Month: June 2014

Change or Not So Much? Oh! & It’s Okay to be Nice

There is a false belief in the Christian community that I used to believe. “God doesn’t want to change you; He wants to enhance you.” → something to that extent anyway. The more I have grown, the more I have understood this not be true.

Over and over, Scripture tells of God transforming us, our minds, our hearts, and desires. The primary tell of a convert is the change internally and externally, from the way we speak (not only cussing but speaking negatively), how we treat others, how we view ourselves (pride, worthless), how we view [our] sin, how we minister, our desires, our will, how we think, how we react, our emotions, how we walk, how we dress, how we take care of our bodies, what we do to our bodies, even our personality. When Jesus comes into our lives, he is not looking to do a tweek here and there, he desires to do a total remodeling. As CS Lewis and Elisabeth Elliott described, it’s not until we fully surrender and submit to the Lordship of our Creator, that we are able to be who we were meant to be.

Granted, there are definitely [unique] things about us that will guide and give a glimpse as to how the Lord wants to use in fulfilling His purpose for our lives, but God can’t use us in the magnitude He desires until we give Him all of ourselves, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and let Him break us, shake us, mold us, and make us into the individuals He crafted and destined us to be. How can we know what was set in place for us way back in eternity past without consulting with the One who created us in His very image? And the beautiful thing about it, He is so amazingly utterly creative that His purpose is not for us to be all the same or be bland, mundane or robotic; He created us like different snowflakes, no one else past, present, or future is like us, each with our own beauty and uniqueness.

The more we get to know Him, the more we get to know ourselves. As we are ourselves for a purpose, the more able we are to fulfill the awesome purpose He has for us, the more the world will yearn for the God in us, and the more satisfied we will be.

One side note: I hear a lot of people say, “I’m going to stop being nice to everyone. People are taking my kindness for a weakness,” or some similar wording to the same thinking. For starters to be honest, and this is something I had to learn, that is being selfish. As the Holy Spirit truly leads us, we should give without pause, and giving by no means is a sign of weakness. Of course wisdom and discernment are important as well. And if I dare say, those people that are “taking advantage,” in many cases are not the people we need to associate ourselves with, but we settle and for one reason or another keep people in our lives that God has tried to remove. We many times put ourselves in undesirable situations, because God’s intent is not to hurt us, make us look stupid or foolish. Accordingly, this is another part of the change the Lord seeks to do, burning bridges with those that have no help and or hinder us in fulfilling our purpose.

Kindness and gentleness is a fruit of the spirit, generosity is a gift, and meekness is associated with being blessed and or happy. Loving despite the opposition and the lack of reciprocation, shows strength, humility, and courage. Jesus was the epitome of them all, and look where he ended up, on a cross. So why should we think just because we are nice to even the most demanding people, people will always respond favorably? On the other hand, to stop being “nice” because of what another person does to you, shows the power someone has over you. Furthermore, we will be held accountable for what we do, not for what others do to us, no matter what it is they say or do.

To be you for a purpose is taking responsibility for your own actions and words, not putting the blame on others. This in turn actually frees us from the bondage of bitterness, anger, depression, and hatred, because we have control over how we choose to respond, without basing it on what others do.

Be you for a purpose, which may mean a change, remembering that it’s okay to be nice, I promise.

Advertisements

Creosote

The story of the burning bush is another fascinating story. Though I have heard it a million plus one times before, this last time I heard it, the Lord revived my senses so I was able to gather something fresh from it.

Most of the attention goes to Moses, but I want to focus on the bush itself. I was looking it up and there are varying ideas of what kind of bush it was in the desert, anything from a rubus sanctus, an acacia, or a creosote. Nonetheless, based on how I perceived what the bush would have looked like for it to have the significance it had, the creosote looks the most plausible, but again I am not certain. But, for my sake, let’s just say it is. ☺

creosoteb2This bush I doubt was a large or full as some other types suggest. I believed it was short-standing and not so heavy, and though it had its own beauty, there was nothing marvelous, extraordinary, or exceptional about it, just like the creosote. But like the donkey, that is the shrub that God decided to use to initiate His mightily awesome plan. The bush was being all that is was created to be, a bush, no more no less. I can only imagine that being in the desert, it didn’t have much company, but still it blossomed in the desert and God had a plan for it.

In the same way, we may be so far from others and feel alone; we may feel small or insignificant, or useless, like the shrub, yet God still has a marvelous plan for your life. Even if you are on the backside of the desert, know that God still sees you and knows exactly where you are. He is growing you and maturing you and allowing you to bud before He makes His move. The point again is just be who God created you to be and trust that He designed and structured and placed you perfectly to set up His plan, so that you can be used by Him to usher in and show His power and glory.

The not so warm and fuzzy part, the bush was set on fire. It is how we respond to the fires in our life that God’s glory is revealed. Will we refuse it? Will we try our best to blow it out? Will be go jump in the lake for a momentary fix? Or will we let God have his way? I began to think that if we decide to fight the fire, the more we do, the more likely we are to get burned. Think of the Hebrew boys, they accepted the fire rather than try to escape it, and as a result, they walked out without the smell, a burn, or a singed neck hair.

The other thought is that, faithfully being who God has you to be and remaining where He has you to be no matter how undesirable it may be, sooner or later the Lord will set you ablaze from within, and you will be a world changing phenom that just shifts the atmosphere whenever you walk into the room; you will be a sure pit fireball.

I don’t know when that burning bush experience will be for you, that time when the Lord will use you in such ways that you can never comprehend or make any type of rational sense. Like the creosote shrub, there is nothing to extraordinary about me or you that should grab people’s attention, let alone God’s, but He sees the beauty in us, and the moment He sets us on fire, that’s when the rest of the world will see it in us through His son, Jesus.

I encourage you to be you for a purpose, never doubting the beauty and power locked inside of you. Know whose you are so that you may also know who you are, being confident in whatever situation you find yourself in, but like that creosote, let yourself grow and blossom in the midst, and in due time God will reveal Himself and speak through you, and those in bondage will be set free.

The Storm Everybody Can See

jesus-calms-the-storm

Jesus calming the storm is a very familiar story in the Christian community, and if you are like me you’ve heard it preached backward and forward 2,000 different times. However, the beauty of Scripture is what Pocahontas sang “you can’t step in the same river twice,” meaning every time you read it something else is bound to grab your attention, big or small; it always keeps you guessing. This story is no different.

A sermon I heard recently referred to Mark’s account of Jesus calming the storm,  I went back over it and there was a line in his description that struck me and I had never noticed it before in any of the other accounts and wasn’t expounded on in the sermon. In verse 36 of chapter 4, you will find this detail, “There were also other boats with him.”

You know what that tells me? First of all, you are not the only one going through the storm you are in right now. There are others that share you burden(s), some lighter some heavier, either way, you are not the only one. So always strive to be a light, because no matter where you are in the storm, everyone you talk to is in one of their own that the majority of the time, you will know nothing about. Furthermore, like any storm, people are scared, nervous, panicking, fearful, uncertain, doing everything in their power to survive, and truth be told, some don’t make it; they give up, wear themselves out trying to find shelter or deny it’s even happening. But you know the difference between us and the rest of the world? Jesus is in our boat. Which brings me to the main piece that I took away.

Simply put, people are watching. You are not the only boat on sea, you are not the only boat in the eye of the storm, and the faith [in Jesus] that you say you have, people are looking to see how you respond. Will you give up? Will you freak out? Will you start cussing everyone out because things aren’t going your way? Will you hide? Will you jump off the boat and leave others to fend for themselves? Though others are caught up on their own boat in their own storm, they will still be watching you to see how you are handling it, and if they see a peace in you no matter how bad the storm is, at some point they will wonder what is happening.

Now, these other boats in the story, more than likely they knew Jesus was on the boat, just as others may already know Jesus is in your boat, which puts more focus on you. The question is, when these storms come, will they see you losing your cool in the midst or will your reaction draw attention to the only one who is able to calm the waves and the wind with his very word?

I just want to encourage you, on this boat called life, there will be nasty storms that appear as though you won’t make it out alive, but you have Jesus in your boat, and that should be your strength each and every day. For it’s his words that calm the raging waters and fierce winds, and it’s still his voice that calms the anxiety, weakness, and fears in our heart, soul, spirit, and mind.

The Lord has promised to be with us wherever we go and will cover us no matter how furious the squall gets, and living on purpose, we should act as such, because people are watching us. So when it is revealed that we are in a storm, there should be no evidence of it, because our faith would be stronger than our fear (v 40). Therefore, since people are watching us in these storms, be you for a purpose, because their survival depends on what you do before Jesus even steps in.