beautiful

John Mark

It’s definitely safe to say that Acts is now one of my favorite books in Scripture. There are so many characters at play and it is really so exciting, yet it makes me mad at the same time, because I desire to see the work of the Spirit more frequently in the [Western] church and believers to be used by God in the magnificent ways that He used the apostles. But that is another post altogether. Subsequently, there is one character that I want to point out that appears a couple times in Acts, then resurfaces a few more times in Paul’s epistles. His name is John Mark.

When we first meet John Mark, we learn of his mother, a Christian woman who lodged Peter after he escaped prison. Afterward, he goes off with Paul and Barnabas on a missionary journey, which is when the story gets interesting. We learn about two chapters later that John Mark decided to go back home, for reasons unknown. I have heard many say that it was because he found the work too hard and or it was more involved than he realized, but there is also the possibility that he went back home to care for his mother, whichever reason it was, we don’t know for sure. Nevertheless, his departure caused a split between Paul and Barnabas (his cousin) later on; Barnabas wanted to welcome him back and bring him along on the missionary journey, but Paul wasn’t having it, thus Barnabas and his cousin went in one direction and Paul another.

So, what’s the point.

After considering the reactions of Paul and Barnabas, I can understand why each felt the way they did and can’t say either of them was wrong for their choice. As we deal with people in living out our purpose, we must not only recognize that people don’t always think like us or agree with us,  and like Barnabas our perspectives can be influenced as well by family. Again, this doesn’t mean that we are right or wrong, however, this story does compel us to develop not only wisdom and discernment, but compassion and patience as well when dealing with people, because even though John Mark’s reason for leaving them was deemed inexcusable, it teaches us that sometimes people just aren’t ready for what we hope or don’t see themselves as we see them. For, John didn’t leave the faith, as some assume, he left his assignment. Unfortunately, people will walk away for one reason or another, and we have the choice to trust them should they return or leave them, which is when discerning the voice of God comes into play.

Ultimately, we see that both Paul and Barnabas did what they thought was right, and God honored them both, even though they were separated for a time; whatever work Barnabas did with John paid off because not only did he end up in prison alongside Paul some years later, but Paul had also requested his presence in ministry, validating his value in the work of the Lord.

It’s not clear in Scripture when exactly Paul and Barnabas and John Mark all reunited, but the Spirit was obviously present in the development of their relationship. The point I desire to make in all of this is that God is one of reconciliation and restoration, in His timing and His way, and he does allow the people we work with to come in and out of our lives for seasons, but that doesn’t mean we stop praying for them or condemn their choices because of  a difference of opinion. Furthermore, some individuals do require extra grace and extra encouragement as they are figuring their way out and trying to honor the Lord and do what He has purposed for them to do, and if God has called us to extend that grace, then we must, because we never know what blessings we may forfeit if we turn someone away who disappointed us. How many times have we failed or disappointed God and He still keeps His arms open? But again, our journey may require us to not allow someone in our close space to protect us and protect them, like Paul, but if the Lord brings you back together, we must trust Him.

To be honest, I don’t know if this made sense. A lot was going through my mind when the Lord first illuminated John Mark’s story to me, and I wanted to get it all out before I forgot. I may come back and add to this blog so come back here in a week to check lol. Nonetheless, I think this disciple’s story reflects so many of us and those we know who aren’t ready to walk in their calling, especially if it connected with our own, but God’s grace is sufficient, so we must be mindful and not discourage those who decide to take time to do work through their things, because when God burden’s their heart enough and that fire is finally lit inside of them, the demons in Hell will tremble.

People are interesting and relationships are complex when you mix personalities and personal experiences together, and that’s what makes this race we run so beautiful, because each variation of our colors and beauty creates a breathtaking reflection of the glory of God. So, with wisdom and discernment, compassion and patience, be yourself for a purpose.

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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.

Ugly

So I started speaking about it on Facebook, but this is the better medium to get out all I wanted to say. Anyway, today has been very dramatic for me, although it is more internal than external, specifically because nothing happened to me directly. Still, my heart is heavy.

As you may have heard, the new Miss America is Indian. Yesterday I saw her and I thought she was pretty and kept it moving on to the next story. Then today, I hear that her ethnicity is some big controversy and people are calling her Arab. First of all she she is Indian (whether that is India-American or Native American I don’t know), which means she is NOT Arab, but even if she is, so what!. It’s disheartening to see the hatred people have in their hearts even in this day and age just because of skin-color. I’ll be honest and say that I am very sensitive, so to be her or any celebrity at that I can understand why so many succumb to drugs, alcohol, and move from one bed to the next so quickly. People are mean and ruthless and whoever said “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words do not hurt me,” was disillusioned. Words penetrate deeper and hang around longer than any punch or bullet. All in all, the heart of the matter is the heart of the matter, and some people are so lost in their own bitterness, hate, and ignorance it’s discouraging.

Then on top of that, very rarely do I watch the news, if for no other reason, it’s 97% negative and national or local, given the area I live in, and it’s easy to get depressed just hearing all the conspiracies, violence, wars, death, broken children, and so forth. This world is so dark, just considering all that is going on in Syria and then the Navy Base, things are chaotic and and just crazy, so much in so it’s hard to live and feel safe.

Also, I have already done a study on world religions, but today I was in a class of the same thing. The Bible talks about the wide and windy road that many travel, but there are few on the straight and narrow. Today that truth was again magnified, in that so many are lost and blinded. The enemy, the Father of Lies as Jesus called him, is on the prowl as he has been since the garden. He is pouring his lies into whoever chooses to listen. As an Angel of Light as Paul calls him, some of his lies sound so close to truth, but as children of God we have to be equipped enough to know his lie and know the truth of God’s Word, but most importantly be able to share it with others.

More heartbreaking than those, are all the stories I’ve read about, seen, and heard about children and youth, between abuse, abortion, suicide, teen pregnancy, lack of educational resources, and the filth in a lot of mainstream media, television and music. One could easily say my generation and the one behind me is dying emotionally, mentally, and physically. These young lives are conditioned to feel they aren’t loveable, they aren’t worth anything, they don’t matter, they have no purpose in life, and they look for truth, belonging, and love in all the wrong places. Their dreams are laughed at and trampled upon and aren’t given a chance to succeed or the hope of a bright and meaningful future.

This world is dark and this world is ugly, which only makes Jesus breathtakingly beautiful. Purpose, love, acceptance, and identity come from Christ alone. As one of my favorite songs says “Jesus is the answer for the world today,” and that’s what purpose is all about. It’s about a willing heart of a person making him or herself available to use the gifts,talents, dreams, and visions the Lord has given specifically to you to share and promote the light and beauty of Jesus Christ. So if you are reading this, know that the world so eagerly needs you and that your purpose is bigger than life. If you allow Him, God will take the very least you may have and do something remarkably wonderful if you say yes. The harvest, just from what I said prior, is plenty, your purpose is to be a laborer in whatever form God wills to gather the harvest for His kingdom. Wake up!! There is no time to waste on frivolous things and matters that won’t matter one year from now. We can’t live selfishly because this world is perishing right under our noses and for those of us that know the love of Jesus, it is sin for us to do nothing about it! The world is eagerly waiting for the sons and daughters of God to stand up and rise up (Romans 8:19). We have the remedy to the world’s sickness, so go give it away.

So I encourage you, live on purpose. Speak on purpose. Learn on purpose. Share on purpose. Give on purpose. Love on purpose. Do on purpose. Be on purpose. There is no better time than now.

I pray God burden’s your heart for the condition of the world and your respective communities.

Power of Music

This post will not be the normal length. This time around, my post is dedicated to music, which I feel is one of the world’s most powerful forces. Thus, these videos are here to encourage whoever chooses to watch. They are great songs, both secular and sacred, that helped me, so I know will help you, even in the least bit, to recognize that you are here on purpose.

Leah Smith – Beautifully Made → (Psalm 139)

India Arie – Beautiful

Tammy Trent – At the Foot of the Cross → (Isaiah 63)