Jesus

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.

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.

What Else is There?

It’s a safe bet to say that my favorite princess movie ever is “The Swan Princess,” and if you haven’t seen it, your life is not complete. One of the the reasons I love it so much is that Princess Odette is her own person and not flaky nor superficial. How? When the Prince Derek announces his decision to marry her, she proceeded to ask him what else other than her beauty did he like about her, to which he responded “What else is there?” Heartbroken, she leaves and the wedding, as you may guess, was called off.

When I think of those exchanging of questions, it reminds me of a passage I recently read in John chapter six. In the particular conversation, Jesus I believe is a bit frustrated, disappointed, and possibly even hurt, because many of his followers were leaving him because what he was preaching was hard to accept, let alone follow. It happens so often today still, those that started off with Christ, the Enemy comes and chokes out the word because they get discouraged or it seems too overwhelming and people give up on God, and they turn back. Even as those who actually witnessed Jesus and saw him perform miracles and heard God in the flesh, the creator of the universe speak and teach, if so many would turn, why would it be any different now? However, what makes me think Jesus was somewhat hurt is the question that he would then ask his disciples.

“You do not want to leave me too, do you?”

I can very well be wrong, but to me it seems that the emotion of Jesus was so heartfelt and real and it’s a question I think so many, including myself, have asked. Especially when you choose to be yourself for a purpose, people will walk away and you may have to walk away from some people, and truth be told you may lose more than you expected and it gets to the point where you ask “are you going to leave me too?” The problem is that when you give people real, in this case meaning exemplifying the person God has called you to be, not everyone can and will accept it, but you must go on, even if that means you have to walk alone sometimes, believing that in His time and in His way He will put the right people to walk alongside of you on the journey toward your destiny. It’s so real and I love Jesus even more, because he really did have emotions, those that are genuine and very relatable, considering how he still recognized the fact that though not everyone would walk away from him, at least one would betray him and hurt him even more than those who walked away, but yet, he was not deterred from the assignment he had to complete. He knew he couldn’t change who he was nor the calling and purpose given to him, which is a message to me to keep going and being what God has called me to be for a purpose, because my purpose is so much greater than me and I can’t let emotions or other the misunderstanding and unwillingness of other people sway what I know to be true. But, getting back to the story, the crux of why I alluded to the “Swan Princess” is in the response of Peter to Jesus.

“Lord, to whom shall we go?”

“What else is there?” asked Prince Derek. Though the motive and reasoning is different, same idea applies. What other choice do you have? Where else can you go? What else has such significance? What else is important enough to even consider another? What else matters? Not so much for Derek, which he did come to realize, but Peter was exactly right. The truth is that apart from Jesus, nothing else matters. It is he and he alone that we are able to be who we are, because he is the one that created us. It is he and he alone who gives us meaning and purpose in life. Apart from him, there is no hope, there is no future, and there is no life, just emptiness and unwavering void. One thing I tend to say is that without him I can do nothing; without him I am nothing. It all starts and ends with him. It all revolves around him, his will, and his eternal word.

Consequently, “what else is there?” Other than being all that you were called, created, and destined to be, what else is there that will give you such satisfaction, peace of mind, completion, joy, and significance and make you irreplaceable? Settling for something less than God’s absolute best, or choosing to clone another person or a culture or the world will demean and limit the power of God in your life to do all that He so desperately desires to do. I mean seriously, the Jesus, the God who spoke the very world into existence, the same one who created the universes with his very word, the same one who controls the seas and the wind, and the same one who by touching the very hem of his garment a woman was healed, is the same one who took His precious time and thought in designing and crafting you specifically with a purpose in mind. Say what?? That is so mind-blowing to me. I mean, why would anyone not choose to live the life that was awesomely and uniquely tailor made for them by that same God who not only placed the stars in the sky, but knows them all, each by name? Like the song says, I have no other choice.

Truly, there is nothing else than to just be you for the purpose that God intended.

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.