Who HE says you are!

Happy Maundy Thursday!

               This is my favorite week of the year! The older I am get the more I am realizing what this Friday is truly “good Friday!” Growing up I use to think they got “good Friday” and “black Friday” switched around! I mean come on now! The day The Messiah gets crucified, that seems pretty dark! And the day every store in America is running major sales, that seems pretty good! Maybe you just have to live in the random world of Kaleb Heppe to think like that!

               Two weeks ago, I was sitting at my desk as the news broke that a 7th grader had committed suicide. As I type this very sentence my eyes still tear up. I did not have the chance to meet Damien, however, I did have the chance to watch him and his football team brutally destroy the team I coach! Whenever news like that breaks, I think if it was my nephew, my niece, one of my siblings, or a member of my youth group and it really puts it in a whole new perspective.  I have spent so much time praying about a message and this morning while sitting at the gates of hades, A.K.A. the sauna, I felt God revealing to me that message.

               Today, this blog is not meant do the following…

                              --It is not meant to make you feel weak if you have had suicidal thoughts.

                              --It is not meant to make you feel regret if you knew someone whom committed suicide.

                              --It is not meant to guilt trip about a suicide experience.

                              --It is not meant to belittle the love one you know whom committed suicide.

                              --It is not meant to ruin relationships.

                              --It is not meant to cover up the epidemic of suicide.

               However, this blog is 100% meant for you to know your worth. With that being said let’s begin…

 

               I have so many favorite bible stories I do not think I could pin point which one is my favorite. However, I most certainly can tell you which story hits me in the gut the most. It is a story that I have no problem envisioning myself in the room when it happens. I have no problem hearing Jesus saying these very words to me right now. The story I am referring to is in Mark 8:27:30…

“27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”

28 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”

29 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”

30 Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.”

I have read this story plenty of times but this weekend while doing my devotionals it popped up again. Coincidence? Nah, God knows exactly what message He wanted to be heard. As I set there, I put myself in the scene. The scene went something like this. This story can be found in the (KHV “Kaleb Heppe Version”). It was 7 P.M. and Jesus had just come over to the house to watch the big game. While Jesus and the boys were chilling out, He started to act really weird. We were all eating pizza and wings, just chilling. And then that brother asked the weirdest question! In the middle of chaos, from the game being epic, Jesus pauses the game and goes “Who do people say I am.” Annoyed by the game being paused, we responded and just started to throw stuff out “Brah, who cares what haters say! Just un-pause the game!” And so, he does and then a few minutes later he pauses the game again! But this time, this time he goes “fine we will ignore the haters but who do you say I am?”

               Maybe you are not into sports like I am but what I challenge you to do is make your own scene. Make it personal, so personal that it would hit home and it would hit hard! I begin to answer the question “Ok Jesus, here we go. You are my rock, my redeemer, my hope, my strength, my all in all, my anchor…” I could have gone on for days but here comes the curveball. Side note: Why did I have doubt? Because I have allowed my life to be bombarded by insecurities! You know the greatest weapon Satan can use today is our insecurities against us. For me, he loves reminding me that I am to young to be a pastor, he loves reminding me that I am not qualified in terms of “academic degrees” to be a pastor, & honestly, he loves reminding me that no girl desires to be married to a pastor. I took those insecurities to heart and allowed them to affect my relationship with God. They were able to drive a wedge in between us and made me start to doubt.

               What did that side note have to do with anything? A lot. How you might ask? Because God flipped the script on me and said “Ok you said who I am, now let me tell you who I say you are.” And he began to answer my insecurities and he began to let me know that He doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called. He began to remind that worrying about things is not going to add a single hour on to my life (Luke 12:25) but above all He reminded that I am made in His image, that He loves me and is for me, and that if he had a fridge in heaven my picture would be on it because I am his A+ material!

               Today, the question is not “who do you say I am” referring to your opinion of Christ. Today, the hot topic is: “Who does He say you are.”  I am going to tell you some of the answers to that question! Lauren Daigle sings a song called “You Say.” The song starts off with these POWERFUL lyrics:

“I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?
Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours”

Are you fighting voices in your head today? Are you fighting voices of your family today? Are you fighting voices of peers today? Are you fighting voices of expectations today? Are you fighting voices of insecurities today? Well, my prayer is that those voices would get sent back to hell where they belong!

To the person who is getting bullied, I am sorry you are going through that but know you might not think you matter to your peers but you do matter! You matter to the maker of heaven and earth!

To the girl who gets told she is ugly for any reason, I am sorry people are telling you that! But can I tell you today that you are beautiful! Not because of my opinion but because of God’s! He made you perfect in his image and He does not make mistakes!

To the family who is going through a horrible time, I am sorry that y’all are in the midst of some pretty traumatic waves but can I tell you today that my lifeguard walks on water! Can I tell you today that his voice is so powerful that even the wind and the waves obey! Above all, can I tell you today that His plans are for you and they are not to harm you!

You are probably asking yourself “ok sooo what does He say about me?”

1.      You matter to God!

Romans 5:8 says this “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” You say “well yeah He died for everyone and that’s a lot of people.” You know, if you were the only human being walking around this earth God still would have sent Jesus to die for you. Yes, for just you! God wouldn’t just sacrifice His one and only son for no reason. But for someone as special as you, He would! You matter to God, despite what the world tells you!

2.      You are not weak, You got this!

Isaiah 40:29 “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Jesus tells us in His sermon on the mount that “blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” You are not alone in this battle that you are going! I can wholeheartedly promise you that! How? Because from ages 8-14 I watched my mom battle breast cancer and eventually die from it. I watched my sister flatline 3 times and be in Acoma for 36 days fighting for her life. I was at my weakest and truly could not stand the thought of God. Now, fast-forward to 2019 I am going on my third year of being a pastor. I could not deny his faithfulness any longer; I shouldn’t be in this position but He carried me through it! He proves over and over again that when I am at my weakest, He is at His strongest! I promise you; He will do the same for you too, if you give Him the chance!

3.      You are perfect!

The world has so many expectations for how women should look, for how men should act. But I am here today to tell you, that don’t worry about living up to those expectations! Why? Because Genesis 1:27 says “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” What does this mean? It means God does not make mistakes and He did not start with you! You are beautiful in His eyes and you are His masterpiece!

4.      You are not alone!

We are judged and defined by how many followers we have on our social media or how big our friends circle is. Fun fact: Jesus had 12 followers and He was more than satisfied. My point, you are not alone! Not only are you a child of God but you can be besties with Jesus! John 15:15 “I no longer call you slaves, because the slave does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because I have revealed to you everything from my father.” Take heart today and know you have the ability to be besties with the maker of heaven and earth, someone who will never leave you nor forsake you, and someone who will love you for you!

5.      We can do so many more but this is the big one: YOU ARE ACCEPTED!

It hurts being made fun of. It hurts feeling rejected by your peers. It hurts feeling rejected by your family. It hurts feeling as if no one will love you for you! Good news! Today you no longer have to fear because you have the ability to be accepted by Christ! Romans 15:7 “Receive one another, then, just as Christ also received you, to God’s glory.” Don’t fear rejection of the world because you are accepted by Christ!

 

I pray that one of these points, if not all of these hit home with you! I pray today that as you read this you would be reminded of what really matters and that is, what He says about you! I pray today that if you have lost someone from suicide or a contemplating suicide that you would experience the arms of Christ! A place where forgiveness is offered, a place where love is unconditional & a place where you are wanted just as you. I don’t know why you feel the way you do, only God knows what you have been through. Understand this, He knows your hurt and your pain. That doesn’t scare him off though, it actually pulls Him closer. Run into his arms today and I promise you life will have a new purpose! You are known, you matter, and you are loved!

“His name is love and your name is beloved!”



(Why do we doubt God? Part II--Man Made Expectation **4/2/19)
Good Morning? Good Afternoon? Good Evening?
            I am not sure what time of day it is when you are reading this, therefore, please pick whichever greeting fits your time best! As mentioned last week, the “doubting God struggle” is real! It has been an on-going battle in my life for the past 4-6 sixth months. I am a firm believer though that we do not get a test without receiving a deeper testimony. If our life becomes a mess, we are then capable of finding or receiving a message. With that being said, I want to stay on the theme of doubting God again this week.
Last week, we touched on a few points but this week I want to touch on one major point. I purposely saved this one for this week because it needs our full attention. Another reason we struggle with doubting God is because (drum roll please…) self-made expectations!

            I love my family with all my heart, and we have had so many great moments together. Some of which have been fighting, some of which have been crying, but the majority of these moments have come from laughing. One of my all time favorite Heppe moments came on Christmas morning. My mom, well for the sake of not making this too awfully long, let’s just summarize her by a shirt she used to wear; it said, “I smile because I am clueless.” Now, that we all know the legend of Lynettee Heppe we can get started. Mom did not believe in using gift tags on any of the presents. Mom would just pick the present up and inspect it and then jiggle it around and then after much anticipation she would announce who she THOUGHT that present belonged too. Well, this year just happened to be the year the XBOX 360 came out. Kalani, my 6 foot 5 inch tall, 330 pound ALL-ACC offensive lineman brother was home from college for Christmas break. All Kalani wanted for Christmas that year was an XBOX 360 to take back to college with him.

            The scene is well set now, we are all sitting in our pajamas with the fire place on, half asleep anxiously awaiting what Santa brought us. Mom goes through her whole routine of whose present she thought was whose. She handed Kalani a box that looked so promising! But, in our house we were told what order we got to open our presents in. Of course, being so excited and anxious about his gift Kalani is told he has to open his last. Finally, the big moment arrives. Kalani has become like a rather large toddler out of excitement for his final gift. Kalani takes one big grab and rips the wrapping paper off.  His face goes from looking like little Cindy Lou Who to the Grinches in a matter of seconds. The room goes dead silent and then my mom (who was notorious for laughing at the wrong moments) begins to die laughing. She goes “baby is that not your present?” Kalani replies “I am assuming not mom”.  He turns the box around to show us that it is a nice cooking set! And to make matters worse, it was not even his cooking set to take back to college with him, it was for dad!

            Now, before you end up feeling bad for Kalani. Mom did feel so awful that she did end up getting him one before he left to go back to college (guess that is the beauty of having a birthday two days after Christmas). However, the expectations that were set that morning for Kalani majorly ruined that little guys Christmas.
I am afraid too many of us are going to experience that type of morning in our own lives if we do not let go of expectations. Expectation is defined as “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.” We set expectations all the time; for our spouse, for our job, for our schooling, for our leaders, for our food service when we eat out, vacations, etc. Then, when our expectations do not get met…we are crushed.

           Think of the Jews for example, they spent hundreds of years creating their own Messiah. They knew from Old Testament prophecies that He was coming. However, after years of expectations they completely missed the boat. They thought He would be born from a level of royalty, they thought He was coming for them and them alone, they thought He would overthrow their enemies, and much more. But then He comes. He comes from a teenage virgin born in a manger. He came for all people, and to ultimately be the final sacrifice for our sins. I often make fun of the Jewish culture for missing out on the Messiah when He was walking right before their eyes. But can you really blame them? They spent over 500 years creating expectations and then Jesus comes in that fashion! We go two weeks in our culture creating expectations and then when they are just a little off, we are devastated! Don’t believe me? Ask someone about their March Madness bracket. They had high hopes for their bracket this year but then the “David” of the tournament showed up to take out the “Goliath.”

             Look at what expectations you have in your own life today. If Jesus was to be walking around today, like He was then, would it cause you to miss out on Him? Man made expectations will do nothing more than cause further separation from God. Isaiah 55:8 says this “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.” The people of Israel were not the brightest, they tried to act as if they knew what God was thinking and planning. But God drops the mic on them! He is like, “Look homies, my knowledge and my wisdom are far greater than any of y’alls.” Unfortunately, we are not much brighter than the Israelites. We are still trying to get God to fit into our mold—we are still wanting Him to follow us, as opposed to us following Him. We have to learn to stop trying to get God to fit our plans and strive to fit into his plans!

              J.D. Greear in his book “Not God Enough” says this “A God we can predict, instruct, and control is not a God who will captivate our affections or command our devotion. Because we have made him small enough to be understood, he is no longer big enough to be worshipped. This is the kind of God whose greatness we crave, whose presence makes us want to both draw close and run away. This is the kind of God we find speaking to us in the Bible.” If we really want to serve a bigger than big God, then we cannot limit Him. When we limit God and tie Him up, it is literally like having a Ferrari on a beautiful day and no speed limits and saying “no thank you, think I am going to keep her in the garage today.” No, you are not! You are going to take that puppy out! Let God be God and get out of his way! His resume is flawless. Ours is far from it!

             Earlier I said, “man-made expectations will do nothing more than cause further separation from God.” I still stand by that but I want to throw a curve-ball. Not all expectations are bad! Those expectations can be identified as “God made expectations.” All throughout the Bible we read of promises that God makes, we should expect those. However, we should not expect when they will come, how they will come, or why they will come. In Joshua 23:14 we read “You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.” We can most certainly expect for God to show up and show out. But do not expect Him to do it on your time frame. Ask Mary and Martha how that worked for them! When their brother, Lazarus, died. Two days later Jesus has the audacity to show up and they remind Him (John 11:21) if He would have been there Lazarus would not have died. Once again, something about pressure makes God’s glory shine brighter.

             All throughout the Bible we read of man-made expectations and then we read what happens when God’s shows up.  There is always a huge difference and God’s way is always better! Someone once said, “Faith expects from God what is beyond all expectation”.  I just got back from visiting my family in Texas and while I was there my uncle gave me a bracelet that says “God can do anything.” Everyday I wear that bracelet for a reminder, that no matter my circumstance He will get the last laugh. That reminder comes from Ephesians 3:20 “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!” Whatever it is you are going through today, give it to God. Don’t give it to the expectations of the world. God will show up and He will show out. However, He is rarely early and He is never late…He is always just on time. When we surrender to the will of God, we are acknowledging His time schedule and not ours. His ways are higher than our ways! If God only met our expectations, then He would not be big enough to be worshipped. If we could get God to change His mind to fit our plans, then He would not be omniscient. I will promise you this; if you give God a chance you might end up loving Him or you might end up hating Him but guaranteed you will not be bored!

            Today, let me encourage you to not make the same mistake the Jewish Culture did over 2000 years ago. Don’t let your expectations ruin “your Christmas morning.”  Your expectations might not be awaiting fulfillment of an Old Testament Prophecy or an XBOX 360 on Christmas morning. Whatever expectations you have flooding your heart today, give them to God. We cannot add a single hour onto our life by worrying, therefore, why not just put them into the hands of the one who made you. I’ve learned over the past few months that when we doubt a situation, we are not really doubting that situation, but rather we are doubting an omnipotent God. Do not let your Earthly expectation keep you from getting in on the far greater plan God has for your life!

            Remember that today your head might be barely above the water, the clouds may be very gray, but “If God is for you (and He is!), then who can be against”?  Don’t let Satan use your man-made expectations to make you drown today!

Romans 8:32 “32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

Why Do We Doubt God? (03/18/19)

As I sit at my desk this morning on my first day back from vacation and drink my pot of coffee (yes, I need a whole pot… the vacation
exhaustion
is real), I cannot get this topic off of my mind.  For the past four or five months I have struggled with this very topic. Not why do we doubt but doubting God myself. It seems like God is there when it is convenient for Him.  It seems like the world, especially our country, is going to hell in a handbasket, fast. It seems like God has given up on me, it seems like He has given up on us.  In a few weeks, I am preaching a sermon on this very topic but apparently being the last church to the local restaurants is highly frowned upon! Therefore, I wanted to take “the leftovers” from the sermon and write about it. I heard a song a few weeks ago by Sidewalk Prophets called “Save My Life.” During the song these lyrics showed up,

“I’m the pastor at your church
For all these years you’ve listened to my words
You think I know all the answers

But I’ve got doubts and questions too
Behind this smile I’m really just like you
Afraid and tired and insecure

If you look me right in the eye
Would you see the real me inside”

It dawned on me that as a Pastor it is ok to have doubts, it is ok to be afraid, and it is absolutely ok to be insecure. God did not call me to be God himself.  He called me to be His Servant.

What does that have to do with the topic at hand? It made me realize that if the person who literally gets paid to study the Bible is having these doubts, then what is Satan doing to the person who never studies their Bible?  My prayer while you read this is that God would speak to you today in a mighty way.  That He would help take your doubts, insecurities, and failures and completely renew your life today.

I heard a quote last week and it is so true: “When people say ‘I do not believe God exists, I do not believe God is real.’ Here is what they are really saying: ‘My problem is not with his existence; my problem is with his absence.”  So, you doubt God? Congratulations, you are in good company!  Throughout the Bible we read all about people who doubted God. They never doubted His existence, they were troubled by his absence. Today, we are going to look at two points on why we doubt and one on why we should trust!

1.      We doubt because “He didn’t show up.”

What have you prayed for and God just did not show up? Just seemed like He did not help, did not seem like He cared at all! I can remember when my mom, at 8 years old, set me down on our old rugged couch and said, “Baby, mom’s got breast cancer.”  I can remember every time I prayed publicly for the next 5 years my prayer was this “Dear God, I pray that you would touch my mom from the top of hear head to the bottom of her feet and rebuke any cancer cell that tries to invade her body or spread throughout her body, Amen.”  I prayed that prayer whether it was before dinner, before bed, on the way to school, before a football game, etc.  My mind was literally programmed to pray that prayer under any circumstance. As a Pastor’s kid it was not out of the ordinary to go out to dinner with other families and sometimes, they would look at me like “that is the same exact prayer as last time” or “what did that have to do with this cheeseburger I am about to eat?”  But the harsh reality was the cancer spread and I lost my mom.  Did that lead me to question God? Absolutely!  Where are you God!  Your word says have child like faith and you ignored the prayers of a child?  Some God you are!  July 6th, 2019 will be the 10th anniversary of losing my mom and here is what I’ve learned.  I have no idea why God did not save my mom and why He did not “answer” those prayers.  But I do know this: God is Good! C.S. Lewis said this “In heaven the door we have been knocking on our entire lives will finally be opened.”  That door of rebuking cancer, will finally be opened and my mom will be cancer free!

My question for you this morning is this: What door are you longing to see opened? The Psalmist in Psalm 71:14 says this: “As for me, I will always have hope, I will praise you more and more!”  Take heart today that some doors for some reason will never be opened here on Earth but our hope is not on Earth!  Someday, you will see those doors opened! Someday, you will experience a place with no more sorrow, no more pain, and no more tears! 2 Corinthians 4:7 says this: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” Normally not a fan of the Message translation but I love this version (same verse) “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.”  Reminder this is Paul writing this, who prayed numerous times “God remove this thorn from my side.” Paul may have felt that God was not showing up but it didn’t make him go back to being Saul. Instead it inspired Him to remember that this life, this pain, is just light and momentary but it does not compare to the glory that is soon to come forever!

If you are thinking “Paul doesn’t know me.  He hasn’t experienced God’s absence like I have!”, I’d be careful what you wish for.  We are talking about a man who was whipped 39 times, 3 times beaten with rods, lived though at stoning, experienced three shipwrecks, was stranded in the ocean, endangered by robbers, by his own countrymen, gentiles, was starved, was cold & naked, and finally imprisoned.  Yeah, I’d take your problems and mine before I’d take that!

2.      I’m too broken for God to fix me

What does you or me, being broken, have to do with God? Actually, it has a lot to do with it! We think we are so broken that God cannot fix us…Well guess what? That is doubting God!

 We often hear the expression “Let God be your GPS.” Yes, let Him guide your steps. But in this instance He is way more than a GPS. When you are lost, your destination does not find you. You have to find it. God does not want you to  delay finding Him when you are lost to get to a certain standard, He wants to come to you as you are! Now, to be clear we need to earnestly seek Him and pursue Him daily. God is a relational based God and just like any relationship you need to pursue them for it to be strong. In this instance, I am referring to your brokenness and hurts. He wants to come to you right where you are today, your brokenness and all! He does not want a fake you,  He wants the real you!   I am no theologian but when I read the story of Jesus coming out of the grave there is no mention of scabs and brokenness.  We read that His wounds are healed and scarred over!  By those very wounds, we are healed!  By those very wounds, we have hope!

What hurt do you have today that you are refusing to give to God?  It is our human nature to fear rejection. Therefore, we fear God will reject us because of hurts, so we reject Him first.  Not my God.  Matthew 11:28 says: “Come to me, ALL you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  It does not say “Come to me those who are healed.”  It does not say “Come to me those are have life together.”  It says ALL!  This is why Christians get labeled as hypocrites. We have taken that verse and twisted it to make our church a group of social elites.  Ladies and Gentleman, Jesus was best friends with a prostitute, fishermen, and tax collectors. If your church does not represent “ALL” then shame on you!  I promise you if you give God your brokenness, He will return it **ON HIS TIMING** in an image better than you could ever create! He wants you just as you are!

 

3.      The good news! Why we shouldn’t doubt God!

If you have never read Romans 8 take time and read it!  It is commonly referred to as “The great eight” (sorry caps fans that title does not belong to Ovechkin).  The theme of it is “If God is for you, then who can be against you”?! If you really believe that then you will not give up, even when you are doubting what God is doing. You will not stop just because you are in the season of doubt, instead you will endure! How do I know this? Because Romans 8:32 says this “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” What is that saying? If one “big thing” is true, then doesn’t it follow that the little things will also be taken care of?  If He gave what was most valuable to you doesn’t it mean that He is also going to take care of everything else?  Stop looking at your circumstances for evidence of God is with you and start looking at the Cross for evidence…because He is with you!  Romans 8:35 & 37-38 (39) “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?”… (37-39) No, in ALL these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Victory is won!! We are looking at our current situations, our immediate circumstances and determining God’s love for us in the moment.  Victory is already won.  We are not fighting for Victory.  We are fighting from a position of  victory which has already happened.  The opposition cannot stop you!  He can knock you down, but he cannot knock you out!  Don’t give up on God because He hasn’t given up on you!