life

Puzzle Reformed and Expanded

It’s amazing how we think we know what God wants for us and where He is leading us, but as I have been learning, the deeper you go, the Lord will fill in the in-between. Needless the say, the vision is still the same or rather the end result, but it has expanded. The Lord has given me new passions, developed others, and revived pasts interest or ideas, so that now I have no idea how it will all come together. I thought I had all the pieces to the puzzle picture that my calling would create, but I was missing quite a few, and I am still unsure as we whether or not I have all the pieces or if there is more that aren’t in my puzzle box yet.Image result for random puzzle pieces

I am still growing, still learning, still discovering my gifts and who I am. The Lord is doing the same for you. The closer you become to your Creator the more you learn you who are and who were created to be. It’s truly a humbling thing, when the Lord shows you even the smallest of what He has in store for your life and how He wants to use you. I often question if I am worthy enough to be used as such, but one thing for certain, I look forward to what is in store. On the other hand, I am scared out of my mind, because with great power comes great responsibility and I am certain that the Enemy will go toe-to-toe with me to get me off track or force me to forfeit God’s plan for my life.

My verse for the year has become Luke 12:48, which tells me that because I have been given much, much will be required of me. More than ever, I am focused on my spiritual compatibility for the work ahead, that is prayer, studying Scripture, and operating and depending on the Holy Spirit. This journey has become even more incredible and I am so excited about what the Lord is doing, but not only in my life but in your life as well. I am more than certain that there are so many who the Lord is quietly bringing out of the shadows, whom He will vindicate, restore, and show off to the world.

Now more than ever, there is such a need for the people of God to access and function in the power of the God through the Holy Spirit. The devil is busy and is trying to bring as many people to Hell with him as he can, so we need to fight with all that is within us without fear truly believing that greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world. It’s time for us to step up our game and truly fight for the souls of the lost, by go deeper and being intentional about what the Lord has created each of us to do.

You may think that what God has in store for you is no big deal or is less important or significant than others’. But I am writing this to let you know that the more you trust Him, the more you believe in Him, the more you abandon and surrender your will to His, the more you will realize how incredibly needed you are. Nevertheless, you may think you know everything the Lord wants to do or you may still be trying to understand how all the pieces of the puzzle of your life will come together or even if you have all the pieces necessary for you to fulfill your purpose or even make sense of it. I am a witness that if you keep your focus on God, you may get surprises and be thrown curve balls that will make you question everything you thought, trust the Spirit that is within you that you are exactly where you’re supposed to be and that He knows your future and will not lead you the wrong way.

The completed puzzle of my own life has more details and has more pieces that at this point in my life I am honest enough to say I don’t know how or when they will all fit together, and I often get overwhelmed trying to make sense of things that I have put on hold and or understand what I need to do or focus on next, but simply put, I trust God and find myself praying things that scare me. At some point it will all come together in such an awesome way that only God can get the glory. I beg you to believe the same for your life. One day it will all make sense.

 

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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.

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.

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.

Mansions: Heavenly Ghetto

heaven2

There is a question that has lingered early on in the hip-hop culture, yet it may have come up before that. The question you ask, “Is there a ghetto in Heaven?”

Now I am sure you are asking yourself, is that even a possibility, considering our connotation of ghetto versus that of heaven, but in actuality it is a legitimate question. Why or how you ask? Most people are familiar with the verse in the John that tells us that Jesus goes to prepare a place for us, but when you read it, it doesn’t say that He is preparing mansions; it only says that there are many mansions. So what?

The work we do here on Earth counts. How we live for Christ matters. You may think or have the assumption that your labor is in vain, as if you are fishing without catching a fish, let alone a sardine, but God sees you, and whether in this life or the next, He will give you all that you are due. God is watching and His angels are keeping records of every word every said and every action done, both good and bad, matter of fact both Daniel and John say that there are books about each of us open when we have to give our account of what we have done with our lives. What are they writing about you?

There is a song that says “I’m sending up my timber every day,” timber implying wood to build your heavenly residence. I think it’s safe to assume that we all desire to live in big mansion up on a hill next to the apostles or other great Christ-following leaders over the centuries when we get to Glory, which is all fine and dandy. However, Our Father who is preparing a place for us needs some material so that He has all He needs to build the mansions we desire, thus, the timber.

Our timber is simply how we live for Him. Being you for a purpose means that every opportunity you are given to send up timber; you are letting God use you as He so chooses, multiplying your strengths and efforts, and being the power, despite your weaknesses to serve Him. The material we send to Heaven is how we love others, especially those who won’t love us in return, how we treat each other and speak to and about each other, how we use the gifts and talents He has given us, how we forgive others, how we invest in our relationship with God, how we face temptations, attempting to live holy, how we give, how obedient we are to His Spirit, and how we walk in the perfect will of God. The more, we have, the bigger our residence.

Jesus is preparing a place for us, the question is what, because it didn’t say they are all mansions, only that there are many. So that left me thinking, so what else is there? Is it the possibility that those who received salvation, their down payment to break ground, because He is truly preparing a place for all of us, but because they didn’t live a life worthy of their calling (Eph 4:1), they didn’t send up enough timber, if any, God was limited by what He was able to do, and thus instead of a nice heavenly home, they received a shack?

I am convinced that not only the dwelling place, but the location to an extent, will be determined by the lives we live on this side of Glory. If that is the case, then it may be not so strange to say that Heaven has a ghetto. Of course, don’t get me wrong, making it to Heaven, even if by the skin of your teeth, even if I get a cardboard box to live in, it is infinitely greater that Hell. Furthermore, the heavenly ghetto is completely different than the ghetto as we think. I mean for starters, there is no sin, no crime, no craziness; no need to worry about the water or electricity bill, for there is no need for light since his full glory will light up the universe and there is a river of clear life water; no busted concrete streets, but rather streets of gold; no homeless people for every has a place to live, and no poverty for we will be feasting with Christ and there is a tree of life with 12 different fruits in bloom in its season. God is gracious enough to at least promise a place, no matter what, which is another example of His awesome love.

Being you for a purpose means not settling for anything less than God’s absolute best, in this life or the next. Make your life count so that you when it’s all said and done, God will personally give you something to show for it, for all the sacrifice, all the pain, all the tears, all the hurt, all the suffering, all the struggling, all the loneliness, all the frustrations, all the fight, all the effort, and all that you had to endure on your way home in Heaven, and the insane part is that mansions are just the beginning. Trust me, it will all be worth it.

Be you for a purpose and overwhelm God with all your timber in order to hear those coveted words, “Well done. Welcome home.”