Posts tagged ‘Christianity’

Jealousy vs the Chosen

Jealousy stems from not feeling chosen, and instead feeling rejected. Therefore your “feelings” of inadequacy manifest themselves in wanting what the other person seemingly has that makes them better than you. This is all perception, but to the rejected heart, it feels like reality. In truth, God’s choosing should supplant every feeling of inadequacy. The truth of God choosing us overwhelmingly implies that He believes we are worth His love and Presence in our lives. What God has chosen, and placed His mark of approval and desire on, can never be rejected, because the One who ultimately chose us will never reject us. Jealousy is dangerous. It can stem and branch off into so many sins and sinful desires. Jealousy makes you covet what is happening in others’ lives. It makes you want what God has not intended for you to have at that time, which is not to say that He never wants to give it to you, rather that it is not your time. Do your best to avoid it at all costs. Why be jealous over anyone, or anything, when God has picked you. God has chosen you. God has selected you. You are special. You are loved. Let your life be filled with God’s choosing, for you are His chosen. That is your identity; not the lie you believe when jealousy and rejection take root.

Imitation as Insincere Flattery

Today begins something new for me. After an encounter with God last night, I feel lead to read Ephesians 1, verse by verse; day by day. My identity has to be rebuilt, and the only way for this to happen is through the Word of God. I don’t know where it happened, or when…but I lost parts of myself by admiring and trying to emulate others in ministry. Slowly admiration can become jealousy and idolatry if not given in the right spirit, and thus here I am.

No more can I be bothered with trying to be like everyone else. I can’t wish i were someone else. I can’t be anyone else. To try doing this is a slap in the face of the One who made me perfectly in His image. It is impolite. The creation telling His Creator that his mold and composition is not good enough. Who knows better? Of course, the Creator!

I can only be me. To God, that is good enough…perfect even. He is teaching me to be okay with it as well, and He is teaching me that I am made up of things that have yet to even be discovered yet.

Let the journey begin.

Evolution of Praise

First off, allow me to say that however one chooses to praise God is not for me to judge. I love watching all kinds of praisers. It’s all beautiful to me. This post, however, is just a look at my own evolution as a praiser and lover of God, because the way that I give myself to Him now is far different from where I used to be.

I grew up in a Missionary baptist church. I loved it for what it was. I accepted salvation there. I was baptized there. I preached my first sermon there. That church gave me my formative development as a person and as a Christian. I still consider that my genesis. I heard many types of preachers there. There were the fiery ones, the expositive ones, the quietly effective ones, etc. We sang hymns, and had a church choir that actually had SATB voices, with people who knew the technical aspects of beautiful music. SO we praised God with polish and refinement. There was no lifting of hands, merely a quiet reverence for God.

This was fine with me, because at that point in my life, I was not fully committed to God, and so I figured that singing my best was the best way that I could give God praise. Going to churches with “free praisers” scared me. I thought that “those” people were absolutely out of their minds. My friends and I would make fun of people who danced and lifted their hands. We were bougie. “Look at that woman shouting!” “Look at that old man doing that jig!” We were ignorant. We barely knew God. We had no knowledge of the Holy Spirit. We served God out of a duty to the church.

When I got married, I moved over to my wife’s church. We would visit there frequently while we were engaged, and this church was in the midst of a powerful revival in the Holy Spirit. Even while I didn’t understand what was happening around me, I knew that even the air was different. The music was catchy, with a great beat and some great vocals. The singing, while not always pretty and refined, was so sincere. The people clapped and sang at the top of their lungs. This was a raw atmosphere. People danced and passed out. The Pastor of the church walked on the pews when he got “happy” during service. Sometimes, (EGAD), he didn’t even preach and the people just sat moaned for God. What was this? It wasn’t until I joined the church and received the baptism of the Holy Spirit that I really began to understand what praise was. Even then, I praised God out of my emotion. I would dance and do a high step. I would clap and shout. Deep inside of me though, something was missing. I knew it, but I so enjoyed praising in that atmosphere. Man, just thinking about it makes me smile.

When my wife and I moved to the church we currently reside in, something strange happened. Over the last 7 years, I have received training in the knowledge of who God is, why He is so worthy of my highest praise, and how to let go. I’ve spent time in the word with God. I have encountered a God who had been a distant relative before, but has not become my closest friend. I have experience God in ways that I never would have imagined, and He has completely shattered everything that I thought that I knew about Him time after time after time. With each “rediscovery”, I have felt my level of exuberance in praise increase. I have gone from standing completely still and lifting my hands, to jumping up and down like a wild man, crying out so loudly that I can barely sing, dancing on stage. I have gone from being reserved and wondering what everyone else was doing, to closing my eyes and becoming “undignified” in the presence of my God.

One of my favorite stories about David is when the Ark of the Covenant came back. The Bible talks about how David took off his clothes and dances in his skivvies in front of all of his subjects and the people of Israel. When his wife questioned his sanity, he proudly declared that he would become even more undignified, because God’s Presence returning was worth every celebration…and more. Now, David was a king. He went hard for God in front of everyone without a single ounce of embarrassment. He knew that he was celebrating for an audience of One.

And this is where I am right now. The God that I now know is simply too good for me to sit still. I know Him too well now to just give Him a cursory nod and keep on moving. I choose to exhaust my limbs and move my body, I choose to offer up my voice with all of it’s imperfections and cracks. I choose to not let singing the wrong notes bother me. I choose rather, to focus on Him, knowing that He inhabits my praise, and while it is not perfect, it is all for Him, and Him alone.

Simply put, as I’be grown in Him, I’ve grown in my willingness to give Him my all in praise. I do know this, though. However you choose to praise God is a praise that God accepts willingly from you. You don’t have to imitate anyone else. All He wants is a praise that comes from your heart, and however that looks for you, if your heart is engaged, God is pleased.

Have a great evening! Be blessed, peeps.

Follow the Leader

It’s been hard for me to ever think of myself as a leader. I have never thought that I had the “it” factor that great leaders possessed. I don’t have what I consider to be an electric personality. I’m not an extrovert, preferably a wallflower rather than the life of the party. It’s not that no one ever told me that I could never be a leader. In reality, I’ve been told all of my life that I had the potential to be a great leader. Others saw it in me, but I just could not see it in myself. Part of the reason was that I was comparing what I saw in others to what I did not see in myself. It seems that God has really been deconstructing my own self image here lately. A good friend of mine, Dan Clark, once told me during a breakfast meeting that I should embrace the things about myself that I did not do well. At that point, I didn’t really grasp the power of what he was saying. I figured that because I didn’t do the things well that I saw other great leaders do well, I could never be a leader; not even considering becoming an effective Pastor. Our series in church has been dealing with breaking bad habits and cycles in our lives, and the last 4 weeks have dealt especially with breaking the spirits of comparison and poor mental workings. As a result of really allowing these things to sink in, plus having some real eye opening time at our staff meeting over this weekend, I am beginning to see the uniqueness in the way God has created me to lead. It doesn’t look like my Pastor in many ways, any Pastor that I’ve ever sat under. It doesn’t look like our Youth Pastors, or anyone that I see on television. I’m me, and in the past I’ve spent so much time ripping myself for NOT being the people whose lives I looked up to and admired. However, instead of focusing so much on my weaknesses and deficiencies, I am really beginning to see how my strengths can be used by God to be an effective leader.

I have always wanted to be a leader, but the issue has not been with what I was created to be, but rather how I saw who God has created me to be. In the light of respecting and esteeming his creative work in constructing me, I think that I am beginning to understand myself in the way God intended for me to be. Quirks and all, I think I’m actually an ok guy, and I’m growing to be an effective leader as well.

“Helping” the Helper?

Something interesting happened to me last night. I was journaling, just free writing about things that were weighing on my mind. Something else had come up, and in my venting, I wrote about how useless I felt, because I was having to add more to the “prayer pile” of things that we absolutely need to happen in our lives. Thinking about it now, it’s rather laughable. But, I was writing these things down, and really, in my emotions I really felt helpless…and I felt like there was something wrong with me for not being able to help God with the things that we need. I’m a helper. It’s my nature, but as it translates to my relationship with God, my journaling allowed me to see in the past, I’ve really tried to help God be God as it relates to the things that happen in my life…often to dire results. See, what I understand is that when we say we are helping God, we are really taking whatever burden we had released to Him, back onto ourselves. In a sense, we are telling God that we are more adept at handling the issues in our lives than He is, and as I think about the mounting list of things that we are really believing God for, if I’m honest, there is nothing that i can do about any of those things. Thus the helpless feeling.

Here’s the kicker…..there is something about realizing that God is the only one who can fix a situation, or answer a desperate prayer, that puts you right in the sweet spot of His will. The only help that God requires of us is to have faith, and be obedient when He tells us what to do. There is nothing we can do to help God move further along, faster, in His will for our lives. This truth is something that we tout quite often, and quote in our churches, but is it really something that we constantly act upon? I don’t. It’s hard. I see our needs. I know how the odds are stacked up against us. I know how many attacks have come our way since we made the conscious choice to trust God for the things that are deep in our hearts. ¬†You see your needs, and no doubt you have ideas of how those things can be fixed. In truth, though, would your ideas really fix the entire situation or only muddle things for your future?

Our prayer pile is HUGE. It is GINORMOUS! It is so large that just looking up at it makes me shake, but the beautiful thing about that bountiful mountain of needs is that we have to look UP. It is forcing us to look past it’s peaks into the Heavens where my Abba resides and stands ready to move in His timing according to His process and will. He knows what we need, and no matter how big and important these things are to us, they are infintismally small and easily doable for Him. We just have to wait. And believe.

 

And stop trying to “help”.

A Year in Reflection

So where do I start. I haven’t blogged in a long time. This has been some kind of year for my family. My first year teaching. My wife switching school districts. My daughter switching school districts. My middle son starting public school. My youngest switching to a new sitter. We find out we’re having baby number four, Zyla. We are asked to serve on our church pastoral staff as Outreach Pastors. I preach TWICE at church, and really get involved in Wednesday night class discussions. Yes, there has been so much to report. However for the purpose of this post, I really want to focus in on my experience as a first year teacher.

Today was the last day of school, and while outwardly I was happy that it was coming, because I was ready for a break, in my heart, I knew that I was not ready to let these students go. In truth, I loved them…hard. I gave them all of me everyday for every class period of the past 8 months. I began to know them, what made them tick, what made them smile and laugh. I strived everyday to make each student laugh at least once. Sure, my antics could be chalked up to being new and inexperienced, but I choose to think that they are just a part of my makeup that God gave me specifically for this task. And as I look at all of the letters that I have received from students and the messaged from parents, I just sit back and wonder “How?” How could a guy who up until two years ago barely liked children have fallen this in love with a profession that he previously despised? How was it that I cared so much about these kids? How did I let them into my heart? How was it that my classroom, a classroom with a man who really had no idea what he was doing, become a place where kids felt safe telling me their secrets and confiding in me? How’d I even get this job? lol. My students proclaim me a great teacher, but I know better.

God is truly great. It was only by His Spirit that I made it through this year. In every instance, God gave me the words to speak, whether in correction, or encouragement. He helped me navigate all of the emotional swings of these 13 and 14 year old students. I prayed for them. They ate in my class. We pranked each other. Students who weren’t even mine were attracted to me. I know it wasn’t me that they were attracted to. It was God. They saw God in me, and while some of them don’t know that specifically, it makes me so happy that I was able to be Jesus to these kids every time they saw me.

And so, as I watched them leave today, my eyes were dry, but my heart cried a bit. 8 months. Everyday. Now, nothing. It’s sad, but in my heart I really feel that the work that God wanted me to do with them was done. Now I have to trust Him to continue it as they head into high school. In truth, these students aren’t really mine. I was simply someone God placed into their lives at this junction to steer them towards Him as much as possible, and plant seeds that will hopefully bloom into success and a relationship with Christ. But, I love them just the same. They will forever be a part of my heart, a part of me.

My heart is full today. Thanks be to God for this wonderful year. I’m praying for many, many more as He grows me professionally and spiritually to be a lighthouse in the classroom.

The Power of Words: top ten ways we speak death

Isaiah 59:1-3- surely the arm of The Lord is not too short to save, not his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God. Your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken falsely, you tongue mutters wicked things.

1. Lying- Proverbs. 6:16- these six things The Lord hates…..a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil…

Proverbs 12:22- lying lips are an abomination to The Lord, but those who deal truthfully are his delight.

When we lie, we go against His very nature.

2. Sowing discord- Proverbs 6:12-14- a troublemaker and a villain, who goes about with a corrupt mouth, who winks maliciously with his eye, signals with his feet and motions with his fingers, who plots evil with deceit in his heart- he sows discord. Therefore….he will suddenly be destroyed without remedy.

If we sow it, we reap it.

3. Gossip-spreading intimate or private rumors or facts

Proverbs 20:19- a gossip betrays confidence, so avoid anyone who talks too much.

2 Corinthians 12:20- separate yourselves from those who gossip.

4. Slander-false or malicious statements or reports about someone.

Psalms 140:11- May slanderers not be established in the land; May disaster hunt down the violent.

Proverbs 10:18- whoever hides hatred has lying lips

5. Tale bearers -proverbs 11:13- a tale bearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.

We must create an atmosphere where we can share freely without fear of hearing it again from another source. We must pick each other up when we fall, and not condemn them and spread that around. When we break confidence with another, we lose that connection sometimes for good.

6. Cursing- Romans 3:13- their throats are open graves, their tongues practice deceit..”

Psalms 109:17- he loved to pronounce a curse-May it come back on him. He found no pleasure in blessing. May it be far from him.

If we want to walk in the blessings of God, we can’t curse.

7. Blasphemy- using Gods name in an unscarred way

Ex. 20:7- you shall not take the name of your lord in vain, for The Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

we use Gods name as a curse word, and we also use God’s name to get what we fleshly want. We can easily learn to insert God where we want our will to move. There is a fine line here. God is not to be used to manipulate anyone or anything.

8. Filthy Language- put off all filthy language out of our mouths.

9. Contentious speech- a hurtful, hateful, malicious, disagreeable, and argumentative speech.

Proverbs 21:9- better to dwell in an attic than in a house shared with a contentious woman.

Proverbs 26:21- as charcoal is to burning coals….so is a contentious man to kindle strife.

10. Unbelief coming out of our mouths- what’s in our hearts comes out of our mouths.

Hebrews 3:12-13- see to it that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily.

Faith is not denying the facts, but it is stating the truth. Faith looks at the mountain and sees the mountain mover!