value

Empty Sacrifice

I am finally beginning to understand the greatness if David. As I am sure you have heard him described as one of the most prominent Biblical heroes, but it’s not until you look over his life and his response to situations and his words that explain his epic nature. Yes, he was an ordinary man, but God’s extraordinary work was very evident in his life, in spite of his detrimental faults, which spilled over into his son whose life for the most part was honorable and I can see why he was such a ladies man. Getting back to the point, in the last post I referenced the story of David counting the people of Israel and to right his wrong he built an altar, the process of which is my attention this go around.

Long story short David needed a place and supplies to build an altar and make a sacrifice, but the person whom the angel of the Lord led him to purchase from was reluctant to take his money because of a reverent intimidation of David and his entourage. (Read the story for specifics, 1 Chr 21:18f.) Nevertheless, during this exchange, David made this statement:

“I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.”

Well I just thought that was the most profound thing ever! So friggin’ deep! But in all seriousness, what it says is much of the heart of being you for a purpose. For starters, you can’t give God your best if what you give Him belongs to someone else, meaning you just took it without aligning it to fit into what God has for you. At times, yes we need help in getting to where God has called us, but not at the expense of others and not in a way that refuses a symbol of gratitude or honor for those who have helped us along the way. I think the heart of David here tells us that as much as we can, what we give should be equally reciprocated in some way or another, if not now then in the future. But, if the motive is strictly refusing what God has already blessed us with and put it aside to take advantage of someone else’s blessing, the fault and wrongdoing is ours and we have utterly missed the mark and in no way are being who God would have us to be.

Likewise, any success book talks about sacrifice and investment and to me David had the same mentality, in that nothing in life worth having is for free, whether in time, energy, money, or anything of the sort. In his particular situation he wanted to make up for the wrong he had done and save the lives of his people as a result, and so I believe that his desire was to give all he could to get the ultimate response. So by not paying, it’s as if to say there was no true investment or he didn’t really give up or sacrifice anything to get back in fellowship with the Lord.

To me that just says so much, and as I’ve done before, I may be completely over-thinking, over-analyzing, or just going way to deep, but I guess the point of these blogs is to share what I took away and what I’ve learned of various things, such as my devotions. I say all that to say, don’t give God anything cheap, lacking any intrinsic or even extrinsic value, or half-hearted, otherwise you psych yourself our because true fellowship and worship will cost something and will require sacrifice, of which the gospels speak about. Don’t try to get over on God or get over on people, because God knows our hearts and motives and because He gave and continuously gives us His best – even if we don’t recognize it at the time – He then deserves our absolute best, not someone else’s because what you give of someone else becomes your worst. But, when the Lord leads you to persons to assist you to further the purpose He has for you, show humility and give them your best, because they sacrificed for you, so don’t make it empty or worth nothing.

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We are Not Gods

There is a common belief that assumes that we, humans, are gods or can become a god in some way or another. Even though, it sounds pretty, that is a dangerous philosophy to carry, if for no other reason, we can barely keep track and hold together our own lives, let alone be responsible for some distinct facet of every other person’s life. In my opinion, people just want to feel good about themselves and put themselves on a pedestal and be acknowledged. We want that sense of control and power. On the flip side, people tend to deem others as gods just because of what they have accomplished or what they have, lifting them up as some supreme being. Truth be told, these supreme beings, can do absolutely nothing for us, let alone our souls.

May I just say, we are not gods nor can we become a god. We are virtually powerless and whatever sense of ability and power we do claim, it all comes from God anyway, ask Jesus, Paul, or James. So often, when pride or race gets in the way, we want to feel worthy and valuable after we have been treated wrong, misused, or abused, and we lose sight of the beauty in us and take it to the extreme. Many times, we get haughty, self-righteous, and hurt people in the process. We tend to believe the world owes us something to recompense for our godhood.

That is a lie from the pit of Hell.

We are humans, no more, no less. We are God’s precious and prized possession. We all in some way or another have been hurt, broken, disappointed, discriminated, abused, or misused, but our value does not come from other people. Our value comes from the Creator Himself, and as I recently heard it, our worth does not come from what we do or don’t do, it comes from birth. As sons and daughters of God, that is what makes us special. You must never lose sight of that.

It’s interesting, because this is not the avenue I originally wanted to go in when speaking of this, but I will take you to the story of Joseph, where I was inspired. At the end of the story, when he was reunited with his brothers, and they were feeling guilty, remorseful, and obligated to him due to all that they had done to him, Joseph showed compassion. It is there he asks the question, “am I in place of God?” That stood out to me because even in the midst of his new positioning, he had every ability to avenge himself for what his brothers did, but he realized this one thing, he was not God, nor did he have the right or any form of divine power to condemn those that wronged them. The very next verse you understand why. Joseph acknowledged that because of all that had happened since he was sold into slavery, and he chose to stay faithful and committed to God, he was able to lead a nation. He knew his place and God blessed him for it.

Let that be a reminder to us. Your value and identity comes from God Himself who created us perfectly, fearfully, and wonderfully. Though you have been mistreated, that does not give you the right to step on the backs of others; the world owes you nothing. All that we have and all that we are comes from God anyway, and at any moment, He can choose to take it away. So don’t put others or yourself on a pedestal so much that it blinds your view of God. For money, prestige, power, influence, talent, education, success, or anything of the liking does not make you worthy, but rather being birthed into a relationship with the only God. This means, as Joseph came to know, that we do not have godlike powers to do whatever we want when we want, no matter what the situation is. Science and emotions can cloud that truth, so be mindful and remember to do what God has called you to do, and let Him do what He will do. Don’t take His job or even a portion of it, by acting as a god or claiming to be one. When you take His job, not only will you miss out, but you will fail miserably, not only yourself but others, because no one can do it like He can.

Know your place, and be blessed for it. Be you for a purpose, and you are a human, a wonderful creation by God.

Simply Put…..LOVE

simply putThis piece I contemplated doing for some time now, because I wasn’t exactly sure how I would integrate it in the theme of “purpose,” and on top of that there is so much that I could say. Thus, it was a matter of what should I say and what angle should I take in talking about “love,” I truly enjoy talking about love and relationships. Nonetheless, when you live a purpose-filled life and your intent is to get married or preserve a marriage relationship, there are basic things that need to be considered so that the person God put in your life on purpose to help you fulfill His purpose for your life never has to guess or doubt your love.

So as a disclaimer, this not about general love for other people, but specifically that eros love between you and the person God created just for you. I am not looking to bash either men or women in any sense, or point out red flags, or even give my own preferences, or an advice column of “what ifs,” or tell you that God wants you to get married (God has to show you his purpose in that area), or give a list of things to look for in a mate. Instead, this is just my Biblical translation of the non-negotiables, or basic blueprint, of what your love should look like. Oh! One more thing, I’ll try not to make it too long, and if you think it’s getting lengthy, please hang with me until the end.

Ladies first.

Simply put, Paul said it best, the best way to love a man, or make him feel loved, is to respect him (Ephesians 5:33). Respect means recognizing the fact that he is a man, not a woman, thus, the very way he thinks and lives is completely different, and loving him first and foremost means to appreciate who he is as a man, without trying to change him into a woman. Respect implies that you don’t talk to him like you are or he is crazy or do any thing that would make him feel less of a man. All in all, just let him be the man, be the leader, and respect and honor the position that the Lord put him in, which means you submit, and if you believe that God put you two together, you should be able to trust and be obedient to the leadership of that man. Respect means acknowledging he is not perfect, and never will be, but you still stick with him no matter what (1 Corinthians 7:10),  you stay with him through all the mess that any relationship goes through. He needs to know that no matter who else walks out of his life, even if it is his own mama, you will never leave, no matter how mad or frustrated either of you are. Looking at the definition of respect, the idea is that you hold a person in high esteem, or in high regard, which means treat him with dignity, and frankly in this case, treat him like a king. When you respect the man God has for you as a king, there are things you do to make sure the king is taken care of, so while he is out striving to be the Psalm 112 man, you are to be the Proverbs 31 woman and take care of the home (whatever that means), which should be the most peaceful place and your man’s favorite place to go. Furthermore, that respect includes each part of that man, his visions, his dreams, his personality, his family, and his preferences, so be considerate of what he likes, as well as understanding and considering his feelings. Also, be his helpmeet (Genesis 2:18), that means as a woman do all you can to support him, encourage him, pray for him, help him be the best man God has him to be at home, at work, in relationships, in his visions, with his health, with his gifts, with his talents, his mentality, his emotions, etc. His life should be better because you are in it and he should be proud to show you off, which means what you look like and how you carry yourself should make him look better, even when he isn’t around, as would a queen, and I’ll leave it there. Since he found you, make sure he never has to doubt he found a good thing (Proverbs 18:22). Long story short, when you respect him, you love him the most.

To the gentlemen.

After all that, you may wonder how to make your woman feel most loved, and Paul explained that too: you love her (Ephesians 5:33). It may sound redundant, but love is what any woman desires, especially one that is in committed relationship. What does that love look like? She has to be the number one woman in your life, the only woman in your life, not your mama or your friends (male or female) (Genesis 2:24), and she needs to be assured of that. Likewise, the Bible calls what you found a good thing, so treat her right like a good thing; take care of her like you would a good thing (Proverbs 18:22); protect her like a good thing; be kind to her in word and actions, and esteem her like good thing. In loving her, she needs to know that no matter what you will not leave her and that your commitment to her is true and sincere (1 Corinthians 7:11). As the leader of the house, your responsibility is to give yourself to her and do what you can to make her stronger, better, wiser in her spiritual walk (Ephesians 5:25), and when you love her, you are to appreciate her as a woman, just as Adam would’ve appreciated Eve after so much time had passed before God created her; Adam understood the blessing she was, respected her, dignified her, valued her, and loved her. In the same way, submit to her (Ephesians 5:21), implying that you listen to her, value her opinion and who she is to you, and be considerate of her needs, loving her as much as you love yourself. Above all, loving her means knowing her (1 Peter 3:7), or rather taking interest and learn all you can about the specific woman God gave you. For example, know your queen’s love language (gifts, words of affirmation, quality time, personal touch, or acts of service), know her shoe size, her favorite candy, her pet peeves, her little habits, her clothing sizes, her favorite earrings, her favorite store or brands, her favorite foods, her biggest dreams or desires; know her time of the month, her birthday, what makes her smile, and what makes her cry; know when she wants to be held or be left alone; know her favorite song, her favorite book, her favorite movie, the size of her family and the type of childhood she had, and her favorite hobbies. You get the point, because I can go on and on, and of course all this takes time, but these are the basics. Long story short, to love her, you love her.

Overall, when you are in a relationship, the way to keep things smooth, is remembering it’s not about you, it’s about the other person, and like you blow out your candle in a wedding ceremony, problems start when you decide to relight your candle that you blew out. Now these things mentioned are fairly straightforward for any serious relationship, married or not, except the idea of home. God’s will is not to be living with or having sex with anyone other than your husband or wife, not your boyfriend/girlfriend, fiance, or person you think you will marry. Home and sex are specifically for those that say “I do” (1 Corinthians 7:1; Songs of Solomon 8:4; Genesis 2:24). Still, for those that are, your bodies are no longer your own. Therefore, give you husband or wife what he or she wants, otherwise that’s how the enemy like to creep (1 Corinthians 7:2-6). If you respect him, respect his need and desire for sex, or if you love her, cater to the love her body desires.

Well, if you made it this far, thank you for going all the way and sticking with me on this one. Hope you got something out of it. Now if this applies in any way to you or your current situation, simply put, go and love on purpose.

Cost vs. Value

This weekend was amazing. I went to Chicago for the very first time. I flew into O’Hare and from that point to getting settled into the hotel, it was quite an experience. Nonetheless, I flew in to attend the Team 50K Summer Conference of Amway. To say the least, it was an amazing time, being in a positive atmosphere with an awesome people. Just with the speakers alone, there was so much information, so many words spoken that were rather profound, and two that spoke the most to me.

The first was the phrase “design your life.” There is so much that is wrapped into those three words. Living a life of purpose, it’s imperative to have a goal in mind, because it is near impossible to live a life that counts for something without having a plan or a vision as to where you are trying to go. Thus, it’s about a choice. What choices have you made and which will you make that will lead to and or get you closer to living the life you design under God’s will? So many times we get complacent and allow ourselves to settle, and  complacency is a dangerous place to be. That does not mean contentment is wrong, but the idea of not doing more and existing rather than living a life of purpose is. All in all, at some point we all have to ask ourselves “what kind of life do I want to live?” Once we develop and answer, our immediate task is then to do what is necessary to see that life come to fruition. And you know what? The beautiful thing about it is that whatever vision God has given us as our design, He will do more than all we ask or imagine (Eph 3:20) if we follow Him.

The other thing that stood probably the most, came from a speaker named Mark. The whole premise of His message, I guess you could call it, was the difference between cost and value. At first glance it means the same thing, but the difference is so far greater. I know myself I can be rather cheap, I usually go to the straight to the clearance rack first and I take pride in making a dollar stretch. Needless to say, there are some things I don’t want to pay for at all or feel they should be cheaper. Now I know, life is more times than none not free, even when something says “free” someone is paying for it somewhere in one way or another. Nevertheless, even over the last year specifically, I can think of several things that I did not want to pay for and I actually passed up the first time around, but then the Lord had to do a work in me. If I wanted my life to be a certain way, designing it will cost. Then you think about what you spend on a general basis in life, many things that aren’t worth 2 cents to improving your future. So for me, it’s about 4 specific times this past year alone where I realized that the cost or the sacrifice, if I may, was nothing compared to the value of what happened as a result. Those investments made such an amazing difference and brought me closer to the design that I have for my life.

So I encourage you, as you plan your life and determine how it is you want to live and influence the people around you and the world, and how you want that to affect your family, if it’s anything of purpose and eternal significance, I guarantee it will cost a lot, more than you anticipate and or would want to pay, whether it be money, time, resources, people, relationships, or fun time. Nevertheless, the cost of what you give up is absolutely nothing compared to the value of what you will gain when your dream is you reality. What investments are you making?

Jewel of the Garden: Woman

The more I hear and think about the story of creation and consider all the characters and flowergemthe events that took place, the more I am fascinated by the creation of women. I’d like to think of us, women, as the Jewels of the Garden. Unfortunately, in today’s world it’s hard to feel that beauty and value, when it is often times measured by the superficial. However, God knew what He was doing when He created woman. He had a special purpose for woman that makes her so unique, which is why as women, we have to find our identity in Christ alone, so that our greater purpose can be fulfilled. He already has proven his love, in that he loved us enough to die for us, therefore, we should love him enough to live for him. Nonetheless, the whole story of the creation of woman shows what David meant in Psalm 139, and how we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

To start off, I read a book by a great author named Donald Miller. In this book he laid out the events that took place before God brought Eve to Adam. First, He created the world, then He created man. However, the point he made was that right after God created him, He put him to work. He told Adam that he was to work it and watch over Eden, and on top of that to name all the animals…ALL of them (Genesis 2:15-19). Can you imagine how long that would have taken. Think about all the animals, in the land, water, and sky. More so, all of them had mates…except Adam. The interesting thing is that even before God told him to name the animals, He promised Adam that He’d give him a suitor, because it wasn’t good to be alone. I don’t think Adam quite understood the significance of what the Lord had promised, until he began to see the mates of each creature and how they complemented each other. Thus, seeing pair after pair, and watching their interactions, he was probably more excited to receive his. It had to be a very long process. Think about it, naming everything, then after a while you have to make sure you don’t use the same name, and then having to classify the types of creatures.

gems5So, when Adam was finally finished working, God put him to sleep. It was then that He took from Adam’s side, his rid, not the ground, and formed Eve. I heard my dad preach one time, that in pulling out from Adam, to created Eve, He took all that was feminine out of man and produced woman. This explains why there is such the connection between male and female; the very make up of a woman He took out of man. As a result, how do you think Adam felt when He first saw and met Eve? I would think excited, in awe, but most of all appreciative. I think he recognized the undeniable value and irreplaceable blessing of the gift God had given him, and the uncompromising purpose he saw within her. So if Adam felt this way about Eve and appreciated her ever so much, why would a woman settle for a man that treats and feels about her any differently? God’s purpose was never that a woman be abused, taken for granted, mistreated, and or neglected by any man. You are the precious jewel of the garden, God knew it and Adam knew it. David O. McKay said it best:

“Women were created from the rib of man to be beside him, not from his head to top him, nor from his feet to be trampled by him, but from under his arm to be protected by him, near to his heart to be loved by him.”

God already called you beautiful (Song of Songs 4:7) and truly takes delight and sings about you (Zephaniah 3:17). You are like a jewel in His crown. Do you know your worth?