldly things.  I wanted everything to be perfect.  If it’s not perfect, it’s not good enough.  I held myself and others to such an unrealistically high standard no one ever got there, not even myself.  I was constantly beating my self down, and if I’m honest, everyone around me as well.

Do you know how exhausting it is to “always be perfect”?  I put it in quotes, because who is perfect?  Only God is perfect.  And he sent his Son to die for us so we don’t have to BE perfect….because we can’t.  That is grace, God’s Grace.  It’s not about us, it’s always about Jesus…what he did up there on the cross.  I don’t have to be perfect BECAUSE of God’s grace.  You can’t earn God’s grace…so stop trying!

Once I allowed myself to not be perfect, and to be OK with not being perfect; once I started to let Jesus take some of my worries, my plates, my baggage, and allowed His Grace to come into my life…everything in life became easier.  I didn’t deserve it, and that is the point.  We don’t deserve God’s grace because we can’t earn it…all we can do is accept it, and be thankful for it.

Thank you Jesus for your wonderful grace, thank you for giving me the grace I don’t deserve.  Amen.

Have you accepted God’s grace in your life?  I struggle to accept His grace daily…but every day I’m getting better.

God’s Chisel

If you haven’t seen the God’s Chisel video by The Skit Guys, get ready…and you may want to grab a tissue.

I don’t know about you, but that hit home hard for me.  Every time I watch it I tear up…God doesn’t make junk, we are God’s master piece.

Ephesians 2:10(NLT)

10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

There are some days, even weeks, that I feel I am far from God’s masterpiece.  I know full well I am not doing what God planned for me, I’m doing what I planned for me.

You know that feeling, when you know you are letting someone down, but you are choosing to pretend you don’t realize what you are doing….maybe they won’t notice.  God notices, we can’t fool him as easily as we think we can.  But, as luck would have it, we cannot let God down because we are not holding him up.  In our relationship with God, he holds us up because he loves us.

Here’s how I like to think about it:  God is like the parent, and we are the children…and I think we are the equivalent of toddlers or preschoolers.  Most of the time we listen, but we still push those boundaries to see how far we can get. No matter what we do God is going to love us, but at the same time He is going to bring us back to where we belong.

But like all good parents, God only disciplines the ones he loves.  When we are not listening, He is going to teach us a lesson so we know not to repeat the same mistakes…like disciplining a child.  I don’t know about you, but there are days I really deserve God’s discipline.  And sometimes I’m really not listening, so God has to give me a jolt to bring me back to His path.

Don’t give up when the going gets tough, look up.  Look up to God and ask Him to give you the grace and clarity you need to see His reason, because there is always a reason.  He is shaping us into His original masterpiece, chiseling away, “creating us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planed for us.”  We may not be able to see the reason in the moment, but take a look back…what was He trying to tell you in those hard times?  I bet you can see it if you try.

Remember, you are God’s masterpiece…not junk…God doesn’t take the time to make junk.