Author: Darveiye

Dear White People

Dear White People,

I’ve been reading many posts, comments, and debates surrounding the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police officers. Many have taken to the streets to protest. Some have rioted. Some have looted. Some have scoffed. It is quite telling of the pre-existing polarization of this nation.

I’ve heard a little bit of everything. “ALL lives matter.” “The looting is hurting more than its helping.” “What about black-on-black crime?” “Why don’t y’all care about Black babies being aborted?” “It’s not that serious.” “Run them over!” “I’m not racist, but…”

This will by no means be an exhaustive response to every facet of this situation. Nevertheless, I’ve been collecting my thoughts surrounding this subject and the responses of my White brothers and sisters. Here is my response to you all (yes, all).

1. You’re not saying what you think you’re saying.

When your emphasis is more on how people are responding, you are perpetuating the nature of the oppressor. “How dare these people be so upset!” “How dare they not be rational or logical!” “They should be grateful to be in this country!”

These are all statements or heart postures that indicate your position is with the oppressor. Now, if you’re White and you’re reading this, you may be thinking, “I’m not the oppressor — stop being so dramatic.” I get it.

So, who or what is the oppressor? In a literal sense, Whites have been oppressors. Crack open a history book and you’ll find that out easily. In a more broad sense, Whites are oppressors in that they perpetuate a system that oppresses.

So, sure, you may not own slaves. You may have a Black friend. You may have voted for Obama. None of those things exempt you from being one who benefits from this system and therefore one who perpetuates it.

See, we keep having this conversation about racism being about the color of someone’s skin. Sure, me being Black does mean I’m likely to have more melanin magic in my skin that makes me darker than my White brothers and sisters. However, racism has very little to do with the actual color of your skin (that’s colorism — a conversation for another day).

Whites continue to neglect the error of the system that is at work that conjures up these things.

2. Racism is a system.

Racism deals with the belief of a group’s superiority and that group having the resources to enact or enforce said superiority.

It is not hate of the heart. It is not hatred of a person’s skin color. People share photos of Whites and Blacks holding hands with a charming quote about hate and/or unity. (This is an ineffective response to racism. For it’s fundamental belief is that we can ignore [or rise above] the disparities brought on by racism by being friends or refusing to hate.) It’s much deeper than that. (Heck, a lot of White people don’t really hate Black people. So, that doesn’t really do anything. Anyway…)

It is a system — a clearly devised system indicative of the hearts, culture, and nature of a people. Its evidences are economic inequality. Its evidences are perspectives that elevate one group as superior and oppresses the other. Its evidences are the legislation in place that favor a particular group. Its evidences are the clearly devised psychological conditioning to feed the narrative of one group’s superiority. Its evidences are educational inequality. Its evidences are four White Minnesota police officers taking the life of a Black man and Whites feeling inclined to justify it. Its evidences are the trauma Blacks have endured at the hands of whites.

3. What we are seeing now — the rioting — is a response to the trauma caused by the system of racism.

As people spend more time focusing on how people are responding and demonizing people who are victims (no, Blacks are not helpless. We’re our greatest help. However, victims will respond from the place of unhealed trauma), the system fails to be challenged and therefore stands. The cause of that response has continued to go unaddressed.

“Why are y’all so upset? Slavery happened so long ago. What about MLK Jr.? Why not be peaceful like him? Racism doesn’t exist today. It’s not as bad as it used to be.”

Let’s play pretend.

You are a star baseball athlete and “your arm is your money.” Someone stabs you in your arm and it’s now severely damaged. You know you will likely never use your arm the same way or to the same capacity. You still make the effort to move forward and play the game you love.

If someone punches you in that arm, it will hurt — more than a normal punch given there is a prior injury. Just when it seems to get healed, someone punches you again. You’re reminded of what was. While you never should’ve been stabbed in the first place, you were and you’ve learned to live with it. But, for someone to continue to inflict pain on that same area and downplay the effect it has on you is cruel.

Then, they expect you to play at the capacity of other players who have never sustained the same kind of injury. Other players will say things like, “All injuries matter,” when you speak of the pain you have or “Just get over it. That’s what I do when I have problems.” When you finally say enough is enough and express this isn’t fair, people will say you’re being dramatic or lazy. Time may almost completely heal that wound if it’s not continually exacerbated. However, you will likely not heal until you get the care you need. You will likely not get the care you need until and unless someone believes you need it or you figure out how to provide it for yourself.

That is a very light example of how Blacks are constantly reminded of wounds and the effects of them today.

We’ve come a long way; but, there’s still more to be done. We are not wrestling with people, but a system.

We must gain perspective that many don’t have — Blacks included. Most of the time, when we scream, “It’s the system,” people think we’re simply coming up with excuses for the conditions of the Black community. We’re not. Black people are strong, resilient, and have overcome ridiculous odds. We don’t need sympathy. We don’t need to make excuses. We don’t need you to keep saying you’re not a racist.

Firstly, many of us just want the people who benefit from the system to hear us and say, “That’s messed up and I stand with you.” We don’t even NEED apologies. We, firstly, need acknowledgement that the system was rigged from the get-go and that the problems we see today are the effects and residual of that. Scratch that. More than we need the acknowledgement, Whites NEED to acknowledge it. That’s for them.

How do we move forward from here? What should Blacks be doing? What should Whites (and others) be doing?

Blacks have been doing their part for a long time. Our responsibility is to put all of our energy into healing individually, familial(ly), and communal(ly). When Blacks unite far beyond political ideologies and religious inclinations, we are going to see change. Additionally, it is not your responsibility to champion a campaign to prove Blacks are divided. Also, if there is evidence of divide in the Black community, that should not distract from the responsibility of Whites in bringing about restitution for Blacks.

The responsibility of Whites (and others) is to actively listen. Listen. Listen and do. According to the Torah, the oppressor is responsible for making things right when they’ve oppressed someone. The offender is responsible for making things right when they’ve offended someone. This is the only way true restitution can happen. Without it, there will be a divide and the land can’t heal. So, we can stop praying for GOD to intervene. The PEOPLE have a responsibility. GOD has already laid out what must be done — in His Torah.

America and its White constituents have showed a disinterest in making things right. This is only adding to the deep wounds and traumas Blacks have lived and died through. This is why we’ve seen the response we’ve seen. It is a response to trauma.

It must be made right.
It must be made right.
It must be made right.

The system must be dismantled. Whites are going to have to acknowledge the sins of the past and the privilege it brings today and provide restitution. That’s biblical. Then, they must raise their voices louder than everyone else and say, “This isn’t right.” They must no longer allow themselves to benefit from the privilege the system provides them.

So, as a White person reading this, how can you practically move forward from here?

1. Realize we (Blacks and Whites) have and had very different experiences. There is still evidence of this today.
2. Practice empathy.
3. Have intimate conversations with Black people you do and do not know. Encourage them to express as authentically as possible.
4. Realize every Black person won’t have the same perspective about all of this. So, don’t be quick to dismiss or stop your journey of understanding because of one perspective.
5. Listen. Ask questions. Listen.
6. Open up a history book. Research the legislative history of this country and how it has affected and affects the Black community.
7. Build solid relationships with Black people. Throw out the, “I don’t see color” perspective because, we’re different. Understand what makes us us — individually and collectively.
8. Search your heart.
9. Stay away from vain displays of support that don’t really indicate support. What you do or don’t do when no one is looking will make a ton of difference.
10. Use social media to incite healthy dialogue.

Remember, the longer you stay ignorant about the system of racism and how it works, the more the problem persists. Don’t wait to be a part of the solution.

Act now. Stand now. Speak now.

Sincerely,

One of your Black Sisters — Darveiye’

You Are Not Enough

This blog comes due to a question I was going to ask a friend: How do you see what’s wrong with you and still love yourself or believe you’re worthy of good things?

This is my response to my own question.

There are two (at least) dangerous lies circulating society.

You are worthy.
You are enough.

Yes. You read that correctly.
Yes. I said it (insert Nene Leakes meme hither).

I have believed or attempted to believe these lies in an effort to live at peace with myself. It’s the message of beauty campaigns, magazines, hashtag movements, daily affirmations, pep talks, etc.

However, I have found the very opposite is true.

You are not worthy.
You are not enough.

Believing you are either of these two things facilitates the act of self worship–idolatry.

First. The very fact that we present that we are worthy of something is a belief that we’ve done enough to deserve this thing. (Granted, faith is a principle which governs the systems of the world–you can demonstrate by your works what you believe and attract what you’re expecting.)

However, we’ve misapplied this term or idea of worthiness. There is only One that is worthy. That’s YAH. There is none other.

Second–in tandem, you cannot do enough to be “deserving” or “worthy.” Your value is not what you do or in what you’ve done. Life is not the rewards system we often think it is. Do this and you get that. Do this and you’ll be worthy of that. Life is random and unfair. So, how will we have peace when things happen we feel we don’t deserve?

For humans, I get why we desire to feel worthy. Therein lies a belief that if I see something as bigger than myself and worthy of worship/praise, I am no longer valuable. This is not true. You can never truly know who you are until you know whose you are. Now, if you choose to only belong to yourself, you shall never experience the fullness of who you were made to be.

Knowing whose you are gives meaning and direction to your life. If you are His, it helps you see the tiny important part you play without blowing it out of proportion or minimizing it to a level that insults the One who made you (belonging to yourself).

It was never intended to be a trade off in which either YAH is good and worthy or I am good and worthy. We were meant to exist within a reality that says YAH who is worthy of every praise we could ever give demonstrates His character in that He takes care of us. The very fact that the most powerful being would seek to see about you ascribes far more worth than you could ever give yourself.

So, these lies…

1. I’m not enough because I am not complete. He takes care of me–indicating my need for Him. I am not complete without Him.

Tangent: When I say He takes care of me, it does not mean He gives me everything I want and does not allow me to experience pain. Instead, it means He has care for me. He cares about me. If He controlled every single aspect of my life, that would prove He cares more about Himself than anything else. That’s not love. He would have the need to control everything because His very nature was contingent on it. But, because YAH’s existence and nature is not contingent on anything else around Him, He has no need to control every single thing in order to prove He is who He says He is. He’s still Him when things look contrary. He is complete within Himself. He is ONE with Himself.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming:

2. I am not worthy because even my righteousness is filthy rags before Him. I cannot produce anything pure aside from Him. I need Him to even be right.

This shouldn’t paint a picture of self-hate. Instead, it should encourage adoration of Him. He’s beautiful and has made me to be beautiful–complete, lacking nothing. That cannot happen apart from Him or His people.

Self-hatred is an incorrect reaction to the beauty of YAH. Rest is the correct response to the beauty of YAH.

Resting in Him is a life of true Sabbath. I shall not go outside of Him to have my needs met. (This does not mean He doesn’t meet needs through people–that’s His model). I enter true rest knowing that nothing but Him causes me to be complete–whole, lacking nothing. I rest knowing that true connection to Him (not religion) can save me. I rest knowing I don’t and can’t be enough on my own.

When I am perfect (always connected to Him), I rest.

The systems of the world don’t provide rest.
Religion doesn’t provide rest.
Status doesn’t provide rest.
Education doesn’t provide rest.
Wealth doesn’t provide rest.
Power doesn’t provide rest.

All of these things can only imitate what YAH intends to do and be for His people. We often go outside of Him so that we can prove we don’t need Him. This reveals an insecurity in the human race. We are weak and hate it. We hate the idea of needing a Being we employ faith to believe in. So, we find ways outside of Him that are only imitations of Him:

The systems of the world: He is the King of an unseen kingdom.
Religion: He is what is sacred.
Status: He has no need to prove his importance. Humans have merely discovered it.
Education: He is knowledge.
Wealth: He is wealth.
Power: He is power.

Humans seek to replicate who YAH is to prove they don’t need Him–thus proving they do. This is the tireless grind of the human life. Can I ascend without Him?

Relationship with Him is an invitation to rest from your efforts to prove you don’t need Him.

Messiah said even His burden is LIGHT. Even work is rest in the Almighty.

“For My yoke is gentle and My burden is light.”

Mattithyahu (Matthew) 11:30 TS2009

True belief in Him is rest. It’s rest from all the work you used to do to make yourself SEEM right (complete). Now you are right. Now you are His.

So, enter that rest.

Religion: System Failure

Religion: System Failure

The world’s confidence is a false confidence.

Any confidence that positions itself to never be vulnerable is not true confidence. It is insecurity masked as pride or confidence.

The systems of the world perpetuate an illegitimate means by which to be confident.

One’s ability to make oneself vulnerable determines the magnitude of confidence (and wholeness) they’ll develop. To be naked is to be vulnerable (to be whole).

We see this condition with Adam and Eve. Before the curse (what many call “the fall”), Adam walked with YAH in the  garden, naked (whole). He had nothing to hide and could be perfectly confident/free.

This changed. Once they had the knowledge of good and evil and heard YAH drawing near to them, they hid. Then, they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.

Many wear fig leaves in an attempt to secure covering or to present themselves as whole, together, not lacking in anything.

While YAH does desire that we be whole, any covering we make outside of Him is illegitimate and not capable of proper covering.

Covering is not for hiding flaws, but a safe place in which you receive the nutrients to be whole.

As long as humans will make themselves vulnerable to YAH and each other, they will find the nutrients or supply to be whole or complete.

You don’t have to look far to find representations of fig leaves.

Fig leaves are what I use to appear whole instead of doing the work to be whole. Fig leaves are those things we present instead of presenting the truth of our broken condition.

Religion is a system of the world and one expression of fig leaves. (This does not mean there isn’t an absolute Truth or Deity we are to be in relationship with).

Religion at its core is the packaging of what was sacred and intimate and creating a system of it.

Religion, as people have organized and packaged it, is a means by which we attempt to appear confident and together. Religion reverses the natural order of relationship with YAH. Relationship with Him transforms you from the inside to the outside. Religion places weight in outward works that do not truly bring about an inward change or healing.

Religion will never have the power to heal, just as fig leaves will never have the power to truly cover.

Simply put:

Religion: fig leaves

Relationship: vulnerability

Many different things can serve as fig leaves (this is not an exhaustive list):

Image
Personalities
Positions
Reputation
Religion
Philosophy
Intelligence
Power
Resources

Many of us are not as confident as we think we are. We’ve placed our confidence in things that are not of substance.

If you are not one who makes yourself vulnerable, your confidence is false and will not stand. It may fool many, but it will fail when you seek the greater truth of vulnerability.

Be vulnerable.

#God’sPlan

#God’sPlan

You may have seen many captioning their photos and videos on social media with “God’s Plan” from Drake’s hit song by the same name. Many use it to announce certain milestones, fulfilled dreams, and accomplished goals. For example, “First one to graduate college! #GodsPlan” or “Got married to my soulmate! #GodsPlan”

It’s not bad to believe YAH (a shortened name for the original Hebrew name for God) is a part of good things that happen to or for us. For YAH desires good for us. However, even higher than that, YAH desires wholeness for us–completeness.

Wholeness is God’s highest call for us. The work He has begun is to that end. We see evidence of this desire for wholeness in quite a few places:

being persuaded of this, that He who has begun a good work in you shall perfect it until the day of יהושע Messiah” (Philippians 1:6).

“And let endurance have a perfect work, so that you be perfect and complete, lacking in naught” (James 1:4).

Oftentimes, due to the fallacies taught in religion, we believe this wholeness has only to do with us. Sermons taught on Joseph become about our dreams and promotions. David and Goliath becomes another story about knocking down your haters. Jesus and Judas becomes about snakes in the grass (or whatever a lot of these rap songs talk about).

When we remove these accounts of true events from the overall scope of the Bible and Yah’s plan for humanity, we lose the power therein–the reality of the Gospel (Good News). We cannot compromise the integrity of the Gospel. It needs to be pure for, “it is the power of Elohim for deliverance to everyone who believes, to the Yehudi (Jew) first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16b).

We must read and interpret them within the context of the entire Bible. When we do this, we see each one as part of this exhilarating account of the exchange between Yah and mankind.

It’s about more than just me. It’s about more than just you.

then יהוה your Elohim shall turn back your captivity, and shall have compassion on you, and He shall turn back and gather you from all the peoples where יהוה your Elohim has scattered you. “If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under the heavens, from there יהוה your Elohim does gather you, and from there He does take you (Deuteronomy 30:3-4).
“But now in Messiah יהושע you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah. For He is our peace, who has made both one, and having broken down the partition of the barrier (Ephesians 2:13-14).
“Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah, he is a renewed creature – the old matters have passed away, see, all matters have become renewed! And all matters are from Elohim, who has restored us to favour with Himself through יהושע Messiah, and has given us the service of restoration to favour, that is, that Elohim was in Messiah restoring the world to favour unto Himself, not reckoning their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of restoration to favour” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19).
From these verses alone, we begin to see a pattern. God really DOES have a plan. The difference, for some of us, is that it’s not all about us in the way that we thought.

There is a “me-centered” gospel and perspective that has circulated for far too long. “God sent His Son to die for me.” He did–but not just for you. Why is it important for us to understand the distinction? What’s wrong with making what God has done for all about me? Quite a bit. It removes what He’s done from the proper context and renders the reality of it ineffective.

You must understand where you fall within the unveiling account of Yah’s relationship with mankind. Otherwise, you have not believed the true Gospel–Messiah. He is the Good News!

“And daily in the Set-apart Place, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and bringing the Good News: יהושע the Messiah!” (Acts 5:42)

YAH isn’t just out to make you whole. As an individual, you are a tiny (significant, yes; in that He cares for you) piece of His plan for wholeness in His kingdom.

We’ve heard this term, the “kingdom of heaven” and understood it to mean “the rule and reign of Yah.” This is correct. However, the way it’s been taught in Christianity limits the scope.

It’s not about God having authority and reign over you as an individual (though that’s included). It’s about the rule of Yah’s Son (a King) over the nation of Israel–original and grafted (Romans 11).

We’ve long understood that this term “kingdom of heaven” was not talking about a physical place but a people–those who are in Covenant relationship with Him. A king is not king but over his own people.

“For this is the covenant I shall make with the house of Yisra’ĕl after those days, declares יהוה: I shall put My Torah in their inward parts, and write it on their hearts. And I shall be their Elohim, and they shall be My people”  (Jeremiah 31:33).

This has been #God’sPlan from the beginning–that we know Him as our Elohim (power) and be His people. Through the life and sacrifice of His Son, we no longer are slaves to sin (Romans 6). Through the coming of His Spirit (Acts 1-2), we have been empowered to live according to the Spirit and not the flesh. The Set-Apart (Holy) Spirit teaches us and empowers us to be Yah’s people (John 14:26).

We now have the “want to.” We now have the “how to.” We now have the “why to.” Messiah (Jesus) came to bring wholeness and a proper perspective of the how, what, and why of being Yah’s people.

Every move that Yah makes is to bring His people into true healing–wholeness. Knowing this, we can look at what we often call bad and be assured that #God’sPlan will prevail.

 

The Way Pt. 1

The Way Pt. 1

I often write notes in my phone using an app called Inkpad Notepad. I’ve been using it since 2015 and have access to all of the notes I’ve ever written.

I like being able to go back, see what I was thinking, and compare it to the way I think today.

One habit I’ve had in my time of writing notes is writing what YAH (God) says in parenthesis. Oftentimes, I’ll find myself ranting, complaining, and crying out in such dramatic emotion. Then, I’ll hear YAH insert Himself absolutely on cue. My thoughts are suddenly interrupted, YAH speaks, and I must stop and adjust my perspective. I don’t adjust my perspective out of fear, frustration,  or indifference, but the reality of Truth.

This is a picture of life.

When we walk with YAH, we ought always be ready to have our ideas interrupted and to forfeit them. “Make me walk in the path of Your commands, for I have delighted in it (Tehillim (Psalms) 119:35 TS2009).”

As we are going, we’re taking on new ideas embedded in our experiences and interpretations thereof. We often become hardened or set in a particular way. Life with YAH was never meant to be that way. It was never meant to be, “let’s build a house that we never leave.” Instead, I would liken it to setting up camp and moving as He goes.

Truth doesn’t change, but Personified Truth is always moving. We must be prepared to follow Him even if it doesn’t make sense. Even if it goes against all our former ideologies, we must lay them down and adjust our direction. He can be trusted to guide us. “and your ears hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the Way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right, or whenever you turn to the left (Yeshayah (Isaiah) 30:21 TS2009).”

In many of the Prophets and other portions of the Bible, we find them using the word “righteous” or “righteousness.” “Be glad in יהוה and exult, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart! Tehillim (Psalms) 32:11 TS2009.

In modern society, this is often translated as “right acts” or “right-standing with YAH.” These two interpretations have relation to the word/idea, but fall short in representing it solely and properly.

The word “righteous” refers to “walking in the path.” True righteousness is a picture of you  constantly walking with Him. If we remain still, we’ll get stuck in religion (comfort). Then we’ll bring in idols to replace YAH. Our works can quickly become our idols. Our positions, our ideas, our jobs, relationships, etc.

In contrast to righteousness, “wickedness” in the ancient Hebrew refers to “walking off the path.”

“Those who leave the paths of straightness to walk in the ways of darkness; who rejoice to do evil; they delight in the perversities of evil; whose paths are crooked, And they are perverted in their ways” (Mishlĕ (Proverbs) 2:13‭-‬15 TS2009).

Wickedness in His eyes is to not be connected to Him. It is a choosing to walk in your own path (idolatry, sin). This is death. “A man who strays from the way of understanding, rests in the assembly of the dead” Mishlĕ (Proverbs) 21:16 TS2009).

Wickedness is saying you don’t need to be guided by Him because you are/know enough to guide yourself.

It is you finding your own way of righteousness instead of accessing the Father through The Way (Messiah).

“יהושע said to him, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (Yoḥanan (John) 14:6 TS2009)

 

 

 

 

What We’re All Missing

What We’re All Missing

This may be the shortest blog I’ve ever written. You’re welcome.

Where there is sin, there is a need for healing. A lot of the time, when we see sin, we slap a morality bandage on it to “cure” it.

Ideologies like, “if I do enough good stuff, then I won’t feel so bad about the bad stuff I used to do,” and “I can do enough to be holy,” and “God doesn’t love me because I’ve done something bad,” or “God loves me more because I’m on track,” indicate we are addressing symptoms, but not root issues.

Sin is an illegitimate means to fulfill a legitimate need. The Most High desires to provide for every need. Love, intimacy, relationship, etc.

Sin is when we go outside of God to fulfill the needs we have. Lying, fear, doubt, worry, murder, stealing, lust etc. are all outward expressions (evidences) of an inner problem.

The Most High desires to heal us so that we see Him as our Source — so that we don’t go to what kills thinking it’ll heal. Without an intimate relationship with the Most High and others, we will not have the proper perspective. We’ll continue to believe we can fill GOD-shaped holes with temporary satisfaction; but it’ll never address the true issue.

This is why we seek and serve the Most High. So, make a decision today to pursue intimate relationship with the Most High. Be vulnerable before Him. Take everything to Him.

He won’t let you down.

Letting Go of Something Good

Letting Go of Something Good

This one’s for me.

“Letting go” isn’t usually easy — especially for me. It doesn’t matter what it is. I’m incredibly sentimental. My closet in my living room has been opened a total of 5 times since I’ve lived there (3 years)! I have yet to clear out its contents because I have some sort of sentimental attachment to those things (awards, memorabilia, etc.). Also, I’m pretty sure there are spiders in there and I’m not really built for that kind of battle.

It’s much easier for me to let go of things I know I don’t need and don’t care about — but what about when it’s something I really care about? What if I have to let go of something God has said is for me? What if I have to let of something that’s good for me? What if I have to let go of something I never expected to part with?

Well, that’s me right now. I won’t go into great detail; but I wanted to express some ideas that have been swarming through my mind.

  1. My trust cannot be in the good “thing’s” ability or likelihood of coming back. I must trust that if God needs me to have it, it will be God’s ability and responsibility to restore it.
  2. I have to consider that what’s good isn’t necessarily what’s best.
  3. When I give up something good, I have to realize that I’ll always win. If I give it up and cling to God, I’ve automatically won. Although, if I’m honest, I don’t always know what that looks like nor am I amped to cling to God in moments like these. Sometimes, I just want to stomp my feet, pout, and demand that God does things my way. This sort of reaction indicates a certain idolatry in my heart toward the thing(s) I let go of.
  4. Although it may be good for me, it may not be good for me right now.
  5. How secure am I in who God has said I am? Do I need this thing in order to feel secure, confident, worthy, etc? Nah.
  6. God will often draw you to Himself in moments of loss (of any proportion). This is almost always the highest purpose or result when loss occurs.
  7. There are no shortcuts for dealing with the pain. There are many seemingly worthy substitutes that make it easier to cope with the pain. They help soften the blow of the loss. However, if maturity is what you seek, you’ll know that eventually you will have to part with the temporary for the ultimate. You’ll have to embrace and face the pain head on.
  8. God is not cruel nor is He interested in making you suffer without purpose. In most cases, our suffering is not due to God bringing some judgment. It’s often due to our poor decisions, decisions of others around us, or attacks from the enemy (Satan).

While God does not cause much of our pain, He will use it for our good. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

All things — suffering, work together for my good.

All things — loss, work together for my good.

All things — obscurity, work together for my good.

All things — rejection, work together for my good.

All things — (fill in the blank), work together for my good.

It is important when you are walking (sometimes crawling) through a season of loss to watch where you put your focus. Social media is a trap I’ve found myself falling into many of times.

Scrolling through highlight reels of the lives of those around me serves as a constant reminder of what I’ve lost or doubt I’ll ever have. Eyes up. Meditating on what was and being worried about what will be — eyes up. Getting stuck in grief, bitterness, self-hatred, frustration with God — eyes up.

God will always be the remedy for what we’ve lost.

He can be trusted. Let this verse permeate your heart in this time:

“The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3).

 

The Law and Grace: Not What You Think

The Law and Grace: Not What You Think

When you hear “The Law” mentioned in Christendom and Judaism, people are referring to the sum of about 600+ laws given by God through Moses to the people of Israel. God gave them numerous laws, rituals, and regulations, meant to keep them pure and holy.

Many have created resources that attempt to provide understanding of the functionality of the Law and Grace in our lives as believers today. It is a point of great spiritual and doctrinal controversy.

Some believe we ought to still keep the law as strictly as the Israelites of old. Some postulate that because of the Messiah’s sacrifice, we are no longer under law, but under grace; and are free from the requirements of the Law.

What makes these conversations so difficult to process is because of the various verses that speak to how the Law and Grace operate in our lives today. It can be difficult to interpret them.

One of our biggest obstacles for understanding Law vs. Grace is our desire to believe a specific thing. Some WANT to believe we have to follow the Law in the specific way in which the Israelites did. Some WANT to believe that GOD’S grace cancels the Law.

For some, following the Law seems to be too oppressive and it doesn’t sound like God to them. For others, Grace seems to offer more freedom than they could fathom God giving.

This is proof that we take our perceptions of God into conversations like these and refuse to expand our view of Him.

No matter where you fall on the proverbial spectrum of this idea, choose to lay down your preconceived notions to perceive God in a new way. Allow God to reveal Himself afresh to you. There are some things we believe because they’re true. Then, there are things we believe because we’d prefer to believe them.

It’s dangerous to get to a place in which God doesn’t surprise you anymore–or God agreeing with EVERYTHING you do, say, or think. At that point, I’d begin to question whether or not it’s God you serve–but you.

I’ve been craving depth in my relationship with the Most High and understanding of who He is. I’ve prepared myself to think and live differently depending on what He reveals about Himself, me, and others.

I don’t want to believe what I believe because it’s comfortable for me. I want to believe what He says is true. Sometimes, that will put me in a position to look foolish to the world and that’s okay; because I’m not living for them.

I live for God in hopes that others would see and know Him. But He is my Authenticator, my Refuge, my Father, my Friend, my Savior, my Deliverer, my Judge, my Answer, my Everything.

My prayer is that if you’ve made it to the end of this post that you receive the blessed opportunity of knowing Him.

You can pray this prayer below and continue on a journey of knowing Him. Once you pray this prayer in belief and faith, there are some things that will automatically change. You may not feel it, but it has.

There are other things that will require a journey of becoming in relationship with Most High (God). Have faith and be encouraged.

Most High,

Thank You for revealing Yourself to me. I believe what you’ve shown me. I believe that You sent Your Son to Earth to die to reconcile me to You. I believe He resurrected in victory over sin and death — the very things that separated me from having relationship with You. I have faith and believe that You are the one true God. Thank You for saving me. I ask that You continue to show me who You are and teach me Your ways. My heart will never be separated from You. I ask that You connect me with people who will help me grow in my relationship with You and knowledge of You. Thank You for loving me.

In Your Son’s Name,
Amen.

Scriptures to study: (the whole Bible…but here’s a few to get started)

  1. John 1-3
  2. Romans 6-8
  3. Genesis 1-3
In the World, But Not of It: Reverence Over Relevance

In the World, But Not of It: Reverence Over Relevance

Disclaimer: This is for the Christians. It is not to be used as ammunition toward any specific Christian, church, or denomination; nor has it been written motivated by the actions of any specific person, church, or denomination.

Instead, I’m writing because of something I’ve periodically observed in myself. I believe it’s something many Christians might observe in themselves if they’d search; this desire to be relevant. This is not specific to Christians, but that’s what we’ll deal with today.

Relevance in and of itself is not evil; but the desire for it must be qualified. Why do we want to be relevant? What does relevance look like in the life of the believer? Does it mean I can’t be fun anymore? How do I serve God without being out of touch with “reality?” To whom do we want to be relevant?

These are all important questions and our answers to them reveal something about the posture of our heart toward God and the things of God. So, let’s dive in.

First, I want to deal with two different perspectives we may observe in the Church (the Body of Christ, followers of Christ) concerning relevance. People often swing to one extreme of the spectrum or the other.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “in the world, but not of it?” Yes? Well, this is an understanding of several verses in the Bible; though it is not a verse itself. Basically, it means even though we exist in this world, we are not of the same nature of the world. There is a culture and citizenship we possess that supersedes that which we experience here. We (children of God) are of a different world which is unseen. Below are some of the verses which compile this theological idea of ‘in the world, but not of it.’

John 15: 19
“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”

1 John 2:15
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

John 16:33
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Mark 4:19
“…and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”

The First Extreme

Some interpret these verses to mean we can’t do anything that appears even remotely secular‘– which means ‘worldly.’ For example, some believe we can’t have any sort of relationship with those who aren’t believers–not even any association. Granted, a believer must be wise and discerning when pursuing intimate relationships with unbelievers.

However, there is a difference between being separate and being separate. What? The kind of separation required of believers is one that distinguishes. It is not to isolate or quarantine our faith but to live separate to GOD. Being separate to GOD means we seek to become what GOD desires for us to become.

This was a common issue the Messiah encountered while He walked this Earth. He was constantly brought under scrutiny for spending time with sinners and the ‘unclean’ of society. This didn’t line up with the idea the religious leaders of that time had about being separated or holy.

In one account, the Messiah is eating dinner with tax collectors (oftentimes manipulative con men) and other sinners. One of the ruling religious groups in Israel at the time, the Pharisees, reasoned among themselves and concluded that He was unclean because of this.

You can find some accounts of this encounter here: Matthew 9:10-17, Mark 2:13-17, and Luke 5:27-31.

Believers, we do ourselves and the world a disservice by segregating (isolating) ourselves and the truth we know. Be careful not to build and sustain cozy environments that only welcome those who agree with you (even specifically those of the same faith as you). In response to His being questioned about His interaction with sinners, the Messiah responded, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance (Luke 5:31-31).”

This inclination to isolate in comfortability without challenge hardens the heart of the believer and allows religion to calcify our minds. This causes us to lose sight of the call of EVERY believer–that is reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:11-21). We are called to reconcile people to GOD. This cannot be done if we’re walled up physically or spiritually within four walls of a quaint church that make us feel comfortable, secure, and unchallenged.

There are people who are falling away daily and many more who have not heard the truth and love expressed in the Gospel of the kingdom of GOD. If we’re honest, in our hearts, there is often fostered this culture of ‘staying’ — of finding a safe, comfortable place and resting there; comfortable in our religion. Our call was never to stay, but to ‘go.’ (Matthew 28:18-20) That doesn’t mean everyone is going to live the life of a traveling missionary or what have you. It does mean that we have to come outside of ourselves to reach the lost and those who have fallen away wherever we find ourselves.

The Second Extreme

The other extreme of the spectrum typically involves this need to prove likeness. “I’m just like you.” “We’re the same!” “I like that kind of music too.” Have you ever met a believer who is always trying to convince people to follow Christ or accept them by proving believers aren’t that different from everyone else? Better yet, have you ever been that believer? I know I have.

It didn’t happen overnight though. I’ve always been very vocal about my faith and the importance thereof. However, over the years, I saw a gradual change. I started wanting to compel people to come to Christ by convincing them that things wouldn’t change much or that I was still like the ‘Darveiye’ I was before.

This is problematic because I was compelling people based on a lie. I’m not just like you. We’re not the same. We may seem incredibly similar on the surface, but there is an inner change that differentiates us. It doesn’t mean I’m better, it means I’m renewed. It means I’m saved. It means I’m redeemed. It means my mind has been changed. It means some things will not and cannot stay the same. It means I have a new nature. I may be “in the world, but I’m not of it.”

I found the reason I was trying to be “relevant” was not because I wanted people to accept God, but I wanted people to accept me. I’d spent so much of my life being rejected and bullied for my interests, my looks, my faith that I found I started to work hard to prove I was normal. However, the reality of the life of a child of God is that you will not be accepted by the world and you are not normal. It’s not something that “gets better” or changes with time.

If there comes a point at which I am completely embraced by the world or indistinguishable from it, I’ve ceased being separated. I may find I’ve begun to seek relevance from the world compromising my reverence for God — which is the result of seeking relevance.

For you cannot completely love and embrace God and still look like, think like, and live like the world. You will hate one or love the other. “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other (Matthew 6:24a).”

This dynamic isn’t often easily detected. Sometimes, we’re still doing all of the things we usually do (go to church, read the Bible, talk about God) but will find our hearts are far from God in the process. This is why checking your heart is so important. Always ask, “why am I doing what I’m doing?” “Why am I saying what I’m saying?” “Am I trying to get people to accept me or accept God?” “Am I cutting myself off from the people who need to hear about the God I know?” “Am I discerning or am I just judging people?”

We often treat this walk with Christ as a one size fits all. Granted, there are elements that are one-size-fits-all (salvation, loved by God, call to reconciliation, and many others). However, we have these misguided ideas of exactly what it should look like and get lost in trying to look like that (clothes we wear, how we talk, going to church, reading the Bible, being kind to people, etc) and forget to check if our hearts are truly one with God’s heart.

To sum all of this up, choose reverence over relevance.

Be sensible. Be fools.

Over and out.