perfection

Perfection.

Perfection is not only the lifeline of Christianity, but the downfall. You see, perfection is something we rely on. We serve a perfect God who sent His perfect Son to live a perfect life. Without perfection, Christianity itself would crumble. However, perfection is something we also rely on too much. Some of us think we have to be perfect before we can come to Christ. Some think that once we come to Christ, we will become perfect. With these expectations of perfection, Christianity itself will crumble.

I believe that whether we’ve never had a relationship with Christ or if we’ve just been led astray, we are scared to approach Him because we think we have to be perfect for God to accept us. That’s just the enemy telling you that you’re not good enough. God wants you right where you are. Beaten, broken, depressed, it doesn’t matter. The Bible says that if you draw near to God, He will draw near to you. God isn’t looking for a bunch of perfect people, but for a bunch of broken people that He can love perfectly.

“Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion – it is a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.” – Billy Graham

Even though I have accepted Christ as my Lord and even rededicated my life to being a Follower of Jesus, I still mess up. I still fall into sin. When I do I feel guilty and like I’m being a disappointment to God. However, I don’t think the fall in itself is what disappoints Him. I believe it’s when we choose to stay down there, covered in guilt and continuing to sin, instead of picking ourselves back up and realigning ourselves with Him. We have to realize that there’s only one thing that can relieve us from guilt and that’s grace. Grace alone is proof that God never expected us to be perfect. We aren’t sinners because we sin, we sin because we’re sinners. God knows and understands that we’re sinners. That’s why He sent Jesus.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Perfection isn’t our goal, perfection is our Savior.

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seasons

“There’s a season for everything.” This is a phrase that we hear often, but sometimes I don’t think we quite understand it.

“For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

We all have a season that we’re in. There are some of you who may be in a season that you never want to end. You may have just landed that dream job. You may have just gotten accepted into your dream school. You may have just met the love of your life. You may have just figured out how to love yourself for who you are.

When we’re in these seasons, our next steps can look pretty easy. If we just landed our dream job, we should be doing everything we can to keep it. If we just got accepted into our dream school, let’s get involved. If we just met the love of our life, we should keep Christ at the center and grow together. If we just figured out how to love ourselves, let’s apply that to loving others.

However, there are some of you who are in a season where you can’t see the end. You may have just gotten fired from a job, now struggling to make ends meet. You may not be doing so well in school, wondering if you’re even smart enough to be there. You may be in a spot where you feel like love just isn’t for you, like you’ll never find the one. You may be struggling with something deep inside, questioning if this life is even worth it.

We have to realize that where we are now, what we’re feeling, it’s just a season of our life. Just as Spring prepares us for Summer, our current season is preparing us for the one to come. We need to take full advantage of it, no matter what it is. If we just got fired, let’s stay faithful and continue tithing. If we’re not doing so well in school, let’s make sure we have our priorities in line. If we can’t find love, let’s prepare ourselves to receive that love when it comes. If we’re feeling unworthy, let’s find our worth in Christ and know that He is our strength and our refuge.

God didn’t keep David from his battle with Goliath, He didn’t keep Daniel from the lion’s den, nor did He keep Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from being thrown into the furnace. You see, God doesn’t always keep us from bad seasons in our lives, but it is in these seasons where our faith can flourish.

“What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” – Ecclesiastes 3:9-11

Even though we may not understand why we’re in the season that we’re in, we just have to realize that we are in it for a reason. This season isn’t a burden; it’s a blessing. We simply can’t comprehend the magnitude of what God is doing in our lives. We don’t know where it’s leading us, but something greater is yet to come.

My prayer for everyone that is reading this is that you will take full advantage of your current season, preparing for the one to come. I pray that you will come to the realization that there is nothing that you’re going through that’s worse than our God is good.

We all want to be on the mountaintop, but growth happens in the valley. No matter how bad this season may seem, let this be your season of growth.

2018

I wanted to publish this earlier, but I never got around to it.  However, you know what they say. Better late than never.

As far as 2018 goes, I have never been more excited. I believe that this is truly a year for change. A year for redemption.

2018 will be the year.

The year that I will grow closer to God than I ever deemed fathomable. The year that I will take a stand for my beliefs, and never waver. The year that I will quit living for me, and live for Him. The year that I will leave my comfort zone. The year that I will lean on God, in the good times and the bad. The year that I will be disciplined, obedient, and faithful. The year that I will be a disciple, a teacher, a brother, and a friend. The year that I will turn from the wickedness of the world. The year that I will make an impact in the Kingdom of God. The year that I will reach goals that I never knew I had. The year that I will no longer allow my past mistakes nor accomplishments define me. The year that I will pray for my enemies. The year that I will live my best life, regardless of the circumstances. The year that I will thank Him for His mercy. The year that I will tell about His unending grace. The year that I will spread His unconditional love. The year that I will praise Him in all of His glory. The year that I will live my life to make Christ known.

Being a completely committed follower of Christ isn’t easy in our society. We all want to be Christians, but we don’t all necessarily want to live the Christian lifestyle.  We quote the verses and we attend the services, but do we spread the Gospel and live it out?

I truly believe that if something is interfering with your walk with Christ then it is a sin, whatever that may be. Living in sin is such a problem in our society and in our world in general. It has become so common that it is even beginning to be accepted. People say that the world has changed, but God hasn’t.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

-Hebrews 13:8

“For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,”

– Hebrews 10:26

I have struggled my whole life with temptation and I know that you have as well. I have avoided it and I have also fallen to it, but I never seemed to grasp how to control it. Recently I found my way. I choose God. It is that simple. Whatever the question is, my answer is God. He is my way out. I know that with Him on my side that there is nothing that I can not overcome.

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

-1 Corinthians 10:13

God’s grace is sufficient, even though society will try to tell you it isn’t.

When I read the following verse for the first time, it hit me like a brick wall.  It made me truly stop and think. There is so much power in scripture, and I believe this is a verse that every single person should hear.

“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

-James 2:17

I want to challenge you individually in the upcoming year. I pray that you choose God in everything that you do. I pray that you will live your life with love and compassion. I pray that you will take a stand in your faith and show the world the grace that Jesus has to offer. I pray that you will be wholeheartedly dedicated to Christ, and that you will be unashamed.

I also want to challenge us as a whole, as the body of Christ. I pray that we can make a difference. I pray that we can come together, not as denominations, not as generations, but as devoted followers of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I pray that we will take a stand for what we believe and hold true. I pray that we will come together to love and to serve, to be the disciples that we were called to be. I pray that we will be the light in this dark, cruel world.

Let 2018 be our year for redemption.

purpose

I want you to ask yourself this question and I want you to be brutally honest with yourself when you do.  “Am I following God’s will for my life?”  It’s a question only you can answer.

I feel as if the majority of us are living our lives missing out on the true purpose of this life.  God put us on this earth to further His Kingdom.  He put us here to reach people for Christ.

We live in a society that has one goal.  Success.  Success in our society is defined by wealth and fame.  We live our lives striving for success.  We strive for material possessions.  We strive for financial security.  We strive for all these worldly things, but are we striving to make disciples?  Are we striving to spread the Word of God?  Are we striving to spread His love?

That is our purpose.  That is why we were put on this earth.  We were not put here to be doctors or firemen or engineers.  We were put here to be preachers, to be teachers, to be disciples.  Don’t get me wrong, we desperately need those people.  We need doctors, we need firemen, we need engineers, but that is not our sole purpose here on earth.  Our purpose is to show the compassion of Christ.  Our purpose is to further His Kingdom.

In my room I have a quote by Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant hanging up on my wall.  It reads, “The price of victory is high, but so are the rewards.”  The ultimate price has already been paid through the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  However, there is a price we must pay.  The path that God wants us to follow is not always going to be easy.  There are going to be sacrifices that we have to make, but I can promise that the reward will be so much greater.

Go back and ask yourself that very first question again.  I don’t know what you are going through.  I don’t know what career path you are on.  However, I do know what your purpose is.  Your purpose as a follower of Jesus Christ is to make disciples, it is to show compassion, it is to spread the love of Jesus.  So to answer the question, it’s not as much about your career as it is about your purpose.  You may be a doctor, but you can make disciples.  You may be a fireman, but you can spread the love of Jesus.  You may be an engineer, but you can show compassion.  You are God’s will.  You can make a difference for the Kingdom of God.

Now I want to leave you with one last question.  Are you willing to go out and make a difference?

 

committed

It is so hard in today’s society to be a committed follower of Jesus.  I have been reading a book by Kyle Idleman called “not a fan.”  I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone.  This book has truly opened my eyes to the fact that I have not been living the life that I am meant to live.

In the book it talks about how many so called Christians are in reality just fans of Christ, they are not true followers.  The deeper I read and the more I thought about it the more I realized that I have been living my life as a fan.

“If anyone comes after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

Scripture says that you should deny yourself and follow the Lord.  How many people truly deny themselves in their walk with Christ?  I know that I haven’t.  I used to tell myself that God doesn’t expect me to give up everything to follow Him.  I can still live the life I want to live.  I can still get drunk on weekends.  I can be a Christian, just not a full time Christian.  However, that’s not at all what the Bible says.  It says one must pick up their cross daily and follow Him.

I think about the society we live in.  I think about how well off we are here in America.  The life of a Christian in America is often times no different than that of a non-Christian. The honest truth is that there is something wrong with that picture.  As a Christian you should be living your life daily to further the Kingdom of God.

I have thought about what it means to be a Christian in other societies across the globe and the results are astonishing.  There are many countries here on earth that ban Christianity.  To admit to Christianity you are literally putting your life on the line.  There are people who give up their jobs, their income, their families for the pure satisfaction of Christianity.  There are Christians who are persecuted and who are executed for the mere fact that they are Christians.

In this book, it talks about a group of missionaries from Suriname.  They were trying to win the hearts of slaves on plantations, but the slaves were only allowed to speak with other slaves.  The missionaries then literally sold themselves into slavery, just to spread the Gospel.  That blows my mind.  That is true Christianity.  That is being a committed follower of Christ.

Today, we find it too hard to give 10% of our income to the church.  We find it difficult to give up drunkenness and sex.  We find it nearly impossible to spread the Gospel with people we don’t know for the fear of judgement.  We are completely devoted to our football teams on Saturday and that’s okay.  We are considered fans.  However, if we devote more of our life to Christ than the “American Standard” we’re fanatics.  We live a life scared to give too much of our time or too much of our possessions to God.  When in reality, it’s already his.

Please go read this book, as it goes much more into depth than I have.  It will truly touch your heart and open your mind.  I know that there is someone out there who is looking for something to fill that void, and I think this book will help you find it.

There are people who will read this and think that I am calling them out.  I am.  If you’re touched by this message then it was meant for you.  I pray that you won’t shy away from this.  However, I want you to understand that becoming truly devoted to Christ isn’t going to be easy.  As a matter of fact it will probably be one of the hardest things you ever do.  I can make you two promises though.  One, I promise that you will not be alone in this.  Two, I can promise you that it will be worth it.

There are also going to be people who think that I am judging them.  People who will think that I believe I am better than them.  You are absolutely wrong.  I am a sinner.  I was in that same position less than a month ago.  I can promise that I am not judging you.  I do not have the right to judge you.  I also know for a fact that I am no better than you.  There is absolutely nothing that I can do to keep God from loving me, and neither can you.  There is absolutely nothing that I can do to be worthy of God’s grace, and neither can you.  By those comparisons I would have to say that we are pretty equal.  I can however say that there is a difference.  I have made the first step.  I am well on my way to becoming a completely committed follower of Christ, but I am here with outstretched arms, praying that I will be able to help you begin or continue on your journey with Christ.

I have not been living my life as a follower of Christ.  I have been living selfishly and in the ways of the world.  However, that time in my life is over.  I want to live my life as a committed follower of Christ.  That may result in shame and judgement, but the only judgement that matters is that of God Almighty.  It may lead to the loss of friends, but I will have a true friend in Christ.  There are people who are going to disagree, but that’s okay.  Some may call this version of Christianity radical, but I’m just going to call it real.

clarity

My whole life I have been drawn to the thought of mission work.  I have always thought about how amazing it would be to be able to help people who were not blessed under the circumstances that I was blessed with.  I have always, in the back of my mind, thought of it as something I would like to do.  I imagined it as me taking short trips once or twice a year whenever I was rich and wealthy living the life I wanted to live.  The last few days however, I have had a stronger tug towards it.  I believe it’s something I am meant to do.

Throughout my time planing for my future, that never came across my mind because I just did not see it as an option.  How would I survive without income?  How would I raise a family?  Is this something I am even capable of?  I thought I was involving God in my future when really I was pushing him out.

At the time I believed that I was coming to Alabama to better my future when in reality I was coming to do what I wanted.  I came to have a good time and to live a typical college lifestyle.  I didn’t want to push God out of my life, but I didn’t want to let Him control it either.  Looking back, I didn’t pray that this is what He wanted.  I just prayed that He would accept it.  I now know that this is not where I am meant to be.

The more I think about it, the more mission work tugs at my heart.  I prayed to God that if this was something that I was meant to do that He would give me a clear sign, a message.  This morning as I was reading through my devotional through Church of the Highlands, these verses were included.

“11 Command and teach these things.12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” – 1 Timothy 4:11-16

I do not think He could have been more clear.  He answered my prayer in the time it took me to open up my laptop and visit the page of my devotional.  Our God is truly amazing! That is the God that I want to devote my life to serving, in whatever capacity He has me to do so.  If this is what He wants, this is what I want.  I am ready to fulfill His plan for my life.  I do not know to what capacity He will have me to serve in missions, but I know that I am going to do it in love and in faith.  I believe that whatever He brings me to He will bring me through.  Any and all prayers are appreciated!!

uncertainty

As I have already mentioned, I don’t know where I stand with my future.  I know that I want to be the person that God wants me to be.  I have just yet to figure out who that person is.

I am currently a chemical engineering major, but I do not have any desire to be a chemical engineer.  My whole process to deciding what I want to do with my life has been focused on salary, and that is no longer what I want.  I want to make a difference.

I am honestly scared out of my mind.  I am in a good bit of debt with student loans and I am scared to move forward with any major decision because of the possible outcomes.  I know God is in control, but I just don’t want to make the wrong move.

I have so many thoughts running through my head and I am trying my best to decode them.  It is things that could impact my life forever.  However, if that is His will then I am ready to follow, but I want to be sure that I am doing it for him and not for me.

Today in my devotional, the Lord said to keep my eyes on Him.  That if I were to focus on the obstacles in front of me that I may stumble, but that if I were to remain focused on Him that He would bring me through it.

It is almost unbelievable at how Christ works in ones life.  Here I am struggling with decisions about my future and I am given the word of God.  It is truly amazing.  Although I still feel the pressure of making the right decisions, I know that He will lead me to them.

 

introduction

My name is Braxton Fretwell and I am from a small town in Alabama.  I am currently a sophomore in college and torn with decisions about what I want to do with my life.  Being in college, I am faced with temptations on a daily sometimes hourly basis.  Although I believe I am strong in my faith I quite often fall into these temptations.  I am starting this blog to help me grow in my relationship with God.

I grew up in church and have always considered myself a Christian.  I do not know the exact date that I let the Lord into my heart, and that used to scare me, but I know that I am saved by His grace and that I am His.  Throughout my life, my faith has been like a roller coaster.  There were days that I felt like I was on the highest mountain, as close to God as possible, but there were also days where I felt as if I did not know Him at all.

In high school I was what many would consider the All-American kid in the small town where I grew up.  I was an All-State football player, I made good grades, I was even Mr. HHS my senior year of high school.  I attended church on Sunday’s and stayed out of trouble for the most part.  I made my spending money working for neighbors and local farmers.  I had always known I was going to go to college and was in hopes of a football scholarship, but that plan fell through.  I accepted an academic scholarship to The University of North Alabama where I had planned to walk-on.  Just like the scholarship, that did not work either and in the end I found myself playing Rugby my freshman year.

As college came, temptation grew.  I was opened up to much more than what I had previously been exposed to.  For the most part I stood my ground, but there were a few areas in which I stumbled.  I went to UNA in pursuit of a degree in Nursing where I would then go to PT school, but in reality that wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life.  Toward the end of my first semester there I decided that I wanted to pursue a degree in Chemical Engineering.  Since there was not a ChE program at UNA I decided that in the upcoming fall I would transfer to The University of Alabama, where I am currently enrolled in my first semester.

In all honesty I don’t know if I came to Alabama because that’s where I was led or if I came to get away from home and spread my wings.  The last few days it has felt more like the latter.

Although I know God and I trust God, I feel like I have been holding back from him.  The past couple of months I feel as if I have been in rebellion, not necessarily against God, but against my true self.  To sum things up I believe that the past few months have been a steep descent on my roller coaster ride.  However, the past couple days have felt like a sharp change of direction in which I am now heading up, and faster than ever before.  The thing is, I still don’t see the final stop on this ride and that uncertainty makes me nervous.

The more I think about my future the more uncertain it becomes.  I am currently in debt taking classes that I have no desire to be in.  The thing is, I can’t think of a class that I would rather be taking.  That scares me.  In the end I know that God has it in control, but I just want to make sure I’m taking the right steps.

I’ve been told my whole life about how I was going to go to college and how I was going to graduate and go to work making good money.  I was told to use my head and not my back.  My only goal when picking a career was to make the most money with the least amount of school.  I knew that I could handle any class that I took and in reality I can, I just haven’t.  I just don’t feel that this is what God wants from me, it’s just what I thought that I wanted.

I feel like I was put on this planet for so much more.  I just don’t know what.  I want to do something that makes a difference, not necessarily on a global scale, but in individuals.  I’ve always had this urge, but have just ignored it.  I often feel led into fields such as missions, first respondence, and the armed forces.  I have always questioned if I was made for that, if I could handle it.  The more I think about it the more I am drawn to it.  I just don’t know what my path is.

I pray that God will open my eyes to the path that I need to take and give me the strength to follow it.  I pray that whatever it may be that I do it willfully and with a humble heart.  I pray that I have the strength and the power to do what I am meant to do on this earth.  I want to follow God’s will for my life.  I want to follow it fearlessly.  That may mean I live my life without a dime to my name, or I may become the richest man in the world.  That no longer matters.  I want to glorify Him.  I want to bring people to His kingdom.  I have given my life fully to him.  I am no longer holding back.  Wherever He sends me I’ll go.

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