Monday, March 19, 2018

Confidence of a Broken King

12:53 PM 0
Guest Blogger: Brandon Ward
Hey! My name is Brandon Ward, and I am 22 years old! I am happily married and currently in college. My passions in life are loving others and pursuing a very personal, very vulnerable relationship with God!

A king? Why would you call me that? Are you mocking me? If you knew my past you
would know that I am no king. I could never deserve such a title.

For much of my life, I have had little to no confidence in myself. I was raised in a very
dysfunctional household where encouragement or compliments were few and far between, and
God was simply reserved for Sunday mornings. For a long time, I had no idea that God even cared for me at all.  Why would He?

A couple of nights ago I was asked what one of my worst memories was. One
of my answers was a night when I was young. This is the memory that I immediately think of
when someone asks about my childhood.  It is seared into my brain, and it leaves a bad taste in
my mouth whenever I talk about it. You see, I have always been that weird, artsy kid.  I loved to
draw, paint, sing, and act out action scenes from my favorite cartoons when nobody was looking.
My imagination was my escape.  It gave me a chance to be something I knew I wasn’t. I could be
strong or cool or handsome or confident.  Anyways, on this night I decided to write a song.  I
spent hours working on it reading it over and over again making sure that it was perfect. When I
finished I was so proud that I had to show my mom. She read it and told me that she had would have to show my dad.  I remember every second of my dad reading that stupid song. It felt like an eternity had passed before he said anything. When he spoke all that he said was that I needed to rhyme
better and then he left. I was crushed. Why couldn’t I make this man proud? I ripped up that
paper and cried myself to sleep.  This moment made a huge impact on my self-worth.

I’ll share one more memory to help you understand how low my confidence really was.
When I was sixteen I was in a relationship with a girl named Kristian, who is now my wife.  I
thought at the time I knew what love was and that I was somehow lucky enough to find it.  How
or why I had no idea.  All I knew was that for some reason this girl really liked me.  About six
months into our relationship she told me that she was moving.  I was heartbroken.  Why is my life
so full of crap?  My parents were divorced.  My dad had kicked me out of the house.  Now the
woman that I loved is leaving me.  I watched her drive away and thought that was it.  How can my
life get any worse?  A friend of her family came up to me as Kristian was driving away and said
that he was there for me and invited me over to his house.  When I decided to take him up on his
offer of friendship, I went over to his house to talk. He molested me that night.

I can’t really describe how low I felt leaving that place. I can’t describe the shame that was weighing on my shoulders or the lies that I was believing about myself.  At the time I was a Christian, but afterthat night I convinced myself that God must hate me.  Was I being punished?  Was I a mistake?  Icontemplated suicide quite a bit after that. My confidence was dead.

Now, do you understand my first paragraph? My life for so long was nothing more than
existing. I was not confident in who I was or who I was meant to be.  That is until I was adopted.
Not literally adopted, but I found a home with my forever family that I have now.  I was invited
to a bible study that was hosted by Zach Dasher four years ago.  After a few weeks of going to
this study, I broke down one night in the middle of his trailer crying my eyes out trying to
explain what had happened to me.  I had never felt the kind of love I was surrounded by that
night. That night was the beginning of a huge transformation for me.  God was telling me that He
had something amazing that He wanted to show me.

What was it?  It was me.  I was looking face to face with a Brandon that had allowed God to transform Him simply by giving up control and relenting that control to the only one who could rescue me.  A Brandon not burdened by his past or his mistakes.  This was a Brandon that was confident in himself and more importantly God.  I was looking at a king. I was looking at an image bearer of the One True King. 

God was telling me that that could be me if I trusted Him.

I want you to know that I listened to God at that moment. It was a choice that I have never regretted. It has been a hard road allowing God to work on me, but the blessings and the joy that has come from Him far outweigh the pain that it took to get to where I am at currently.  I am not perfect.  I am still broken, but I know that I am loved and that I was worth the infinite price that Christ paid for me.  I know that God made me unique and special and that gives me true confidence.  Psalm 139:13-14 states, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Real confidence can only come from God.  Confidence that only comes from superficial
things such as the way you look or the abilities that you have will ultimately fail when life
knocks at your door. What do you say to the person that isn’t “beautiful” according to our
society?  What do you say to the person that is paralyzed from the neck down?  Are they doomed
to exist without having any value?  Of course not! Those people are made in the image of God
just as much as the rest of us!  I now have a confidence that I once thought I could never have. I know that through Christ I have been made a king. God has surrounded me with so many people who want to love me and remind me of that fact every day.

Do you know that?  Do you know how much you are loved? I want you to know this truth so badly because I know how horrible it feels to believe the lie that you are worthless. YOU ARE NOT WORTHLESS.  You are worth more than you could ever know. You are loved more than you can ever fathom. You are a child of God. 1 John 3:1 states, “See what great love the Father lavishes on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” If you believe in Him and believe Him, you are made royalty through Christ. 1 Peter:9-10 states, “But you are a chosen people, a royal
priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who
called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are
the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

I may not know you, but I love you so much. More importantly, God does know you and loves you so
much despite your faults and shortcomings.  I pray that your confidence changes. I pray that it
transforms into something more than this world can offer.  I  pray that if you do not know God and
how amazing He is, that you begin to search for Him.  I promise He is not far from you.  Thank you for your time.

Brandon Ward

Monday, March 5, 2018

Season of Change

2:10 PM 0
Guest Blogger
I am Abigail Celeste Richardson. I am a sucker for a good sunset, and I am most happiest during a good belly laugh, although; I am learning to find my Joy in the Lord.

Hello, everyone:) I am Abigail! I often go by Abby or Abbs. Abstastic has also made an appearance recently, but call me what you’d like. Because today I come before you as a child of God who longs to share their heart.

First I want to say that I feel very inequipped or “not good enough” to be able to share my heart with you today, because as I begin to put my thoughts into words all the imperfections and inconsistancies in my life begin to come to mind. But one of my favorite things about God is that it is not my job to be perfect, qualified, or holy enough, because that is Jesus’ job.

I am a junior in high school and as my senior year approaches fear seems to come along for the ride 90% of the time. All of this fear revolves around change. I hate change! I have always been one to try and dodge change- to do anything in my power to stay away from having to go through change. But unfortunately in this season of change I cannot be rescued and I cannot sidestep the issue. This is my future we are talking about, and no matter how much I want to stop time to avoid my fears, the clock just keeps ticking.

So for anyone who may be going through a season of change I want to referre back to that loving God I was talking about earlier… the God I have learned to love. Not the God the world imagines, sitting on His throne ready to strike anyone who takes one wrong move. No. I am referring to the God who literally risk everything knowing all He would get in return was rejection and failure. Because lets be honest us humans have become quite good at those two things.

One thing that God has been teaching and continues to teach me is that it is not my problem to figure out every step I am to take in life because this is not my story. This is God’s story, and I simply have the privilege to play a part in advancing his kingdom. Therefore, I am simply along for the ride, chasing after Jesus, and trusting him that he will lead me to places I could never imagine myself going in my own strength. Because as I said earlier I am a very imperfect and flawed human, but my God is bigger. He is bigger than fear, and so are his plans for me.(psalm 122: 8-9)

So as all the titles of “what do you want to become when you graduate?” begin to flood my mind, I have to remind myself who I truly am. Or rather whose I truly am- I am God’s beloved. This is the reality I will set my mind and soul upon because one day this job and life that I am now beginning to think about and explore will fail me. It will come to an end. But my identity in the one who made me… that is eternal.

So I pray that at the end of my life’s little journey here on earth, that I look back and see a life lived beautifully. A life lived with intentionality, purpose, and most importantly a life where I walked each step following after my Jesus who goes before me. Stepping into his sure footprints with my wavering feet knowing that with every step I am headed toward a life worth living. A beautiful, authentic, wonderful life. A life wholly for Jesus.

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