Tag: Christianity

The Danger of Comparison Pt. 2

The Danger of Comparison Pt. 2

In part 1, we dove into the reason humans feel the need to compare themselves to others. Read part 1 here. It’ll help this post make more sense.

One thing we learned in part 1 is that comparison is not bad in and of itself. Humans were originally meant to be compared to, or better yet, likened to God Himself. We were created of the same nature and comparably took after attributes of God Himself.

So, from the beginning, we were reflecting Someone. When sin entered, it distorted everything. We began to use other standards to measure ourselves against instead of God Himself. We exchanged the truth for a lie.

Every time we examine who we are in comparison to someone else, we are exchanging truth for a lie. Pastor Marcus Howard, in his training ‘Detox,’ said, “Be careful of comparing yourself to others because the bar is too low. If you’re going to compare yourself to anyone else, compare yourself to Christ.” 

Think of someone you would consider to be a good person. They may do nice things all the time and they don’t do the things you think are wrong. Even this person, is not worthy to be used as the standard by which we all should live. They may be a good example, but they are not the Truth Itself. 

Christ is the ONLY Truth. Everything outside of Him is a lie. It is a distortion of what is true.

This does not mean you treat those who don’t strongly believe in Christ as less than. Absolutely not! This does not mean you enforce your beliefs on them. Share them with boldness, truth, and most importantly love. Without love, there is no truth. Without truth, there is no love.

This is where the issue lies. Comparison is an assault on love. Comparison is an assault on truth. The conclusions we usually draw from our comparisons are not true and are rooted in ideas that are contrary to God (Love).

For example, if I compare myself to someone and come out thinking, “I’m better than them,” I’m wrong. This would be rooted in pride and indicative of a lack of identity. I don’t need to be better than anyone when I know I’m loved by God.

If I compare myself to others and believe, “I’m less than them,” this is also false! This is rooted in insecurity, self-doubt, and indicates a lack of identity. I can’t believe I’m less than anyone because the love of God embraces and empowers me.

When Love (God) is revealed and realized in someone, there is no need to search for the approval of others. God doesn’t just set you free so you can live a morally good life. God sets you free from you and the opinions of others. To realize I am loved by God allows me to be certain of who I am in the midst of any crowd or environment.

When I lose sight of God’s love for me, I begin to try to work for His approval and the approval of others. I try to prove that I’m ‘worth it,’ that I belong, and that I’m enough. I try to justify my wrongs because I’ve removed myself from the covering of the grace of God. God’s grace covers what we were and will never be able to cover. When I remove (or try to) myself from this covering, I use my own system and measurements to prove I’m good enough. I do this because I no longer trust God to do it for me.

The thing is, we can never gain God’s approval on our own. God took care of that through Christ. We can’t do it on our own. Our system of what is right, wrong, enough, or insufficient pales in comparison to God’s. The ideas or acts that don’t seem that bad to us are a distortion of what God originally intended and God doesn’t approve of them. Essentially, our systems are faulty.

Comparison takes you out of the security of who God knows you to be and causes you to act according to who you have deceived yourself into thinking you are.

Comparison is an enemy to love. God is Love (1 John 4:7-21). In the Bible, we find several stories of how God responded to His enemies and the enemies of His people. God does not leave them standing.

So, today, I’m choosing to allow God to kill comparison, doubt, and insecurity in me. I can be sure of me because He loves me. I don’t have to doubt the love of God because God doesn’t change. God doesn’t lie. God didn’t make a mistake when He made me. Therefore, I don’t have to find assurance in anything or anyone else. 

I didn’t write this because this is an area I’ve mastered. I wrote this because it’s been a problem area for me as of late. So, I hope it encouraged you!

I pray you find the strengthen and courage to stand against comparison and accept the Love of God for yourself!

 

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.

 

When Pain Is Your Mistress

When Pain Is Your Mistress

I don’t always know how to be happy and I’d hazard a guess that I’m not the only one.

Happiness is one of the most elusive concepts humans pursue. Most of the time, we’re mistaken about what will actually make us happy. We get it and are abysmally disappointed. More money, a relationship, new job, influence, power, etc., are just a few things we often believe will bring us happiness. (Mo’ money, mo’ problems).

Interestingly enough, we don’t have to desire things that are inherently bad in order to be disappointed once we get them. The reality is, nothing on this earth could ever or will ever satisfy the longing for fulfillment. Only God can. Some things seem to get really close, but fall short every single time. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t desire things, relationships, money, or influence. Instead, we must remember that in all things, we must ask, ‘why do I want what I want?’

Many of us have no trouble desiring things. For some of us, however, desiring anything good is an arduous task. Life experiences and disappointments have taught us not to expect anything good or for it to last very long. Our inner system of belief begins to tell us, ‘don’t get too attached,’ or ‘don’t get your hopes up.’ These thoughts come when your belief system is being run by doubt and fear.

Pastor Marcus Howard says, “Fear is not an emotion. It is the absence of emotion; because you don’t know what to expect, you fear. Fear is a toxin eating up the core of your belief.” I’ve heard him expound further saying, “fear comes because of a lack of expectation.”  

Our life experiences teach us what to expect or what not to expect. Painful experiences teach us it’s not worth hoping for something better. Sometimes, we become so familiar with our pain, that we forget how to be happy. We forget to receive the joy that’s been given to us through Christ.

Let’s talk about joy and happiness. If you ask a random person, they’ll tell you that joy and happiness are one in the same. I understand from where we get this idea. However, let’s look at Scripture for a second. Many of the verses that mention joy speak of it in spite of something.  Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:2-3).

We don’t experience joy because things are going well. We experiencing joy whether or not things are going well. Happiness is different. Happiness requires a particular condition. ‘I’m happy because _______.’ This means: if the reason for which I’m happy changes, so does my happiness with it. If I’m happy as long as I’m in a relationship, then the moment I’m single, I cease to be happy.

Joy is different. Joy is an assurance, a steadfastness, being immovable in the knowledge that everything is going to be alright. This kind of joy is only possible through knowledge of the One in whom there is assurance: Christ.

Oddly, joy is more natural than depression, anxiety, worry, doubt, or fear. It’s who God is. When you choose to have relationship with God through Christ, you choose everything that comes with Him. You marry (figuratively and spiritually) yourself to Him and the two of you become one.

Similarly, when you are friends with someone, the two of you begin to share the same vocabulary, ideals, and gestures. When you accept Christ, you begin to share in who He is.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:17).  What is Christ’s is ours. (What’s mine is yours. What’s your is mine. Marriage.)

Joy is a result of that relationship. Peace is a result of that relationship. Patience is a product of that relationship. Galatians 5:22 says, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” 

Christ teaches that we will go through difficult times (John 16:33). Don’t marry yourself to your pain. It’s not a healthy relationship. It doesn’t serve you the way a husband and wife serve each other in marriage. It only weighs you down. Nevertheless, realize you will experience pain, but remember what the outcome ought to be. It’s there to perfect your faith.

For further study: 2 Timothy 1:7, John 16:33, Romans 8

Happy reading!

Over and out.

 

*I do not own the rights to or the featured photo. I made small edits for the sake of the post.*

What Would Christians Do? Pt. 2

What Would Christians Do? Pt. 2

If you’re even remotely familiar with Christianity, you may have heard the phrase W.W.J.D. What Would Jesus Do? In part 1, we explored the origins of this phrase and the implications of it. Is it more than a phrase or is it a personal conviction? The answer? It depends on the person.

We may not find this specific phrase in the Bible; but we do find various verses that encourage us to live like Christ and as an example (Ephesians 5:1-17, 1 John 4:7-21, Acts 1:8, John 14:12, 1 Timothy 4:12).

Oftentimes, in the process of living like Christ, we equate Christianity with Christ. Our hearts begin to believe ‘Christianity is the Way’ instead of ‘Yeshua (Jesus) is the Way.’ There is a difference in believing ‘Christianity is the Way’ as opposed to ‘Yeshua is the Way.’

If we pour all of our energy into following after Christianity, we’re no different than the Pharisees. Oftentimes, Christians demonize Pharisees as these historical enemies of Christ. The heart of the Pharisees is not specific to the Jewish culture or the time period in which Yeshua walked the earth. Many times, we are the Pharisees. We don’t want to believe that because we’re upholding what we believe Christ has required us to uphold. Isn’t that the same issue the Pharisees had? They were more concerned with upholding traditions and ideals, that they missed the more important truth and gift presented to them: Yeshua Christ, the Messiah.

There is no one expression or way to live like a Pharisee. (Disclaimer: Pharisees were not innately bad. They were leaders in Jewish culture and the temple. I’m specifically referring to their mindset and lack of precedence on what was most important.) For to live like a Pharisee, we would seek to justify ourselves because of the expectations and rituals we maintain.

For some of us, it’s our service to our church, our ability to pray, or memorizing Scripture. For others, it’s all the ‘bad’ things we don’t do. For many, it’s all of the ‘good’ things we do. There is no ‘amount’ of bad that you can do to keep you from being accepted by God. There is no ‘amount’ of good that you can do to cause you to be accepted by God.

It doesn’t matter if you think you’re a good person. Good is relative in our eyes. Good is holy in God’s. We don’t come close to God’s standard on our own. Your attempt at doing “enough” good stuff is empty religion.All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). There will never be enough on your own. That’s the equivalent of believing ‘Christianity is the Way.’ ‘If I’d just attend church service every week,’ ‘if I’d just not do this,’ or ‘if I’d just read my Bible enough’ or ‘if I’m seen as a Christian by other people,’ are all traps.

It’s the trap of self-sufficiency. It’s when we move from ‘Yeshua is the Way’ to ‘I can provide my own way.’ This proves to us, more than anything else, that we don’t really understand what Christ did before, during, and after the Cross. “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10:14).

This means: there is and never will be a way in which we can save ourselves.  Only Christ can. Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Yeshua, by a new and living way opened for us.. let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings” (Hebrews 10: 19, 20a, 22).

Your religion will not save you. The rituals you participate in will not save you. The traditions you uphold will not save you. They were never given the power to do that. “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship (Hebrews 10:1).”

We don’t truly know how much power and freedom we strip from our lives when we try to live as our own savior. 

When Christ died, He didn’t just die for the Christian. He died for the world (John 3:15-17). He died for those who wouldn’t even accept Him. While they may never receive the beautiful gift of salvation because they never accepted it, the gift of salvation is for anyone who would believe (Romans 1:16; John 3:16).

So, let your salvation be found in Christ, not in yourself. For you can’t bear the weight of salvation on your shoulders. Christ already did.

I wasn’t planning on going this direction with this post, but I felt led by the Holy Spirit and was given revelation as I wrote. So, I hope this truly blesses and challenges you to rest in the grace and salvation provided through Christ, not your ‘Christianity.’

To further understand some of the ideas I alluded to in this post, check out two previous posts. I’m Not a Christian Pt. 1 and I’m Not a Christian Pt. 2. It may offend you, but may be exactly what you need to hear.

Let me know what you think and how this blog is impacting you personally! Like, comment, share, or email me. I’d love to hear from you!

Happy reading!

Over and out.

 

*The featured photo belongs to http://www.mercworks.net. I do not own the rights to or the photo itself.*

 

 

What Would Christians Do Pt. 1

What Would Christians Do Pt. 1

W.W.J.D.

What Would Jesus Do? In the 1990’s, this acronym became very popular in Christendom. For some, it became more than a cool catch phrase and more of a personal conviction. It encouraged Christians to respond in the same way they presumed Christ would respond.

You can read further about this acronym and its effects on Christendom here or here. Funnily enough, UrbanDictionary.com had a definition of its own. They have some pretty hilarious examples of how this phrase could be used. “WWJD? Well for starters, he probably wouldn’t purchase and wear tacky jewelry.”  “I’m not sure if I should write this webpage script in Perl, Java or PHP. Hmm, What Would Jesus do?”

With any catchphrase or cliche, the effect wears off eventually. Maybe, it should. I believe there comes a point at which you don’t have to ask ‘what would Yeshua do’ anymore. Instead, we ask ‘what will Yeshua do’ through me. The word ‘would’ implies a condition. “I would do this if ______.” It provides space for excuse. Instead, as a believer, I say, “I will do this because _______.”

What’s your ‘because?’ The Bible says, “So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” (2 Cor. 5:20).

If your ‘because’ is anything other than the fact that God desires to reconcile others to Himself through you, refocus on what is important. It’s not about having the best ministry. It’s not about having the most followers. It’s not about being well-liked. When people encounter you, you ought to be a ‘deflector’ and ‘reflector.’ Before people can become enamored by how great you are, you ought to point them to the Source: Christ.

So, what will you do? What will you say? What will you think?

This is not to promote condemnation, comparison, or competition. This is not a question to answer based on how others are answering. This a question to open up a dialogue between you and God. ‘God, what would you have me to do?’ ‘God, what will you have me to do?’

I believe at the heart of this phrase (WWJD) is a need to acknowledge God in our decisions. It reminds us to be sensitive to the heart and will of God. We can’t go on living like what we do, say, or think doesn’t matter. Everything you do is perceived as a direct representation of who God is. The moment you say, “I’m a Christian,” you’re being watched. You’re being examined. People can’t help but to examine you. Don’t let this scare you. At best, let it be a sobering wake-up call if you’ve been thinking your life and how you live it doesn’t matter. Don’t be worried. The Spirit of God will empower you to live in a way worthy of the call you’ve accepted.

Further Study: 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

Currently, at my church, we’re going through a series called DETOX. Week Two’s message really speaks to some of the things written in this post. Watch the video here. Skip ahead to minute 37 and continue from there. Pastor Marcus Howard is a man well-studied on this subject and provides a comprehensive and practical training on this topic.

I hope you enjoyed reading this! This post was meant to lay the groundwork for the rest of the series.

We’re going to continue this series by answering some questions about the Christian’s lifestyle. Two questions will include: ‘Should Christians Go to Secular Parties?’ and ‘Should Christians Listen to Secular Music?’

So, stay updated.

Happy reading!

Over and out.

 

*The featured photo is from http://www.mercworks.net I do not own the rights to the photo or the photo itself.*

Ctrl, Alt, Del

Ctrl, Alt, Del

Control. Alt. Delete. This is my go-to when a computer decides to act rachet (see urban dictionary). When you enter that combination, your computer SHOULD give you the option to restart or shut down. When that doesn’t work, then you KNOW something is wrong. If only life worked this way…

Sometimes, you just wish you could start over. Maybe not completely; but many of us have a point in our life, we’d quickly consider starting things over from. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with wanting things to have been a certain way. There’s probably nothing wrong with wanting to do things differently.

However, I believe the true treasure is found in our applying lessons of yesterday to today. We don’t have to meditate on should’ve, would’ve, or could’ve. We don’t have to ponder on what was or wasn’t, but what is and will be.

My saying this does not mean I’ve never thought, “Man, I could’ve done this if THAT had never happened. I would’ve been here if THIS had never happened.” I’ve had more than my fair share in meditating on the past and still struggle with it from time to time. My issue, most of the time, is thinking TOO MUCH about the future. God, help me.

If I had to choose between dwelling on the past and regretting past decisions, or getting the most out of where I am now and having hope for the future, I’d choose the latter. I’ve reached a place where I’d rather keep pressing forward to see that which God has prepared for me. As afraid as I am of the future at times, I have confidence that whatever lies before me is surmountable if my eyes are on Christ.

The book of Hebrews says it best.  “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything(every weight) that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2).”

Dwelling on the past hinders us from reaching true purpose. Sin will entangle you and keep you from reaching purpose. We have to throw aside EVERY weight. Don’t let the past be a weight that slows you down from reaching purpose.

Here are some things to hold on to if you find yourself regretting your past or feeling like you’ve wasted time:

We don’t get to change how we started, but we can affect how we finish. There are experiences I’ve had that were not life-giving that at times shook my faith that anything good could ever happen. Even when I don’t know how the good will come or when the good will come, deep down, I know it will. I hang my hat on that.

Your future is brighter than your past.

The people you surround yourself with affect your future. Find some people in your life to hold you accountable and encourage you to move forward in your life.

God uses the good as well as the bad. So, even if it hurts or hurt, God will use it to produce something beautiful (if you let Him).

Keep your eyes on Christ. We become what we focus on. If my eyes are set on Christ, my identity is no longer found in the things I did or didn’t do in my past, but in Him.

God is a redeemer of time. This should not encourage us to waste time. Instead, it should encourage us that if we’ve turned in the right direction that the things of the past will be used for our benefit and His glory.

I hope this has encouraged you today. Keep your eyes fixed on Christ.

Happy reading!

Over and out.

 

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

What a Broken Heart Will Heal

What a Broken Heart Will Heal

This is perhaps my most vulnerable post yet. I typically avoid being publicly vulnerable for various reasons. I’d much rather show people the finished product and talk about the pain as a thing of the past. I will refrain from that today.

I’m going through something right now. Don’t get me wrong. Everything is pretty good. I’M going through something in ME. I’m being exposed to the beautiful and disgusting parts of who I am. I’ve never been this honest with myself about the messed up parts of me as I have in the last three years. This is so disruptive for someone who many thought was ideal to emulate and strived to be PERFECT all the time.

One deeply seeded issue I’ve discovered about myself is that I truly need an overhaul on my perception of God. I’ve gone through a lot of heartache and pain over the last 7+ years. The heartaches and heartbreaks seemed to come one after another. They were not all related to relationships, though some were.

In the process of healing from or suppressing these situations, I’d begun to believe God wasn’t good because something that wasn’t good was happening to me. I began to believe God owed me some sort of compensation for the pain He allowed me to go through or the pain He led me TO. Many believe because God is good that He’d never intentionally lead you to go through some painful experiences. Personally, I don’t believe this. It’s difficult theology to grapple with, but I believe that.

One verse in the Bible that supports this idea that God’s will for us may involve pain in order to reach purpose is Hebrews 5:8. It says, “Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.” Additionally, we understand that Jesus was aware that He’d have to intentionally go to an environment in which He’d have suffer. “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. (Matt. 16:21).”

Disclaimer: While I believe God allows AND leads us to go through painful experiences, this does not mean all pain is caused by God for the sake of His purpose for us. I do believe ALL pain CAN BE USED for the fulfillment of your purpose. So, be encouraged.

The reason I’m writing this blog is to be honest. I want to be honest about the fact that we will go through hard things, things we don’t think we’ll make it through. I’m writing to encourage someone who has experienced something that was/is painful.

There is good that comes from a broken heart. There is life that comes from a broken heart. There is healing that only comes once your heart has been broken. Many would say, “I wouldn’t need healing if I’d never been broken.” Touché. You also wouldn’t know God’s a healer if your heart had never been broken.

Truthfully, you’ll never really know God for who He truly is unless you go through some things.

I don’t want anyone who reads this to receive this as some mastered point of view of life after pain or some obligatory encouragement. I’m still healing from things and discovering that which I’ve yet to heal from.

I have found myself saying, “I don’t want to go through any more pain. I’m tired of good things coming into my life and leaving no sooner than they came. I’m tired of heartache.” These are my exact words from an entry in my journal. I’m extremely pensive today as I have been reflecting on this sentiment. In the process of me thinking about my relationship with pain and my desire to be healed, I realized that there were more things I’ve healed from than I thought. I’m much more whole than I realized. I’m more complete than I thought. There have been small and big victories along the way that I never celebrated or thanked God for.

Some important nuggets to take away from this post:

  • God will honor your desire to be healed and whole. He may not do it the way you’d like Him to, but He’s at work.
  • God is good even when life around you is not.
  • God doesn’t owe you for the pain you’ve suffered, but He’ll restore anyway. For He is good.
  • “One of the best gifts God could ever give you is a hard life.” –Young Noah
  • God is good AND just. He’s more concerned about your healing, wholeness, and holiness than you ever will be.
  • “For my thoughts are not your thoughts. Nor are your ways my ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

I have not yet mastered all that is presented in this post. I’m still meditating on it and figuring out how to be consistent in my application of it to my life. If you’d like to talk about anything you’re going through, please message me on Facebook or comment on this post.

 

 

 

*I do not own the rights to the featured picture.