freedom

Expression

As much as I speak of being yourself for a purpose, there are clearly many things that can mean, and it’s relative to the individual. So at some point you have to consider the standard, meaning what is it that should drive every person’s life that they walk in the glory of God, being all of who God deliberately designed them to be and to what He desires you to do in such a way that only that person can? A verse I am sure I have read previously, I came across again in a devotional and it really struck me.

“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”

expression

The context of the passage from Galatians speaks of freedom in Christ, in that there is no longer a reason to try to fit a impossible standard of perfection because of the cross. Ultimately, there is nothing about a person that makes him or her more worthy of God’s grace and His salvation than another; every one is welcome at the cross of Jesus it doesn’t matter who you are. Even before getting to the focus verse, there is the assurance of being able to be who you are at the feet of the Messiah, even if you go against how people perceive or believe you should be. The only thing that counts is your faith in the Lord God who created you that He and He alone can save you, trusting that He knew what He was doing when He created you and that He alone can satisfy you. But when it’s all said and done, what’s the proof?

Love.

Behind the person you are, the way you speak, the things you do or otherwise, it should be backed by love. Paul explained how it is all vain without love. What does that mean? It means accepting others because God accepted you. It means that you see, accept, and love yourself just as Jesus loves you, because he had something special in mind when he made you, and you live your life working toward being all he intended for you to be. It means that you love others, even those that don’t deserve it, even those that don’t reciprocate it. It means you live in the will and purpose of God because He wants to show His love to the world in a way that only you can. It means doing all you can to witness and tell others about their need of Jesus, because one day it will be too late. It means following the great commandment to love others as yourself. It means being a voice for those that can’t speak. It means giving as much as you are able, as often as you are able, understanding God blessed you to be a blessing. It means going out of your way and reaching out to those that society neglects, rejects, or are afraid of. It means loving others when no one else will because you believe in the power of the blood of Jesus to transform a life. Expressing your faith through love is being confident in the essence of who you are enough to liberate others to do the same. Expressing your faith through love is living intentionally to leave or make the world more beautiful and better than it was when you came. Expressing your faith through love is living in such a way that people no longer see you, they see Jesus manifested in your life. It simply means that you love because you love God with all your heart, soul, body, and mind. You love because He immensely and incomprehensibly loves you.

Be yourself for a purpose remembering that love is what thing that matters.

Advertisements

Fluffy

So, through some of mine own reading and devotions, I was inspired to talk about the opposing side of being you for a purpose. The more I thought about it, my concern, was that in all that I have written it may have seemed like just waking up one day and deciding to be you for a purpose will be a piece of cake and there will be nothing that will hinder the process, so to speak. In many cases, that is easier said than done.

In this society there are so many things that can hinder out light from shining, because we really want to be accepted, find a sense of belonging, and be liked. There are philosophies of how a person should be based on race and gender alone, and they definitely have their place. However, if you want to look at media alone, what is presented as the “norm” or the ways of a general groups of people is fabricated if not false, yet people believe that what they see and hear is right, about beauty, sex, gender roles, success, money, lifestyle, etc.

People are confused, male and females alike who struggle with knowing who they are and carry burdens of emptiness, loneliness and deep insecurities. These often times can be the result of parents telling them how to behave and what how they should or shouldn’t act, and not being supportive of their desires, thus have learned to conform to what a way that was pleasing to their parents or teachers or other major influences. One could say that the prescription drug issue is the result of people unsure of who they are or have been told not to be as they truly are.

Too often in this culture we try to change people and people many times have others’ best interest at heart, but it tends to add unneeded pressure and low self-esteem. Case and point, I am naturally introverted, but too many times I can recall people trying to get me to be more extroverted or have called me shy or told me that I need to open up more. No offense to these individuals, some who were family, but what they were trying to make me, I knew that’s not who I was and I was okay with who I was, but their lack of understanding or knowing how to interact with me made me feel lost and alone, as if something was wrong with me. But still, I count all to the grace of God that though I had those struggles, less now than I do now, I couldn’t make myself be who I knew I wasn’t. Even times I attempted, I feel uncomfortable, trapped, and just awkward.

In being you for a purpose, most times is not an overnight fluffy-feeling experience There are barriers and walls that need to be broken, wounds that needs to be healed, masks that need to be removed, hearts that need to be softened, closet doors even that need to be opened. Even from a young age we try to please and if our natural way of being is challenged we try to fit in or do enough to please those around us so they can care for us and attempt for their affection and love. In the process far too many lose themselves and are put in this never-ending cycle of finding their identity or just become numb to it all because they have been worked on for so long by media, by culture, by family, by their environment, almost like a game of survival.

With all this confusion that we are privy to, there is so much more value in having a Creator. The Creator knows His creation, its purpose, and how it will best function. My encouragement to you today, whoever is reading this, is to get to know your Creator and find your freedom to be all that He has created you to be. Even growing for a person like me who grew up in a positive and supportive environment, I was still a sinner. Though I never went off the deep end, I realized that for me to be all that He created me to be, there were somethings about me that I needed to change and my heart and way of thinking and motivation had to be changed into His liking. I say that because many times you will hear, as I believed, that when you come to Jesus, he doesn’t want to change you, he wants to enhance you. That is not true. Because of our sin nature and the way way we are programmed, as I have mentioned earlier, there is so much of us that God has to chisel away so that we more and more look like His Son and glow in out identities as He desired us to be. A part of which is understanding there is a time and place for everything, there is a place to be outspoken and a place to be quiet, so the more you know your Maker, the more you understand how you operate at your best and when you are in optimal position to be as uniquely awesome as you were meant to be in any given moment. God knows you better than you, and know what you are capable of better than you. Let Him come in and do his handiwork.

Yes, it may hurt. Yes, it may be uncomfortable. Yes, it may require you to take risk and take a giant leap of faith. Yes, you may have to leave some people behind. Yes, you may have to get rid of some habits. Yes, you may at times feel alone. Yes, you more often than none be the odd one out. Yes, your desires may change. Yes, you may have to let go, forgive those that hurt you, and move on. Yes, people will look at you funny and talk about you. Yes, you will make mistakes. Yes, you will fail. Yes, there will be tears. Yes, there will be doubts and uncertainties. Yes, you will question yourself and at other times question God. Yes, you will be broken, Yes, you will be humbled. Yes, you will have to empty yourself and be vulnerable. Yes, you will be in a cocoon of some sort like a butterfly. Yes, you will be purged. Yes, there will be pressure as an oyster developing a pearl or coal transforming into a diamond. Yes, you will have to go through the refining process, and go into the fire like gold. Yes, there people will walk away. Yes, there will be storms and distractions. Yes, the enemy will hunt you and go after you with all he has.

But yes, it is all so worth it. Yes, you will find freedom. Yes, you will find peace, satisfaction, and contentment. Yes, God can and will fulfill His promises. Yes, He will do amazing things in, by, through, and for you. Yes, the glory and beauty of being you for a purpose will far outweigh the struggle to get back or to finally discover who you really are, through the eyes of the One that created you. All in all, understand your Creator and you will understand you, His creation. Don’t be afraid to get back to you. Don’t give up on yourself, God, your creator still has you alive for a reason, so trust Him with your life. Don’t leave with your work undone.

Simply, put, be you for a purpose and watch God use you and position you in places you could never have have dreamed or imagined.

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.

Ephialtes

300

So, if you know me, you that one of my absolutely favorite movies of all times, though it is rated R, is 300. If you have seen it, I don’t need to explain why; if you haven’t seen it, I won’t explain, just rent it and you will understand the greatness of this movie. There are amazing and dynamic characters and so many great one-liners, and truth be told, I considered it before, but not until I last watched it that I finally was able to put thoughts together to write.

With all that being said, it is one specific character that caught my attention, whose story reflects what I attempt to share as I write. Ephialtes. He was a deformed Spartan whose hearts desire was to fight like his father, however when he approached King Leonidas, Leonidas respectfully denied, yet gave him another option to aid in the battle for freedom, which Ephialtes did not like. Thus, he betrayed his allegiance and long story short went to the enemy’s camp, Xerxes, god-king of Persia, to get the “honor” he wanted.

It made me think, so often we have in mind what we want to do solely on the culture around us; we want to fit in. However, God tells us no, we get upset, frustrated, and tend to do stupid things. However, like Leonidas, God will tell us or show us where how He can best use us, highlighting our strengths, but because sometimes it is too “small of a task” we take things into our own hands, we don’t like the background, we want to be in the front. The problem is that these “big tasks” can’t function, let alone succeed without those behind the scenes, those bandaging the wounded and giving them water or collecting dead bodies. Just like a body, every enzyme not seen with the naked eye is significant, and without it we would falter gravely. Ephialtes was blinded to this by his pride. As a result, he did the worse possible thing.

He went to Xerxes, asking for the same thing as Leonidas, and like Satan, Xerxes played to his pleasures and stroked his ego, and all he had to do was kneel, the exact same way that Devil tempted Jesus. This kneeling was not out of reverence or love, but of greed, arrogance, and manipulation. The Devil comes the same way, as an angel of light, appealing to our desires and pride, but it is not in God’s will or timing, thus we need to run far from it. Like Xerxes, the only thing Satan has in mind is destruction, giving in to those temptations is what damages our relationship with God, families, reputation, honor, and testimony. The problem is that we want when we want it how we want it.

If you look back in the conversation Ephialtes had with King Leonidas, you notice that he asked him to stand. That is so profound to me, because God has called us to stand, to be strong in Him and confident to face whatever Hell has to throw at us, trusting in His power and love, His mercy and grace, His provision and protection. Kneeling before Him and worship is a given, but it’s a choice we make on our own; those under Leonidas’ rule gladly knelt before him out of respect and a genuine love for him, Xerxes on the other hand, if not coerced, they just did so out of duty and to keep “getting.” Like the Devil, Xerxes just gave him what he wanted so he could get what he wanted, not because he actually cared, but he wanted to destroy the other kingdom.

So many get caught in that web and we miss the great opportunity that God has for us in serving Him in a way that brings out the best in us; we want someone else’s gift and hinder God from using us and Him shining through us. Like God sees in us, Leonidas saw the best in Ephialtes and catered toward his strength; like Satan does to us, Xerxes saw the worse in Ephialtes and played to his weakness. It wasn’t until he sees Leonidas again face-to-face that he realizes how completely wrong he was, just through Leonidas’ compassion; he still blessed Leonidas. In the same way whenever we come back to the loving arms of our King, His arms are open and He still desires to bless us, even though it was our betrayal that lead Him to a glorious death on the as was Leonidas. As well, pleasure and satisfaction only lasts temporarily when Satan gives it to you, operating outside of purpose and your function, and the aftermath is destruction, brokenness, emptiness, ineffectiveness, and guilt.

Being you for a purpose is accepting and embracing the strengths God has given you, not being prideful or jealous of other people’s gifts. God already knows how He can and wants to use you, and in whatever way, big or small, it will bring glory and you will shine in your differences, so don’t try to blend in; God doesn’t like to use blenders. God wants the best for us, and He truly cares and sees the best in us, even when we don’t; He knows how we can be most effective for His kingdom. He does not try to manipulate us or have impure motives. Trust the wisdom and knowledge of God, don’t do as Ephialtes did and compromise who you are and minimize who you were created to be because things don’t go your way and or God doesn’t do as you wanted Him to. Our king, like Leonidas, has been doing this for a while and has a pretty good track record, so I think He knows what He is doing. Just trust His judgment.

Be you for a purpose, not only yours, but other people’s freedom depends on it.

Be Myself Again

It’s been a while since I have done a music piece, but this song by Eric Benét, “Be Myself Again,” I had to post this. It’s such a positive song and the truth is that sometimes we do lose our rhythm, those innate qualities that make us who we are as an individual, priceless and unique. We lose our true identity, whether we were trying to fit in intentionally or we unintentionally conform to the world around us. As a result, many times we wind up unhappy, unsatisfied and discontented, but that moment you decide to play the music of your soul, the melody God composed for us, that’s when our lives change forever. So if your life notes ever sound muffled, dull, off key, just plain sour, or all of the above, give it to the Lord and He can help you find your way again.

It’s an amazing freedom to be yourself without compromise. Listen to the song and rock out to it. Be you for a purpose. Be encouraged.