Thursday, May 5, 2016

Rejection Is A Lie from the Enemy

     Going through elementary and well into middle school, I dealt with a lot of rejection. I wore glasses. I had hearing aids. I smelled like cigarette smoke. I was this; I was that. In the midst of it all, I felt the only way to overcome this time in my life was to become somebody I wasn't. I would act a certain way to get people's attention; manipulate people into feeling bad for me therefore letting me get my way. I played the system when it came to people.
     Very recently, the ugly face of rejection showed up in my life again. Although I don't want to talk about the situation, I was reminded how easy it is for me to give in to rejection. For example, I used to feel instantly rejected when I saw pictures of my friends out and about having fun, yet I had never received an invite. I used to feel rejected when people would completely skip over me to ask someone else to complete a task. I used to feel rejected when someone would get promoted before me, although I had been there twice as long as they have.
     Rejection is a lie from the enemy. It's an easy way for the enemy to let us know that we'll never amount to anything. Rejection is my worst enemy. My whole life I always wanted to know my life was worth something, and many times, I tried to find that worth in people, materialistic things, and habitual lust. I always came out empty.
     Recently, I started reading "Battlefield of the Mind" by Joyce Meyer. In reading it, I felt instantly convicted in letting rejection have the best of my days. Joyce emphasizes many times to choose to think positive thoughts about every situation. Instead of feeling bad for yourself or feeling rejected, think about all of the experiences in your life where you've been celebrated, loved, and lifted up. In my own life, I shouldn't look at a picture of my friends having fun without me, and feel left out; I should think about the time my friends threw a "just because" party to honor me. I shouldn't focus on that co-worker getting a promotion; I should focus on the blessing of having a job.
     Let me encourage you if rejection is something you're currently dealing with. I don't want to sound too religious or cliché when I say this, but - ultimately - when it is all said and done, Jesus is all you'll ever need. People cannot define you. Materialistic things cannot find you. Habitual sin, though may be a temporary fix, cannot define you. You are who Jesus says you are; and He says you're His own.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

O Come to the Altar

Before the wheels left the ground in Birmingham, Alabama, I was already being tested in my faith. It was already a giant leap of faith flying to St. Louis on a one way ticket. I'm thankful that I've gotten this far, too. But, the test began when I was asked a very "controversial" question.

While I was sitting on the plane, I got to know the man beside me. He was an elderly man, flying to Texas to bring home his son from the war. What an honor to hear his story. He asked me what I was going to St. Louis for, and I told him I was moving there to be apart of the Joyce Meyer Ministry, serving at the St. Louis Dream Center in inner-city STL. There was a guy a few rows in front of me who turned around and got my attention. He asked me "What do you think about all of the controversy going on in Ferguson? And, how do you respond when someone ask for your opinion?" With the whole Ferguson situation still fresh on peoples' minds, I knew he was just trying to stir the pot.

My response to him made him mad because I decided to speak out of truth and love. I told that man what my Pastor back at home always said: "The greatest opinion to have is to not have one at all." My job is to love people right where they are. It doesn't matter what color there skin is or what there sexual orientation is. I don't get to have an opinion.

With all of this being said, I entitled this post as "O Come to the Alter." My heart is conflicted knowing there are people - like the guy I encountered on the plane - who only want to point out what the issues or situations are. We can be so occupied with circumstances that we: 1. Miss what God is trying to show us. 2. Get in the way of what God is trying to do in our lives. 3. Stone someone because of their sin not knowing we're just as sinful.

We look at people and think "I'm bad, but I'm not THAT bad." May I submit to you that we ALL have sinned, and are need of a Savior. It doesn't matter what theology you follow. It doesn't matter what denomination you attend. Jesus wants us to ALL come to the altar.

In the song "O Come to the Altar," there is a lyric that says:
"Leave behind your regrets and mistakes
Come today there's no reason to
wait
Jesus is calling
Bring your sorrows and trade them for joy
From the ashes a new life is born
Jesus is calling"
I truly believe this is what Jesus wants for you. So when someone ask you a controversial question, respond with love, and watch the steam flare from their ears. "Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that."

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Moving to St. Louis

Moving to St. Louis has probably been the biggest thing to ever happen in my own life. It signified a lot of things for me. I would (really) be on my own now. I would be eight hours away from home. I would be in a new environment where I barely knew anyone. The only people I would know were the few I met while here on a mission trip two months ago.

Where it began:
I came to St. Louis in March 2015, and honestly, I had no prior decision to move at that time. Back in Tuscaloosa, I had a job, I had a car, I had money. It's not to say that I regret anything because I don't have any of that now; but, it goes to say that I was pretty comfortable with my life back in Tuscaloosa. So, we spend a week in St. Louis, and I just fell in love with this place.

One night, during street ministry, we visited a place known here as Tent City. I spent the next 45 minutes chatting with a man named Chad. I would say that conversation is what convinced me that I would be moving to St. Louis. I told the team leaders later on that night that I wanted to go back to Tent City because I felt I had missed something that God was trying to show me. We were not able to make it back due to our schedule, but God gave me a revelation in that. Maybe God didn't want the team to go back; maybe God wanted only me to go back. And, it would make sense since I was the only one God called back to St. Louis.

In 2012, I had the incredible opportunity to visit both the Los Angeles and New York Dream Center. They were both remarkable opportunities, and the impact was great. After both of those trips, I felt compelled to return; yet, God would always close those doors. It's like He had something better for me. And, rightfully so. Because it led me to St. Louis, the perfect medium (literally geographically). God's timing is perfect. He knows what He is doing.

Where I am now:
I've been in St. Louis now for two and a half weeks. When I got off the plane, I took one look at my surroundings, and I asked myself "What in the world am I doing?" It's not that I doubted myself. I have full confidence that this is where God wants me. But, it reaffirmed why I came back.

This city has been a huge blessing to me. The love and support I have received since getting here has been overwhelming. I have the most incredible opportunity to serve in youth ministry again, which has always been a huge passion of mine, and that youth has shown me great hospitality. I'm working with mission teams, too, so that I can sow back into what brought me to St. Louis in the beginning. And, I'm working with the Street Ministry so I can be apart what had a major impact on my life. So, God has blessed me tremendously to be apart of these teams.

The interns have been equally hospitable. They have helped me out and have shown me so much since I've been here. They have encouraged me, kept me laughing, and accepted me like I had been here for years. I truly feel welcomed in St. Louis.

If I could just encourage anyone about the impact mission trips can have on you, I would say just go for it. Take a week, step out of your comfort zone, and experience God like you've never experienced before. And, you will experience Him. The prayers you pray due to discomfort, stress, or even homesickness, will show you how powerful God is. You will feel Him closer more than ever before.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Finding Where I Belong

     It was December of 2012; I had just gotten back from a mission trip to Los Angeles. In the back of my mind, I knew I had it coming. My father had sat down with me many times and told me that if I did not get my priorities straight, I could be homeless. I was working as a server where tips were bare minimum, and my paychecks were never above $5.00. My car was in and out of shops and I was hitching rides everywhere I was going. It finally came down to the point where my father- showing the tough love of a father- told me it was time for me to move forward. And, I'm so glad he gave me that push. It served as a motivation and put me in the position I am in now.

     From there, I moved back in with my mom. I lived with her for about a month or so when I got the offer to have a place of my own. A friend that I had confided in reached out and told me he would allow me to stay in his camper; fully furnished with power. He knew I was trying to get my finances situated, so at that moment, told me to do what I could do to help out with the running of the camper. I took it for granted, and ultimately had to move out of the camper. I was truly blessed to have spent nine months living there. I tell you one thing, though; surviving thunderstorms in that camper surely was interesting.

     After I moved from the camper, my dad gave me the opportunity to move back in with him, only with the exception that I was actively searching for a place of my own. There had been plans with my brothers to rent out a house, but those plans fell through. Reality was becoming brutal; I was going to be homeless. That was until my aunt gave me the chance to stay with her. I spent the last three holidays of 2013 with my aunt and her family. After those three months, I knew I needed to try this whole "find my own place" once again. Don't get me wrong, I LOVED living with my aunt. But, as a 23 year old, it wasn't settling well with my pride. So, I set out to sign my first ever lease at an apartment complex.

     January 2014; I have moved into my first apartment with three other roommates (one whom I've done ministry work with for years). For the next five months, I would struggle a schedule working two jobs, and trying to find a way to pay for my room monthly, as well as a new car payment that came up due to my previous car finally biting the dust. I was making enough money to maintain my living, but I was irresponsible in my spending. Any chance I got, I was splurging on anything and everything unnecessary. It finally took it's toll on me when in May, I tried to end my life. There were many other things that were reasons for this, but finances were one of the main things. I just could not catch a break. So, a week and a half later, I moved into a house where a friend of mine graciously gave me a room.

     June 2014; I'm laying in a bed in a house that's only about five years old. From the houses I've lived in before, nothing compared to the house I was living in now. I had a flashback from when I was a kid, riding around Buttermilk Road at Christmas time, and seeing Woodland Forrest's brick wall, thinking "I'm going to live there one day." And, it became my reality.

     While this is probably the longest blog I've posted, I say it all to say this; I am finding where I belong. It has taken a year of being on my own- completely away from any family- to realize where I belong. It hurts not to be under the same roof as my mom or dad, but there comes a moment in life where you have to move forward. Granted, it took me a few more years than most, but I wouldn't be where I am today if I didn't have parents who believed in me and pushed me to be the best person I could be. Yes, I still struggle financially. Yes, I am homesick. Yes, I am only human. But, in this experience, I have realized that every stressful moment was a moment taken from God. It was a moment where I realized that joy was there all along; I just had to take hold of it.

     Never give up. God isn't done with you. It may take you a year to find out who you are and what you are doing with your life, but in the end, it's worth it.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Understanding is Actions to Help

     I would like to preface this whole article by saying that pain is universal. We all have our own source of what we call "pain." It's foolishness to say "I've been through more than you" when you've never walked a mile in their shoes. Keep that in mind as you read this.     
     Today is my birthday, and I want to take this opportunity to shed a light on something that is very close to my heart. Until five months ago, I never thought I would be the victim of something that is becoming a common thread in this day and age. This is suicide.

     "For young people 15-24 years old, suicide is the second leading cause of death."

     May 9th, 2014, I found myself in a very scary place. If it wasn't one thing, it was another, and I could not catch a break. It's too much to go into detail, but at that point in my life, I was done. I had just got home from work, and was sitting in my apartment will some sleeping pills in my hand. I fought with myself going through every scenario in my mind. I didn't know what to do. I had been completely overtaken by some spirit, and I could not break free. My mindset was "if I could just go to sleep for a long time, maybe all of these problems I've been having will disappear." Before I could fight any longer, I remember putting the pills in my mouth, and swallowing all of them. Out of complete fear, I called the paramedics almost immediately.
     I spent that night in the ICU after a series of test and stomach pumps, and had the whole night to completely rethink my life. The most mortifying thing that happened was having to see my Mom and Dad see me the way they did. It was a look I will never forget.

     I bring this up because suicide attempts are becoming more and more every year. The statistics are staggering. I found hope in a Man named Jesus over a decade ago, and I still found myself in a position where I could have ended my life. Had I not acted quickly, and had I survived even after not calling the ambulance, I could be on dialysis for the rest of my life. That's how much my dosage was. "Ah, that's not a lot." For me, it was. It was enough for me to feel like I didn't want to live anymore.

     If you are depressed and feel like there is no hope, talk to somebody. You don't have to fight this fight alone. I am so thankful for two incredible men of God (and my family) who stood by me and fought for me in that time. Even after a suicide attempt, I was so ashamed to show my face to anyone; but the LORD put a new Word on my lips, and I've been on fire ever since. God is greater than suicide. I pray and hope this helps somebody to speak out about their demons. God bless!

For more information and statistics on suicide, visit: http://www.save.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewPage&page_id=705D5DF4-055B-F1EC-3F66462866FCB4E6

Knowing is understanding, and understanding is actions to helping.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Would Jesus listen to secular music?

     As I type this, I'm listening to the extremely secular song "We Can't Stop," (a cover version by Hobbie Stuart; check it out), and I can't help but to think about all the people who would criticize me just for listening to a song that would mention such reckless behavior. May I add that I don't listen to music to hear a message (unless it's Christian music, of course). But, there are other things that can appeal to the ear. Perhaps it's the singer's voice. Or, maybe it's the beat of the song (which is why I love EDM music). Perhaps I'm rambling, but this is why I ask myself "Would Jesus listen to secular music?"

     In a world where secular music promotes about everything evil in the world, there can still be good in each song. I recently read a post about a pastor in New York who plays secular music in their services because it draws the crowd who may not show up if a hymnal is being played on the church's organ. Not bashing traditional church services, but in this time and age, that isn't working. I'm not promoting contemporary worship either, but this is all beside the point. The point is in all things meant for evil, God can take it and make it good.

     When Jesus roamed the earth, He didn't walk around with a "holier than thou" attitude, even though He had every right to. He was the King of Kings. P. Diddy who? He's the Big Daddy Himself! He's usual crowds consisted of prostitutes, thieves, tax collectors (and in those days, they were HATEDDDD). He even surrounded Himself by lepers. Lord knows in those days, a GOOD Jewish man would never go near a leper less he lose his reputation and great name. But, none of that bothered Jesus. I can see Him sitting around, singing psalms with His disciples. And, I could definitely see Jesus sitting around with the sinners listening to whatever they had back in that day. I don't know, maybe pots and pans? Who knows?

     Here's the point; we are so caught up in Western religion that we forget what Jesus really stands for. If you weigh what He preached on a scale, the "don't" would outweigh the "do." His commandments were simple: Love God. Love people. That's it.

     I can already feel the comments stirring: "Do not conform to the world." And, you're right! Do NOT conform to the world. "What does a man profit if he gains the world yet loses his soul?" I know all those verses, so save it. But, Jesus ALSO says something else: "It's not what goes into the body that defiles the body; it's what comes out" (paraphrased: Matthew 15:11). With that verse, I rest in knowing that although Jesus would probably shiver at what He hears in today's music industry, He would find some way to make it into something good.

     Sorry for the random ramble. Thoughts and comments are welcomed!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Los Angeles: Round Two

Los Angeles, California


     In December of 2012, I was blessed with the opportunity to fly to Los Angeles, California to serve at the Dream Center. It was truly an experience I will never forget. I still dream of all the people I met, and I can still hear the sounds of Skid Row at night.

Skid Row, Los Angeles, California
     Well, the opportunity has come, once again, for me to serve at the Dream Center, and I'm incredibly excited. Like before, our team will serve the people of Los Angeles, Skid Row, and numerous other surrounding areas. Some of the things we will be doing will be serving on a food truck where we will pass out food; passing out clothes and food to those who cannot make it to the Dream Center; praying with people; passing out food, clothes, and other necessities on the streets of Skid Row; the need in Los Angeles is great, so there's really not a limit on what all we'll be doing while we are there.

     This letter serves two purposes:
  • One: Your prayers are not only wanted; they are definitely needed. If the Holy Spirit doesn't go before me, I don't think I would go either. You can pray for myself, the team I'll be going with (Church of the Highlands), for the city of Los Angeles, and for God's will be done in this mission.
  • Two: Donations are very welcomed. This letter serves as a support letter to welcome you into what God is doing. I pray that you do not give out of impulse; Pray first, and then give whatever God shows you. I can't promise you'll gain financial bliss or prosperity. But, what I can promise is that every dime goes to serve a purpose; and that is to touch one more life for the purpose of Christ. If you would like to donate, you can by going to www.churchofthehighlands.com/missions/give. Fill out the necessary information, and then "Submit." To give directly to my account, click on "Trip to Donate to," and choose "LA Dream Center - August - 8/25/2014." Once you've done that, my name will appear in the next drop down box. If you have any questions regarding how to give, please email me at cbadgwell@gmail.com.
Los Angeles Dream Center
     Los Angeles has a very special place in my heart. It's a city so captivated by this culture we live in today. All they want to know is if someone still cares enough to help them out. Pastor Matthew Barnett (the founder of the Dream Center) has built his ministry around a simple quote: "Find a need and fill it; find a hurt and heal it." And, that is what our team will be able to do.

     Thank you so much for reading this. If you have any questions regarding the Dream Center, check out their website: dreamcenter.org. Or, if you have any questions regarding the trip, please feel free to email me at cbadgwell@gmail.com. Once again, thank you, and God bless.

Attached is just a small testimony from a few people who have went through and who serve the Dream Center.