Tag: love

#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.

 

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.

 

My Boyfriend and the Beatitudes

My Boyfriend and the Beatitudes

This is for the ladies. What do you want in a man? What is something you refuse to compromise on? What are your must-haves and must-not-haves? Many women have been encouraged to write a list that spells out all that they’d want in a husband. I have heard stories of women who have done this and the man they married was “everything they wanted and more.” I believe this really does happen.

It’s important to note that “the list” is as individual as the person writing it. It’s specific to you, your purpose, and the man the Most High will present to you. I’ve written lists before and have found that my list changes as I get older. Some things have remained the same (8 years ago), but for the most part, it’s changed a lot. This is due in part to my coming into an understanding of who I am and what I need.

Many times, we make these lists identifying our wants, but not our needs. Don’t get me wrong, it is okay to ‘want’ something — but every desire must be qualified. Why do I want what I want? What will I do with it once I get it? Who will it help or serve?

There’s nothing wrong with identifying what you want, but don’t compromise what you need for what you want. Typically, the things we want are temporary things anyway. The things we need are things that our purpose and the very core of who we are cannot live without. ‘Needs’ won’t change — for the most part. ‘Wants’ will. So I’ve come to the conclusion that it would be of my greatest benefit to evaluate and desire a man based on something that does not change. The WORD of God.

Now, when I say WORD of God, I’m talking about Yeshua, the Messiah (many have referred to Him as Jesus–that’s a blog for another day). Although many refer to the Bible as the Word of God, it is not the WORD of God.

John 1:1, 14 says, “In the beginning was the WORD, the WORD was with God and the WORD was God. He was with God in the beginning. The WORD became flesh and dwelt among us…” See, the Bible contains words from God, but it is not the WORD of God. Moving on.

The WORD of God doesn’t change and I can be secure in who He is and who I am IN Him. Acts 17:28 says, “for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’” If we are the offspring of God, we are produced after Him — meaning, we look (and are) like Him.

So, if I have a relationship with the One who does not change (James 1:17), whom I’m created to be like (Genesis 1:26-28), it would be important to note what He celebrates and deems good — hence the purpose for this blog.

In Matthew 5, we read of one of the most powerful teachings ever taught to mankind. I’ve been hearing this since I was about 5 years old and am only now coming into deeper understanding of it. Verses 3-12 have been infamously referred to as the Beatitudes. It’s that passage in the Bible that each verse starts with, “Blessed are…”

Many of sermons have been taught on the Beatitudes. My church recently went through a study and it was mind-blowing. Before we had even studied it, I had decided to write this blog. I’m going to take a look at the first three verses and how they influence what I should look for in a relationship. (These are in no particular order — although they are numbered).

  1. Submission to God

v. 3 Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Yeshua was speaking of one who is crouched low before God (humility). One who is poor in spirit does not place confidence or value in their own human authority; they recognize God’s authority as highest and truest.

So, this verse encourages me to bless (praise) what Christ has blessed (praised) — which is a man that recognizes God’s authority and governs his life according to it. A man who isn’t submitted to God is a man unprepared to lead you or himself in God’s will.

A direct result of being one who recognizes and acknowledges God’s authority is the quality of being teachable. Being teachable allows you to be ready to learn because you aren’t under the impression you know everything. If you’re under the impression you know everything, you can’t learn.

2. After God’s Own Heart

v. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.”

Like verse 3, this verse does not mean what it would appear to mean. Yeshua would always talk in parables and His lessons would always have a deeper meaning. The revelation I received when studying this was that the one who mourns what God mourns, will be comforted (brought near).

The one whose heart breaks for what the Father’s break shall be brought near to the Father. This means, an intimate relationship with the Father results in caring about what God cares about — which in turn results in greater intimacy with the Father. A man who cultivates an intimate relationship with the Father is a student of Love (for God is Love) and will constantly be growing in the fullness of who God created him to be.

3. Humility

“Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.”

Yeshua is speaking of humility again. This ought to be no surprise to us given how much God hates pride. (1 John 2:16; Isaiah 2:10; Proverbs 11:2). But He gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble (James 4:6).” 

The Bible is very clear that God favors the humble and hates pride. God hates pride because it is often at the root of any sin. Pride exalts itself higher than it ought. Pride says, “I know better than God.” Pride doesn’t allow us to accept God because we will believe there’s no need to.

A man that walks humbly before God and man will walk in the favor of God. To have the favor of God means to have God’s face turned toward you in approval. “The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein (Psalm 24:1).”

If God approves of you, He gives you what is His. He gives you influence and authority. It may not look the way we think it would, but it’s the kind of influence and authority that can only come from God. This kind of approval (justification) comes with intimate relationship (sonship) with God. “For they will inherit the earth…” You inherit because you’re an heir, a child of God. I want to be with a man that recognizes he’s a child of the Most High and is in pursuit of what that looks like.

So, as we can see, the Bible can inform us of what God values and help us make sound decision in our relationships. Since marriage is God’s, it makes sense to seek Him about His desire for it. Some questions I’ve asked God are, “what kind of person should I marry?” “What kind of person do you want me to be in marriage?” These questions are informing me of God’s desire for me in relationships.

I hope this blog encourages you to seek God about your relationships and to trust that He knows best!

 

Be sensible.

Be fools.

I Thought It Was Love

I Thought It Was Love

Have you ever been in love? Many of us would claim we have been. Sometimes, we’re unsure. We use feelings to justify or confirm that we were in fact in love. “I just feel so happy around him!” “She makes me so giddy!” “He just makes me feel good.”

We think because “we’re so excited to be around them,” “we like the same things,” or “they’re different from anyone we’ve ever dated,” that it means we’re in love. Granted, sometimes, this is the case. However, this is not always true. Sometimes, it’s something else.

Lust.

You’ve likely already heard this. Lust does a fantastic job at masquerading as love. We often perceive our lust for someone as love for them. Lust can be defined as a very strong desire–often unquenchable. It is not wrong in and of itself to strongly desire something.

However, it’s important to qualify (verify) what we desire. We can do this by asking a couple of simple questions.

Why do I want what I want?

This is one of the easiest ways to distinguish love from lust. If you want what you want for an unhealthy reason (pride, insecurity, superiority), then you know it’s lust. Lust does nothing but consume you. Love doesn’t consume you, it blooms you and those that are in relationship with you.

What will I do once I get it?

Is your desire for selfish reasons, then you know it’s not love; for love is selfless. Are you unable to give selflessly? Do you only desire to receive without any reciprocation? This leads me to my next point.

Reciprocity.

This is likely the most common dynamic at work in relationships that seem to have love, but don’t. The only reason I have any perception of this, is because I’ve discovered this within myself.

You may have learned about reciprocity in Math class in high school. It is simply a mutual exchange of privileges. “I am this to you because you’ve been that to me.” “I’ll do this for you because you’ve that for me.” “I expect you to give this because I’ve given that.”

Disclaimer: I’m not saying you should not have standards or stay in toxic relationships. No. Instead, I am saying a relationship built on reciprocity cannot live up to its fullest potential and it is not love. 

In a reciprocal relationship, I love that you did this for me, but not necessarily you. I find myself attached to what you can do, give, or be to me and not you. That’s not love. Love isn’t looking for what it can get, love has already given. It’s free. Love gives freely. For the moment love requires compensation, it’s not really love. 

I thought I knew how to love. I did; and maybe I did know how to love. However, after many heart breaking experiences, I’ve been slow to love those around me in fear of getting hurt. “What if I let myself love them and they hurt me beyond repair?” To a hurting person, that is the most valid question you could ask. While our ‘what if’ scenarios hardly ever come true, you can’t help but believe that if you chose to love, you’d end up broken.

I want to encourage you to love again. I don’t mean seek a romantic relationship–but love again.

Love yourself. Love others. This will only be possible through intimate relationship with the Most High. For many of us, the reason we’re unable to love without fear is because we have a skewed perspective about God. We’ve lost our trust in Him. We’ve lost our faith in Him. We feel like He left us when we needed Him most. So, we no longer go to Him when we feel lost or broken.

Fortunately and unfortunately, He is the only One that can find us when we’re lost and mend us when we’re broken.

The thing is, God is love–the very essence of it. God doesn’t have love, He is it. God doesn’t give love, He is it. If we’d allow Him to infiltrate every area of our dark hearts, they’d beat again. God wants you to be able to love again. You haven’t lost it, it’s just hidden. Remember, love doesn’t wait to be acknowledged or recognized. It’s free.

So, even if you’re not acknowledging God in your life right now, just know that He loves you still. That is the greatest truth we can ever grasp as humans–God loves you. Don’t forget it.

Meditate on 1 Corinthians 13.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poorand give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love

Be sensible. Be fools.

1 Cor. 3:18

6 Things A Relationship Won’t Heal

6 Things A Relationship Won’t Heal

Here me out. While some of these things can be helped by a relationship, it(a relationship) is only a temporary fix that is likely to land you in further issue. So, before you decide to change that relationship status to ‘taken’ or ‘boo’d up,’ check out these things. You may think twice.

Loneliness

I’ve learned this in my most recent romantic relationship. A relationship will not heal ‘loneliness.’ It didn’t matter how often we spoke, how much time we spent together, or that the relationship was healthy and life-giving. I’d still find myself experiencing loneliness. This speaks to a common phrase we hear, “you can be in a crowd full of people and still feel alone.” So, having another person active in your life doesn’t guarantee you won’t feel lonely.

A relationship can only provide a band aid for the issue of loneliness. There’ll be times in which you feel the loneliness is subsiding; but that’s usually only during the moments you spend with your significant other. Once you’re alone, it all comes crashing down again.

Honestly, I’m still unpacking exactly where this weight of loneliness comes from. However, once I realized that I was lonely while still in a relationship, I ran to the Most High (GOD) and He’s been revealing and healing those areas. Now, it’s a very rare thing I experience.

Lust

Oh man. Many of us don’t want to say it. We wouldn’t say that’s largely the reason we hop into a relationship. We think that if we are committed to one person then we can somehow channel the lust into a positive energy in the relationship. One thing I’ve learned is that lust cannot be tamed, coddled, or ‘channeled.’ It can only be starved. Lust that’s starved is a lust that loses its power.

I’ve heard this said from various married folk, “whatever problems you have before marriage are the same problems you’ll have IN marriage; just multiplied!” I believe this applies to any sort of relationship. Any relationship will not make your issues magically evaporate. In fact, a life-giving God-ordained relationship will expose those issues and propel you toward purpose.

However, marriage exposes those issues in a unique way. For GOD’s purpose through marriage is to sanctify the husband and wife so that they reflect the relationship between Christ and the Church.

So, you can rest assured that if you’re struggling with lust now and you do nothing about it, you will struggle with it in a relationship.

Brokenness

To be honest, I’m hesitant on even putting this here; because I’ve seen the power of a healthy God-ordained relationship in dealing with brokenness. However, I wouldn’t say the relationship healed brokenness. Instead, it created a safe place for the areas of brokenness to be exposed and mended. 

GOD often works through people to heal and provide. However, it’s HIS power and resources that make healing and provision possible. So, no relationship with any human can provide all that you need for healing. It can merely serve as a conduit for healing.

Fear

If you’re struggling with fear as a single person, fear will infiltrate your relationship. We often think that a relationship will magically heal every issue we have. It will not. The same is true with fear. The only remedy for fear is love. The Bible says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18).

I’ve wrestled with this passage many times; because according to it, I don’t walk in perfect love. I know I don’t walk in perfect love because I often live in fear. The two can’t coexist. The reason love and fear can’t coexist is because fear torments and punishes.

There is no pride in love. Love is humble. There is no lack in love. Love is complete. Love doesn’t keep record of wrong. Love forgives.

You can’t operate in perfect love and fear. GOD is love. There is no fear in GOD. What does God have to fear? Who does GOD have to fear?

My friend Chevon encouraged me one day concerning the verse above. She explained that perfect love will cast out fear as in it will draw it out. It will bring it to the surface and demand that it leave. It must be exposed first. An issue cannot change unless it is first exposed. An active relationship with the Most High (GOD), who is Love,  will pull the curtain back on your fear and drive it out.

Low Self-Esteem

Our society informs us that if you are in a relationship, you must be of importance or value. Have you ever been single and no one was trying to get at you at all? As soon as you got in a relationship, everyone seemed to shoot their shot? No? Just me? Cool. Sometimes, people don’t desire us until it seems someone else desires us. Oftentimes, we find our worth in whether or not we’re ‘desired’ by others.

We gravitate towards relationships because of the perception we want people to have of us. We want to be seen as someone who is worthy of another’s affection.

The thing is, whether or not someone woke up this morning with you on their mind, you are worthy of love. In fact, Christ thought you were worthy of His life. No human could ever or will ever top that. Ever.

Honestly, this is something I have to keep at the forefront of my mind. I tell myself often enough, “I’m not more important or attractive because I’m in a relationship with someone.” “I’m not less attractive or important when I’m single. I have the same kind of value in either position; because I’m HIS.” To be honest, I don’t always believe this, but I know it’s true. I don’t always feel like this is true, but GOD.

Lack of Purpose

For those that desire a long-term relationship, there is a certain security we experience having found someone we desire to invest in and who wants to invest in us. Sometimes, it can feel like a release or relief from ‘singleness.’ Many of us have been waiting for what seems like an eternity to ‘find’ someone or ‘be found,’ so that our life can finally “start.”

Now, I’ve heard it said many times that some of your best days are when you find that special someone and build a life together. I believe there’s a level of truth to this. However, you ought to have some of your “best days” before you’re linked in a relationship.You can’t wait around for someone or a relationship to ascribe purpose to you.

Granted, a facet of your purpose may be revealed once you link up with someone, but it’s important we begin seeking GOD concerning our individual purpose before a relationship.

Many of us get in a relationship and the relationship becomes our purpose. If you don’t have purpose before the relationship, you may not be choosing to be with this person for the right reasons. You could be choosing to be with them because of a lack of knowledge of your purpose, a fear of being alone, brokenness, loneliness, etc. Knowing your purpose or at least a glimpse of it will help in choosing wisely and timely as to when and with whom to get into a relationship.

So be encouraged and mindful. A relationship is not and should not become your everything. The very things you’re seeking healing for, GOD will heal if you let Him.

I’m encouraged today because I’m not where I used to be. I don’t even have to focus on “not being where I should be or will be.” I just know, I’m not where I used to be. The Father is healing me from the inside out and isn’t willing to let anything go unfinished. This is a work he started and I know He’ll finish it. (Phil. 1:6)

I’m encouraged because of the relationship I have with my Father. The Most High (GOD) pursues me, placed purpose in me, and continues to transform me so that it is fulfilled. So, if you’re struggling with any of the things listed above, remember that GOD is with you. No one can ever fill all of those voids and wounds. 

The only relationship that can heal all of the broken areas in you is your relationship with the Most High (GOD), your Father, if you accept Him. 

 

*I do not own the featured photo.

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 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!

 

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.