cross

No Bones Broken

Wow! It’s been far too long since I have written or posted anything, so I am so glad to be here with you in this moment as you are read this. Thus, my prayer is that you are encouraged and likewise challenged by this blog.

Side note: A great portion of what I write comes from something I read in devotional, recreational, or educational books or texts, where I have taken a point and added my own twist or expounded on it. So, I just want to encourage you to read as much as you can, because there is so much out there to be consumed that you will inevitably grow, be stretched, mature, develop, and become a better person.

Nevertheless, this particular writing is based on a short conversation I had with a co-worker of mine. In a nutshell, she has been having issues with others on the job, almost to the point where she is ready to reach back and awaken the woman she was before she met Christ. As she was dropping me at the train station she told me that she was at her breaking point. And like clock work as I was getting out the car, I said to her, “if Jesus didn’t break any bones, you don’t have to break your temper.” I know for a fact that was nothing but God, because God tends to speak to me when I am speaking and or ministering or encouraging someone else; kind of like the after effects of devotions and readings I guess.

Extra side note: I have mentioned it before, but again, recognize and learn how the Lord tends to speak to you, whether to comfort, challenge, confirm, compel, or convict, that way it becomes easier to know and discern when He is speaking or otherwise. But of course, God speaks to us in various ways in different times and situations, so the worst thing you can do is put Him in a box, so just be sensitive to His voice.

Back to the point of this post. As I considered what I had said, it was so very humbling. Thinking of all that Jesus went through on our behalf, the ripping, tearing of skin, profuse bleeding, bruising, swelling, mocking, and spitting, yet he never broke. Old Testament prophesy told us none of his bones would be broken (Numbers 9:12; Psalm 34:20), but I believe that it goes deeper than the physical. I mean think about it. Jesus had every right and reason to be angry, yet he never responded to the insults hurled against him, let alone did he try to get himself out of being crucified. He didn’t break emotionally, mentally, or spiritually in that the purpose, promises, or love of God through his only son would be compromised. He saw his work completed all the way through and never said a word of rebuttal.

Wow.

As we live to be ourselves for a purpose, what an awesome reminder that despite the trials, storms, and persecutions we will experience, we don’t have to crack or break under pressure assuming the power and strength of the same active Holy Spirit that carried Jesus all the way to the cross. Yes, we will be scratched, bent, bruised, mocked, lied on, persecuted, made fun of, bet against, pained, pierced, and cut – mainly metaphorical but possibly literal – but because Jesus experienced it like us, if not exceedingly more, it doesn’t have to break us. None of those things should have the ability to break the formation of what God is calling us to be, but rather empower and compel us to fully carry out the plan that God has for our lives with the work of His Spirit in us.

No bones broken. Because Jesus didn’t break, and the same resurrection power that raised him up is inside of us, though we might bend, may we never break, less the full, rich, favored, and abundant life God wants to give us be forfeited or disrupted.

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Love Tips

Love is something you see all the time. People have different ideas of what it is or what it should look like, specifically as it pertains to romantic relationships between a man and a woman. And recently there were two quotes, for lack of a better term. that really grabbed my attention and I think will help those who are willing to listen.

“The characteristic of love is spontaneity.”

When I read that in a devotional actually, the premise was not so much on romantic, though somewhat inferred, but it was referring to the dynamic of the Holy Spirit’s movement in us. To further my point, how many times has God surprised you, or left you guessing, or made you wait, or told you to do something crazy, or led you way outside of your comfort zone? He does it all that time. Even in the New Testament it speaks a lot about the mysteries of Christ and how mysterious God can be at times, and for me that is much of what keeps me in wonder about God and who He is because, there is so much to Him, I’m on the edge of my seat wondering what He will do next. And the more He reveals Himself to me, the more our relationship deepens and the more I learn about who I am. God is not boring and the lie of Satan is anything otherwise. He never ceases to amaze me.

The same applies for our relationships.

The beauty of growing with another person, the person God allowed you to be with, is that you learn more and more about them, the good and the bad. It’s about the journey that you take together, but it’s those unexpected moments that define the truth of a relationship. So often I hear of marriages failing because it became mundane, someone (or both) got board, or someone (or both) fell out of love, or the other person wasn’t willing to do something different. Am I condoning those reasons? Absolutely not, but I think it speaks volumes as to how God intended us to love out significant others. It should be spontaneous and exciting, even in intimate settings, because it keeps you guessing and excited. That element of surprise does wonders, especially as a female. Spontaneity is where life happens; it’s where you see the depths of another person and allows you to be free to be yourself, and not be afraid to be imperfect. It does require a lot of patience though. All in all, it keeps the attention and focus at home, because time and time again we see that the moment someone else offers something more than the mundane, problems occur. Follow the example of the Holy Spirit and switch it up a bit, and if one thing doesn’t work, well, try something else. The journey is all about the story and the memories created and those times you realized why you fell in love.

However, not all surprises are honky dory.

“Love, a rare commitment to care for another regardless of the response.”

The cross is the perfect example of this. Despite of how we treat him, no matter how unfaithful we are, despite how much we fall, despite the times we reject him, Jesus still chose and chooses to love us, leaving his arms wide open for us to come to him. The truth is that we can try in any form or any way to love God as much as He loves us, but no human mind could ever fathom just how deep, wide, high, and long his love is for us. We could never repay Him for what He has done for us. His type of love is so rare, even in the church. It’s hard to find that unconditional love in any type of relationship, that sincere “I don’t care” kind of love. Granted, that does require wisdom and discernment. Nevertheless, Christ’s love for us will never run out, no matter the type of response we give Him, of course that doesn’t mean act any way you feel or think you won’t be judged, but that is another blog for another time.

As many can attest, those who have been in long relationships, there are those times you were caught way off guard by your significant other. Now, another disclaimer, this is not speaking of the extreme circumstances, but rather those imperfections that sometimes make us question the relationship. But love is all about those growing pains, because real love is not perfect. There are plenty of low points and valleys, but through the grace of God, assuming we are in fact living in His will, we must continue to love. Relationships begin on that eros and phileo type of love, but it lasts only on that agape love, because there will be plenty times you really don’t like each other. However, the commitment you make is to be a light even when the other is being all but pleasant for whatever reason. All in all, it comes down to loving that person, with fervent and intentional prayer, being patient and caring the way God continues to be with you, because that moment we do get back in line, no matter what it takes to get there, the solidarity of the relationship grows and that love reaches such a deep place that will be a testament for the generations to come.

Be you for a purpose and love hard, love deep, and be spontaneous as only you can, and get ready to be amazed by what happens in your relationships and in your life.

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.

Debt

14_debt-paidDebt. At some point we have all had it, a little or enough to look at the number and cry, whether a credit card, mortgage, phone bill, student loan, cable, etc. Debt is a major part of the society we live in, just considering the massive debt the US is in, but that is neither here nor though. The question of the hour, so what?? Whenever a person faces debt, the relief of being able to pay it off or work it off brings a sense of happiness, comfort, satisfaction, gratitude, completion, and self-worth. So obviously, the greater or more substantial it is, the more it means when a debt is satisfied or forgiven, and the more grateful and sometimes humble a person tends to be.

There is the story of a woman who was being herself for a purpose; she was honest about her situation and about the debt that she owed. When she realized she had the opportunity to pay it off, she did so in a manner of extreme thankfulness. So much in so that she was judged, slandered, and criticized right in her face, but because she knew who she was and didn’t deny it, she pressed on still because she desired her relief. Her name is unknown.

When you understand how much of a wretch you are, how dark your heart really is, and how unholy you truly are in comparison to a perfect and holy God, you realize you owe a debt that is far greater than anything you could ever pay, literally or figuratively. Being you for a purpose means acknowledging the dire need for a Savior and how completely lost and blind you are. Considering the last blog, “Murder,” no matter how good you think you are, trust me you are far worse, and I am learningpaid in full that and how immensely far from perfect I really am continually. Thus, I am more and more grateful for the cross and for the blood of Jesus. It was his, and only his, sacrifice that saved me and paid my terribly deadly debt in full.

Like Mary, we have to be honest about how messed up we truly are and that we are in need of someone to wipe out or forgive all that we owe. Again, I heard it put this way, “we will never know how unholy we truly are until we realize how holy God is.” When we are true to who we are with who created us, we can no longer hide behind our insecurities or failures, or use the mask of our accomplishments and achievement, because He sees us; He knows us; He created us. When we come before Him and take off the make-up, the cover-ups, and the veils of pride, arrogance, ignorance, perfection. deceit, denial, egoism, self-righteousness, judgement, and self-pity, He is then able to break away the pieces that shouldn’t be there and mold us, like a potter (Jeremiah 18), into the person He designed us to be. It is then His grace and mercy can begin to calculate how much is owed, and his blood takes the information and uses just enough drops to pay the bill. The beautiful part is that whenever we need more, it is there for us whenever we need it.

Just for me, the more I understand how wicked my heart really is and how much He loves me in spite of me, thus, the more I want to love and serve Him. Being me for a purpose, the good, the bad, and the ugly, I realized how high the price he paid for me on Calvary, and though I can never pay Him back, I plan to spend my life trying as if I could.

I love the story of the woman and her alabaster box, because she was a woman at the crossroads, no longer afraid or worried about what people would say; she didn’t care, for in that moment she knew she had nothing else to lose; it was now or never, all or nothing. She gave all of herself, and put it all on Jesus’ feet. She recognized there was only one person that could make her whole and that would afford her any type of compensation for her debt, and give her life meaning, restore her value, significance, and worth, and instill a purpose for her life. She did what she had to do, and Jesus paid it all.

Be you for a purpose and take off the mask. Remove the blinders. Open yourself up fully to the only one that can pay the debt for your soul.