Month: July 2014

You Know the Look

eyesIf you have learned anything from these blogs, you know that I love a good Bible story, those that seem so simple, yet have those little details that change your perspective on everything. It’s those details that make the story, which you often don’t catch until you have read it or hear it in about a thousand times over. With all that being said, let’s talk about Peter.

If you are unfamiliar with Peter, he is the outspoken disciple who Jesus had to rebuke Satan out of. Yeah, him. Needless, to say there is much that is written about him, not to mention the two books he authored in the New Testament. But there is one story, one scene I want to focus all attention. Using the account Luke gave, one of the most familiar stories surrounding Peter is that of his denial of Jesus. Long story short, Jesus previously tells Peter that he would deny him three times before the rooster crowed, and of course Peter refutes it. However, in the midst of the night, after Jesus had been arrested and facing the fury of the Sadducees and Pharisees, Peter got scared, and to his defense, for good reason, still, Jesus’ prediction came true.

However, it’s not the denial I find captivating, but something in verse 61. It states that Jesus looked straight at Peter, Whoa! Sometimes we forget the human aspect of Jesus and that he did have emotions and expressions. Therefore, can you imagine what that would look was? I remember some images I got once of Jesus smiling, and it was so endearing, because it’s not something generally associated with Christ, but it made me think that for Jesus to be true and perfect, he had to smile and laugh. It’s almost weird; I can only assume he had perfect teeth. Back to the story, you know that look, the one your Mom gives you that says, “you got a good three seconds to get your life right,” or the look from the Dad that says, “I’m disappointed in you,” or from your spouse that lets you know you are in trouble and says “I can’t believe you.” The look that is the complete opposite of smiling or pleasantry. Yeah, that look. Now imagine Jesus giving you that look of heartbreak, pain, and or upset. Can you imagine what Peter must have felt? The shame, the guilt, the sadness.

I can only think of how often I’ve heard and I’ve even said, “what would you do or how would you act if Jesus was here?” In some interpretation of that, it’s a real thought though. If Jesus saw how you were living or not living your life, what kind of look would he give you? Those things you think he doesn’t see or hear, how do you think he is looking at you. So many times, a look can say so much more than words ever could, I should know. I’ve been told I have those types of looks, those that let people know what you are think at any given moment, good or not so favorable.

It really is a mind-boggling concept though; Jesus looking straight at me in my eyes. I already tend not to look people in the eye as much as possible, because it honestly makes me uncomfortable, but I’m learning, Still, it has to be an overwhelming feeling to have Jesus, the name of Who created the universe and can hold it in the palm of his hand, looking you dead in your face after something you did. It makes you think a little bit more and be more mindful of what we do, because he is looking.

So now you  may be asking what this has to do with anything. Well, at some point, you will meet Jesus face-to-face and he will be looking you in your eyes, all his focus will be on you. The question is, what kind of look will it be? Will he be shaking his head at you? Will he look disappointed or hurt because you chose to not walk in your purpose and be all that he created and died for you to be? Or will he have the look of a proud father, speechless because his child finally made it home? Either way, he will look at you. In the mean time, how would Jesus look at you now?

Be you for a purpose so his eyes have a reason to smile when they peer at you.

Purpose Before Opinion

I think far too often many people think of God as some impersonal, unemotional being, that has no positive thoughts about humans. Thus, I tend to be amazed when I read a passage like Galatians 1:15-16.

But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being.

First of all, I just want to point out that God set us apart, before any of us even entered the world (which is a point against abortion, but I digress). God set us apart as His children and as His child. He designed us to operate in such a way that we don’t blend; we stand out; our lives preach more than our words. His idea was to use us in whatever way that fit how we were designed to show the world Jesus, in whatever way He has called us to preach.

Once we are sure and walk in who He created us to be, it pleases Him. It’s as if He feels we are finally ready to receive all that He has for us. He is pleased…with us. Being ourselves pleases Him. Hard to believe, isn’t it? He is pleased enough to use us, but the next part of the journey is being satisfied and confident in who and what He has called us to, so much in so that we don’t consider, let alone care, what anyone else has to say. There is a saying that says, “you had a purpose before anyone had an opinion.” If you keep reading Paul expands even further of who he chose not to consult or ask for approval or permission. The only thing that he was certain of was what God had called him to do, and that’s all that mattered. God said it, and that settled it.

It speaks a lot to what we often deal with today. God reveals things to us and puts things in our hearts and at times we know very specifically what He has called us to be and what He wants us to do, but we don’t trust it or care too much of what others will think of us, and it is usually because what He has for us disturbs reality and is something that is out of our norm or even comfort level. It may scare us or it may simply be something we don’t want to do (I’ve been on both sides of that fence), and when we get the opinions of others, even if they mean well, we are discouraged or persuaded to not believe or adhere to what God put in us to do.

Bottom line, let God have the final say. Believe Him and trust Him with your life. Plus, I’ve learned many times not to share my dreams or thoughts or revelations with just anyone, because they are not meant for everybody, if for no other reason, not everyone will understand, let alone support you for one reason or another. If God speaks, you don’t need anyone’s approval or validation. If He is pleased with you, you better believe that He has something incredible planned for you in a way that will glorify Christ and edify you.

Be you for a purpose, because you don’t need anyone’s permission.

Mansions: Heavenly Ghetto

heaven2

There is a question that has lingered early on in the hip-hop culture, yet it may have come up before that. The question you ask, “Is there a ghetto in Heaven?”

Now I am sure you are asking yourself, is that even a possibility, considering our connotation of ghetto versus that of heaven, but in actuality it is a legitimate question. Why or how you ask? Most people are familiar with the verse in the John that tells us that Jesus goes to prepare a place for us, but when you read it, it doesn’t say that He is preparing mansions; it only says that there are many mansions. So what?

The work we do here on Earth counts. How we live for Christ matters. You may think or have the assumption that your labor is in vain, as if you are fishing without catching a fish, let alone a sardine, but God sees you, and whether in this life or the next, He will give you all that you are due. God is watching and His angels are keeping records of every word every said and every action done, both good and bad, matter of fact both Daniel and John say that there are books about each of us open when we have to give our account of what we have done with our lives. What are they writing about you?

There is a song that says “I’m sending up my timber every day,” timber implying wood to build your heavenly residence. I think it’s safe to assume that we all desire to live in big mansion up on a hill next to the apostles or other great Christ-following leaders over the centuries when we get to Glory, which is all fine and dandy. However, Our Father who is preparing a place for us needs some material so that He has all He needs to build the mansions we desire, thus, the timber.

Our timber is simply how we live for Him. Being you for a purpose means that every opportunity you are given to send up timber; you are letting God use you as He so chooses, multiplying your strengths and efforts, and being the power, despite your weaknesses to serve Him. The material we send to Heaven is how we love others, especially those who won’t love us in return, how we treat each other and speak to and about each other, how we use the gifts and talents He has given us, how we forgive others, how we invest in our relationship with God, how we face temptations, attempting to live holy, how we give, how obedient we are to His Spirit, and how we walk in the perfect will of God. The more, we have, the bigger our residence.

Jesus is preparing a place for us, the question is what, because it didn’t say they are all mansions, only that there are many. So that left me thinking, so what else is there? Is it the possibility that those who received salvation, their down payment to break ground, because He is truly preparing a place for all of us, but because they didn’t live a life worthy of their calling (Eph 4:1), they didn’t send up enough timber, if any, God was limited by what He was able to do, and thus instead of a nice heavenly home, they received a shack?

I am convinced that not only the dwelling place, but the location to an extent, will be determined by the lives we live on this side of Glory. If that is the case, then it may be not so strange to say that Heaven has a ghetto. Of course, don’t get me wrong, making it to Heaven, even if by the skin of your teeth, even if I get a cardboard box to live in, it is infinitely greater that Hell. Furthermore, the heavenly ghetto is completely different than the ghetto as we think. I mean for starters, there is no sin, no crime, no craziness; no need to worry about the water or electricity bill, for there is no need for light since his full glory will light up the universe and there is a river of clear life water; no busted concrete streets, but rather streets of gold; no homeless people for every has a place to live, and no poverty for we will be feasting with Christ and there is a tree of life with 12 different fruits in bloom in its season. God is gracious enough to at least promise a place, no matter what, which is another example of His awesome love.

Being you for a purpose means not settling for anything less than God’s absolute best, in this life or the next. Make your life count so that you when it’s all said and done, God will personally give you something to show for it, for all the sacrifice, all the pain, all the tears, all the hurt, all the suffering, all the struggling, all the loneliness, all the frustrations, all the fight, all the effort, and all that you had to endure on your way home in Heaven, and the insane part is that mansions are just the beginning. Trust me, it will all be worth it.

Be you for a purpose and overwhelm God with all your timber in order to hear those coveted words, “Well done. Welcome home.”

 

Ephialtes

300

So, if you know me, you that one of my absolutely favorite movies of all times, though it is rated R, is 300. If you have seen it, I don’t need to explain why; if you haven’t seen it, I won’t explain, just rent it and you will understand the greatness of this movie. There are amazing and dynamic characters and so many great one-liners, and truth be told, I considered it before, but not until I last watched it that I finally was able to put thoughts together to write.

With all that being said, it is one specific character that caught my attention, whose story reflects what I attempt to share as I write. Ephialtes. He was a deformed Spartan whose hearts desire was to fight like his father, however when he approached King Leonidas, Leonidas respectfully denied, yet gave him another option to aid in the battle for freedom, which Ephialtes did not like. Thus, he betrayed his allegiance and long story short went to the enemy’s camp, Xerxes, god-king of Persia, to get the “honor” he wanted.

It made me think, so often we have in mind what we want to do solely on the culture around us; we want to fit in. However, God tells us no, we get upset, frustrated, and tend to do stupid things. However, like Leonidas, God will tell us or show us where how He can best use us, highlighting our strengths, but because sometimes it is too “small of a task” we take things into our own hands, we don’t like the background, we want to be in the front. The problem is that these “big tasks” can’t function, let alone succeed without those behind the scenes, those bandaging the wounded and giving them water or collecting dead bodies. Just like a body, every enzyme not seen with the naked eye is significant, and without it we would falter gravely. Ephialtes was blinded to this by his pride. As a result, he did the worse possible thing.

He went to Xerxes, asking for the same thing as Leonidas, and like Satan, Xerxes played to his pleasures and stroked his ego, and all he had to do was kneel, the exact same way that Devil tempted Jesus. This kneeling was not out of reverence or love, but of greed, arrogance, and manipulation. The Devil comes the same way, as an angel of light, appealing to our desires and pride, but it is not in God’s will or timing, thus we need to run far from it. Like Xerxes, the only thing Satan has in mind is destruction, giving in to those temptations is what damages our relationship with God, families, reputation, honor, and testimony. The problem is that we want when we want it how we want it.

If you look back in the conversation Ephialtes had with King Leonidas, you notice that he asked him to stand. That is so profound to me, because God has called us to stand, to be strong in Him and confident to face whatever Hell has to throw at us, trusting in His power and love, His mercy and grace, His provision and protection. Kneeling before Him and worship is a given, but it’s a choice we make on our own; those under Leonidas’ rule gladly knelt before him out of respect and a genuine love for him, Xerxes on the other hand, if not coerced, they just did so out of duty and to keep “getting.” Like the Devil, Xerxes just gave him what he wanted so he could get what he wanted, not because he actually cared, but he wanted to destroy the other kingdom.

So many get caught in that web and we miss the great opportunity that God has for us in serving Him in a way that brings out the best in us; we want someone else’s gift and hinder God from using us and Him shining through us. Like God sees in us, Leonidas saw the best in Ephialtes and catered toward his strength; like Satan does to us, Xerxes saw the worse in Ephialtes and played to his weakness. It wasn’t until he sees Leonidas again face-to-face that he realizes how completely wrong he was, just through Leonidas’ compassion; he still blessed Leonidas. In the same way whenever we come back to the loving arms of our King, His arms are open and He still desires to bless us, even though it was our betrayal that lead Him to a glorious death on the as was Leonidas. As well, pleasure and satisfaction only lasts temporarily when Satan gives it to you, operating outside of purpose and your function, and the aftermath is destruction, brokenness, emptiness, ineffectiveness, and guilt.

Being you for a purpose is accepting and embracing the strengths God has given you, not being prideful or jealous of other people’s gifts. God already knows how He can and wants to use you, and in whatever way, big or small, it will bring glory and you will shine in your differences, so don’t try to blend in; God doesn’t like to use blenders. God wants the best for us, and He truly cares and sees the best in us, even when we don’t; He knows how we can be most effective for His kingdom. He does not try to manipulate us or have impure motives. Trust the wisdom and knowledge of God, don’t do as Ephialtes did and compromise who you are and minimize who you were created to be because things don’t go your way and or God doesn’t do as you wanted Him to. Our king, like Leonidas, has been doing this for a while and has a pretty good track record, so I think He knows what He is doing. Just trust His judgment.

Be you for a purpose, not only yours, but other people’s freedom depends on it.

Beautiful

This world searches and longs for beauty. For both men and women, there are hair care, skin care, body care, make-up, etc., notbeauty2 to mention clothes, shoes, and accessories all designed to create beauty. The problem is that we have become so dependent on these things that we tend to cover up our authenticity and block our true light from shining through, conforming to how the world thinks we should be, suppressing and denying our weaknesses and faults, and or putting blame on others. We try so hard to cover up our blemishes and scars, but we forget that diamonds have flaws and scars are our beauty marks. It’s those imperfections that make us perfect and genuine, yet still, we try so hard to cover them up. These emotional, mental, and even physical scars and or flaws prove not only our existence, but our very strength and livelihood.

Solomon says that beauty3everything has been made beautiful in its time. This means that those things you call anything but beautiful, if you let the great Artist work, in its time it will reflect His beauty and majesty. Peel away all those layers; remove your veil; take off the mask; wipe off the make-up, and see yourself as God sees you, beautiful, because God don’t make no junk. God called everything He made good and David explains how the Creator actually took time and thought into forming us, and did so wonderfully. Though we have our “unattractive” things about us in whatever aspect, God knew what He was doing when He formed us; He didn’t make a mistake, though we make them constantly, because of our flaws, often times resulting in scars.

He made it beautiful in its time, which proves He already has a plan of how He willingly desires, with His grace and mercy, to transform those “ugly” things into a gorgeous masterpiece. If you are bold enough, I dare you to trust Him and lay it all at His feet and watch Him work. He is beauty. Don’t believe me? Read about the accounts of Heaven and the new Earth, or just look at the vast variety of nature in its richest and rarest forms or within humanity alone. If He can initiate all that within a matter of six days using only His words, if you allow, I think He has every ability to in His time, take all of your mistakes, imperfections, scars, flaws and all, emotional, mental, and physical, and turn them into something majestic and marvelous, full of life, color, and dimension.

Be beautiful. Be you for a purpose and let your beauty radiate.