Month: September 2014

What Else is There?

It’s a safe bet to say that my favorite princess movie ever is “The Swan Princess,” and if you haven’t seen it, your life is not complete. One of the the reasons I love it so much is that Princess Odette is her own person and not flaky nor superficial. How? When the Prince Derek announces his decision to marry her, she proceeded to ask him what else other than her beauty did he like about her, to which he responded “What else is there?” Heartbroken, she leaves and the wedding, as you may guess, was called off.

When I think of those exchanging of questions, it reminds me of a passage I recently read in John chapter six. In the particular conversation, Jesus I believe is a bit frustrated, disappointed, and possibly even hurt, because many of his followers were leaving him because what he was preaching was hard to accept, let alone follow. It happens so often today still, those that started off with Christ, the Enemy comes and chokes out the word because they get discouraged or it seems too overwhelming and people give up on God, and they turn back. Even as those who actually witnessed Jesus and saw him perform miracles and heard God in the flesh, the creator of the universe speak and teach, if so many would turn, why would it be any different now? However, what makes me think Jesus was somewhat hurt is the question that he would then ask his disciples.

“You do not want to leave me too, do you?”

I can very well be wrong, but to me it seems that the emotion of Jesus was so heartfelt and real and it’s a question I think so many, including myself, have asked. Especially when you choose to be yourself for a purpose, people will walk away and you may have to walk away from some people, and truth be told you may lose more than you expected and it gets to the point where you ask “are you going to leave me too?” The problem is that when you give people real, in this case meaning exemplifying the person God has called you to be, not everyone can and will accept it, but you must go on, even if that means you have to walk alone sometimes, believing that in His time and in His way He will put the right people to walk alongside of you on the journey toward your destiny. It’s so real and I love Jesus even more, because he really did have emotions, those that are genuine and very relatable, considering how he still recognized the fact that though not everyone would walk away from him, at least one would betray him and hurt him even more than those who walked away, but yet, he was not deterred from the assignment he had to complete. He knew he couldn’t change who he was nor the calling and purpose given to him, which is a message to me to keep going and being what God has called me to be for a purpose, because my purpose is so much greater than me and I can’t let emotions or other the misunderstanding and unwillingness of other people sway what I know to be true. But, getting back to the story, the crux of why I alluded to the “Swan Princess” is in the response of Peter to Jesus.

“Lord, to whom shall we go?”

“What else is there?” asked Prince Derek. Though the motive and reasoning is different, same idea applies. What other choice do you have? Where else can you go? What else has such significance? What else is important enough to even consider another? What else matters? Not so much for Derek, which he did come to realize, but Peter was exactly right. The truth is that apart from Jesus, nothing else matters. It is he and he alone that we are able to be who we are, because he is the one that created us. It is he and he alone who gives us meaning and purpose in life. Apart from him, there is no hope, there is no future, and there is no life, just emptiness and unwavering void. One thing I tend to say is that without him I can do nothing; without him I am nothing. It all starts and ends with him. It all revolves around him, his will, and his eternal word.

Consequently, “what else is there?” Other than being all that you were called, created, and destined to be, what else is there that will give you such satisfaction, peace of mind, completion, joy, and significance and make you irreplaceable? Settling for something less than God’s absolute best, or choosing to clone another person or a culture or the world will demean and limit the power of God in your life to do all that He so desperately desires to do. I mean seriously, the Jesus, the God who spoke the very world into existence, the same one who created the universes with his very word, the same one who controls the seas and the wind, and the same one who by touching the very hem of his garment a woman was healed, is the same one who took His precious time and thought in designing and crafting you specifically with a purpose in mind. Say what?? That is so mind-blowing to me. I mean, why would anyone not choose to live the life that was awesomely and uniquely tailor made for them by that same God who not only placed the stars in the sky, but knows them all, each by name? Like the song says, I have no other choice.

Truly, there is nothing else than to just be you for the purpose that God intended.

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Fluffy

So, through some of mine own reading and devotions, I was inspired to talk about the opposing side of being you for a purpose. The more I thought about it, my concern, was that in all that I have written it may have seemed like just waking up one day and deciding to be you for a purpose will be a piece of cake and there will be nothing that will hinder the process, so to speak. In many cases, that is easier said than done.

In this society there are so many things that can hinder out light from shining, because we really want to be accepted, find a sense of belonging, and be liked. There are philosophies of how a person should be based on race and gender alone, and they definitely have their place. However, if you want to look at media alone, what is presented as the “norm” or the ways of a general groups of people is fabricated if not false, yet people believe that what they see and hear is right, about beauty, sex, gender roles, success, money, lifestyle, etc.

People are confused, male and females alike who struggle with knowing who they are and carry burdens of emptiness, loneliness and deep insecurities. These often times can be the result of parents telling them how to behave and what how they should or shouldn’t act, and not being supportive of their desires, thus have learned to conform to what a way that was pleasing to their parents or teachers or other major influences. One could say that the prescription drug issue is the result of people unsure of who they are or have been told not to be as they truly are.

Too often in this culture we try to change people and people many times have others’ best interest at heart, but it tends to add unneeded pressure and low self-esteem. Case and point, I am naturally introverted, but too many times I can recall people trying to get me to be more extroverted or have called me shy or told me that I need to open up more. No offense to these individuals, some who were family, but what they were trying to make me, I knew that’s not who I was and I was okay with who I was, but their lack of understanding or knowing how to interact with me made me feel lost and alone, as if something was wrong with me. But still, I count all to the grace of God that though I had those struggles, less now than I do now, I couldn’t make myself be who I knew I wasn’t. Even times I attempted, I feel uncomfortable, trapped, and just awkward.

In being you for a purpose, most times is not an overnight fluffy-feeling experience There are barriers and walls that need to be broken, wounds that needs to be healed, masks that need to be removed, hearts that need to be softened, closet doors even that need to be opened. Even from a young age we try to please and if our natural way of being is challenged we try to fit in or do enough to please those around us so they can care for us and attempt for their affection and love. In the process far too many lose themselves and are put in this never-ending cycle of finding their identity or just become numb to it all because they have been worked on for so long by media, by culture, by family, by their environment, almost like a game of survival.

With all this confusion that we are privy to, there is so much more value in having a Creator. The Creator knows His creation, its purpose, and how it will best function. My encouragement to you today, whoever is reading this, is to get to know your Creator and find your freedom to be all that He has created you to be. Even growing for a person like me who grew up in a positive and supportive environment, I was still a sinner. Though I never went off the deep end, I realized that for me to be all that He created me to be, there were somethings about me that I needed to change and my heart and way of thinking and motivation had to be changed into His liking. I say that because many times you will hear, as I believed, that when you come to Jesus, he doesn’t want to change you, he wants to enhance you. That is not true. Because of our sin nature and the way way we are programmed, as I have mentioned earlier, there is so much of us that God has to chisel away so that we more and more look like His Son and glow in out identities as He desired us to be. A part of which is understanding there is a time and place for everything, there is a place to be outspoken and a place to be quiet, so the more you know your Maker, the more you understand how you operate at your best and when you are in optimal position to be as uniquely awesome as you were meant to be in any given moment. God knows you better than you, and know what you are capable of better than you. Let Him come in and do his handiwork.

Yes, it may hurt. Yes, it may be uncomfortable. Yes, it may require you to take risk and take a giant leap of faith. Yes, you may have to leave some people behind. Yes, you may have to get rid of some habits. Yes, you may at times feel alone. Yes, you more often than none be the odd one out. Yes, your desires may change. Yes, you may have to let go, forgive those that hurt you, and move on. Yes, people will look at you funny and talk about you. Yes, you will make mistakes. Yes, you will fail. Yes, there will be tears. Yes, there will be doubts and uncertainties. Yes, you will question yourself and at other times question God. Yes, you will be broken, Yes, you will be humbled. Yes, you will have to empty yourself and be vulnerable. Yes, you will be in a cocoon of some sort like a butterfly. Yes, you will be purged. Yes, there will be pressure as an oyster developing a pearl or coal transforming into a diamond. Yes, you will have to go through the refining process, and go into the fire like gold. Yes, there people will walk away. Yes, there will be storms and distractions. Yes, the enemy will hunt you and go after you with all he has.

But yes, it is all so worth it. Yes, you will find freedom. Yes, you will find peace, satisfaction, and contentment. Yes, God can and will fulfill His promises. Yes, He will do amazing things in, by, through, and for you. Yes, the glory and beauty of being you for a purpose will far outweigh the struggle to get back or to finally discover who you really are, through the eyes of the One that created you. All in all, understand your Creator and you will understand you, His creation. Don’t be afraid to get back to you. Don’t give up on yourself, God, your creator still has you alive for a reason, so trust Him with your life. Don’t leave with your work undone.

Simply, put, be you for a purpose and watch God use you and position you in places you could never have have dreamed or imagined.

Anomaly

The title alone exemplifies all that BYFP is about. I am appreciative of the message and truth in this song by Lecrae. In making the decision to be who he is for a purpose, even if that meant not fitting in, or blending, or standing out, or being an anomaly, God has opened some amazing doors for him. In other words, make the choice to be who and what God has called YOU to be and watch what God will do in, by, through, and for you.

The Other Guy

The theme of a book I have read fairly recently is pretty much letting the cross be the forefront of what is done in life, in that good-thiefeverything about your life brings people back to the glory of Calvary. And as I was contemplating this piece, I realized that one thing I haven’t really spoken of in any other blog, is the cross. As the same book spoke of, we have the ability to be all God has purposed us to be and the opportunity receive all of Him and the riches of Heaven solely because of the cross, thus, to stay in theme it’s only appropriate to look at the back at Golgotha, the center of it all.

The gospels are special because they each offer different perspectives, yet are very coherent, and the experience on the bloody hill is no different. I have heard it once or twice, and I thought it was interesting, but it wasn’t until I happened to read it recently that it truly spoke to me.

Most are aware that there were three crosses, Jesus in the middle with two thieves on his sides, which is where my focus will be. When you read the first account in Matthew 27, the writer explains that both of the thieves were mocking Jesus and insulting him, which wasn’t unlike all else who were there questioning and doubting his power, authority, kingship, and deity because he was up on the cross, shamed, disgraced, humiliated, beaten/tortured so bad he had no resemblance of a man, and just bloody; little did they understand that it was his love that kept him on the cross, not their nails. Nevertheless, when you read Luke’s depiction of the story, you read something much different. Luke tells us that one of the robbers rebuked the other and confessed Jesus when he says “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And one of as one Jesus’ seven last words, he replies, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” Yeah, so what’s the point?

Those three were on the cross for hours before dying, and in the beginning both robbers were prideful and belligerent, if not flat out denying who Jesus really was. I could only assume that they were familiar with him by the way they were making fun of him …or were they just trying to fit in or just going along with what many others there were saying in ignorance? I can’t answer that question, but I can say that after some time, maybe it was after hearing Jesus for God to forgive them, that one of the criminals decided to accept who he was and admit who Jesus was.

It was in that moment he took off his mask and came to grips with who he really was, after understanding who Jesus was, that he made the most important decision of his life. Like many of us we may be with Jesus looking at him for an extended period of time, but because of how the rest of world views him and what they say about him, we are reluctant, as was I. But something in that man’s heart changed, for he decided to be vulnerable before Jesus, relinquishing all his sin and whatever it was that was keeping him from really seeing Jesus. He decided to open up his heart before God, understanding his brokenness and failure, but acknowledging that the man beside him had the power to take all of who he was, in spite of all he was, and still restore and redeem him, and give him God’s best.

When I was reading this story, I was so taken back like WOW! I mean some people will be so close to Jesus and almost make it into Heaven like the other guy on the other cross, but as Brandy said, almost doesn’t count. It’s not until we acknowledge who we are, by first acknowledging who Jesus is, that we get access to all of Heaven’s best. God is waiting for each of us to take off the masks, stop fronting, and just be who we truly our before His feet, because we are broken, messed up, and wretched people. Yet, that is who God wants to use. The past doesn’t matter, for that is how we get to the cross in the first place, and it is there that the scars, bruises, hurts, mistakes, failures, and disappointments make God look so much more beautiful and prepare us for what He has for us. But we must be honest with him about who we really are, and as we let Him, He begins to chip away all that is not as He originally intended and can remold us to be as He designed. It is there we find freedom to walk in our true identities in Christ, in our thoughts, words, desires, dreams, passions, personalities, gifts, style, and actions, even if everyone else, like those who kept hurling insults, stay trapped in their normalcy, fears, misconceptions, and insecurities.

When you see Jesus, you will see yourself. When you get to know Jesus, you will come to know yourself, and it is then you can truly be yourself for a purpose and receive all of Heaven.

Footprints

My writing process footis very interesting. Sometimes I think of a topic or subject matter and write about it on the spot and immediately post, and other times I do it with in a few days if I am not able to actually write for one reason or another. Then there are the times I have a topic or thought, and for some reason it takes weeks or months before I actually put it out, which may be because I lose interest, I forget my thought process, I haven’t been convicted enough, or I just don’t have as much as I thought in order to make it longer than a Facebook post, so they sit in my drafts, and to be honest, I have about four like that now.

Most of my ideas come from my personal devotion, books, a point in a sermon, or topics within the society, and of course I am inspired elsewhere like movies and music. I am not sure if you care about this or not, but if you are still reading this, I guess you do, so I will keep it moving.

Nonetheless, this piece was inspired from a devotional based on Paul telling the church to follow his and the other apostles’ example, and the purpose, of the devotional that is, is that the footprints, the influence, of those that have gone before us are washing away. This was almost a week ago, and it touched me so much, but I wasn’t fully convinced to write about it, at least in blog form, but I couldn’t get it out of my head and I even reverberated the message to someone, who received more so than I expected, so it was like confirmation that I needed to translate it here. Truth be told, I really don’t know why I felt the need to give you all that introductory information, but God has a funny way of doing things, so I’m convinced that someone will be inspired by it some way…Moving on…

When you think of the great people of the past, including Biblical characters, what you won’t find is someone acting like someone else, but rather ordinary people who decided to step outside of the box and step out on faith to be who God had called them to be. Now were they always “great”? No, but at some point in their life, they chose to go against what their culture or the society said they were. It was these individual’s who changed the world, whether they knew it or not, and we still talk about today. However, as time progresses, manfootprinty of these people and their names, let alone their impact are being forgotten. As do the waves of an ocean, the footprints they made in the sand are being washed away. Is that to say their life meant nothing and their work counted for nothing? Of course not, but even the Bible talks many times about how fleeting life is and how quickly we are forgotten.

Nevertheless, it raises the question, what now? Whose footprints will be the ones that guide and lead and influence the generations to come? The answer, you.

We can not depend on the people of the past, using them as a crutch. God wants your feet. God wants you who He created for such a time as this, to leave fresh prints that people can follow toward Christ. Your mark will be made by the life you live. You cannot leave footprints with someone else’s feet. And you can’t lead if you are not willing to move your feet. The disclaimer, you can’t keep looking behind to see who is following, but rather just to keep walking and following the Leader, which keeps you from pride and ego-tripping. The crazy part is that even when you look back to see who is following, that’s when the Enemy messes with your mind most, making you feel no one sees you, or you are not making any impact, and as a result, we tend to give up and or start living a meaningless life, because we think it’s not worth it. Yet, the reality is that most of the people who are behind you watching, are you can’t see because you don’t know them, and may never meet them. I can’t iterate enough how many people are looking at you and the life you live, whose name you don’t even know, let alone talk to.

Trailblazing does not mean becoming a superhero overnight or doing something substantial, big, or extraordinary. Instead, it’s about being deliberate and intentional in just being the person God has called you to be, and being obedient to even the smallest tasks. Every word spoken, every thing done, and every reflection of Christ that the Lord tailored to fit your true identity in Him, leaves deeper footprints that will last through generations.

The footprints of those that have gone before us are disappearing, and it demands a new generation of greatness to take their place and make their footprints in the sand, leaving impressions on the hearts and minds of people. Be you for a purpose and leave footprints worth following.