Christ

This One is for Christmas

This Christmas I decided to look a bit into the different Christmas accounts in the Gospels and rediscover the miracle of the baby Jesus. From what I learned, the family of Jesus tells us so much of who God is. For example, I already did a post some time ago about the women listed in the genealogy of Jesus, but again looking at his less than perfect relatives, we recognize that he came from a godly  lineage, although their actions at times proved otherwise, yet redemption undeniably dripped heavily throughout their stories. Therefore, we shouldn’t get hung up on the skeletons and embarrassment in Jesus’ genealogy, but rather the allowance of God’s work in their lives; they may not have started well and had some rough patched in the middle, but they ended in good standing.

When we consider and apply this for our lives, we must remember that for God to work in our lives, we can’t just do what we want and think He will bless us. To receive the blessings and miracles God wants for us, we must humble ourselves and have a surrendered life to Him; he blesses our obedience and promises to exalt us as we live in humility.

Thus, it only makes sense to consider who God chose to be the earthly parents of His Only Son. Yes, God can make somebodies out of nobodies, but it’s those things that are done when no one else is looking that make the difference. To protect His Son, he had to be able to trust the woman who would be his mother and the man who would be his father. Most of us hear of the purity of Mary, which we can see in her tone and her interaction with the angel when she learned she was pregnant with the Son of God. Though ordinary, Mary was deemed worthy to birth the Christ child. Thus, it raises the question of who was considered worthy to be the head of the home in which Jesus would live, so we must look closer at the character of Joseph, Mary’s husband, Jesus’ earthly father.

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In none of the Gospels do we find any words spoken by Joseph, and some say that Joseph died before Jesus’ ministry. Nonetheless, the account of Joseph in Luke tells us all we need to know. First of all, God demonstrated his intent for the family structure being that the angel appeared to Joseph, the head of the home, telling him to keep his family together and not divorce his wife, then to leave for Egypt, and then to return home. Subsequently, not once did he ask questions or second guess, but he trusted and revered the Lord enough to do immediately as he was mandated.

Though it applies to both men and women, I think it speaks more to women. People often diminish all of what marriage is and the impact it has on one’s life as a whole, for one reason or another. Therefore, I can’t help but wonder if there were other worthy women to have carried the Christ-child but their husbands could not be trusted. How loudly does that speak to us? We have to be very selective as to who we choose to lead us, cover us, and protect what the Lord is birthing and growing inside of us. If we entertain the wrong man, get impatient, and or marry too fast or defile ourselves with someone who is not our husband, we run the chance of killing the baby inside of us, or at least delaying the miracle he has for us. If Mary’s husband was disobedient or didn’t move immediately after the angel appeared to him the second time, then who knows if they would have made it out of Bethlehem alive. And if Jesus died as a baby…

On the other hand, I can’t help but consider why we were not given more interaction with Joseph, or at least his words. My only and immediate thought is that the Author did not want to overshadow who Jesus’ Father really was, the Living God of the universe. Luke expresses his manhood and Mark tells of his servanthood, but in the same manner, Matthew expresses him as the King and John deems him as God in human form.

During Christmas, we celebrate his arrival as the foretold Messiah, but we mustn’t forget the awesomeness that this tiny baby is the soon coming King, that he is God. It’s truly the miracle of Christmas, all of eternity of heaven and earth came consumed as a tiny baby, brought in by the most ordinary but worthy man and woman of God. As we strive to be ourselves for a purpose, we must ask if the Lord would find even our ordinary, our surrendered life, to be worthy to bring forth his miracles to change history.

 

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Aroma

If you have ever noticed, every person and every house has its unique smell, whether there is a woman that wears the same perfume [bottle] each and every Sunday, the unique smell of your grandmother’s house, the odor of cigarettes that lingers even if in a car even if no one is smoking, or even the cultural scents, like curry. Furthermore, when you think of crime shows, my favorite being “Law & Order: SVU,” whenever questioning a victim, they scentwould always ask if they remember a specific smell related to their attacker. Smells are memories, and some of my fondest and most unfavorable memories in life can be triggered by a scent. Thus, our fragrance reveals our story, it’s a part of who we are. The even more interesting part is that our smell will not always be desired by everyone, and truth be told, sometimes we really can’t help it, let alone recognize the smell we have. It goes further than hygiene, it’s rather a culmination of everything that makes us who were are; what we like, where we live, where we come from, and who we associate with. For instance, a woman may suspect her husband of cheating if he comes home with a scent of a perfume that she does not own, or you may know that something is not right in the house if you smell gas or something burning, or the best part of your week may be coming home after church and smelling the pot roast or the chicken that has been cooking for the last two hours, or your mother being able to tell you weren’t in good company because you walked in the house smelling like alcohol and weed, or the delight of acknowledging that you are a new parent by the baby smell as soon as you open your door, or the kente oil and all the other incense that lingers from your afro-centric neighbor, or the smell of being outside or working out that leads you to wash up before eating, or the smell of coffee that tells you to get up in the morning. Our smells define us, they move us, they can cause a reaction, and sometimes they can change. So I have to ask, what do you smell like?

Scripture many times talks about the aroma that we send to God in our everyday worship to Him, but I particularly like the one found in 2 Corinthians when it says,

14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.

Talking about being you for a purpose, the idea is that in becoming the person God has for us to be, we generate a smell that is unique and distinctive to who we are, but it doesn’t stop there. The aroma that is created as we live each day more and more as the person God has called us to be, we more and more begin to smell like Christ, and that is the sweetest smell to God. Still, even before that, we should have a fragrance so strong that people can know him because of the whiff of our lives.

I’ve heard many times before, but whenever someone is not acting pleasurable, someone may say, “your stuff stinks.” Now does that mean that they haven’t bathed in a few days? No, rather it implies that the aroma they are giving off by their attitude and actions is turning people away. In the same way, being you for a purpose means that as much as you are able, smell as though God is continually making a difference in your life, like Oswald Chambers put it, as if Christ has risen in you. God wants to smell His Son on you. It honestly makes me wonder what Jesus really smelled like.

Everything about you, all that makes you you, and all that makes me me, the good, the bad, the indifferent, has formulated a smell whether we recognize it or not. And may I say, don’t be ashamed of that smell, even if someone else doesn’t like it or it sticks out, because your aroma will attract who God meant for it to attract, but if part of that smell is not a godly aroma, spray some Holy Spirit perfume or cologne (too much??), you get the idea. The point is not to put on any one else’s body spray, but to cover yourself in the scent of all that God has intended for you so that others can sense Christ and God can smell His Son on you. Be you for a purpose so that when people sniff you they always remember Christ.

FreeVerse

So, it’s been a long time, way too long. A lot has been happening and I’m long over due for a post. I call this one FreeVerse because, I have no idea where this post will begin or end, but just stick with me and hopefully you don’t get lost and I won’t get too long.

Between the ALS ice bucket challenge, the start of football season, Robin Williams and Joan Rivers passing, more people claiming to be Jesus, ISIS terrorists, rage against cops driven by the issue of racism, the fire challenge, the pass out challenge, VMAs, Christian persecution, the start of a new school year, and a less than reliable government, the need for people to rise up and stand up is now more than ever.

Every time I heard these stories, and people posting and sharing and criticizing, the only thing I ever questioned is what changes are being made? Changes and efforts that can be seen. Are people just talking to talk and to get likes on Facebook? When the next big story hits the news will the others be forgotten? Do people have all the facts? Is it always an issue of racism? Do blacks get treated the way they do because they don’t treat or portray themselves to be any better? Thanks to videos of twerking and fighting and hurting each other, the value of a race has been diminished and we promote it and find it funny or entertaining, then get mad when a white person mistreats a black person and want to scream racism….I can go on a soapbox, but hopefully you get my drift because I am leaving it there.

At the beginning of a school year I can only pray that this year we will see a difference. More and more children are being denied their freedom to read the Bible or bring it into the school, yet schools in the most refined areas are becoming less and less of a safe haven.

I think of Robin Williams and his committing suicide, and one of the things I am learning this year is that you truly never know the battle someone else is facing and what demons they are fighting; although they may smile all the time, when they are at home, smiles do not exist. Whenever God lays someone on your heart, or you just randomly think of someone, I can promise you it was not random or a coincidence. Even if it has been years since you have seen or talked to them other than Facebook, pray for them, there is something going on or something they are about to walk into that requires your prayers. This has happened to me several times this year; people that the Lord seemed to put on my heart to pray for over the last couple years, even if all it was was a “Lord bless them” or “Lord remember him/her.” I ended up talking to some only to find out they had been through storms and it made me wish I’d prayed harder. Encourage others and always be a light; people are hurting and people are dying. People need Jesus, and you may be the only one to ever introduce them.

I tend to see a lot of pictures of weddings and all that jazz, and as beautiful, expensive, and breathtaking people are obviously spending on their weddings, I often ask “how long will this marriage last”? What investments have this couple made in the success of their marriage? Not to be a killjoy, but divorce is no stranger in the American or the Christian community, which is very sad and heartbreaking. But the media highlights it and promote divorce like its a matter of getting a new pair of shoes. I am waiting to see a strong couple that lasts, and infidelity is not an option, and they face the trials together, and they don’t have friends that tell them to divorce. I want to see a couple that truly makes a vow and keep it. Most marriages seem to fail because someone re-lit their candle; selfishness. For better or worse, and worse can be bad as…well yeah. Life happens and people are far from perfect and so to walk away because it got kind of bad, get real. Now does better just happen overnight, no! Does cheating automatically require a divorce no! And truth be told if people truly followed the heart of God, they would not be in the mess they are in…and I digress. His ways are perfect and the best, why would anyone want different?

On the other hand, it is so sad that people believe virginity to be some disease or to be the wrong way to go. Like seriously, God created sex, but He has a standard and anything below that is less than the best. Virginity does not mean a person is losing out or missing out on life, it shows strength and confidence in who they are. Having sex does not make a person any more of a man or any more of a woman, just like waiting for marriage to have sex does not make any one less of a man or less of a woman. It’s been so demoralized and undignified, the beauty, value, and sacredness of sex, let alone practicing abstinence until marriage, has become less and less.

I learning to really pray for things that scare me. I have done a lot of traveling recently and God has shown me several things, including what I am afraid of as it relates to my purpose. Consequently, I am praying for things that are insane to me; things I know that God is going to have to work out or nothing even remotely close will get done. Additionally, different people are telling me different things that God told them, yet, I got a different message. I am just trying to figure all that is happening. The Lord is doing so much, and it seems there are several directions I could take for various life reasons, but I am learning how to pinpoint God’s voice and limiting my fear of jumping, so that at some point my parachute will open and I will soar.

To go deeper, I am a big reader, and one of the books I am currently reading is on personalities and I am loving it, because I love watching people and learning who they are and responding as such. I am learning about myself, focusing my strengths and weaknesses and learning to grow and perfect my them.

God is doing so much, and I know He is moving behind the scenes. I see Him crafting and shaping and getting things in order, and all that matters is that I do my part. That I am true to what He has called me to be, and who He has called me to be. In being me for a purpose, I am choosing to be a solution. I am choosing to be a light. I am choosing to be hope. I am choosing to be a reflection of Jesus himself, so that this world will be more beautiful because I was here and I gave all I had. Just from some of the things I mentioned before, the world is groaning; it is needy, and I am here, just like you, to fill the need as only I can do. I choose to be necessary.

I am sorry if I lost you or if you think I am rambling at this point, but there is so much on my mind and heart, and I have so much more I could say about what I have already talked about, amongst other topics, but I will stop here and pick up later. Other than that, I am certain that God is moving and He is on His way back. Even with all the despicable things that are happening, it provides many opportunities to share the Gospel message of Christ and his salvation through whatever outlet God has passioned us as individuals to do. Everything about you, your personalities, strengths, gifts, passions, talents, words, thoughts, ideas, and style, the world needs.

Until the next time, be you for a purpose, and be encouraged.

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.

Matrix

The More I mature, the Christian walk seems more and more like the Matrix. The idea of Matrix is that the world we live in is only a cover up of reality. I think of Morpheus and how he came to Anderson (which happens to be my last name) and gave him the option to join him or go back to life as he knew it. Jesus did the exact same thing with his disciples. He gave them a choice: red pill or blue pill. He gives us a choice follow him or refute him.

As a Christian, we learn the Word and it’s like the scales our removed from our eyes; our perspectives and world views change and the truth is revealed. Just like the movie, there were many people inside of the Matrix, but not that many on the outside. Like Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it,” Matthew 7:13-14. Furthermore, if you’ve seen the movie, you know that the enemy was not perceived by those in the Matrix, only those on the outside. Paul told the church in Ephesus the same thing, the “struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” As Christians, our spirits our more sensitive to the evilness in the world that we were unaware of before coming to Christ.

If you remember the movie, those who were no longer in the matrix, like Neo, they didn’t live glamorously; they actually looked shabby. The Christian life is a life of suffering, and Paul talked about it plenty in the old testament. In the same way, they looked broken, which is how we should be, because God has to break us to build us. However, they did go back to the Matrix from time to time to save the world from the machines and looked the part. As Christians we have to live in this world, even though it is not our home, and help bring people to safety (witnessing).

The best part about it, “bullet time.” Just as Jesus chooses us, Morpheus picked Neo. Although, he could not just fight on his own, he had to train. We have to train – 1 Timothy 4:7 and Hebrews 5:14 – Through reading, studying, listening, praying, and fasting we train ourselves not only to defeat the enemy, but to understand the world around us and not get caught up in the illusion and deceit, even the things that seem right, like Neo. Needless to say, the most popular scene in the movie is when the enemy is shooting and he bends all the way backward and avoids the bullets. We were given armor to defeat and defer the attacks of the enemy (Ephesians 6). As we grow, mature, and solidify our walk and salvation, the enemy becomes weaker; we become stronger through Christ. As we stay faithful we will be able to accomplish more things than we imagine and no obstacle is too great.

Our purpose is not inside the Matrix; it’s not found in this world. Our purpose comes from heaven. Only Christ can open our eyes. So I ask, red pill or blue pill?