Month: April 2015

The Numbing Effect: Positivity

One the biggest mantras today for success and self-preservation is positivity. Think positive, be positive, and do positive things, while having a positive attitude. And don’t get me wrong, I know there are times I allude to that philosophy and worldview, and I do think that positivity and the essence of it is great and definitely has a place in the culture and society today, simply because of all of the negativity that goes on, and to be honest, not many people enjoy actually being around people who are always negative. So, yeah, I get it. But for some time now it’s began to bother me.

The problem that I have witnessed is that when people are so positive, they disassociate from their own emotion it seems. As much as we want it to be, life is not all peaches and cream, smelling of strawberries, and what a lot of people do is they seem to negate that life is tough. And a person like me, it’s hard to open up to a person that is so positive as to where it seems as if nothing is ever wrong and if I try to share, I’ll be hit with a positivity speech. It’s hard to connect with people when the response to the pain of life and struggles is a simple “stay positive,” because either I’ll think they are full of it or I’ll build up a wall because they show no possibility of honesty or wisdom…I’m sorry. I got carried away, so moving on.

Now like I said previously, it definitely has it’s place, but so does negativity. And truth be told, often times negativity is reality, so we wind up in a conundrum when we disregard reality, because often times that means that things are not confronted or dealt with and all we do in turn is create more masks to wear, and things aren’t dealt with. On the flip side, positivity often forgets that things will not always turn out the way we want them, no matter how positive we were or how optimistic we are.

There is a saying that goes “to blessed to be stressed” that was referenced in a sermon I heard as a bad philosophy and that is so true! In theory it sounds nice, but it further pushes a gospel that assumes being a Christian means you will never be stressed out, have a bad day, or have any trying times, that life will be honky dory and if you feel stressed or anything of the liking, you are not doing something right. That is so far from the truth. Yes, the Bible has plenty of scriptures of God’s promises associated with positivity, but there are just as many that remind us of the hardships in life that shouldn’t be overlooked. I mean look at Jesus. There were many times he was stressed, tired, sad, and weary, but his livelihood was rested in that fact he knew who his Father was, and at the same time, he was vulnerable with other people so they could see that it was okay to cry or be angry.

Bottom line, if we aren’t careful and guard our hearts, positivity will numb us to the reality of the world around us and we will miss the opportunities to really minister effectively and or share Christ. It can truly desensitize us to deal with issues mentally, emotionally, spiritually, financially, and even physically, because more times than not, people don’t need positivity, but a sincere raw truth about their situation spoken in love, which means it won’t always tickle their ears, although ear tickling is what many people are getting these days. Furthermore, there are some things, situations, and people that don’t deserve a positive response or there truly is not one that can be given for one reason or another. I mean Scripture points out that the obtaining of peace often comes by way of war, and some times a negative action does require a negative response (through wisdom, discernment, and direction), but I digress, I don’t want to go to deep of the trail here, plus I feel like I am beginning to ramble again.

With all that said, be positive as you strive to be your best self for a purpose, just be careful not to allow positivity to cloud your sight and the dire realities around you, that you become an anesthetic or band-aid, to the problem(s) you were meant to be an answer to.

As Momma Put It

In plenty of self-help and therapy philosophies of the world we are told to love ourselves or to love ourselves more, with the books2assumption that certain people legitimately don’t love themselves. Now in theory, that is good thinking, but Biblically, we never hear that, the idea is that we already love ourselves, and if anything, we are told to love ourselves less. But what about those that treat themselves badly (cutting, drugs, drinking, promiscuity, eating disorders, gambling, i.e.)?? Well when you think about it, technically they love themselves enough to try to find an outlet to feel better or no matter how much of a negative behavior it may be, the world’s philosophy is to do whatever brings you pleasure or whatever it is that makes you happy in order to love yourself. I would say that the problem is not that people don’t love themselves, but they don’t know how to do it or they love themselves way too much. Think about it. When a person cheats on their spouse or abuses them, it’s not uncommon to hear “but I do love you.” Now, in actuality, they may really love them, but they were never taught the right way. Am I excusing it? Absolutely not, but making a point.

Long story short, our definition and idea of love toward self and toward others is backwards and so far from the way God intended. So much in so that we are blinded by happiness from what love is. The problem is that happiness is a state of emotion based on a situation, which would explain why people turn over and over again to vices, because that had only a temporary high. In turn, because people are ignorant of how to love ourselves, we are utterly lost in the ability to appropriately love others. So what’s the answer?

Well, Scripture lays it out pretty clearly. To love appropriately, you must first love Jesus, because he himself is love; it was Jesus that died in our place. Jesus showed love to whoever came his way, and so in loving him by getting to know him, talking with him, spending time with him, and communing with him via his Word, it’s inevitable that you learn to love him. I mean seriously, what’s not to love? And the more we fall in love with him, the more of his love should permeate through us onto others because we will begin to imitate his incredible version of love. Once you’ve met with Jesus, you will never be the same. Once he touches you, it is bound to rub off on someone else. Now, what’s next?

Jesus’ whole ministry was built on love, even loving the least of them. So by following the way of Jesus, we learn to love others, even our enemies and love our loved ones when they are most unlovable. The first of the greatest commandments is to love God, and the second is to love others. Paul in 1 Corinthians gives a whole chapter on what love for one another looks like, and the total of the Mosaic law can be summed up in loving God and loving others. If we are to be disciples, then our love for each other should be our defining trait. It’s a matter of putting others’ needs ahead or considering them more important than your own. It’s easier said than done, but as your love for Jesus increases, so does your ability to sincerely and unconditionally love others.

Looking back at the great commandment, after loving God, you love your neighbor, then after loving your neighbor, you love yourself. Now with many of the commands God gives His people, if you really examine them they are in place to protect us and keep us in good terms. For example, being careful of what you eat, and taking care of your temple, your own body, not participating in sinful acts, or participating in things to get you caught up in bad or compromising situations. If you love yourself, you will consider these things a lot more, because worldly thinking is that following Christ is a matter of all these crazy rules and killjoys, when instead God had our best interest at heart. And if we want to love God back we will love ourselves enough to consider what He says to make us most effective in the life assigned to us. If you don’t believe me, consider all the things He said we shouldn’t do or think and more and more we are falling away, and where has that gotten us? Okay, but so what? I know, I felt myself rambling so I digress and will keep it moving.

To be  you for a purpose, you have to be anchored in love, because anything done without love, no matter how good or noble, is of no value. Therefore, let’s recap, how do we love appropriately? Love Jesus first, then love others, then love yourself. In that order. Jesus, others, yourself. Jesus. Others. You…J.O.Y. Catch my drift yet? The world’s philosophy of love is based on happiness, which is temporary; here one day, gone the next. But, when you follow God’s idea of love, you walk away with an incredible sense of joy, that the world can’t give you, nor can the world take away. My momma taught me that.

Generally Speaking

We all strive to find our specific purpose for our lives, we anticipate finding out what our calling is, specific to our individual lives. However, Scripture tells us of things that God wills for all of us no matter who we are that I think are crucial to live out in order to effectively fulfill our individual life purpose. There are five things in particular that generally speaking I believe God purposes for each of us.

The first is to simply be thankful. No matter how bad things look, be grateful (1 Thessalonians 5:18). In order to be who God called us to be, we have to be thankful for what we have because it makes us who we are. As we go through life, there are plenty of things that we can complain about or legitimately be upset about, but I think that if we learn to be humble and grateful in the roughest times of our lives, we will become content and at peace. When we have a thankful heart, it’s easier to stay focused on what matters and trust God to handle things out of our control or guide us in the decisions to be made. God’s desire for us is to be thankful.

In a world where sex sells and it’s so glorified, many miss this one more than others. God’s will for His people is that they refrain from sexual immorality (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Sex was made for marriage, not for an extracurricular activity or dating auditions. In order to be all of who God has for us to be, fornication and immorality are serious hindrances to His plans. From dangerous emotional relationships, attachments to others that aren’t helping you to your destiny, which of course is harder to detach from if a child is involved, which I see far too often creates messy situations, or medical problems. Sex outside of marriage limits what you are able to give your spouse, because a piece of you was left with someone else, and living in sin will limit what God will do in, by, through, and for you.

In a world like we live in today, there is a lot of stupid talk; a lot of ignorance, some of which is warranted by a record of ignorant behavior.  As a result, God’s will for us is that we do good, in order to get people to stop talking (1 Peter 2:15). Just considering all of the talk against Christianity, let alone Christ, it mandates us, His people, to do good and to represent Christ well as much as we can so that foolish people will have less ignorant things to talk about.  Do more positive things, the more positive people will begin to speak. In whatever specific calling God has on your life, doing good I am sure is a root of it, because the more you represent the goodness of the Lord, that is what people will begin to talk about.

However, doing good or going against the grain of the world’s thinking or standards of what it is good and right can create a sense of fear. Yet, God’s purpose was that we wouldn’t operate in fear, but in power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Fulfilling God’s purpose for your life requires all three, no matter how big or small. In a world like ours, authority, power, love, sensibility and self-control are critical to substantially changing the culture we live in and impacting the world as we know it, because there will be times when God will need us to step outside of our comfort zone and demand us to take giant leaps of faith, sometimes blindly, but we have to trust that God is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do, and that we are who He says we are.

All in all, whatever our individual purpose is, it’s all about growing the kingdom and being witnesses for Jesus in our homes to the far reaches of the world (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8).  To effectively do this, the previous must become a priority for us. We must do good and love one another; we should be bold, self-controlled, sanctified, always being thankful.

There is much work to be done and being you for the purpose of being who it is that God destined you to be, it is essential that we strive to do these things wherever life brings us because they are core to walking in the center of the will of God.

 

Gothel

gothel

I can’t believe I am saying this, but “Tangled” has become one of my favorite Disney princess movies. However when I watch it, I am reminded of how damaged many of them were because of things that were told to them by those closest to them, which today would be easily called emotional abuse. Nonetheless, the last time I was watching it, I was again drawn to the character of Gothel, Rapunzel’s “mother.”

The story’s focus is on the sun and how a piece of it fell from the heavens and could bring healing and restoration. You may already see where I am going with this. Needless to say, that’s the exact thing that the Son did, he came down from the heavens and brought healing and restoration to whoever was in need, and that awesome power is still available today. The problem though, is that there are way too many Gothels, because if you remember the movie, she did everything she could to hide it and didn’t even consider the queen worthy enough to receive its gift. She wanted to keep it all to herself, like so many of us.

Too often those of us that know of the healing and saving power of the Rose of Sharon, just as the special golden flower in the movie, refuse to share it and instead hide Christ. We want Jesus all to ourselves or we falsely make judgments of who deserves his power and salvation, and as a result, the world around us suffers greatly. I mean just look around and listen to the news; it really is depressing. It’s as if people have truly lost their minds and it’s only getting worse. The world is in need of serious healing, and like the people in the movie, the world is searching for a miracle that only heaven can bring, because time in fact is running out. The world is desperately looking for a savior, and as a believer, we have what this sick land needs, but we hide it.

For some strange reason, like Gothel we hoard Christ and put him in this box of what he can and should do, limiting his expanse throughout the nations. Like Gothel, maybe we are afraid that someone will take our gift away and we will lose access to it, or the power will run out, or it will get in the wrong hands, or perhaps we are just greedy or prideful, let alone understand the greatness of what it is we possess. The awesome thing about the gift of the Son from the heavens is that his power stretches far beyond Rapunzel’s; he will never lose power and we will always have access to him no matter how much we share him with others. No one can separate us from his love or snatch us out of his hand. And all that he does is for our good, no one can misuse or manipulate him no matter how much they try. However, when we refuse to share the gift and the power that has been given to us, we in turn become powerless, because the more we pour out the more he will fill us up and the more we are able to see the awesome of the power of the Son. There is no reason to be stingy, hold out, contain it, or confine Jesus to one thing, like Gothel did in trying to stay young. Far too many are dying without the golden flower, the Rose of Sharon, the Lily of the Valley. Don’t let that blood be on your hands because you want things your way.

The world as I already said is in need of a drop of Son-light from Heaven; it’s crying out for a miracle, and we have it in our possession as followers of Christ.  So being you for a purpose is simply sharing the gift of Heaven however you can so that others can be healed and saved physically, mentally, emotionally, and especially spiritually. Being you for a purpose is realizing that you are the hope and the light the world is searching for, so let the Son use you to spread his power. After all, that is what we were commanded to do.