Finding Jesus in Jerusalem

Oh Jerusalem.

So much to take in. So many remnants of the ancient past to see. Endless views to find yourself lost in.

Over the week, I’ve found myself looking out over all of Jerusalem, trying to soak up every moment. Every detail I want to remember. The beauty. The sounds. The people. The mysteries left to be discovered.

We went to the remains of Solomon’s Temple, where the people went to experience the Spirit of God. Where God himself once fully resided. Where Jesus was brought as an infant. Where Jesus almost became the first face to be featured on the back of a milk carton as a teenager. Leaving Mary and Joseph in a frantic search only to later find him soaking in the teachings of his Father. Where Jesus was filled with Holy anger as he saw the way his father was being violated by the people of Jerusalem. Where the veil that once held back the presence of God was broken, just as Jesus was in that moment.

Jesus was here, walking the same steps my feet rested on. I walked the steps of the temple, unable to really comprehend the reality that once existed here.

Jesus. Jesus. Yeshua. Jesus. My sweet Jesus. I need to feel you.”

My heart cried out for him. My spirit longed to be walking with him side by side. The see him face to face. To feel the strength of his hands in my hands. The look into his eyes that burned with deep love.

I sat on the temple steps that overlooked the City of David and wished I could go back in time. That’s when I could feel my spirit stirring. “You’re searching for life within a monument. This isn’t a memorial of someone that once existed. I’m just as alive and present today as I was then. My Spirit is more present within you than on these steps.”

I realized Jesus was right, as he always is. People groups come from all over the world in the hopes to experience and find the source to which their life belongs.

It’s easy to begin to look at the remnants of the past in the hopes to find life. It’s a beautiful gift that God has provided for is to be able to physically see the places where his son once walked. To see the city that Jesus loved and lived his life in. You can’t help but be changed by being here, yet the source of life isn’t in the city. It’s in God.

As we were leaving the temple, I realized that although the entire temple was destroyed just as Jesus had prophesied, the original steps still remained. I couldn’t help but wonder if that was Jesus’ way of telling us, the temple may no longer remain, but the path to his presence will never be destroyed.

“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” -Jesus

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Jerusalem. The Heartbeat of Worship

Jerusalem. A city rich with history, legacy, and confusion.

We arrived today in Jerusalem and we were brought to a point that overlooked the entire city. The very city that holds the history and inheritance that my entire life has been based upon was right before me.

My heart was filled with awe as I tried to take it all in. It was at that moment, it happened.

The music to Allah began to play throughout the entire city. It was loud and overwhelming as I heard the voice of a man singing praises to a god other than Jesus.

My heart went from awe to a holy anger as I saw the very city where worship through song was birthed being now drowned out by the worship and the voice of the enemy.

As the day went on, I began to think about what was happening. Worship is power. Worship brings us into the very presence and heart of our Father. It became clear to me what the enemy is trying to do in this city.

You see, Jerusalem was created for worship. The songs of David once were sung and carried throughout the Jerusalem skies. King David forfeited any ounce of dignity he carried in these very streets as he worshipped with all his might.

Isn’t it interesting how Satan always tries to steal from you the very thing that carries the highest authority.

I believe there will be a day when the people of Jerusalem will one day get their voice back. I’m honored to be a part of their journey, if only for a brief time.

Jerusalem, well-built city, built as a place for worship! The city to which the tribes ascend, all God ’s tribes go up to worship, To give thanks to the name of God. Psalm 122:1-5

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Reconnecting Israel

I’ve only officially been in Israel for three days and I can already begin to sense the impact this place will have on my life.

Our first day here, we went to a church on Mount Carmel. We worshiped on the same mountain where Elijah challenged the 450 prophets of Baal to have their god send fire to prove he was real. Baal never did send fire. But when Elijah stepped out in faith and called upon God, God responded with fire.

We worshipped on the very mountain where God’s glory once fell in such magnitude that it’s still being talked about thousands of years later. The mountain Elijah himself once walked upon. The mountain where Elijah more than likely prayed on, meditated, and reflected on. I’m not sure what I expected to happen, but I know that I didn’t expect to feel what I was feeling.

Nothing.

We then traveled to the city of Nazareth. The city that raised my Lord. My Jesus. The city where Jesus spent his adolescence, learning from his father in his father’s wood shop. Where Jesus spent his teenage years. Under the same sky where Jesus once looked up into at night as he prayed. I walked on the same ground that he once rested his feet upon. I’m not sure what I expected to happen, but I know that I didn’t expect to feel what I was feeling.

Nothing.

For the first time, the Bible was so close to me, yet felt so distant.

That night, I laid in bed and my mind began to wander as it so often does. Why was I not connecting? Why did God feel so far away in the very land he once resided in? As I drifted off to sleep, I heard God say, “you’re not disconnected.”

The next morning, I made the decision to believe that I’m not disconnected despite what I was feeling. I would not allow a lie to ruin my time here in Israel. I said to God that even if I never feel his presence here, I would believe that what he said is true. That I’m not disconnected.

That day, we went to the Sea of Galilee and as we sailed along the very waters Jesus once sailed, we began to worship. We sailed up to the hills where Jesus and his disciples spent most of their time ministering on. As the words to “Our Father” were being sung around me, I envisioned Jesus and his disciples on the hills. I saw the crowds running along the grass to see this Jesus they heard about. I saw Jesus and his disciples sitting together. Laughing together. Praying together. Suddenly, Jesus became so real. His presence came over me in a way I never experienced and I began to weep. I could no longer sing the words to the song. I couldn’t hold it back. I had suddenly been overcome with the love Jesus carried.

Throughout the rest of the day (which I will later blog about), I would begin to cry at the very thought of Jesus. He was suddenly so close. His presence so tender, yet invasive. His love so pure, yet passionate.

As I laid down to sleep, I realized that just 24 hours prior, I felt so far away from his presence. Now here I am, head on the same pillow just a day later with such an overwhelming sense of Him.

I asked God why I felt so disconnected in the first place. He gently responded with, “I needed you to know how my people feel. I am so close, yet they feel disconnected. Now you can show them how close I am because you felt it for yourself.” I realized that God was showing me the heart of his people here in Israel. Their land is rich with the history of our savior and those who came before him and still so many haven’t been shown how to connect with their Father.

The truth is, disconnection from God is just an illusion.

This day was a moment I will forever treasure. A moment that will forever leave a mark.

“I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.” Jeremiah 31:3

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Lady Gaga Glamorizes Bulimia and Calls It "Art." **TRIGGER WARNING**

*If you struggle with eating disorders, please be advised that you may be triggered and read with caution.

Over the weekend, the internet exploded with reports and videos of a performance Lady Gaga did in which she allowed someone to repeatedly throw up on her.

Yes, you read that correctly. She had someone vomit on her.

The act involved an “artist” swallowing paint and immediately sticking her fingers down her throat to make herself gag and proceed to projectile vomit all over Lady Gaga as she laid there, spreading the vomited paint over her body.

I watched the video as I laid in bed Friday night, amazed at what I was witnessing. Don’t get me wrong, Lady Gaga has more talent than most people ever will conjure up in their entire lifespan, however taking a mental disorder that actually kills 5 in 1000 people every year is not art.

You see, 24 million people in the United States alone struggle with eating disorders. 24 MILLION. Not to mention, eating disorders have the number one death rate compared to any other mental illness. Yet, if Lady Gaga had allowed someone to snort cocaine or shoot heroine on her, THAT would be seen for what it is. Wrong. Insensitive. Irresponsible. Very few people would be okay with it being labeled as “art.”

Lady Gaga claims that she is about self-love and accepting yourself (her heart probably is for this) however, glamorizing a disease that has already stolen the lives, dreams, hopes, ambition and beauty from millions of people around the world is only aiding the self-hate epidemic that we are already facing.

As I watched Lady Gaga parade around the stage in vomited paint, I couldn’t help but be taken back to my own journey. Eating disorders are anything but glamorous. Here’s what Lady Gaga forgot to showcase in her concert:

She didn’t show the hours and nights you spend hiding food and eating in silence in your own bathroom as you then proceed to make your body get rid of every calorie you ate.

When you are laying in a dark room in rehab, sobbing into a pillow because you’ve begun to wonder if God even exists, let alone sees you because you’ve become so disconnected from everything around you.

She didn’t mention the fights you get into with your parents as your mom screams at you in tears because she no longer knows how to help or reach you.

The moment when your younger sister confesses to you that she used to crawl into your bed those nights you were in rehab. Sobbing and afraid that you won’t survive.

Her concert made no mention of the fact that your friend circle quickly dwindles because your friends can’t stand to see you in the state you’re in.

The cold walk you take to the rehab nursing station every morning in your hospital gown to get weighed and take your anti-depressant cocktail that consists of pills you can’t keep track of.

The jobs lost because your depression caused you to not be able to physically get out of bed.

The nurses and doctors that are constantly poking you with needles and psycho-analyzing you for weeks on end.

The nights when you scream out in desperation and pass out on your bathroom floor, exhausted by your own tears.

She didn’t mention that your throat becomes swollen and remains as a constant reminder of how you failed the night previously.

She didn’t sing about how even if and when you recover, the way your body retaliates because it’s lost all trust in you.

The moment when you find out your younger sister has begun to try to make herself bulimic after watching you for so many years.

Her show didn’t seem to make mention of the girls you befriend in rehab who later lose their lives to it.

You see, bulimia is not art. Anorexia is not art. Bingeing is not art. Just like heroine, cocaine, alcoholism, and self harm is not art.

Do you want to know what is an art? Recovery. Learning to love yourself. Music. Laughter. Drawing. Getting free from addiction. Dance.

This is not a blog post used to bash Lady Gaga. As I said, I find her talent, passion, and dedication to be inspiring. She doesn’t need to use any shock factor to get our attention. It makes me worried about what may be going on in her own life and I pray that she finds the freedom that she so desperately longs for and deserves.

Let’s stop the glamorization of eating disorders and mental illnesses all together. Let’s fight for what we were born for. We were born for love.

If you do struggle with eating disorders, please know that there is hope. As I write this, I am almost a year and a half free of a ten year battle with bulimia. There is hope. There really is freedom. There really is life apart from eating disorders. You can read my story here.

If you are struggling, please seek help. Click here for some resources.

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Buzzfeed STRESSES ME OUT AND BROKE MY HEART

Ok, let’s just get right to the point. Buzzfeed is taking over the world. Or at least the internet, which these days is basically the same thing.

Unless you’ve lived under a rock, Buzzfeed is the last and greatest blogging site that posts something like six hundred and twenty-four thousand times a day with captivating titles like, “Which Celebrity Should You Get Drunk With?” or “What European Country Should You Live In?” I mean, these are all legitimate questions that I have often times found myself wondering.  Plus, now I know that when James Franco approaches me in with a whiskey sour, I should kindly turn him away because Buzzfeed said I’m better off drinking with Jennifer Lawrence and I also happen to know that whiskey sours are not my drink, but rather vodka tonics are. How do I know that? Buzzfeed.

As all addictions do, it begins innocently.  I’m just curious, plus everyone else is doing it.  I’ll be laying in my twin bed, scrolling through my newsfeed and Buzzfeed asks, “Which Beyoncé Are You?”  Well, I don’t know.  I’ve never been asked that question before.  I’d like to think that I’m more like “Illuminati Beyoncé” because the idea of world power is intriguing, but as I mentioned, I’m sleeping on a twin bed at the age of 28 so world domination isn’t quite my thing yet.  I’d like to be “Crazy In Love Beyoncé”, but the last person to I tried to make confess their love to me was Siri and that didn’t end so well for me.

Actual conversation I had.  I'm over you Siri!

Actual conversation I had. I’m over you Siri!

Suddenly, I feel as though I have no idea who I am. What if I’m “Destiny’s Child Beyoncé” and I am forced to share the stage of life with Kelly Rowland and some other chick whose name literally nobody knows! Am I “Blu-Ivy’s Mother Beyoncé?” I mean, I am always exhausted and I do find myself standing in the mirror screaming “What happened to me?! My body used to be amazing until this [food] baby came along and now I can’t even button my skinny jeans!”   I have only one option.  Click the link and find out.

I then take a step of faith and click the link, knowing that I may be forced to see results that I may not want to see.

First question: Pick a Pizza.  Umm, alright.  This one on the upper left. I like pepperoni. No , wait.  Too plain.  Maybe this one in the middle.  Supreme. Yes. Supreme meaning ultimate.  World domination.  A little bit of everything. Oh dangit. There’s a low-calorie pizza option?! Should I pick that one? SASHA FIERCE WHAT WOULD YOU DO?!

Next Question: What’s a typical Friday night for you? Well, I’m in ministry school so street evangelism.  Hmmm, I don’t see street evangelism as an option. Ok. What’s the next best thing to winning souls for Christ? Netflix and cookie dough.  Yes, I feel the anointing on that one. *Click*

Third Question: Pick a Justin Timberlake. Bleached and curly-haired N’Sync Justin? No. Sexy Back Justin? Maybe. 20/20 Justin. Hmm…too long winded. Britney Spears Justin. Yes! The ultimate power couple that never was!

Fourth Question: Who would you rather date? Umm, wait. This is literally all pictures of Jay-Z. Is this a trick question? Jay-Z smoking a cigar. Jay-Z in front of a wall of fire. Jay-Z on a motorcycle.  Jay-Z with a Yankees hat. Jay-Z in a beanie. WHAT IS HAPPENING BUZZFEED? Oh wait, there is one of Jay-Z on his iphone. Let’s pick that one and pretend he’s instagram stalking me or something.

Fifth Question: What’s Your Life Philosophy?  Well, considering “I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly” is an option, let’s just assume that this isn’t going to end well and I’ll have to settle.  “I’m a survivor.” Whatever. Sure.

And this process goes on for another few minutes as I pick my favorite outfit, my drink of choice, favorite social media website and so on.  Keep in mind, the whole time I am feeling extremely over-anxious and like I am lying if I answer a question the wrong way! I mean, how do I know that I would prefer Paris over Amsterdam?! I’ve only ever been to Paris!

Finally, the moment I have been waiting for.  The moment when everything is about to make sense in life. My life question will finally be answered as I find out which Beyoncé I am. I scroll down, in anxious anticipation as if I’m about to walk into my own surprise party and innocently laugh as I pretend that I’m not loving all this attention… And the answer is…

beyonce4

WHAT?? That’s it? 4?! I just poured my heart and soul into picking the best outfit for a night out and all you have to say is that I’m innovative and blow people away with my awesomeness?? WHAT EVEN KIND OF HAIR IS THAT BUZZFEED YOU CAN’T EVEN GIVE ME A PICTURE WITH A HOT WEAVE!?

Whatever. I’m over it.  Consider yourself dead to me, Buzzfeed. Unless of course I ever need to know what Olympic Athlete I should go on a road trip with, then I’ll reconsider.

 

Does Buzzfeed stress you out? Please tell me I’m not alone.

This Little Light of Mine…

I love how creative God is. He’s created this amazing and vast Eco-system that he uses to guide us back to him.

A few years ago, I was living in Pennsylvania and I was taking a walk by myself, as I often found myself doing there. Fireflies were a new wonder for me. Growing up in Arizona, I never got to experience fireflies in the heart of summer. So being in PA, I was in constant awe each night when the fireflies would come out to shine.

What struck me the most is that not a single firefly ever tried to outshine the other. They just use what they have and create a sparkle. There’s no shame or disapproval if one’s light goes out. The others will shine for them and carry the light until it’s ready to join back in. It’s a constant dance of sparkle and gold in the dead of night; and no matter how cold the winter was, they always come back, never lacking in number and beauty.

It’s such a simple message. We need each other to shine. Yet, many of us spend our time either hiding behind the bushes waiting for someone to validate our light, or expending all our energy in the hopes to outshine others.  A lot of us live life a little like this…

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…unless you don’t think my light is good enough

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…LOOK, I’M SHINING AND DOING EVERYTHING RIGHT! LOOK!

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…unless you make fun of me…unless my pastor doesn’t pay enough attention to me…unless you intimidate me…unless you offend me or look at me wrong…unless you critique me.

You see,  there is nothing wrong with being noticed or being seen.  You were created to be a light and to draw attention.  The problem begins when we start shining our light for others because at that moment, we begin worshiping people instead of worshiping our creator. Don’t be afraid to let your light out.  A wise man by the name of Nelson Mandela said, “Once we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”

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