Tag: Christian

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).

 

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.

 

An Open Letter to Myself

An Open Letter to Myself

What you will read below is a note I wrote in my phone to process my thoughts about my fear of rejection. It’s not going to be well organized. It’s my thoughts nonetheless.

I’m putting this up here in an effort to be vulnerable, transparent, and encourage someone who can relate. When I’m in places in which I can’t express myself, I write. I write to understand what I’m feeling and come to a place of resolution. So, here goes.

“I think I have a fear of rejection. I can trace it all the way back to when I was a child.

I remember pulling out of the student council race for president because I thought I’d lose. I don’t invite people places because of fear of rejection. I never wanted to throw parties because of fear of rejection. What if they don’t show up? They’d be rejecting me because they think I’m not worthy of showing up for.

In various seasons of my life, it’s been communicated to me that I’m not good enough to other people. That my voice doesn’t matter. That my interests were lame. That I was almost pretty, but not actually pretty. That I was almost cool, but not quite.

This is sad because I’ve let it rule my life for way too long. I’ve chosen not to go after things for fear of rejection. I have gone after things I knew I’d succeed in so not to lose or be rejected; all based on a conditioning by broken people. How are broken people going to tell me what I’m worth?  I’m worth the very GOD of heaven coming down to save me. That’s invaluable. No one can ever provide that for me.

So, I’m not broken. I’m whole in Him.
I’m not rejected. I’m accepted by Him.
I’m not unworthy. I’m worth it because of Him.
I’m not pathetic. I have purpose in Him.

God has already planned amazing things for me to do. Some will seem glorious, others not as much. But it’s what He has planned. And I’ll be glad in it. I don’t have to shrink back and pretend I’m not worthy of what is mine. Instead, I will step up and fully embrace that which God has called me to. I am more than enough.”

Here’s the thing. God loves you. Passionately. Everlastingly. Unconditionally. This matters above all else.

It doesn’t matter what people have said or done to you. You don’t have to believe them. Any thought or idea lower than God’s idea about you is a lie. God knows you the way no human will ever know you.

David, King of Israel, was a man with many issues but a heart set to please God. He understood that despite his shortcomings, his inward sin, his outward sin, rumors about him, betrayal, and his lowest points that God knew him and loved him still. David had done some terrible things in his life; things that many of would hate ourselves for. David knew that what others thought about him and what he thought about himself had to be subject to what God knew about him.

Read below what David was expressing about God’s intimate knowledge of him and you too!

 O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
3 You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
5 You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.

7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

13 For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.

17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You.

Psalm 139:1-18

May you leave this believing the best about your Father and who He created you to be. Be blessed.

Hang In There

Hang In There

“Have the kids drove you crazy yet?” she asked. “Absolutely.” I replied.

“Hang in there.”

Those three magic words calmed and reassured me as my coworker with great empathy encouraged me. I didn’t even know I needed to hear that or that it would have the kind of effect it had.

The beauty of those three words strung together is that there are no empty promises or frilly pretenses. It means what it says. “Hang. In. There.”

No one tells you to ‘hang in there’ when things are easy. The very reason for which they’re saying that to you is because things are NOT easy. ‘Hang in there’ means:

  1. You may not have much left to give, but give anyway.
  2. You may be tired, but press anyway.
  3. You may not be noticed, but serve anyway.

The Bible says, So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up or quit” (Galatians 6:9 MSG). Paul is specifically addressing believers and how they engage with other believers and those who do not share their faith. This response is important because it’s not a response to humans, but a response and result of relationship with God.

Paul is teaching the church at Galatia that God does not ignore our efforts, hard work, good intentions, good deeds, etc. While those things are no good in and of themselves to save us, God still recognizes them and responds to them. 

The verses before verse 9 explain a basic principle that most people believe regardless of religious or cultural background. Some call it karma. Some call it ‘energy’ or ‘vibes.’ Some call it the power of positive thinking. We call it many things without fully understanding the weight of it.

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked [He will not allow Himself to be ridiculed, nor treated with contempt nor allow His precepts to be scornfully set aside]; for whatever a man sows, this and this only is what he will reapFor the one who sows to his flesh [his sinful capacity, his worldliness, his disgraceful impulses] will reap from the flesh ruin and destruction, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life(Galatians 6:7-8).

Basically: whatever you plant, grows. Whatever you put in, you get it back. The beautiful thing about God is when you choose to plant according to His desires, His nature, and His will, you don’t just get back what you put in. You get a HARVEST. You get MORE than what you put in. Unfortunately, some of us feel as if we haven’t seen anything that looks like a harvest.

Some of us are frustrated right now because we don’t feel like our efforts are being noticed by the people we’d like to notice. Some of us feel God doesn’t seem to care about the pain, discomfort, or difficulty we may be walking through. Know this:

The Bible also says, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

If there is anything that you take away from this, let it be this: God sees. More importantly for some of us, God sees you. Specifically. Clearly. Lovingly.

So, whatever you’re going through, know that God has a beautiful plan for you. It may not be easy or comfortable; but it’s worth it. God never promised we wouldn’t suffer; though He did promise that He’d always be with us (Deut. 31:6). So, hang in there. Better yet, rest in the One who is holding you.

The Danger of Comparison

The Danger of Comparison

You don’t even think about it. You walk into a room; it happens. You scroll on Instagram; it happens. You go to the mall; it happens. You enjoy a family holiday; it happens. You breathe; it happens. As much as you may tell yourself, it’s not just you. We all do it; whether or not we’d like to admit it. What is this thing we all do? Drumroll, please!

Compare.

We compare ourselves to anyone and everyone. Comparison is almost as first-nature as breathing. We don’t even have to think about it.

It’s not anything new. It is natural for humans to desire approval from other humans. Therefore, we examine what is ‘normal’ and ‘acceptable’ and we model ourselves after this.

It’s interesting though. In a culture in which this idea of ‘living your own truth’ is so prevalent, comparison is still so high. We encourage people to be unique and individualistic no matter the consequences. Still, people find themselves comparing themselves to others.

What makes us do this?

Well, there is an inner moral system within every human which governs their ideas about the world and the decisions they make. Some call it our ‘conscience.’ C.S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, supposes there is a sort of universal law. This universal law is a preset standard against which all humans examine human behavior.

We have evidence of this in our natural inclination toward saying things like, ‘He shouldn’t have done that,’ or ‘that’s not fair.’ There is this natural belief that there is a specific way to behave even if there is no law or rule to indicate this. These thoughts often come from a natural preference.

While our culture or religious beliefs may largely influence these ideas, there is evidence that this natural inclination toward an invisible universal law exists beyond these contexts. In other words, your religious beliefs or culture upbringing are not the exclusive influences on what you deem right or wrong. Moving on.

The existence of a universal law in and of itself does not explain why we compare ourselves to others. Let’s look deeper. Let’s go back to the beginning.

The first book of the Bible, Genesis, provides an account of the creation story in which God created what we see and what we don’t see (Genesis 1:1). You can follow the beautiful story from Chapter 1 to Chapter 2 which goes into greater detail.

Chapter 3 records the story popularly titled as ‘The Fall.’ It’s the story of how man went from having this perfect intimate relationship with God to running away in shame due to their sin. Prior to the fall, we discover this beautiful relationship between God and humans. God gave humans dominion (authority and ownership) over the earth. God blessed them and all was well.

Unfortunately, the fall distorted everything. Where wholeness and perfection once rested, brokenness entered. We began to seek our own which is always less than what God has and had given.

Before, our image and identity was found in God. After, our identity was being shifted and conformed to other broken images. We gave up the image of God and elevated created things rather than the Creator.

We think that when we compare ourselves to others, we’re just trying to dress like them, talk like them, or have friends like they have. There’s so much more to comparison than that.

Comparison is a thief of joy.

Comparison is a thief of identity.

Comparison kills.

Comparison works against the intimate process we find ourselves in.

The Bible says, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (Romans 8:29).

This reveals that God is trying to shape us to look like His Son, Yeshua (Jesus) the Christ. We are to look so much like Him because we are of the same lineage; “firstborn among many brothers and sister.”

You don’t usually know what comparison is robbing you of in the moment; but rest assured, the loss is great.

It will never truly benefit you to measure or compare yourself to others. They’re broken also. God is still conforming and shaping them to look like His Son. Why compare yourself to an unfinished product who’s comparing themselves to another unfinished product?

Make sure your foundation is built on and rooted in Christ. Anything else will fail. Christianity will fail. Religion will fail. Looks will fail. Riches will fail. Relationships fail.

Only the WORD of God will last forever.

 

 

*I do not own (or the rights to) the featured image.*

Friends: How Many Of Us Have Them?

Friends: How Many Of Us Have Them?

In a world where being friends with someone is as easy as a click, the definition of friendship is shifting.

Social media has ‘virtualized’ relationships. We no longer have to be as present or focused in friendships as we had been. Nevertheless, this is not a social media bash post.

Social media isn’t the only thing influencing how we define friendship. Oftentimes, the first place we look for some sort of guidance in our friendships is our parents or guardians. The way your parents engaged in friendships heavily influences how you engage in friendships.

Whether they offered blatant advice or not, you picked up behaviors, cues, and ideas about how you would participate in your friendships.

Personally, I believe we use the word ‘friend’ a little too loosely. Everyone is not your friend. Everyone ought not have the kind of access you give a friend.

A friend knows the good, bad, and ugly and sticks around out of choice, not obligation. A friend makes a commitment of sorts to ‘do life’ with you. A friend corrects you.

The Bible says, “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).

Friendship is so important. The friends you choose will affect your life in a tangible way. Friends will either encourage you towards purpose or propel you towards ruin.

You’ve heard the phrase. ‘Blood is thicker than water.’ This speaks of the loyalty within family. However, the Bible challenges this notion. This is why it’s so important to be mindful of how you choose your friends.

A friend is the family you choose.

Now, this isn’t only about knowing who’s best for you but knowing whether you’re good for someone else. Sometimes, we’re not the person that someone needs to support and sharpen them. We must have discernment to know when it’s time to leave a friendship or whether to start one in the first place.

Friendships ought to make you better, hold you accountable, be enjoyable, and push you towards purpose. Not everyone is built to do that in your life. You’re not built to do that for everyone. You can ‘act’ as a friend in a moment to a stranger or acquaintance; but true friendship requires commitment and sacrifice.

 

Curse Words

Curse Words

Listen. I’m one of those people that if they cursed, it just wouldn’t sound right. You’d much rather me find alternative words. You’d just look at me in disgust. Some of us are professionals though! It could go on a resume as a technical skill. You know the ins and outs about what words to pair together and which are “appropriate” for what situation. You’ve got skills.

A lot of us didn’t know curse wasn’t spelled “cuss.” It’s okay bro. You learn something new every day.

This will not be a lesson in the art of cursing given that I am highly unqualified. We’re going to talk about curse words, but not the ones you may be thinking of. I’m referring to them as curse words because of the way we typically respond to them and the effect they have on us.

One of my favorite/most hated curse words is ‘vulnerability.’ Vulnerability is the capacity or act of being vulnerable; subject or susceptible to attack or defenseless.  Ugh. I used to cringe when I would hear this word. I would respond that way because past experiences taught me to guard myself.

The last thing I want to do is open myself up for you to hurt me. When you are vulnerable, you are without shield (physical or intangible). Many see vulnerability as a trait that only comes if someone is weak. Au contraire.

Vulnerability requires strength. Vulnerability builds intimacy. Intimacy is the result of allowing someone to ‘see into you.’ Intimacy —-> ‘into me you see.’ No one can see into you if you’re fortified and guarded with no access points. Vulnerability is the vehicle by which we offer access into who we are. This promotes healing, freedom, and peace.

Integrity is another ‘curse word’ some of us are familiar with. We often equate integrity with honesty. Honesty is a part of integrity, but it’s not the same thing. A lot of us would probably claim that we’re honest people. If someone were to ask us a generally personal question, we might be willing to give them an ‘honest’ response.

We may even feel as if we’ve done our good deed for the day. However, honesty is the lowest form of integrity. It’s not that difficult to answer an uncomfortable question IF it’s actually asked of you. Most of the time, people don’t ask the right questions that would reveal the truth about what we think, have done, or have said. 

To choose to reveal information without being asked is not honesty, but transparency. (I’m just cursing up a storm today!) We don’t like being encouraged to be transparent because it requires vulnerability. We resist transparency because we feel as if answering the questions asked was enough. Integrity is revealing the information even if I’m not asked for it. 

If I don’t acknowledge something, I don’t and can’t grow from it.

Let’s see what God says about it. This is Yeshua talking. Matthew 5:23-24 says, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you,24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” 

Let’s break it down.

If you are communing with God in any way and you are reminded that there is someone who feels as if you’ve wronged them; go be reconciled to them. Go resolve the issue so that “a harmonious relationship” is possible again.

Pastor Marcus Howard talks about the necessity of reconciliation. He defines (to the best of my remembrance) reconciliation as “the process by which harmonious relationship is restored.” Many of us think forgiveness is enough. However, if we forgive but have refuse to reconcile, it’s a sign we haven’t truly forgiven.

This process of reconciliation doesn’t allow you to wait until the offended person comes to you. It requires you to be vulnerable and engage with them. Many of us would do this, but our biggest hindrance to reconciliation is pride.

Pride tells us, “if they’ve got a problem, they should say something,” or “I’m not about to go out of my way to make them feel better.” Pride will arrest your heart and keep you prisoner in the prison of offence. It then becomes difficult to forgive because now you’re requiring forgiveness from another.

Essentially, I’m telling you that these are the kind of curse words we need in our lives. They don’t feel good. They don’t sound good. They offend our pride. They require a radical response oftentimes; but they nourish our relationships.

So be vulnerable. Be transparent. Be integral. Be reconciled.

 

Happy reading!

Over and out.

 

*I do not own the rights to or the featured photo.”

God, But I Got Questions…

God, But I Got Questions…

“Because I said so.”

This phrase must be in every parent’s handbook that they say doesn’t come with having a child (mhmm). Parents always say having a child doesn’t come with a handbook! Then why are all of y’all using the same phrase?! Hmm? How Sway? How?! I got questions.

Many parents have this comeback on lock (see urban dictionary) if their child asks a question they don’t want to answer for a number of reasons. It’s supposed to be the end-all, be-all. You aren’t supposed to ask any more questions. Otherwise, you risk being seen as disrespectful or rebellious.

Unfortunately, this is how many of us have believed God deals with us.

I can’t speak for everyone. However, many of us have not experienced an environment in which our doubts, fears, or insecurities are welcomed to be expressed; especially our about God.

We’re judged (by others or ourselves) for having questions. We’re afraid that having doubts about God proves something is wrong with us or God is angry with us; when actually, having doubts proves you’re human. This does not mean we intentionally live in our doubt, but we need to be honest about them.

Thankfully, when I was growing up, I had a safe place in which to express my doubts and converse about them without judgement. My various youth pastors all played a major role in encouraging me to engage the Bible and supposed truths about God. If you’re a believer (minister or not), be a safe place for people to express their questions and doubts. Listening to them does not mean you agree with them. There’s nothing quite like knowing you’re being listened to that makes you feel (and know) like you matter. Don’t be so focused on making them believe what they’re doubting that you forget to help them feel heard.

Sometimes, many of us are nervous to listen to a person express their doubts about God because we’re afraid we won’t have answers. Can I help you real quick? It’s okay if you don’t know everything. It’s okay to say, “I don’t know. Let me get back to you.” or “I’ve wondered that too. Let me think and pray about that.” or “I don’t know.” It doesn’t make you any less holy or saved for not knowing exactly what to say. In fact, it may be an opportunity for you to receive some understanding about questions you’ve had or currently have.

One reason many of us are afraid to have doubts is because we think God will be angry. However, God’s response to our doubts is never what we think it will be. God’s response to any of our fear or doubt is not anger, but grace. It’s love. It’s understanding. Psalm 103:2, 8, 10, 13-14 says,

Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits; The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He does not treat us as our sins deserve, or repay us according to our iniquities. As a Father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear (revere) Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.

The reason God responds with love is because He is always aware of the fact that “we are dust.” In other words, God knows you’re human. God can respond with grace and love because He IS love. (1 John 4:7-21)

Love (God) isn’t waiting for you to be perfect or have it all together to love you. He loves you fully knowing your mess ups, your doubts, fears, and questions. This leads me to my next point.

You cannot disappoint God. Sometimes, we feel like we’ve disappointed God because we’ve been walking with God for so long but still have questions from time to time. Listen. You can’t disappoint someone who knows what to expect from you at any and all moments. So, not only do your questions not come as a surprise, but God already has the answer prepared for you specifically.

As someone who has a history of doubting, questioning, and debating the reality of God; I have some executive level experience.

I remember when I came to the realization, “I don’t have to believe in God.” It’s a choice. This was so pivotal because it started me on a journey to owning my faith not because “so-and-so said so,” but because I believed. I don’t mean you shouldn’t believe in God; I’m saying I realized for the first time, it was my choice whether or not I would believe. God prepared an answer that resolved my conflicted heart. It didn’t happen right away; but God was faithful to answer the specific question(s) in my heart which caused me to believe again.

If I’m honest, I still deal with questions and what ifs. Now, I’m not afraid to admit I have my doubts. Even if the doubt isn’t resolved right away, it’s liberating to identify it. Additionally, having dealt with these questions and frustrations has put me in the position to have transforming conversations with believers and unbelievers. For this, I’m grateful. It has also revealed more of the nature and character of God to me.

Furthermore, you can’t truly seek God without questions. “Who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why,” and “how” are all valid questions in pursuing God. “‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 29:13-14).

When you begin searching for something, you ask a variety of questions that help you get closer to finding what you’re looking for. It’s the same with God. So don’t be discouraged by your doubting. Ask the questions. God will answer.

Be honest. Be transparent. God will meet you where you’re at.