spirituality

High and Low

It’s always funny how I get overly familiar with a Bible story, then for whatever reason I go back and read it, only to find I missed so much and I don’t know nearly as much as I thought I did. Prime example, the transfiguration. Previously, I had just thought the story captured in Scripture was Jesus and his special disciples going up a mountain, seeing the glory, then the story closes with a time gap to the next section (depending on translation) and another story begins. Boy was I wrong!! I was encouraged to read this account in Mark 9 after reading a few devotionals from Oswald Chambers’ “My Utmost for His Highest,” and I was intrigued by all I missed.

One of the first things I noticed is the fear of the disciples in the presence of Christ, up and down the mountain. It made me wonder if the fear of the Lord is merely reverence, actual fear, or a mixture of both. When I considered their moments of fear, it was definitely not a matter of reverence, but they were afraid because they didn’t know what to do or say or the response of Jesus to their actions. I think for us, it is necessary that we have a healthy balance of reverence for the Lord along with fear for His immensity. He is far above human understanding and a fear of His judgment and limitless incredible power and what He may do should inspire us to live as close to the cross as we can. Of course, as we learn the character of God that level of fear is balanced out because of His overabundant grace and overwhelming love.

The funny thing about this story is that in their fear, we see how started saying dumb stuff, for God the Father straightened Him out real quick so he couldn’t act his out, as did Jesus when he handled the dispute of the disciples who were totally missing the point of the ministry they had just been apart of and knew that they were wrong, which is why they didn’t respond to Jesus when he asked them. Without exhausting it, in our fear, we shouldn’t react, but we should instead consider Jesus and his glory so that we don’t mistake what God wants to say to us, show us, or do for us.

There really is so much in this account that I could present here, but a blog is not a book so I will refrain or just do a part two. Nevertheless, the major point that I gathered from the transfiguration story is the highs and lows of life; we can’t have one without the other. What struck me about the story is not their incredible experience on the mountain, but their immediate journey back down the mountain and into regular life.

As Chambers reflected, when we experience the high mountain-top experiences, we naturally want to stay there, but the mountain was created to prepare us for the valleys of life; we can’t stay there forever. As soon as they saw Elijah and Moses and were scolded by the Father, the experience was over, and back down the mountain they went; Jesus actually went ahead of them. If we are supposed to follow Christ, we must recognize the purpose and time necessary for the mountain.

Furthermore, there is a misconception that we leave the presence of God on the mountain, but just as Jesus went before them and walked with them down the mountain and back to reality, he will walk with us; His presence will never leave us. Just as we see when Jesus was in the wilderness for forty days fasting, right after his in depth encounter with God it was time to put what he learned to practice. For after his fast, the Devil tempted him, and immediately after their return from the high mountain, Jesus had to face problems in ministry with the other disciples.

There will be more lows in life than highs, and low doesn’t necessarily mean bad, but rather the normal every day things of life. The highs are those intense encounters we have in the presence of God, and I must admit that I couldn’t handle it if it happened every day, which is why those mountain highs last for just a weekend or a short time, as we see in Mark 9, where the majority of this chapter is not concerning the transfiguration, but what happened when they came back down. Likewise, if Jesus had stayed or if they had returned later, then that boy would not have been delivered and the disciples would have missed critical teachings and experience of the work of the Son if they would have lingered on the mountain.

As we live a life a purpose, it has to be guided and influenced by the times we spend with God on the mountain, but we can’t be stingy with what we gain there, rather, we must take those blessings and lessons and share it with others, otherwise it becomes a waste and the beauty of God can’t be share with others, encouraging them to seek the presence of God. We have a responsibility be ourselves for a purpose in lows, prepared in the highs of His presence.

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A Command that Doesn’t Make Sense

I am doing character studies in Scripture again and one common figure that has fascinated me is Elijah. He is known to be the one of two persons never to die, and reading his story and how the Lord used him, it is clear as to why he was graced as such. Nevertheless, he was a real person with real emotions that at one point made him suicidal. Within the stories centered around this man of God, we are introduced to a widow, whose name was not provided and all we know is that she had a son.

Reading this story, which I have read or heard preached several times, I was struck when God told Elijah that He had already commanded the woman to feed him. First of all, the fact that we get this piece of the character of God, we see how He truly does value women. Often times, people consider Judaism or stigmatize the place of women in the Old Testament and the corresponding culture, but this excerpt is one of many where we see God’s consideration of and revelation to women. So awesome. Still, the focus is on the command itself.

God had called this woman to minister to His prophet, Elijah, by giving him food. Fair enough, but the only problem was that she had none to give. So now what??

Being a widow in that time, it is no surprise that she was struggling, and the pressure on her was much greater considering that she had a son to take care of as well, so the last thing that she needed was God to tell her to give away what she really didn’t have to give. Yet, she did have something to give. Yes, it was barely enough just for her and her son and starvation was looking like a sure thing; she didn’t see the value in what she had, but made the commitment to obey God, though she didn’t know how. Isn’t that just like us??

God often commands us to do the impossible, for when we look around and consider what we have at our immediate disposal, we often think we misheard God or just fall into disobedience. I heard at a conference, “whatever the need, you have the seed to produce it,” and oh how this widow’s obedience reflects this principle. As we read the rest of the story, we see first that she was willing to obey, but she was just unsure how, and that is completely fine, since it will often lead us into unknown and scary situations, which is why Elijah told her not to be afraid and to do first what God commanded her to do before doing what she thought was necessary, like feeding her son. Now do I think that she was immediately assured to the fact of no fear or apprehension? Maybe not, but Elijah encouraged her that by sowing that seed, the Lord would bless her for the years to come during the famine. Her seed would meet her need. She was desperate, struggling, and preparing to die, but God met her where she was, giving her the opportunity to trust God with literally all that she had. And when you really think about it, she really had nothing to lose if she was going to die anyway.

In our moments of desperation, God still calls us to bless others in various ways, we must never forget that, because the earth and its fullness belongs to Him. As we see, the blessing of obedience far outweighs the cost of obedience.

As we continue to be ourselves and live our lives on purpose, we must never get so consumed with what we have that we hoard the little bit. God is a God of multiplication and whenever we sow those seeds and live in even the smallest acts of obedience, following the commands that don’t make sense or appear to magnify the struggle we are in, rather than rescue us, He promises to prove Himself, His power, His provision, and His faithfulness.  All of this is the beauty of the journey, because the biggest moves of God in our lives are in those random situations that can’t be logically processed as possible or effective; every mandate has a purpose, whether you recognize it immediately or not. So I have one question, do you trust Him?

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.

 

Tattoo or Testimony??

Wow. How long has it been?? Here we are again, and I must say, tattoos are like testimonies of saying “yes” to the Lord. Let me explain. And for
starters, yes, I have tattoos, four to be exact. Who would have thought?

There are times you know exactly end goal of where Lord desire for you, so as you would a tattoo, when you already know what t should look like, you let the Artist go for the gold. In other cases, the plan of God is not always clear and you may just have a bunch of pieces floating in your head, so you go to the parlor and talk with the artist and it can take time before the final art piece is finished and everyone knows what will happen. This is often what happens with us in our walk, most times we juggle the pieces of our lives, believing they will be a part of a great testimony, but Image result for tattoo ink and needlesit’s not until we bring them before God and spend time that it all makes sense and He creates something beautiful. We build a trust in His judgment and that He knows what He is doing.

But it doesn’t end there. It’s a process.

The best part of this story though is that it’s already paid for, Jesus paid for your story on Calvary. Nevertheless, God had to prepare you, as an tattooist has to do. Clean, shave even, and get the color and needles and equipment together, and it’s all to protect you. Still, there is pain, sometimes a lot other times not so much, but any time the Lord is moving us there is discomfort because your whole being is being changed, but it doesn’t last long.

But it doesn’t end there. You have to heal.

When you first get the tattoo it looks great, but the artist will tell you that you have to take care of it so that it doesn’t get messed up. The calling on your life is now real, but you have to protect it and nurture it. And it can take a while. But in the process, you have to be disciplined to follow instructions you were given when you left, and it still may feel raw. You are a new person. But, whether it’s prayer, studying, taking a break, or whatever the Lord instructs us to do to protect anointing, we have to oblige. We have to trust the Artist and His expertise. Now in this healing time it will itch, and peel, and it must be cleaned, just like we have to be purged and remove all the excess that is not in line with the masterpiece the Lord is working on, whether habits, people, dreams, your past, emotions, mental and spiritual growth, etc. And their still will be some discomfort. And truth be told, you may even start to reconsider or question why you said “yes,” and if it is really worth all the extra.

Image result for tattoo ink and needles

But it doesn’t end there. The glory will be revealed.

When it’s all said and done, the dead skin is done, no more itching or discomfort, and you can put the scented lotion on again lol, when you have healed and have been cleansed and or purged, the beauty of that piece of will look better than you expected and you will want to tell you story. And even better, people notice the change and ask you about your new beauty marks, or calling and you get to tell them all about the Artist that created it, and if you stayed faithful and obedience, it will turn out to be far above your expectations.

The next time you see a person living a blessed and abundant life in Christ, it’s a result of intentional efforts. The time, the discomfort, the healing, the purging, it’s all worth it. God is creating a masterpiece for eternity’s sake.

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Avengers

avengers

So, generally speaking, I am a super hero fan and my favorite super hero movie is “The Avengers.” I was watching it last night, but this morning I got to thinking about the battles of each avenger and Loki and began to see each one represented people in the church. Now if you think I took this it a little to deep, that is fine with me, still, realize that these comparisons I am about to make are not meant to be a perfect parallel to the movie(s) or the comics, just something to think about.

With all that said, the first on the list is Hulk. The way I see it, the Hulk represents the self-pity Christian, the one who tends to say “woe is me.” Like some of us, Banner was afraid of what was inside of him and refused for some time to embrace it, although, he had good reason. Sometimes we get a glimpse of what God has called us to be, but those things about us that seem out of control, whether mentally, emotionally, physically, or whatever it is that makes us different, force us to hide it or deny it, and in doing so sometimes we hurt ourselves or others and become depressed. Some just become angry altogether (like Banner), others just run away and run from God and some turn to things like drugs, alcohol, or busy themselves with a career. Nevertheless, when we finally tap in to who we are in Christ, and know that our imperfections make us perfect (Ps 139:13-14), understanding that God’s Word will help us gain control (Heb 4:12), there is nothing that can stop you. The Hulk then becomes one of the most powerful people in the body of Christ, especially when you have people around you like Tony Stark.

Iron man is the arrogant Christian who may very well have every reason to be, because of the success and money. Yet, Stark did have to overcome some major demons and often times felt invincible and was disruptive. Many Christians are like that, they don’t consider other people’s feeling or individual walk, and can be brash and take things into their own hands, without putting others ahead of themselves, leaving others behind. However, once Stark learned to humble himself, he was a very pertinent part of the Avenger team. Like Iron man, when believers use their gifts and talents for the benefit of the kingdom and not themselves (1 Pet 4:10), God uses such people in a marvelous way. However, these people often clash with Captain America.

Being older, Captain America had a different mindset that didn’t match with someone like Stark. He can be considered the close minded judgmental type of Christian. These people like the Captain, were faithful and take the gospel seriously, but too often they miss the bigger picture; they have tunnel vision and refuse to think outside the box and are orthodox and condemn those that aren’t. However, the moment they open their eyes and accept the new thing God is doing (Is 43:19) and humble themselves enough to learn, they are awesome leaders for the kingdom of God, even with the Black Widows.

Natasha Romanoff represents a person trying her hardest to redeem herself from her past sins. This person may not be a believer. Many times a person chooses not to come to Christ because he wants to get himself together and right all his wrongs. The beautiful thing about Jesus is that when you come to him, you don’t have to live with that guilt or live bound up in chains by your past (Luke 4:18), because when Jesus forgets, he remembers your sins no more (Ps 103:12; Mic :18), so why should you? As Black Widow tried to do, you can’t earn your salvation, that only comes through Christ, and the moment you come to him, the only one who can redeem you (Ps 78:35), and give him all your mess, that pain becomes a mighty purpose and you can lead others like Hawkeye.

Hawkeye I think represents the one who got to sure of himself, but it was then that the enemy came in and he fell under the trap. Many of us do that when we reach a certain point that we lose focus or misjudge the enemy and use our own wisdom, and next thing we know we are in some mess. That’s why the scripture tells us to be careful and watch out so that we don’t get so caught up that we fall (1 Cor 10:12), for the enemy is around every corner, and sometimes the distraction can be one like Thor.

I think Thor could relate most to the Christian that has a soft spot for the world; he knows its dangerous but still has a heart for it and it’s a constant battle, although you can’t serve two masters (Rev 3:16; Matt 6:24). More so, Thor thought he could defeat the enemy alone. As a believer, we have to let go of the pleasures of the world and be sold out, even if that means leaving family or friends behind (Lk 9:23). Now later on, God may send you back, but He needs to do a work in you first. Furthermore, like Thor, learn to appreciate and use the people around you that can show you the enemy for who he really is, who is a lot like Loki.

Loki simply represents the Devil himself, whose objective is to steal, kill, and destroy just as Loki. Let’s call his army demons. They came and caused a lot of Havoc on earth, but when the Avengers came together, called by Nick Fury, it was rough but they got it together and won in the end.

In this walk of life you may be one of these avengers, each with different gifts, talents, personalities, skill levels, and abilities, but ultimately that makes up the body of Christ (1 Cor 12) and God has called us, as Nick Fury called the Avengers, believing in us when others didn’t believe in us and we didn’t even believe in ourselves. Still, as with Fury, God doesn’t always tell us the whole story, but the more we follow Him, the more He reveals things to us (Amos 4:13). He has a special plan and a special purpose for each of us, and the more we learn to work with each other and not against each other (as the Avengers did in the first half), the greater our impact will be on this world for the purpose of God’s glory.