journey

John Mark

It’s definitely safe to say that Acts is now one of my favorite books in Scripture. There are so many characters at play and it is really so exciting, yet it makes me mad at the same time, because I desire to see the work of the Spirit more frequently in the [Western] church and believers to be used by God in the magnificent ways that He used the apostles. But that is another post altogether. Subsequently, there is one character that I want to point out that appears a couple times in Acts, then resurfaces a few more times in Paul’s epistles. His name is John Mark.

When we first meet John Mark, we learn of his mother, a Christian woman who lodged Peter after he escaped prison. Afterward, he goes off with Paul and Barnabas on a missionary journey, which is when the story gets interesting. We learn about two chapters later that John Mark decided to go back home, for reasons unknown. I have heard many say that it was because he found the work too hard and or it was more involved than he realized, but there is also the possibility that he went back home to care for his mother, whichever reason it was, we don’t know for sure. Nevertheless, his departure caused a split between Paul and Barnabas (his cousin) later on; Barnabas wanted to welcome him back and bring him along on the missionary journey, but Paul wasn’t having it, thus Barnabas and his cousin went in one direction and Paul another.

So, what’s the point.

After considering the reactions of Paul and Barnabas, I can understand why each felt the way they did and can’t say either of them was wrong for their choice. As we deal with people in living out our purpose, we must not only recognize that people don’t always think like us or agree with us,  and like Barnabas our perspectives can be influenced as well by family. Again, this doesn’t mean that we are right or wrong, however, this story does compel us to develop not only wisdom and discernment, but compassion and patience as well when dealing with people, because even though John Mark’s reason for leaving them was deemed inexcusable, it teaches us that sometimes people just aren’t ready for what we hope or don’t see themselves as we see them. For, John didn’t leave the faith, as some assume, he left his assignment. Unfortunately, people will walk away for one reason or another, and we have the choice to trust them should they return or leave them, which is when discerning the voice of God comes into play.

Ultimately, we see that both Paul and Barnabas did what they thought was right, and God honored them both, even though they were separated for a time; whatever work Barnabas did with John paid off because not only did he end up in prison alongside Paul some years later, but Paul had also requested his presence in ministry, validating his value in the work of the Lord.

It’s not clear in Scripture when exactly Paul and Barnabas and John Mark all reunited, but the Spirit was obviously present in the development of their relationship. The point I desire to make in all of this is that God is one of reconciliation and restoration, in His timing and His way, and he does allow the people we work with to come in and out of our lives for seasons, but that doesn’t mean we stop praying for them or condemn their choices because of  a difference of opinion. Furthermore, some individuals do require extra grace and extra encouragement as they are figuring their way out and trying to honor the Lord and do what He has purposed for them to do, and if God has called us to extend that grace, then we must, because we never know what blessings we may forfeit if we turn someone away who disappointed us. How many times have we failed or disappointed God and He still keeps His arms open? But again, our journey may require us to not allow someone in our close space to protect us and protect them, like Paul, but if the Lord brings you back together, we must trust Him.

To be honest, I don’t know if this made sense. A lot was going through my mind when the Lord first illuminated John Mark’s story to me, and I wanted to get it all out before I forgot. I may come back and add to this blog so come back here in a week to check lol. Nonetheless, I think this disciple’s story reflects so many of us and those we know who aren’t ready to walk in their calling, especially if it connected with our own, but God’s grace is sufficient, so we must be mindful and not discourage those who decide to take time to do work through their things, because when God burden’s their heart enough and that fire is finally lit inside of them, the demons in Hell will tremble.

People are interesting and relationships are complex when you mix personalities and personal experiences together, and that’s what makes this race we run so beautiful, because each variation of our colors and beauty creates a breathtaking reflection of the glory of God. So, with wisdom and discernment, compassion and patience, be yourself for a purpose.

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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.

Man of Steel, (Wo)Man of Spirit

I am not a big Superman lover, other than Dean Cain, but I did in fact see “Man of Steel” not too long ago, and I did fairly enjoy Henry Cavill. However, it wasn’t until this last time I watched it that God encouraged my heart, and thus this post.

In the beginning, Clark parents decide to put the Codex, the power of a race, in him to man of steelpreserve their people, and had to send him to Earth, knowing he would stick out, but possibly help it. When I was thinking about that, it reminded me of God and how he put his Spirit, all of Heaven’s power, in us as believers, and we are called to stick out, but it’s that power we have that can change and impact the world.

As Clark grows up, he becomes overwhelmed by his gifts and often times is frustrated and afraid. His journey is all about learning to control his powers, rather than his gifts control him. In the same way, our life of purpose provides us gifts that if not used properly, can prove to be too much, thus God has to prune and purge us, so that we can properly develop and strengthen our gifts. Truth be told, sometimes our gifts scare us and we are afraid of what God is ultimately calling us to do, and it never helps when there are the naysayers and those that always have something to say and will criticize you at every chance they get. But remember, as a child of God with purpose, people are supposed to talk about you; they talked about Jesus, It may make you cry and may make you want to give up, but there is greater yet to come if you hang on.

The most profound line, in my opinion, is found in the first 25 minutes of the movie. When Clark is in the classroom, his powers start to kick in overdrive and he runs out the classroom and hides. Let me stop here and say, don’t hide from your gift and or your purpose. God gave it to you, He chose you for a reason. It was then that his teacher called his mother who came to console him and made this statement, “focus on my voice.” I was floored. There are so many voice that we are out there some that sound reasonable, but are still just plain wrong. When you live a life of your God-given purpose, you will have to block out all the other voices you hear in books, on social media, in music, on television, in politics, from family and friends, etc. Nevertheless, God is saying the same things Clark’s mother said to him, “focus on My voice.”

God’s voice is the only one that matters. He is the only one who understands what is inside of you and wants to be your support, refuge, and strength. His voice knows your destination and your future. It’s only His ‘yes’ that matters, even when everyone else says ‘no.’ So, to whoever is reading this, focus only on His voice, which means getting into His word, calling out to him, believing he will answer and show up every time, as Cal did with his Kryptonian father, and surrounding yourself with like-minded and like-spirited people. Still, the story isn’t over.

As Clark grows up and begins to accept his gift, there are many times he wants to use it, but his father won’t let him, because he doesn’t think the world is ready for what he has to offer. In the same way, you may feel like you are ready and that this is your season to break free and make your mark on the world. I encourage you to have discernment, many times we think we are ready, but God is saying “not yet My child,” because we may have some maturing to do. Other times, as for Clark, the world just isn’t ready for your full glory to show, and at times you may show glimpses of it, enough for people to notice the greatness locked inside of you, but don’t get prideful. God, your Heavenly Father, is Sovereign and knows best so just wait on Him, and sooner than later, you will hear him say, “this is your time. You are ready. The world is ready.”

It is then that Superman was born, but it happened at a time of fear and struggle, and as it often times happens here, God usually calls us off guard or when we least expect it, and like Superman you are thrust into your calling, which is why the Scriptures say “be ye also ready, in season and out of season.” More importantly, don’t doubt God. Of course, Satan, like general Zod, will try to misuse and destroy you and or your gift, or make you doubt or question it or belittle what’s inside of you. but you are an overcomer, so keep fighting and  “keep testing your limits,” don’t doubt yourself or your gifts.

I am so sure of Jesus and who he is for the simple fact that even when people attempt to discredit or devalue or cover him up, he still leaves footprints if you watch for them, and this movie is no different. You are a super man or a super woman, and you are called to be different and for people to talk about you, but you are destined for greatness and are the hope, like the ‘S’ symbol on Superman’s chest, that the world has yet to see and so desperately needs. Don’t be afraid, don’t run, don’t hide, but rather embrace and learned the gifts and the power that is inside of you. And when that moment comes, you. will. fly. And the world will never be the same.