faith

Beautiful Mercy for Ugly Sin

This love letter is amazing. As I read it and study more, the more I learn the heart of God and how much He truly loves me in spite of. Anyhow, there are four people that come to mind when I think of those that Satan very specifically targeted, not just a demon: Peter, Job, Judas, and David. Of course there may be others, but they are all I got. The first three I mentioned you are probably familiar with, but still going through Chronicles, I read about Satan’s encounter with David, and the story I knew but Satan’s role was unfamiliar.

Briefly, Satan was attempting to bring down Israel and used David to do so, by swaying him to pride and mistrust. You can read 1 Chronicles 21 for all the details. By counting the people David’s pride caused him to think that his success as the king thus far was by him alone, and what he had attained and accomplished was his doing. On the other hand, in doing so it was another slap in God’s face because it was as if David didn’t really believe the promise God made to multiply. He didn’t trust that God was doing what He said He would do. What I find the most intriguing are the events thereafter.

After David realized what had happened and God dealt with him, he was driven to build an altar and make a sacrifice to compel the Lord to stop the plague. However, in doing so, due to his guilt and shame, he nearly backed out because he was afraid, but the mercy of God is incredible. For the same place where David humbled himself after being so full of himself that God had to correct him, the place that represented one of his most costly mistakes and or sins, God still used it to build His temple.

So often in our own lives we mess up big and God has to deal with us, but when He does it’s in such a way that only He can get glory. God takes our mistakes and creates miracles. He uses our faults and failures as building blocks to an amazing testimony of His faithfulness, mercy and power. And truth be told, like David, it can be scary coming to God knowing just how flat out wrong we were, but His compassions are new every morning and His love endures forever. Coming to Him with a repented and humbled heart, the Lord is always willing to receive us with open arms. God will take the very thing hurt us and use it as a platform to help us and to see His promises come to fruition. David prepared the way for his son, Solomon, to build the temple of the Lord in the same place he built an altar.

In the end of his preparations for the next generation who would build the temple, David encouraged them. (See 1 Chronicles 22:17-19). He reminded them that the Lord was with them and everything was taken care of, so all they needed to do was focus on the task. He told them to devote and seek the Lord and begin to build the sanctuary so that things could be set in place.

The same speaks for us. We must continually seek the kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33) and surrender all of who we are to Him, heart, mind, body and soul (Matt. 22:37). As we do so, we begin to build our temples, our bodies, the place where the Holy Spirit resides (1 Cor. 3:16) and we allow those precious fruit and sacred things of God to fill our hearts and minds that will give witness to the name of Christ, like joy, peace, forgiveness, love, and hope. These things will give room for the work of God to go forth in our lives and through our lives that the Name of the Lord may be known by whoever interacts with us as we use our gifts, talents, passions, and abilities to usher in His presence and leave His sweet aroma wherever we go. We have to prepare the way and give God the ugly things, the broken things, the sin that hinders the process, so that His beautiful mercy and love can cover it and be our foundation to build on. In doing so we have mastered the art of being ourselves for a purpose.

Listen Again: Did God Really Say That?

One of the biggest challenges in my walk is knowing when God is speaking. Being a big thinker, I tend to find myself creating scenarios and writing scripts in my head of what could and or should happen concerning situations I go through, good and bad. I have heard enough times people who have so clearly heard the voice of God, many times that were in fact audible, and so I tend to pretend hear the voice of God or rather say to myself what I think He would say, or just imagine what it would be like to hear His voice commanding me to run into a fire and save a little girl, or reach into the casket and touch someone and raise them from the dead, or to evacuate everyone out of a building to save them from an impending explosion or gunman…yeah that’s only a small portion of what is happening in my head on a regular basis.

You see, for me I think that having something like that happen is proof to the outside world that God’s power is dwelling within me and that we have that close of a relationship. It’s like a stamp of approval. But even as I am writing this now, I remind myself that my relationship with Him is secure and that my gifts are irrevocable, and that He speaks to me in ways that He knows I will hear, listen, receive, and respond to His word best, but more importantly that what He has allowed me to experience in our communion is perfect for what He has called me to and the story it is creating.

I mean, if you don’t know by now, this Christian walk is a journey, full of ups and downs, and anyone would be foolish to think they could walk this walk and get it right every single time, and crazy to think that they will never misunderstand God, or read signs that don’t exist even though we are so certain that it was the Lord speaking to us. Now don’t get me wrong, in His own way He does give us signs, but we have to nurture our spirit to recognize what is truly a divine message. And in the same breath, there are a few times I know for a fact that the Lord did speak to me, a gentle voice, usually when I least expected it and wasn’t making things up in my head.

One of the last times I heard something that was so vivid and caught me off guard was, “I said where, but not when.” And in my last devotion reading through Chronicles, chapter 17 verse 6, I found this phrase “did I ever say.” And it struck me and just confirmed how often I have made up in my mind God had said this or that about whatever the situation and have just been flat out wrong. Like God never said He would be your husband (on more than two occasions). He never said you would get that job. He never said…

The problem is we get wrapped up in our own desires, which may not actually be bad, but they just aren’t what God had in mind. What I am learning is that what we think is best, God has something or someone else far better in mind for what He wants for our lives that He may receive the ultimate glory. If you are like me you like control, knowing what is going on with your life, and you don’t have to be in fellowship with God long to know that He often likes to take the plans we have and rip them up. We get worked up and bent out of shape, questioning God when things don’t work out the way we wanted and the whole time God is saying “if you only knew,” and there are times God will show you why it didn’t happen like you thought it would, like He has done with me. I am a thousand percent positive that God is constantly shaking His head at me fussing at the angels, “I wish this chic would just trust me and know I own the stars and unlike so many others that have, I keep my promises.”

This post is a little more personal, but I just want to challenge you as I challenge myself to listen again. There are times we really just don’t hear it right, or we misinterpret what was said, and that is okay. Learn from it and keep it moving. Understand His word and His will are perfect and won’t steer us in the wrong direction unless we grab hold of the wheel while He is trying to drive. Know how God speaks to you specifically and realize that what He didn’t say is just as important as what He has said to you. It’s a growing process and the closer we get and the more mature we become in our faith, the clearer the voice of God is and the more we are able to discern messages meant for us. These precious words of God will lead us on the awesome path to becoming all of who He has called us to be for His amazing purpose.

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.

The Storm Everybody Can See

jesus-calms-the-storm

Jesus calming the storm is a very familiar story in the Christian community, and if you are like me you’ve heard it preached backward and forward 2,000 different times. However, the beauty of Scripture is what Pocahontas sang “you can’t step in the same river twice,” meaning every time you read it something else is bound to grab your attention, big or small; it always keeps you guessing. This story is no different.

A sermon I heard recently referred to Mark’s account of Jesus calming the storm,  I went back over it and there was a line in his description that struck me and I had never noticed it before in any of the other accounts and wasn’t expounded on in the sermon. In verse 36 of chapter 4, you will find this detail, “There were also other boats with him.”

You know what that tells me? First of all, you are not the only one going through the storm you are in right now. There are others that share you burden(s), some lighter some heavier, either way, you are not the only one. So always strive to be a light, because no matter where you are in the storm, everyone you talk to is in one of their own that the majority of the time, you will know nothing about. Furthermore, like any storm, people are scared, nervous, panicking, fearful, uncertain, doing everything in their power to survive, and truth be told, some don’t make it; they give up, wear themselves out trying to find shelter or deny it’s even happening. But you know the difference between us and the rest of the world? Jesus is in our boat. Which brings me to the main piece that I took away.

Simply put, people are watching. You are not the only boat on sea, you are not the only boat in the eye of the storm, and the faith [in Jesus] that you say you have, people are looking to see how you respond. Will you give up? Will you freak out? Will you start cussing everyone out because things aren’t going your way? Will you hide? Will you jump off the boat and leave others to fend for themselves? Though others are caught up on their own boat in their own storm, they will still be watching you to see how you are handling it, and if they see a peace in you no matter how bad the storm is, at some point they will wonder what is happening.

Now, these other boats in the story, more than likely they knew Jesus was on the boat, just as others may already know Jesus is in your boat, which puts more focus on you. The question is, when these storms come, will they see you losing your cool in the midst or will your reaction draw attention to the only one who is able to calm the waves and the wind with his very word?

I just want to encourage you, on this boat called life, there will be nasty storms that appear as though you won’t make it out alive, but you have Jesus in your boat, and that should be your strength each and every day. For it’s his words that calm the raging waters and fierce winds, and it’s still his voice that calms the anxiety, weakness, and fears in our heart, soul, spirit, and mind.

The Lord has promised to be with us wherever we go and will cover us no matter how furious the squall gets, and living on purpose, we should act as such, because people are watching us. So when it is revealed that we are in a storm, there should be no evidence of it, because our faith would be stronger than our fear (v 40). Therefore, since people are watching us in these storms, be you for a purpose, because their survival depends on what you do before Jesus even steps in.

Women, Stop Acting Like Men

So I was listening to a message by Lisa Bevere and she made this statement, “Being a confident woman is not acting like a man.” I almost fell over, because that is the truth that so many ladies fail to understand. Furthermore, it picks at the implication of many feminists. Tony Evans put it like this, as far as value is concerned, men and women are equal, but their function is different.

God knew what He was doing when He created man and woman, if they were to be the same, He would have given them the same function, or created two men first or two women. Especially in the Epistles written by Paul, he lays out the function of each. I was actually at the nail salon and they had “The View” on and I was watching it (not a fan) and they brought up a quote from Kirsten Dunst (I believe) about how women need to be more feminine and take more of the female role and how it was a lost art, in a nutshell. So of course they talked about it, but really none of them agreed, and said that there should only be a difference in the bed room, and that a man and woman share responsibilities, and one of them is a lesbian so her view point is already tainted. Pause. I would have to agree with Kirsten Dunst, because feminism is a lost art and being a confident women has become all about being independent, stubborn, self-ambitious, with an “I don’t need a man” mindset. First off, Paul explicitly says that men and women are interdependent on each another, and as my Uncle Jeff put it, you have never heard any man of any sort say, “I don’t need a woman,” but far too often you hear a woman say “I don’t need a man.”

It actually makes me think of the Taraji P. Henson’s character in “Think Like a Man,” when it was hard for her to have a healthy lasting relationship, because she was always acting like the man. Women are called to be women, act like ladies and not be afraid to be feminine, and if you read the last article you will see some qualities that make up a confident woman. But you may be asking, “So what is acting like a man?” From my understanding, it is a matter of seeking to be domineering, too strong-willed, and forcing their independent life on others, while your home life is suffering. We should not be always battling men to try and prove our worth, that disproves our confidence in who we are; being a confident woman is being confident in who it is that God created you to be, a woman, a lady. Now is this to say we are not individuals of different personalities and livelihoods? No, we are each unique with our styles, our own strengths and weaknesses, and we definitely can be independent and be passionate and strong leaders in our communities, and in many cases women and men can share the responsibilities. However, there are certain things that distinguish us from men and praise God for that! The way the culture and mass media sets it up, it’s hard to draw those lines just considering homosexuality that forces women to be men, or the reality shows that my last article discussed. So as you seek to be a confident woman or you seek to find a confident woman, desire to be or find a woman that understands who she is as a woman and finds her identity in Christ, it really is a beautiful thing. It’s okay to be strong but you have to be willing to be soft, it’s okay to be independent but you have to be willing to submit (it’s not a scary word). Men are more confident, able, and happy to be men most when their women are acting like women, not men, that’s when problems begin.