wisdom

Enemies

You can’t live a life of any type of significance without making enemies, or haters, if I may use that word. Now using these terms, I am not talking about people that legitimately just don’t like you or people that just don’t care for you as a person, because not everyone meshes well with everybody, you learned that in pre-school. We each are drawn to different types of people, and the people you hang with may not be my cup of tea. These people are not your enemies. Rather, enemies are those who seem to be on an assignment to destroy your life or disrupt your road to fulfilling God’s purpose for your life, and the scary part is that they don’t always show their true colors right away, and some we don’t recognize before it’s too late, because their maneuvers are very subtle. Of course, the Enemy and all of Hell’s demons become your enemies once you surrender your life over to Christ, but I don’t want to talk about them specifically.

So where is all this coming from? Well I have been reading Max Lucado’s book, “Facing Your Giants,” which goes through the life of David, and he pointed out that during the time David was on the run from Saul, there was an incident when he cut off a part of Saul’s garment without him knowing it, and later felt bad about it. The lesson learned is that even though our enemies are our enemies, they still belong to God, no matter what position they are in, whether they are friends, co-workers, parents, ministers, siblings, or even those people you really can’t fathom how or when they became your enemy. For David, Saul’s pursuit was driven by jealousy and envy, which in my opinion is the common determining factor, meaning that people out of their own misery and insecurities do what they can to bring you down with them or try to get over you.

Nevertheless, recognizing who our enemies may be, it’s easy to begin to talk bad about them, build a false sense of pride, and if you let it, you begin to hate them. The problem here is that hating someone the Bible classifies as murder, God vividly says He hates pride, and slander is always condemned in scripture, so obviously, should we get to these points, we need to reevaluate our heart and motives, because if the Lord truly is trying to elevate us and use us in ways that only He can, we must get rid of all these things. If for no other reason, James reminds us not to tear them down, even though these persons are our enemies and may have truly done or said some terrible things, because they, like us, were made in the image of God.

Furthermore, because of that understanding, as Lucado explained, they are still a part of God’s plan especially in your life, which could be to develop patience, mercy, forgiveness, faith, and or love, yet in the same way, He has a plan for them too, for the simple fact that they are alive. This means that even though they are behaving like anything but a child of God, they are not out of reach to be redeemed by God. So with that being said, in dealing with our enemies we should be bearing fruit, honoring God, especially love since we are commanded to love our enemies. Likewise, it got me thinking some more as it relates to how we pray.

If you haven’t discovered this on your own, there are some scary prayers in the Bible, especially by David, that petition the Lord’s judgement and wrath on our enemies. So as a disclaimer, there is a time to pray those types of prayers, but I doubt your life is as insane as David’s so I can’t imagine you having to pray those prayers on a regular basis, just use wisdom with pure motives. On the other hand, because we acknowledge the fact the even our enemies are made in the image of God who still has the ability to change their hearts, our prayers should be more compassionate, because they may be in a spiritual war that they aren’t even aware they are in or deeply struggling in ways we aren’t privy to knowing. Your prayers can truly save their lives, which would make yours less difficult, allowing the possibility of a friend. To put it another way, if how you pray about and over your enemies they pray for you, would your prayers change? This is important to consider because you have been or still may be an enemy to someone.

Bottom line, your response to your enemies can change lives, just let the Spirit of God lead you in dealing with them in whatever your situation may be. It’s definitely something worth mastering, because being you for a purpose will always draw attention and create a response, both positive and negative.

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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.

Change or Not So Much? Oh! & It’s Okay to be Nice

There is a false belief in the Christian community that I used to believe. “God doesn’t want to change you; He wants to enhance you.” → something to that extent anyway. The more I have grown, the more I have understood this not be true.

Over and over, Scripture tells of God transforming us, our minds, our hearts, and desires. The primary tell of a convert is the change internally and externally, from the way we speak (not only cussing but speaking negatively), how we treat others, how we view ourselves (pride, worthless), how we view [our] sin, how we minister, our desires, our will, how we think, how we react, our emotions, how we walk, how we dress, how we take care of our bodies, what we do to our bodies, even our personality. When Jesus comes into our lives, he is not looking to do a tweek here and there, he desires to do a total remodeling. As CS Lewis and Elisabeth Elliott described, it’s not until we fully surrender and submit to the Lordship of our Creator, that we are able to be who we were meant to be.

Granted, there are definitely [unique] things about us that will guide and give a glimpse as to how the Lord wants to use in fulfilling His purpose for our lives, but God can’t use us in the magnitude He desires until we give Him all of ourselves, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and let Him break us, shake us, mold us, and make us into the individuals He crafted and destined us to be. How can we know what was set in place for us way back in eternity past without consulting with the One who created us in His very image? And the beautiful thing about it, He is so amazingly utterly creative that His purpose is not for us to be all the same or be bland, mundane or robotic; He created us like different snowflakes, no one else past, present, or future is like us, each with our own beauty and uniqueness.

The more we get to know Him, the more we get to know ourselves. As we are ourselves for a purpose, the more able we are to fulfill the awesome purpose He has for us, the more the world will yearn for the God in us, and the more satisfied we will be.

One side note: I hear a lot of people say, “I’m going to stop being nice to everyone. People are taking my kindness for a weakness,” or some similar wording to the same thinking. For starters to be honest, and this is something I had to learn, that is being selfish. As the Holy Spirit truly leads us, we should give without pause, and giving by no means is a sign of weakness. Of course wisdom and discernment are important as well. And if I dare say, those people that are “taking advantage,” in many cases are not the people we need to associate ourselves with, but we settle and for one reason or another keep people in our lives that God has tried to remove. We many times put ourselves in undesirable situations, because God’s intent is not to hurt us, make us look stupid or foolish. Accordingly, this is another part of the change the Lord seeks to do, burning bridges with those that have no help and or hinder us in fulfilling our purpose.

Kindness and gentleness is a fruit of the spirit, generosity is a gift, and meekness is associated with being blessed and or happy. Loving despite the opposition and the lack of reciprocation, shows strength, humility, and courage. Jesus was the epitome of them all, and look where he ended up, on a cross. So why should we think just because we are nice to even the most demanding people, people will always respond favorably? On the other hand, to stop being “nice” because of what another person does to you, shows the power someone has over you. Furthermore, we will be held accountable for what we do, not for what others do to us, no matter what it is they say or do.

To be you for a purpose is taking responsibility for your own actions and words, not putting the blame on others. This in turn actually frees us from the bondage of bitterness, anger, depression, and hatred, because we have control over how we choose to respond, without basing it on what others do.

Be you for a purpose, which may mean a change, remembering that it’s okay to be nice, I promise.