calling

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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Tattoo or Testimony??

Wow. How long has it been?? Here we are again, and I must say, tattoos are like testimonies of saying “yes” to the Lord. Let me explain. And for
starters, yes, I have tattoos, four to be exact. Who would have thought?

There are times you know exactly end goal of where Lord desire for you, so as you would a tattoo, when you already know what t should look like, you let the Artist go for the gold. In other cases, the plan of God is not always clear and you may just have a bunch of pieces floating in your head, so you go to the parlor and talk with the artist and it can take time before the final art piece is finished and everyone knows what will happen. This is often what happens with us in our walk, most times we juggle the pieces of our lives, believing they will be a part of a great testimony, but Image result for tattoo ink and needlesit’s not until we bring them before God and spend time that it all makes sense and He creates something beautiful. We build a trust in His judgment and that He knows what He is doing.

But it doesn’t end there. It’s a process.

The best part of this story though is that it’s already paid for, Jesus paid for your story on Calvary. Nevertheless, God had to prepare you, as an tattooist has to do. Clean, shave even, and get the color and needles and equipment together, and it’s all to protect you. Still, there is pain, sometimes a lot other times not so much, but any time the Lord is moving us there is discomfort because your whole being is being changed, but it doesn’t last long.

But it doesn’t end there. You have to heal.

When you first get the tattoo it looks great, but the artist will tell you that you have to take care of it so that it doesn’t get messed up. The calling on your life is now real, but you have to protect it and nurture it. And it can take a while. But in the process, you have to be disciplined to follow instructions you were given when you left, and it still may feel raw. You are a new person. But, whether it’s prayer, studying, taking a break, or whatever the Lord instructs us to do to protect anointing, we have to oblige. We have to trust the Artist and His expertise. Now in this healing time it will itch, and peel, and it must be cleaned, just like we have to be purged and remove all the excess that is not in line with the masterpiece the Lord is working on, whether habits, people, dreams, your past, emotions, mental and spiritual growth, etc. And their still will be some discomfort. And truth be told, you may even start to reconsider or question why you said “yes,” and if it is really worth all the extra.

Image result for tattoo ink and needles

But it doesn’t end there. The glory will be revealed.

When it’s all said and done, the dead skin is done, no more itching or discomfort, and you can put the scented lotion on again lol, when you have healed and have been cleansed and or purged, the beauty of that piece of will look better than you expected and you will want to tell you story. And even better, people notice the change and ask you about your new beauty marks, or calling and you get to tell them all about the Artist that created it, and if you stayed faithful and obedience, it will turn out to be far above your expectations.

The next time you see a person living a blessed and abundant life in Christ, it’s a result of intentional efforts. The time, the discomfort, the healing, the purging, it’s all worth it. God is creating a masterpiece for eternity’s sake.

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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.

Fire

FireJeremiah was such a complex person with a lot of emotion, which is why he is known as “The Weeping Prophet.” Still, his story reflects many of ours today. He was called at a young age and when God first called him, he was apprehensive and had excuses as to why he wasn’t able to do what God had purposed for him to do. Many of us are like that. We feel that the task God has for us is too big and we are too small, but that’s the beauty of it. If what He has called you to do doesn’t scare you or keep you on your knees, something is a little off. God, as when He called Jeremiah, wants you to go past your own limits in thinking, strength, and ability and do what takes you out of your comfort zone to prove His power and show His glory.

Jeremiah’s calling was hard and very uncomfortable; he was called to tell the people of Israel about themselves and the doom of the nations. I mean seriously, who wants to go around telling people daunting words from God and not only that but God give you a warning that the people will fight against you and pretty much hate you? Like whoa!

Maybe you feel that way. Maybe what God has chosen you to do and what it will take to do it or get there frightens the mess out of you. Maybe what He purposed you to do, if you know it yet completely takes you way out of your comfort zone. Maybe who He has called you to be is the you that you have hidden or covered to fit in. As God told Jeremiah, don’t be afraid, for you will overcome and He will protect you and rescue and deliver you from whatever you will face. What the Lord has put inside of you is what this world needs to see and or hear, even if they don’t know it or want or accept it. Do what God has purposed you to do. Be who he destined you to be. There is a purpose.

As time goes on, you realize that people are even crazier than what you thought or expected and it’s much harder to complete the task than you could’ve ever envisioned, and as we do, like Jeremiah, we begin to complain and fuss because things aren’t going as smoothly as we like or it’s just getting too much to handle, and you want to give up just like he did and curse the day you were born. At some point he gave up and decided not to fulfill his purpose any longer. It was then that he realized that he couldn’t quit. He couldn’t give up, no matter how much he was hurt, mocked, insulted and reproached, and no matter how much he felt like God had set him up. He had a word; he had a duty that God had given him to do. The moment he stepped out from it, he felt a fire welling up in him that was more intense than what he experienced from other people.

Whatever it is that you have been destined to do, to be, it will get difficult, people will get on your very last nerve seemingly more that ever, people will look at you funny and talk about you, and the Devil will come at you with everything he’s got. But what you have the power to become, why do you think the Devil is trying to stop you? Why do you think God placed you where you are and called you out? They both see something in you and all you have, are, and will face is in either to prepare for greater or hinder you from greater. Know the difference. Either way God has promised to be with you, so like He told Jeremiah, get yourself ready and stand up, for he has already covered you, so no one has power over you or the ability to destroy any part of you unless you allow them to.

Whatever it is that you may be trying to hold in, don’t. It will burn you until you unleash it. So I encourage you, whatever it is that you are called, chosen, destined, and purposed to do, no matter how terrifying or uncomfortable it appears to be or already is, don’t give up. The world desperately needs you, even if they think they don’t. You have Jesus. So yeah, they need you, because they need Him. You work is not in vain, because it will hurt you and them more if you didn’t than if you do. You have been blessed with a burden.