Archive | January 2016

The Cross

I have been hearing a lot lately about condemnation, God’s grace and how it applies to being a Christian. I know it’s always been an issue which is why Romans 8:1 is in the bible. People, myself included, have struggled with the idea that God’s grace covers us.

Some feel just as followers in the Roman church felt, that because we are washed in God’s grace through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross we can sin as much as we like. I concur with Paul’s response to that “God forbid” (Romans 6:1). For some it is a thought born out of their newness of being a Christian but other use it as an excuse to continue living the life they lead before they were saved.

For me I feel that I can earn God’s grace & favor by what I do or don’t do. In my mind I keep thinking how I act is directly related to how God sees me. There is a part of me that takes pride (yes that dreadful word) in knowing others see me as “perfect” but I know the truth. I AM NOT PERFECT. I AM NOT SINLESS. Yes, I am considerate. Yes, I try to think of others. Yes, I help out when I can.

But… How can I show genuine consideration, genuine thoughtfulness, genuine helpfulness when I am concerned about how I am perceived. Will this show that I’m always sacrificing what I want for others? Will this make God love me more? That is the epitome of pride. This is how the Pharisees acted and when I focus on that more than grace I see myself in them.

It is important to want to please God & make Him happy but not because we are working to gain His love and approval. We should want to please God because of what He’s already done for us. He demonstrated His love and approval by sending Jesus to die on the cross. When He created us He knew we would sin. He knew we couldn’t keep the laws. So why do I feel condemned sometimes? Because I’m human. His desire is not for us to be flawless, it’s for us to be in relationship with Him. But I love that God knows and understands that.

My prayer everyday is that I continue to allow the words of Romans 8:1 (There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit) to seep deep into my soul. It is only by drawing closer to Jesus can I let go of the feelings of condemnation and wrap myself in God’s grace.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/36364859@N00/391969139 http://photopin.com https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

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Rest.

109251710_32a20f14f0_oCome to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)

I’m tired. I’m tired of not getting enough rest. I’m tired of laundry piling up and dirty dishes in the sink. I’m tired of not having enough time.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in hear, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is ease [to bear] and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30 Amplified)

I’m tired. I’m tired of going to church to keep up appearances. I’m tired of reading my bible but not getting anything out of it. I’m tired of not having the desire to pray. 

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV)

I’m tired. I’m tired of getting up every day going to a job that drains me. I’m tired of earning money but never having enough to make ends meet. I’m tired of working and not seeing the fruits of my labor. 

Do any of those statements sound familiar? They do to me because I’ve felt them, thought them or said them at different times in my life. Here’s the thing, the problem with those statements is that we are leaning and depending on our own strength to get us through instead of leaning on God’s strength. Matthew 11:28-30 clearly tells us that Jesus wants to be the one to take our burdens. 

Yes we will continue to have problems. Our homes may never get cleaned. We may still feel as if we are just going through the motions. Our jobs may never get better. But that’s not what Jesus promised us. He promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). He promised that we can take heart because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). He promised that He will leave us a comforter (John 14:16 and John 16:7). Sometimes it’s hard to remember those promises in the midst of our troubles but my prayer for you and I is that we seek to learn them in goods times so we may draw on them in bad times.  

Dear Heavenly Father. In the midst of the chaos of this world it’s not always easy to feel your presence but I know you are there. Help me to search my heart for your word so that I may call on your promises in my darkest hour. In your precious son Jesus’ name, Amen.

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This entry was posted on January 13, 2016. 3 Comments

Ready. Set. Create.

CreateI was watching a show recently about a decorator who was renovating her entire home. One of the rooms she was renovating was her home office and while she was putting the finishing touches on the room she pulled out an old portfolio from when she was 18. She commented that even though she’s gotten older and some her ideas have changed she frequently goes back to that portfolio for inspiration. And that got me to thinking-what do I draw on for inspiration?

For as long as I can remember I have loved to read. Books were always a way for me to escape and climb into another world. Sometimes that was a bad thing. For instance looking back I probably shouldn’t have been reading romance novels at the age of 14 but most of the time reading allowed me the opportunity to learn more about the world and about myself. Even to this day, when I read, I find myself drawn into the world that is presented on the pages and that has always given me sparks to fuel my imagination.

Creativity in general also gives me inspiration. Creativity in music. Inn dance. In life. I am in awe of how a person can have a single thought and a few months, weeks, years later that thought has manifested into something tangible. It is only by the grace of God that it’s even possible. To know that we were created in the image of God who created this world leaves me speechless. He has touched us and allows us the ability to bring beauty and light and hope and joy to people’s lives.

How many times have you been feeling anxious or unsettled and turned on the radio just when your favorite song was playing? Or you walked past a garden filled with beautiful flowers and literally stopped to smell the roses? Or a smile came across your face remembering a line from your favorite movie? I don’t know about you but I am very grateful we have creative beauty in our world.

So what do I draw on for inspiration? I draw on the world and I hope you do as well.

This entry was posted on January 10, 2016. 5 Comments

Swimming Up Stream

Truth2

I am not an outdoorsy kind of girl but I find it fascinating that Salmon swim up stream against the current every year to reproduce. It becomes a matter of life and death for them. If they stay where they are or conform to the natural flow of the water they lose themselves. This can happen to us as well.

One of my favorite stories in the bible is the story of when the Queen of Sheba met with King Solomon. Solomon was known throughout the land as a wise, kind and generous king and because of those attributes he was blessed with great wealth. Stories of how just and fair he was reached the ears of the Queen. But she had a hard time believing the stories. She was an independent woman who decided to travel on her own with her servants to see King Solomon. That alone is something to be admired but her greatest triumph, in my opinion, was her willingness to seek out the truth for herself. I can just imagine people in her court, people she trusted, cautioning her to just believe the things that were told to her. Stay in her own kingdom and continue to do what she’s always done. In other words, don’t think or do anything outside the box.

We are constantly bombarded with information-sometimes from the world and sometimes from people in our lives. We are told we should take the information as common knowledge but there’s a stirring in our spirit making it hard for us to believe that. I’ve come to learn the stirring in our spirit is God’s way of getting us to seek out the truth for ourselves. To go against what is considered normal even if it means going against friends and family just so He can get us where He wants us to be.

How do we seek the truth? How do we learn God’s plan for us? Let’s she what the Queen of Sheba did. She went right to the source. She didn’t ask Solomon’s concubines or his wives about his greatness. She didn’t ask the people in the kingdom about his greatness. She spent many hours asking Solomon himself.

That’s what we need to do. I used to have a habit of blindly trusting people and taking things at face value. Now if something doesn’t feel right to me I ask someone I trust. Most of the time I ask God first and He always gives me answers either directly from His word or through preaching and teaching. Second hand answers are not always good and they often cause confusion and discord. Going to the source gives us an opportunity to ask as many questions as needed in our quest for the truth.

And the awesome thing about God is that He always gives us an answer that calms our spirit and is worthy of praise. He could give you an explaintion to your question. He could say yes. He could say maybe. Or He could say no. But no matter what the answer is it still deserves praise because it came from God.

Swimming up stream can be scary but when we take the risk and come out of our comfort zone that’s when we begin realizing God’s destiny for our lives; it won’t be easy and it won’t be without some struggle but the reward far outweighs the challenge.

Just as the Salmon continue to live on so will our legacy when we walk in God’s purpose.

 

The Beauty of Blogging

Most people hear the word blog and think of some outdated form of communication that lonely people used to do to make themselves feel important…That is so not the case.

I for one never thought I’d be doing this but I am extremely grateful and honored to be counted among so many talented, inspiring people. It takes a lot of courage to put your life in print for the world to see. It’s humbling and very vulnerable but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am an introvert by heart and words have always been my comfort. Knowing that my words can bring someone else comfort warms my heart.

A few days ago I started the 30 day blogging challenge thanks to the introduction by my friend who also writes a blog, The Positive Black Woman-if you haven’t read it you should. Anyway, I’ve been introduced to different view points and worlds I wouldn’t know about.

And so I say thank you to all the fellow bloggers out there in the world. Keep on blogging. Share your voice. And let your light shine.

Sunshine

 

Be Ye Transformed

1426971482233What does it mean to be truly set apart? This is a question I’ve been struggling with for quite sometime. Why? Because it means dying to myself and letting God take total control.

I love to read. I haven’t done it as often as I would like to lately but a few years ago I read a series called Black, Red and White by Ted Dekker. The books are about a man whose life is lived between worlds. Eventually  he has to decide which world he will stay in. But making that choice means he has to die. It means he has to give up what he has in order to gain even more.

Sound familiar? It should. It’s what Jesus asks of us each day. Each day we wake up is another day to do what Daniel did when he was taken into Babylon. In Daniel 1:8 it says that he purposed in his heart not to defile himself with the food and wine that was offered him. See Daniel didn’t “purpose in his heart” when the food was presented. He had made up his mind long ago to serve God. Because of that decision he already knew how he would respond when faced with temptations and trails. Now I know what you’re saying “that’s only food and wine, what’s so wrong with that?” Well nothing on the surface but when you dig deeper you realize that was more about what the food represented.

By eating the food and drinking the wine Daniel would have become just like everyone else-a Babylonian but God had something special planned for Daniel and it required him to be 100% set apart even in a pagan world like Babylon. He had to stand out so that he could tell people about God.

Which brings me back to my struggle. I am going to let you in on a little secret-I’m not Daniel. Everyday I wake up and purpose in my heart but everyday, minute by minute I make choices that keep me in the world. It’s getting tiring but also feels comfortable because it’s what I’ve known.

But tomorrow is another day. Another day to bask in God’s grace. Another day to get it right. Another day to purpose in my heart. So as I walk out this journey to live a life set apart for Jesus ask yourself this question?

What do you need to purpose in your heart to do?

What Grass Do You Water?

We’ve all heard it – the grass is always greener on the other side. But how do we really know? And what is driving the desire to see the other side?

A long time ago I was at job that I didn’t really like anymore. It started out really well but over the course of three years there were changes that made it difficult for me to do my job to the best of my ability. I felt as if I was being pulled into two different directions but as I prayed and asked God to take me from there His answer was always no. I saw other people leave either to take different jobs or to start an entirely new company. I felt hurt and disheartened and I didn’t understand what was going on. I looked at the other people leaving and I just knew where they were going was way better than where I was at. I was envious and jealous of them leaving and me staying.

I’ve heard countless stories of marriages breaking up because one or both spouses “fell out of love” and allowed something or someone else to draw their attention away. They fell for the butterflies and excitement that comes with new love but forgot that they could have that with the person they are currently with.

Here’s the thing no matter what your situation is running away from it won’t make it better because you can’t run away from yourself.

When I was sitting at my desk praying to be moved into a different position the main problem wasn’t my job it was my attitude and how I dealt with the situation. I was so focused on what I thought would make me happy that I didn’t see the blessing of just having a job. It wasn’t until I started being grateful for what I had that God moved me into a better position which moved me into a better position.

When the married couple was sitting across from each other not talking or taking each other for granted they didn’t see that even if they end up with someone new they will still end up with someone different. People change and grow and the question becomes are they going to grow and change together?

When we focus on someone else’s grass we don’t think about the work that went into getting that grass green. How many hours did they put into learning and studying their craft to become better at their job? How many hours did they put into praying with one another and seeking to always remember why they fell in love in the first place?

So what grass are you going to water? Yours with the blood, sweat and tears of hard work & determination? Or theirs with the blood, sweat and tears of jealousy & envy? Think about it.