Thursday, December 18, 2014

#DailyProverbs: A Lifestyle of Obedience


John 14:15-21: "If you love me, you will obey my commandments. I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, who will stay with you for ever. He is the Spirit who reveals the truth about God. The world cannot receive him, because it cannot see him or know him. But you know him, because he remains with you and is in you. “When I go, you will not be left all alone; I will come back to you. In a little while the world will see me no more, but you will see me; and because I live, you also will live. When that day comes, you will know that I am in my Father and that you are in me, just as I am in you. “Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. My Father will love those who love me; I too will love them and reveal myself to them.”

According to this particular set of scriptures, we know that Jesus was preparing his team for his absence, and the upcoming set of difficulties. He specifically and blatantly tells us, we express love for Jesus by obeying His commands. To love Him wholeheartedly, we must develop a lifestyle of obedience. Let's look at four aspects of such a lifestyle.

1. Our trust in Jesus grows. This confidence comes from believing that the Lord is who Scripture says He is. And God's Word tells us that He is good—as well as faithful to keep His promises (2 Cor. 1:20). Psalm 86:15 calls Him merciful, gracious, loving, and slow to anger. His character remains unchanged by difficult or hard-to-understand circumstances (Heb. 13:8).

2. We develop a deepening ability to wait on the Lord/move when God says move. Delays can be hard in our I-want-it-now culture. But we must resist temptation and wait on Him instead of running ahead, or assuming that patient waiting is equal to "no." We must also be ready to move and act when God tells us to move or act. Waiting and acting are two sides of the same "coin of trust" on obeying God. If we trust God, we obey God - whether the answer is to wait or act.

3. We commit to obey God. Without such a resolve, we'll vacillate at decision time or allow fear to prevent us from choosing His way. When the answer really is "No," we must be willing to accept that and move on. And we must be willing to accept an answer of "Yes," even when we don't want to pick up, move or follow the cloud by day, and fire by night.

4. Our study of Scripture becomes consistent. The Bible reveals God's priorities, commands, and warnings. It acts as a light, illuminating His chosen path for us while revealing obstacles and dangers along the way (Ps.119:105). Without it, we are like a person who walks in the woods at night without a flashlight.

Becoming a Christian, and following the teachings set forth by Christ, doesn't mean that obedience to the Lord is automatic or that we are made into robots. It's a lifelong process of growing in our trust and patiently waiting on Him before we act, and acting on faith and trust when called upon to do so, even immediately. This requires a steadfast commitment to obey so that we can say no to ungodly choices, doubt and inaction and yes to God, love, trust, and the peace that comes from doing what God says.

#JustBeingMichael ツ

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Great Is Thy Faithfulness: Trusting in God's Faithfulness

#DailyProverbs 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24: "Be joyful always, pray at all times, be thankful in all circumstances. This is what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ Jesus. Do not restrain the Holy Spirit; do not despise inspired messages. Put all things to the test; keep what is good and avoid every kind of evil. May the God who gives us peace make you holy in every way and keep your whole being - spirit, soul and body - free from every fault at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you will do it, because He is faithful."

Trust has been a big issue with me lately... with the trust I've placed in others broken, I'm wary of new people and those that might harm me or what God gives me. And sometimes I have to wonder if God is wary of me? 

Does God see/view/judge me the way I see/view/judge others? 

Am I holding others to a high standard, but expect them all to understand my shortcomings and intentions? Do I think I deserve to be looked at for my intentions and my heart vs. my actions and what I actually follow through with? Am I the hooker, but have a heart of gold? So, does God focus on my heart of gold, or the fact that I am still a whore? Or am I wonderful as an abstract and complex "thinker," but do I lack follow through and execution? I mean, I can draft plans, complex connectivity and architect national data warehouses and mining/reporting plans... but the simple fact is: plans without implementation are useless. Those plans collect dust and become obsolete very quickly. I believe that Christ... the VERY Christ... told us to help our fellow man in need, but if I pass one by, will that be recounted or Judgment Day? Or will the fact that I was late be taken into consideration? Your "belief" doesn't help someone in need, your behavior does.

So, in the big picture of "trust" and "trust issues" and even my own nature of controlling-ness, I have to remember that I trust God, and God is faithful. God has never betrayed my trust. God has never, not once, done anything to break of "un-earn" my trust. What about you?

Is there something God has told you to do that seems just too difficult?

Are you scared of your calling or what God wants from you? Maybe it's a personal conviction. Maybe you are shy, but are called to speak. Maybe you are not very compassionate by nature, but you are called to give. Maybe you don't want a spotlight, but you are called to minister in action. You can be sure that if He has called you to carry out His will, He’s going to be faithful to accomplish it through the Holy Ghost living and working in you. So if you tell Him, “I can’t do that, Lord—what if I fail?” you’re really saying, “God doesn’t keep His word.” And yet, our total expectation should be in Him—not in our own energy, ability, or experience. Without God's direct intervention, help, and miraculous set up in MY life - I'd not even be alive.

When you doubt God’s trustworthiness, that unbelief becomes a gap in your spiritual armor, and you can be sure that’s exactly where the Devil will attack you. His only weapon is deceit and we are so eager to listen, doubt, and then take action from a lie, instead of action from God's instruction. You’ll begin to doubt even more about God’s character, such as His Love, His goodness, His true power to heal and deliver - and that will cause you to miss so much. That distrust will become a heavy load of baggage you’ll needlessly drag through every area of your life.

You might feel that you do not have enough faith to obey, but the Lord isn’t asking you to have faith in favorable circumstances. And I don't buy into the big or little faith. I think faith is binary. You either have it, or you don't. You either walk & live in faith of the One True God and that He is working in your life, or you don't. God's not asking you to do anything but believe and trust. He’s asking you to trust that He is who He says He is. 

Do you believe that God is a liar?

It’s really that simple: either He is truthful or He’s not. But if you believe that faithfulness is His character, then you can do anything He requires. You’ll be strengthened by your dependence on Him—whether a deluge or trials or a flood of blessing comes. It’s actually when life gets rough and rugged that the sweetness of God’s faithfulness makes itself real in your heart. As you walk through those storms in complete reliance on His strength, your trust in His character becomes part of who you are and strengthens from within.

Take a chance, trust God. Watch God work in your life. This is coming from someone that truly... TRULY... was a lost cause and not expected to live, much less thrive. If you can't believe enough for yourself, I'll believe enough for you. :)

Love y'all.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

God's Wisdom Revealed

#DailyProverbs 16:1,2: "We may make our plans, but God has the last word. You may think everything you do is right, but the Lord judges your motives."

Do you trust God?

It's a simple question, but it packs a lot of impact and potentially scary prospects with you answer. Almost every person I know will say "Yes, of course" and they will hope to believe that. In fact, growing up in the rural south... we are bred and trained to trust the Lord and go to church and live our lives. And we spout that and talk it and then we live as though it's not true.

So, DO you trust God? Do you trust Him when He is telling you to be kind to someone and you think they don't deserve it? Do you trust God when he says to give the cash in your pocket to the stranger? And you think that bum deserves to be homeless and hungry due to bad choices? Do you trust God when He says to you in a service, "Get up and go hug that lady" and you resist because you don't want people to look or you are scared you'll be rebuffed and embarrassed?

Do you trust God when you disagree with Him? When you read a scripture that convicts you or causes you some weirdness? Ouch. I don't always agree and want what I feel like God has for me or tells me to do and go with. And it used to scare me to feel that way, like... somehow, I was backslidden or a bad Christian if I had a personal opinion. (Granted, I try to make sure that I eventually align correctly with God and that, to be honest, He changes MY mind vs. me changing HIS mind... and there is a whole perfect vs. permissive will thing that I try to avoid. Just because you stay saved and alive doesn't mean you are IN God's will and living your BEST and most-productive life. What if God tells you to move somewhere so you can be IN His will and be in a place to grow and heal, but you are lonely or miss family? Do you trust Him?

Do you trust God when you feel like the last idiot standing up for something? When so many of your conservative "christian" friends and loved ones think that returning evil for evil is the answer, do you stand firm and trust God's scriptural commands? When your family tells you that helping someone in need is "fishy" and that you need to be careful so they don't keep asking for help, is that what Christ taught? Or if someone needs help, but they are not in your church, or don't believe in your God, or don't agree with your politics... do you withhold help and food and rent to them? Do you think they can "hear" your pitch on being someone that follows Christ over the rumbling of their stomach and the fear of being evicted? Do you trust God to work that out and you know your proper place as a tool of His reconciliation and a vessel of His will? What's more important to you, that YOU understand every detail of God's plan, or that you are IN God's will and a usable and valuable vessel?

In his letter to Corinth, Paul talks of the Holy Ghost and the very spirit of God giving us wisdom and letting us trust the Lord. 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 is an AMAZING place to read some very real, but scary and supernatural promises.
6 - Wisdom for the spiritually mature
7 - God's hidden wisdom, chosen to give to us in plan hatched before creation
8 - Carnal kingdoms didn't know and couldn't know, or it would have gone differently
9 - Eyes have not seen, and ears have not heard what God's got for us and what's coming
10 - God reveals new truths and new things via the spirit which is constantly searching for us and ONLY the spirit can take us to God's hidden depths
11 - Only the soul in a person knows every hidden thing and truth inside of them ONLY you know all you think and hope and mean. You know your motives, your will, and your purpose. The same is true for God and the Holy Ghost... ONLY the Holy Ghost can know all of God and ONLY the Holy Ghost in YOU will give you access to the deep things of God
12- ONLY God's spirit can give us the things of God. Not the world, nor other things.
13 - Our spiritual language and tongues are the things that can teach in the spirit. Only those with the spirit, can teach spiritual things
14 - Those without the spirit cannot receive gifts of the spirit
15 - Those WITH the spirit can assess and judge the value of things, and remain judgeless of those around him
16 - Who can know the Lord? Who has the mind of Christ? Those with the spirit HAVE the mind of Christ

So, then... that's pretty heavy stuff... And I love every bit of it. Why? Because after exposing the futility of worldly thinking in 1 Corinthians 1, Paul introduces Christians to the higher realm of godly wisdom. Paul wrote with lots of things I disagree: I think he was kind of misogynistic, I think he was totally a spoiled brat, and I think lots of his work was ghost written... BUT... I DO trust God to protect the message to humankind and I trust God to protect the sacrifice of Jesus and the propagation of His church. But, with Paul... he had to WRITE this passage with some trust in God. He had to trust that Jesus was divine and that this kind of knowledge and understanding isn't available through human intelligence and reasoning; it comes strictly through divine revelation and the infilling of the very spirit of God. Only those indwelt by God's Spirit have "the mind of Christ" (v. 16) and access to "the things freely given" to them by God (v. 12).

Do YOU trust God? Do you NOT see that without this supernatural insight, no one can accurately know the Lord or His ways? Do your actions belie your doubt? Do your lips say one thing about you and your life says another? Many people say they believe in God yet may not have a correct understanding of Him because their perceptions are based on their own thoughts and ideas. To us, to the world, to human wisdom... it's easier to custom-design a god to fit our preferences than to make the REQUIRED adjustments that worshiping and following Christ require of us. Following Jesus isn't a prayer you read off of the back of a tract, nor is it just having your Holiness Standards and being comfortable, white, and Red. The ONE true God of Heaven, Earth, Israel and that so kindly extended salvation to us gentiles demands trust, faith... and ACTION that supports those beliefs.

Do you trust GOD to handle you? I know people that think God can't or won't forgive them. They don't think God can help them with drinking, or drugs, or even with their life and the way they choose to live or treat people. Do you trust God to be big enough to deal with all of your mess? Even long-time and mature believers need to guard against trying to fit God into their preconceived image of Him. It's always so funny to me how Baby Christians and those young in the Lord have SO much more faith in God to help them navigate their lives, until some well-meaning older Christian gets a hold of them and talks them out of living by faith, and instead teaches them to live by standards and by rote. The Bible is currently the ONLY reliable source of divine revelation, but the Holy Ghost can lead you and give you wisdom that your human brain can't hold and your natural brain can't contain in the fullness of His Word. We must be careful to consider the Scriptures as a WHOLE—it's critical that we don't just pick and choose the verses we want to believe. For example, by focusing only on passages that emphasize the Lord's loving-kindness while excluding those that speak of His holiness and justice, we misunderstand His true nature. God is holy, but God is ALSO compassionate. When we focus on how someone looks, rather than how they LIVE and how they LOVE, we miss the mark. When we only focus on "if you don't work, you don't eat" and ignore "if you have fed or given drink to the least of these, it was as unto me" then you are MISSING the point of God putting on skin and showing us a better way. Jesus showed us the way.

Do you trust God?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Peace, With God...

Have you ever really taken the time to look at people around you??

The co-worker that never quite seems "okay." They always need that extra bit of attention, or they always are ready with a complaint? What about the neighbor that is constantly in turmoil? You never want to get stuck in a conversation, because they are constantly asking for prayer or help, but they never seem to "come out on the other side" of any trial or situation. What about a parent that just never seems to finish anything as started? The situation always changes and it's always someone else's fault, or they found a "better" way - but you just want them to be stable and happy in their golden years. Or, even strangers??? Do you run into people in your daily life that just seem drawn to you and begin to pour out their troubles to you? At the store, at the gas station, at church, at Target... at an airport, or on an airplane?? [Now, I know that I have been given a VERY unique perspective by God. To keep it real and to be transparent, I write from the perspective of someone God takes very good care of. I am one of the lucky ones that God singled out for whatever reason. I didn't deserve and I didn't ask for it, but I'm called. I'm anointed. And I've been healed and delivered, so I know what God is TRULY capable of doing, vs. just hearsay and things from "bible days." I live a life that involves God and my faith every day. (And yes, I realize how INCREDIBLE that sounds and how VERY BLESSED that makes me. I live out my faith daily because God made Himself known to me in miraculous ways daily. I'm privileged.)]

But, I sometimes still just am dumbfounded that others don't just seem to "get it." It, being that God is there for us. One day, I was afforded the opportunity to be sitting beside a very drunk, very funny, very sweet older lady that was in her Golden Years. Usually those old broads make me smile and they always inspire me. But I felt truly compassionate towards THIS lady. She was in absolute chaos and turmoil. I posed a question to her, over our airline tray table: “If you could ask God for anything, what would your request be?” Her answer was immediate. “I want to feel at peace.” She tearfully explained that her life was a mess of problems due to her relationships with alcohol and food. We had a long talk and she asked me for prayer. I told her that OF COURSE I'd keep her in my prayers. She said, "No. I want what you have. Pray for me right now." We ended up praying right there on an airplane and she ended up with stammering lips and getting the Holy Ghost on a Southwest flight.

See, whether or not they know it, many in our world are like that old woman, in that they desire inner calmness but have no relationship with the Lord. They are hungry for something bigger than themselves that help to make sense of the chaos and the pain that the world will inflict. They are disillusioned with people that have half-heartedly lived out lukewarm "christianism" in front of them, but never pointed them to the actual Christ that could help them. They are hungry. They are thirsty. And people often seek to fill that hunger and thirst by trying to improve their appearance, physical fitness, financial situation, or social status—or by abusing substances. They seek comfort in other people, in promiscuity and clinging to the physical to satisfy the spiritual. But such things can’t bring tranquility of heart or mind. Only a relationship with Jesus leads to true peace.
Romans 5:1,2: "Now that we have been put right with God through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. He has brought us by faith into this experience of God's grace, in which we now live. And so we boast of the hope we have of sharing God's glory!"
Prior to salvation, we were slaves to sin and living in opposition to God (Col. 1:21). Our transgressions had formed a barrier of hostility between Him and us, which we were helpless to cross on our own. Without God’s intervention, we could not have found the way of peace. But God provided the perfect solution to our sin problem. He came to earth as Jesus to pay for our iniquities and remove the separation that existed between us and Him.

When we trusted Jesus, as the Christ, we were reconciled to the Lord (Rom. 5:10) and no longer at odds with Him. In Christ, we have peace with the Father

Our One God has provided everything we need for inner tranquility. Jesus opened the way for us to be in His family. Jesus continually offers His peace so we can experience serenity of mind and heart (John 14:27). And Jesus as the Holy Ghost cultivates the fruit of peace in our lives (Gal. 5:22).

--Do you need peace?
--Are you exhausted by the world around you and the daily offenses that attack you?
--Do you long for people to just act right, get along and for the world to calm down?
--Are you experiencing "compassion exhaustion?"

There are real answers to be found and real hope is to be had! You can experience peace today.

I love you all. Be kind to each one another.
Give peace.

#JustBeingMichael ツ

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Who Are You, Christians? Discovering Our True Identity...

Do you know who you are?

If you do, then you are blessed. People rarely know where they come from, their heritage and have a good grasp on who they are to be. makes a lot of money selling this dream to people that with a few clicks, you can "know" where you come from. You can "know" who your ancestors were and connect with other descendants in your family tree. But does that tell you what you want to know? Does that tell you the full story of you and your people?

Many Christians are experiencing an identity crisis. 

They know they’re "saved," but they don’t really know what to think about themselves. I say this, and I already know that three of you have stopped reading here. You roll your eyes. You think that this won't pertain to you. Some of my Apostolic friends are already nervous that this will be about standards. Maybe it will be about standards to you. If the BIGGEST trial you ever face is getting your personal control over how you present your body to God, then GOOD FOR YOU. If you skirt length or the color of your hair is truly what stresses you, then you need to get out more. There are real struggles in the world.... like folks getting shot and murdered in foreign lands for admitting they follow Jesus. Or even gunned down just walking the street in their own hometown. 1 in 6 Americans... think on that... ONE IN SIX AMERICANS are underfed or go hungry. So, maybe this will resonate with you about your personal modesty. Maybe living for God is hard for you on something as simple as looking and talking like a Christian. I hope, though, it doesn't. Maybe it won't. Maybe this will reach deeper to you. There are folks that fight every day to live drug free, alcohol free and to live a life that doesn't lead to death, prison, or shame. Surely living a Christ-like life in American  can't be your biggest obstacle? Not with all He's done for all of us. Maybe this will reach to the substance inside of you. Maybe the author of your salvation, and the measure of faith given to us all will rise up and read this for what it is intended... Or maybe some of my friends that subscribe to NO GOD will think this is stupid. Maybe this is about you. Or maybe my friends that think that just being a decent person will work and that we all end up at the same place with just different roads... maybe you think I'm talking to you. Maybe I am...

Maybe, for all of you, thinking that it's about you IS the very action makes this ALL about you. Let’s take a little test. Do you consider yourself a sinner saved by grace or a saint who occasionally sins? Huh? Let me repeat this. Do you consider yourself:

  • A sinner, but you have been redeemed and saved by grace, or
  • A saint, but you know you are not perfect and still need God's grace

Both statements are true, but here is the message: the first one dwells on your past identity, where the second focuses on Jesus' perception of you.
1 Corinthians 1:1-9: "From Paul, who was called by the will of God to be an Apostle of Christ Jesus,and from our brother Sosthenes - To the church of God which is in Corinth, to all who are called to be God's holy people, who belong to him in union with Christ Jesus, together with all people everywhere who worship our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours: May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. I always give thanks to my God for you because of the grace he has given you through Christ Jesus. For in union with Christ, you have become rich in all things, including all speech and all knowledge. The message about Christ has become so firmly established in you that you have not failed to receive a single blessing, as you wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be faultless on the Day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is to be trusted, the God who called you to have fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord."

Now, I'll have to write this slowly, so I won't get caught up shouting and fail to finish today's #DailyProverb. But that passage is the opening greeting of his letter and it gets skipped over in MANY messages preached today. We get by on the major Apostolic teachings and forget that there are some DEEP promises in just a greeting. If you are a believer, God’s Word says that you are a saint (v. 2). If you are in union with Christ, then your speech and knowledge will be rich in the things of God. When you are so focused on Jesus, and you are FIRMLY established in Jesus, you will not fail to receive a single blessing or gift in the Spirit. You will be kept and maintained until the end, so that you can be found faultless. All of this, just from the "Hello" of a letter to a church that was founded at the crossroads of a multi-cultural, multi-national, and multi-religioned city. 

Remember from history and using context, that Corinth was a hot bed of activity in commerce, in power, a cross roads of trade and language and even religion. The temples there to various Gods were competing with and condemning these baby Christians for their "brutal" and "bloody" religion. And to them, in the infancy of Christianity... the crucifixion and the symbolic "blood" purification we required for the remission of sins was ghastly to the city. So, the fact that Christianity had a church established there was amazing, and the fact that it was a powerful and firmly planted church was because of God's grace to them. Paul knew this and called it out.

What about us? Does that sound familiar?

Huh, Michael? What am I even talking about? THIS is what I'm talking about: the world is exponentially becoming ingrained in commerce and travel. The world is small to us. We are bored. We are ALL within a few clicks of being at a crossroads. We all have access to anything that is multi-cultural, multi-national, and multi-religioned at a moment's notice. To live for Christ, and BY Christ's teachings is rare. People use the term "Christian" and the guise of "Christianity" to sell money-making conservatism. Being a white, conservative, Republican in a Red State doesn't automatically make you a good, God-fearin' Christian. Following the teachings of Christ will make you a good Christian. Fakers will wage war on the poor, and not on poverty. They will tell you that family is first, but break up homes with outdated laws, outdated prejudices and fight people. They will tell you that the money making as conservatives is to continue to trust the way that it's been working, but it's not been working. Corporate greed and corrupt human politics are fighting to keep people poor and putting money after money after money into corporate coffers through the guise of progress and consumerism. BEWARE of this and realize what Paul wrote is true. Be FIRMLY established in Christ. You focus on Jesus, what Jesus did, what Jesus said, and HOW Jesus lived... you help your neighbor, you feed the hungry, help the sick, worry and show care for widows and the elderly. Be kind to those others would shun. You bring people to church that others would ignore. Don't focus on giving them a makeover or having them as a "project." Focus on showing God's love. You can NEVER go wrong being kind to people, loving people, and helping people.

Why is this concept so foreign? Because too many of us still see ourselves as the same old sinner, who’s been forgiven and patched up and yet is basically unchanged inside. We stay so "grateful" for being brought out of sin, that we forget to GROW in Christ. We forget that we are NEW creatures and that we are to walk in the callings that GOD gives us. We still think the same. We don't shift and fight and contend and WORK at being good Christians. We just expect God to miraculously change our personalities into these bound, Stepford-like "sheeple" that don't think, don't express personality, don't use their God-given gifts and talents... God made EACH of us to be unique and to do exactly what we were created to do. Not everyone is famous, not everyone is known publicly, and not everyone will be given their due recognition. But EVERYONE has a job to do, a soul to win, a work to accomplish and a measure of faith given to them. Don't sell yourself short. When God can trust you with a little, He starts trusting you with more. If you can be faithful with a just a little... you can grow that.

Are you new? Do you know who you are? Did you The Lord says anyone in Christ “is a new creature; the old things passed away” (2 Cor. 5:17). That’s what being born again is all about. We are new. If you are not new, if you can't get over yourself, and your past, and your regrets and your mistrusts, and your failure... how do you expect others to see you differently? How can you expect others to trust you and work with you, when you won't trust yourself or work with yourself? If you can't manage yourself, how can you manage others? Be new. Be changed. YOU are the ONLY key to that. Trust God to help you and have the FAITH that when God does a work in you, He is THOROUGH. We can never go back to the way we were.

The solution to this identity crisis is to change the way we think about ourselves. If we don’t, we’ll rely on how we feel, and Satan will bombard us with reminders of our failures and sins. But we walk by faith, not feelings. The devil wants to keep us focused on being a sinner, because he knows that the recognition of our sainthood will lead us to live like saints. We’ll be motivated and empowered to obey God, and the Devil will lose his foothold in our lives. 

You missed that point, didn't you. The DEVIL will use LIES like, "I don't 'feel' saved. I don't feel like being kind. I am just 'made that way' and I can't help it when I 'lose my temper' or 'run my mouth.'" Then we just give in to whatever is near. We stop trying. We stop fighting for our own causes and actions and to be better. We stop being CONTENDERS. But, those are lies. Those are untrue things that YOU control. You are the ONLY person that can control you. If you don't want to smoke, then don't. If you don't want to drink, then don't. If you don't want to do drugs, THEN DON'T. You are personally accountable and culpable for your actions. 

Jesus didn’t come just to save you from hell; If your only goal in loving Jesus is to avoid hell, you have it all wrong. You'll probably go there anyway if that's your mindset. (Yes, I just said that.) Jesus wants to live His life through you. He wants to use you to show love and kindness to others. Your testimony, your kindness, the newness of YOU will draw others to Christ, and then more, and then more. Your success in the Lord will RIPPLE throughout the body of Christ. The Kingdom will grow, thrive and future generations will feel YOUR life and what you decide today. In Christ, you have a new identity which has replaced your old one. So, live like it.

Be new. Be a new creature. Live like a new creature. Walk, talk, work, shop, drink, eat, and laugh like a new creature. Show up at work like a new creature. Show up at your family functions like a new creature. Show up with your old friends and live like a new creature. Don't throw away people or shun them if they are not just like you. Don't give up on others that you once partied with and sinned with if they can't follow you on your new journey in Christ. They still love you, so you need to still love them. One of the biggest reasons that we don't have people wanting Christianity is because WE, as Christians, don't live it out in front of the world. The reason we don't live it is because we don't believe it. (!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can you believe I said that? Yes... you should. If you really believe something, your actions and your behavior will support that belief. If I 'believed' my house was on fire, my 'behavior' would be to get up and get out and get help. If I 'believed' my health was at risk, my 'behavior' would be to get to a doctor. WHY do we say we believe in Christ, but never follow the teachings he set forth?) But it's true! Why would ANYONE want to be a Christian when those that preach, teach and tout how great it is can't even live it or show it?

LIVE your life in front of your family, your friends, your colleagues. Show them. Be salt. Be light. If you will focus on who you are now, your actions will follow, and you’ll experience the enjoyment of a victorious Christian life.

I love y'all.
Cheers, #JustBeingMichael ツ

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Unrest: Jesus, the Source of Peace

We have only just finished a holiday that we spent touting the things for which we are thankfulThat's a good thing. We spend the next day trying to get deals on material goods, which... in and of itself is not a bad thing. Saving money is a good thing (if you were going to spend x amount anyway, and you want to save an additional amount. I have other thoughts if you were shopping for yourself or your home and getting prodded into spending money you don't have or didn't want to spend, other than because of a corporate holiday.)

But the country, with Thanksgiving and it's associated smudge on our nation, remains in a state of tension and unrest. With the turmoil of Black Friday (and the, no less than, three videos of people harming one another over things like a stuff toy, or in one garments. Yes, pannies...), we are still experience unrest in places like Ferguson, St. Louis and places where people are really hurting. People are genuinely wondering if it will ever get better.
Jeremiah 6:13-15: "Everyone, great and small tries to make money dishonestly, even prophets and priests cheat the people. They act as if my people's wounds were only scratches. 'All is well,' they say, when all is NOT well. Were they ashamed because they did these disgusting things? No, they were not at all ashamed; they don't even know how to blush. And so they will fall as others have fallen; when I punish them, that will be the end of them. I, the Lord, have spoken."
Um... That sounds like our world today. Doesn't it? No? You don't think so? Let's see:
--Corporate greed and money being the biggest issue: Check.
--Everyone wanted a deal, an angle, or a hook up: Check.
--Even churches and the preachers being concerned about money and politics: Check.
--People minimizing hunger, poverty, and civil exhaustion from inequality: Check.
--People in power minimizing the damage to the population from greed: Check.
--People saying... it's all okay, even when it's not: Check.
--Lack of shame for misdeeds and sin and harming others: Check.

The scary part is what comes next. God is getting tired of it all. And when God says it will fall, and punishment will come... then it WILL. When God says that something will come to an end, it will. But... is that it? Is there nothing we can do? Is this dismal view the end? No.
Colossians 1:15-20: "Christ is the visible likeness of the invisible God. He is the firstborn Son, superior to all created beings. For through Him, God created everything in heaven and on earth, the seen and the unseen things, including spiritual powers, lords, rulers, and authorities. God created the whole universe through Him and for Him. Christ existed before all things, and in union with Him all things have their proper place. He is the head of his body, the church; He is the source of the body's life. He is the firstborn Son, who was raised from death, in order that He alone might have the first place in ALL things. For it was by God's own decision that the Son has in Himself the full nature of God. Through the Son, then, God decided to bring the WHOLE universe back to Himself. God made peace through the Son's blood on the cross and so brought back to Himself ALL things, both on Earth and in Heaven.
Jesus IS God. And through Jesus, we are able to be reconciled to Him by His sacrifice for us. Otherwise, there were laws... SO MANY laws to be kept. Detailed, complex laws. Before we knew Jesus, our lives were full of selfish, hedonistic, godless and wicked endeavors. I know, for me, that I had self-seeking ways. To quote "The Talented Mr. Ripley," 
"Well, whatever you do, however terrible, however hurtful, it all makes sense, doesn't it? In your head? You never meet anybody that thinks they're a bad person."
How true is that? We justify EVERY thing we do. We have stubborn, unrepentant hearts (Rom. 1:18; 2:5, 8). And yet, we long for peace. Pageants are filled with hopeful young women that answer: "World Peace" when asked for what they wish. And like our strife-filled world, we clamored for peace and tried to find it, but our efforts failed. Humanity has FAILED.
Yet.. when we come to Jesus, all of that changes. Can change. Will change. We have been rescued. We are out of the dominion of darkness. We are brought into the Kingdom of the Christ. (Col. 1:13). Every sin has been forgiven. Every sin in the past, the present, and the future has been/will be forgiven. Justice must be satisfied and divine justice and recompense was satisfied by the sacrifice of Jesus. We have become new creatures in Christ, washed clean by His blood (2 Cor 5:17). With the power of sin broken, we can live lives acceptable to God. We can be IN the world, and not OF the world. Non-Jews can be grafted into God's plan of salvation and receive and enjoy the benefits of adoption into the family of God. We can experience God IN us... God sent the Holy Ghost as a comforter and partner (Acts 2:38) in helping us be both powerful enough to live IN the world and give us the strength to be separate FROM the world. The spirit of God IN us is our personal guide in our daily life, helping each of us experience Christ’s peace (Rom. 8:6). We also can look forward to an eternity spent in heaven, where righteousness, tranquility, and joy abound (Rom. 14:17).
Our unity IN and WITH Jesus came at a great price—the sacrifice of His life. Christ gave His life for us so that we could be reconciled to God (Col. 1:20). Christian lives are to testify that Jesus is the source of our peace. God has done all this for us.
--Does your life communicate this message? This message and testimony to the power of what God can do in you?
--Don't give up on people yet; don't judge others or their pain just yet. 
--Be a minister of reconciliation. Be a peacemaker. Be a person that looks on civil unrest and disparate lives with mercy and compassion.
--Your life was much like any other person before Christ. Don't forget where God brought you from and look on others that NEED God with mercy. 
--Don't look on others in judgement, because some of US were just like that, or worse.

I love y'all. Be good to each other.

#JustBeingMichael ツ

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Great Is Thy Faithfulness: So Thankful

Great Is Thy Faithfulness: So Thankful...

#DailyProverbs 1 Chronicles 16:30-34: "...The earth is set firmly in place and cannot be moved. Be glad, earth and sky!
Tell the nations that the Lord is king. 
Roar, sea, and every creature in you; be glad, fields, and everything in you!
The trees in the woods will shout for joy when the Lord comes to rule the earth.
Give thanks to the Lord, because he is good; his love is eternal."

One year ago, I was in the middle of turmoil. I was gravely ill. I was heartbroken over the loss #MamawSue. I was confused by the dreams the Lord was giving me. I was in limbo. I was not in church, and yet, I was no longer in old habits of the world. Thanksgiving was hard... But it was all working towards a purpose. God's faithfulness and planning are immaculate...

July 15th was the day a sweet couple reached out to me... They really don't realize how much I was affected.
August 20 was the diagnosis that scared me. I was ready to quit. I was ready for death...
October 20 was the turning point where I tried, but only for those around me. I still didn't get it...
November 2 was a loss that rocked our family, and a mantle of prayer was given to me that I wasn't sure I was ready for...
December 21st was the miracle that changed my life forever. Drs. Payoosh & Patel still keep in touch...

As specific anniversaries pass of comfort, fear, loss... I'm left to wonder; without each step, who knows if I'd have had the same outcomes. Without each puzzle piece, who knows where I would be. God's faithfulness and detail is immeasurable. I write a lot in exhortation of others. I minister to others. But this was to me, for me, and about me. God was faithful to me. As the anniversary looms of God's divine intervention in my life, and the miracle that paved the way for the biggest miracle of my existence... here's what I know:

I'm alive. I'm healed. I'm forgiven. I'm saved. I'm restored.

I'm... thankful.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Let's talk about Moses for a minute...


Moses was talking to God years before he had to actually do anything. He spent time with God. He and God communed. He learned God. That's what gave him the strength to do unpopular things.

How must Moses have felt when God directed him to confront his adopted brother?

How must Moses have felt to know that God told him to disrupt the country in which he grew up?

How must Moses have felt to know his nephew was dead?

Pharoah, and those in power had marginalized and vilified the Jewish people. The Israelites were crucial to business and labor, but at the end of it all, they were slaves and abhorred by the Egyptians. Yet, Pharoah never relenquished his hold or his power. He never "mistreated" his slaves, per se. Only punishing those that "deserved" it. Many of the Jews were comfortable in Egypt. They loved their captivity. Many were prominent. They were well-respected, but they were still slaves, and still looked on as inferior. The thing is... it was still slavery and it was still not in God's greater plan.

It took TEN plagues and curses from God for Pharoah to admit that the power had been ripped from his hands and that the Israelites could go to freedom. The last resulted in the death of all of the first born children to each family. It took that for the leaders and people to realize that this could no longer go on.

Not only that, but the Jews plundered the Egyptians for their gold, silver and clothes for their journey to freedom. They were actually funded through their captors. And they miserably marched on... They went through the Red Sea on dry ground, only to still complain of the journey ahead, the journey as it went, and the journey away from comfort into freedom and responsibility.

Ask yourself a few questions:
--God always has a plan. You can be IN it, or you can get run over BY it. Which do you prefer?

--When people are hurting, enslaved, and marginalized... what is your attitude about it? What will God have to do to you to get your attention? Can you learn by Plague 1, or does He have to keep going through Plague 10?

--When you judge others for their methods and their ways of expression in worship, or in pain, or in disappointment to life events, someone is judging yours as well. What would you like from God? How would you like to be treated by God? Then treat others that way. Yes, it's that simple. God told us He would treat us and judge us by the judgement we show others. That's scripture.

--Are you an Egyptian in this story? Do you lord over others or prevent freedom? Do you do that in life? In work? In finance? Do you do that spiritually? Do you harm others with your mouth and your words? Do you harm others with your vote? If so, how? How can you change that?

--Are you an Israelite? Are you grumbling that your freedom costs and is hard? Do you wish you could have it both ways? That your slavery, inaccountability, comfort, and finances flowed freely, but you were considered free? Do you wish you could just nap and forget about it all? Are you tired to the point of giving up and stopping? Well, you will NEVER get to Canaan and your promised land if you REFUSE to leave your comfortable captivity in Egypt. Get up. Keep Going.

Some of you will read this and interpret current events. Good. That's good if you see that. Some of you will read this and take this as a spiritual application. Very good. Leave your spiritual bondage and start your Exodus today. Do it without hesitation. Some of you will read this and wonder who it's aimed at, and if it's liberally slanted for current politics, or if I'm being conservative and talking about leaving sin and worldliness...

Good. Think of those things. You should leave your sin behind you. And you should find yourself leaning towards helping the poor and hurting. Why must we assume those are mutually exclusive: to be conservative and holy in our love of God and liberal and helpful with our love to humanity? Why not assume both are possibly and follow the scriptures?

I love you all.
Jesus loves you all.
Now, get up and go do something good for someone.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


So here is my ‪#‎DailyProverb...
It's just something I need today…


Now, “grace” is defined in the dictionary as “a manifestation of favor, especially by a superior.” One of its synonyms is “forgiveness.” We also say that someone is merciful, lenient. We say that someone’s grace is what gave us a break. When someone has pleasing qualities or elegance, we say they are “graceful.”

I mess up lots. I am not always graceful. I don’t always say the right thing or come across the right way. But that is my lack of gracefulness. I need God’s grace constantly to make me right. I need God’s forgiveness and leniency to stay right and to continue a right path. I am selfish. I am privileged. I expect grace. I expect forgiveness from others, from God and I expect them to understand or assume I am coming from a good place and coming from a well-meaning place.

But that’s not fair to the world around me, because I don’t always extend the same grace back… I don’t always assume positive intent. I don’t always give people the benefit of the doubt. I don’t always speak softly and carefully to people.

I am so sorry, y’all. I really am.

Grace, from God, from others… is a gift. It’s unmerited. You can’t earn someone’s grace. Grace is usually extended with no expectation of anything back. That’s likely because the one’s that NEED grace cannot pay anything back.

I like to read. I really enjoy reading religious material. I like the commonly accepted Bible. But I really, thoroughly enjoy less read material. I love the lost gospels. I love anything that’s gnostic. I really like reading less-common material from the same era as the prophets and the early writers. I love the Pentateuch and any historical or contextual texts from that period. They give me a fuller picture of what I perceive as God. They give the stories I love color and texture. They complete the picture for me, they don’t detract from it. My love for that is a gift. It’s a gift from God and it’s a GRACE extended to me. I don’t get bored debating ancient history with my Sister and splitting hairs over what someone might have MEANT to say in a scripture and what history around that writer might have influenced. To me that’s fun.

My lack of grace makes me forget that everyone doesn’t think that’s fun. My lack of grace makes me forget that some people don’t have access to that kind of education. They can’t order random books from Amazon or spend their kids’ food or rent money on it because they woke up interested in that topic for that day.

When I like to get revved up, I like to read the Acts of the Apostles. I read it a lot. That book speaks to me on many levels. It re-affirms my theological beliefs in Oneness. It reminds of the Divinity of Jesus. It makes me feel good about the early Church’s historical practices. I feel like the community spirit, grassroots movement and the way they took care of one another was a good thing. And I couple this reading with common sense, historical reading, and contextual clues for how the Earth was historically and philosophically at that time. All of which are available to me through grace. Today I read Acts 15:7-11. Feel free to read it. You’ll like it. Peter basically tells the elders and the original disciples to quit pestering the Gentiles and quit making them conform to random laws that the Jews themselves had trouble upholding. He preached grace. WE, as Gentiles, are able to be saved by grace alone. We didn’t have to be. God didn’t OWE us anything.

So, Michael?? What are you babbling about today?

Okay, let me wrap this up and bring it together: We are privileged people. We are spoiled. We are not careful with one another. We don’t treat others well. And yet… the ENTIRE time, we expect to be treated well. We expect to be judge on our intentions, even as we judge the actions of others. As people that are Christians, or those that accept the Christ or the divinity of Jesus as the Christ, we readily attribute our salvation to God’s grace, but what does “this grace in which we stand” mean to us now (Rom. 5:2)? How does it work out in everyday life, especially when we’re going through periods of trial or suffering, or failure?

1. God's grace releases supernatural power within us so we can endure life’s hardships with a good attitude. Or at least an attitude that doesn't end in despair or devoid of hope. Grace keeps me hoping. Grace keeps me believing in the good of people, and loving people instead of just checking out in life and giving up on those that disappoint me, or hurt me. Grace may even, in fact, make it possible to "see the light at the end of the tunnel" in what He is doing in us through the adversity.

2. Grace builds our confidence in God. Grace, and proof that God is working in your life, breeds additional belief and increases your faith. Nothing looks hopeless when we focus on God instead of on our problems.

3. Grace gives me the discovery that assurance of God’s sustaining presence as He walks with us every step of the way. It's hard to feel that mind-numbing depression or sense of loneliness, if you are not alone.

4. Because I've experienced God's care for me, I am able to show empathy and love to others facing hard times, and going through experiences that God helped me through.

5. During trials and tribulation, grace works to transform our character so that others can see Jesus reflected in us, a better version of us, and the product that we become (hopefully for the better) having gone through difficulties.

Challenges in life are unavoidable. So we need a daily dose of God’s grace if we are to walk through trials with confidence that there is great reward on the other side; confidence that there is MORE than just this. That there is a Heaven and that our loved ones and friends are there... I've heard it said, and I've quoted this numerous times: "Grace is God giving us what we DON'T deserve. Mercy is God sparing us from what we DO deserve."

Way too often, I've cut God out of the equation in my life. I rely on God to save me, I rely on God to protect me, but I have kept God out of my daily and intimate decision making and relied on my own abilities. If God’s grace was needed to save us, then logic says we would also need it for the rest of our days. Only through a continuous infusion of sustaining power can we live. Grace turns your victim moment into victory. Grace will turn your shame into shouting. Grace will help you realize your dreams when you thought you were destitute.

Happy PRE-Friday, Y'all! 
I Love Ya.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Seek Ye First


Today, let's talk about "Seek Ye First..."

It’s been said that the reason America doesn’t experience the power and revival that the rest of the world feels is because we pray for revival, and they pray for unity. They pray to be united together in Christ, while we pray that God blesses us and gives us more. I don’t care for hearsay or click-bait. So I’ll clarify, when I write “it’s been said…” I mean that Bro. Baily told Pastor and Sis. Ballestero; I was privileged to hear it.

Unity brings about a lot of things. Unity in learning. Unity is purpose. Unity in our sacrifice. It gets God's attention. When Jesus started delegating authority to his followers, his disciples, he gave them rules. God gives us plenty of promises... but with every covenant, every promise comes a requirement, a rule, a guideline. God is an orderly God and we can work the plan and be blessed. He tells us in His Word what His expectations are. We don’t have to cry out, cut ourselves or beg God to speak to us, when we’ve got the living Word in us, and his scriptures in front of us. But he also expects us to follow the rules... and to follow Him.

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Disciples (Luke 9:1-6; see also: Mt 10.5–15; Mk 6.7–13)
Jesus called the twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases. Then he sent them out to preach the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick, after saying to them, “Take nothing with you for the journey: no stick, no beggar's bag, no food, no money, not even an extra shirt. Wherever you are welcomed, stay in the same house until you leave that town; wherever people don't welcome you, leave that town and shake the dust off your feet as a warning to them.
The disciples left and travelled through all the villages, preaching the Good News and healing people everywhere.

That first verse says that He called them together.
Then He gave them power.
Then He gave them authority.
Then He SENT them... and He sent them with NOTHING but His power, authority, and commission.

We want God to call us. We want God to give us power. We want God to give us authority. We are not very keen on God sending us. We are even LESS keen on God telling us that we are to have the bare minimum. We need a lighting budget. We need cordless mics. We need earbud monitor systems. Anything less than state of the art is a slap in the face to us.

We tell God these days that we “can’t” do ministry unless we are assured that it’s comfortable, will fit in our schedule, and we are able to ensure that we are properly paid. People want to play in church on Sundays, but they don't want to practice during the week. They want to be in the big churches and have the nice systems... but they can't see themselves helping a small church that might be one person, acoustics, and doing it simply to ensure that God's name is glorified in worship. And most people want a check. I am not correcting Paul. I believe the workman is worthy of hire, but it’s about communal generosity, not wealth or prosperity. Do you think a man of God will be uber-wealthy? Do you think if he is, he’ll keep it, or spread it for the Kingdom? Do you think about the camel and needle? What did Jesus really mean when he sent his followers, his friends… the men that would be with him out into the world and into towns like this? With nothing? As nothing? As people that would need kindness, and alms from strangers to survive?

Would YOU do it, if that’s how God called you to ministry? Could you? What did Jesus really mean by that? Like, really mean... Is it possible He meant to leave everything behind? Live in a commune?

Oh… wait... He kind of said that, didn’t he? Matthew 8:22 is where Jesus told the rich young ruler, a teacher of the law, and an actual disciple to leave it all.

All of it?

Yes, all of it. He told the rich young ruler to come with him. And he meant right then!!! He told him to leave it all behind. He told the young man to walk with him daily, forsake his home, his business, his money, his servants his house, his family. Jesus told him to say goodbye to all of that and come prepare. Jesus knew that His immediate rise and fall were coming. He knew that the Gospel would be spread. He knew that eternity was in the balance. The ruler just thought of that day. What were his tasks THAT day? What were the things he needed to accomplish THAT day?

Do you get caught up at church?
Do you get fired up and mean well and want "more" of God? More power? More help? More blessings?
Do you feel the rush of a preacher’s message and tell God you’ll follow him, literally, anywhere?
Do you balk when God accepts your offer and asks you to commit to following Him and leaving your world behind? 

What about the passage in Luke to the one in Matthew? It’s nearly identical in the technicalities of what is offered as the story, but it offers a few more insights into Luke’s pragmatism and writing style. He focuses on the different phrasing used. Matthew captured the beauty and majesty of the whole “Son of Man” thing, but Luke cuts to the point: If you don’t follow God, and obey God, you are of no use to God. #Boom

The Would-be Followers of Jesus (Luke 9:57; see also, Mt 8.19–22)
As they went on their way, a man said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lie down and rest.
He said to another man, Follow me.” But that man said, “Sir, first let me go back and bury my father.” Jesus answered, “Let the dead bury their own dead. You go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.
Someone else said, “I will follow you, sir; but first let me go and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus said to him, Anyone who starts to plough and then keeps looking back is of no use to the Kingdom of God.

Could you do that and leave everything for God? Would you?
What did Jesus mean when He said that anyone that ploughs looking back is useless?
What keeps calling you to back?
What has a call so strong that you won’t keep looking forward at the task God has for you?
What is so powerful, grand, or important that the straight and narrow row you should be ploughing will be crooked or stopped due to your inability to look forward?

Ask yourself those questions and answer them honestly. Answer them truthfully. Do you think you can follow God and let Him truly mold you and use you? Or will you offer all of the reasons that YOU are the special case that He should work with? Will you convince God that you deserve the mantle of leadership and prestige and want the power to proclaim the Gospel, but YOU deserve to be let out of the sacrifice and the path that God would have you walk.

Seek Ye First: God and Possessions (Matthew 6:24; see also Lk 16.13)
No one can be a slave of two masters; he will hate one and love the other; he will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."

See, here is where the rubber meets the road for most people. Most conservative citizens in the Bible Belt consider themselves to be “Christian.” The matter is that they are conservative. They have values that are conservative. But their love of money is a problem and it’s one that will overshadow the rest of their testimony. You cannot love money and serve God. It’s POSSIBLE, but incredibly NEARLY NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN that a rich person will make good moral choices and make it to Heaven. Jesus just flat out said it: A rich person will work to make more money and hoard and keep money. They just don’t usually end up using it to make the lives of the downtrodden and poor and needy better, or even tolerable.

You can even sing the songs, wear the right clothes, look the part and be a teacher of the law, a ruler, or a disciple of Christ… but if you won’t drop YOUR plans, and YOUR life, and YOUR mindset, then you are missing the point. The Gospel has been spread. It’s been put out there. Those in charge of it have mutilated it. They’ve abused it. They’ve bastardized it for selfish gain… God can handle all of that. I’m not an apologist, nor am I ashamed of it. The cruelties done in the name of Christ were done by politics, greed, and for control. They were not done in LOVE. But, without love, we are clanging cymbals. We are useless. We are ineffective. Why? Because God is Love (1 John 4:8)  See, if you are not full of love of Christ, even for those not like you, then you don’t know God.

Seek Ye First: God and Possessions (Matthew 6:25-34 ; see also Luke 12:22–31)
“This is why I tell you not to be worried about the food and drink you need in order to stay alive, or about clothes for your body. After all, isn't life worth more than food? And isn't the body worth more than clothes? Look at the birds: they do not sow seeds, gather a harvest and put it in barns; yet your Father in heaven takes care of them! Aren't you worth much more than birds? Can any of you live a bit longer by worrying about it?
“And why worry about clothes? Look how the wild flowers grow: they do not work or make clothes for themselves. But I tell you that not even King Solomon with all his wealth had clothes as beautiful as one of these flowers. It is God who clothes the wild grass — grass that is here today and gone tomorrow, burnt up in the oven. Won't he be all the more sure to clothe you? How little faith you have!
“So do not start worrying: ‘Where will my food come from? or my drink? or my clothes?’ (These are the things the pagans are always concerned about.) Your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things. Instead, be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what he requires of you, and he will provide you with all these other things. So do not worry about tomorrow; it will have enough worries of its own. There is no need to add to the troubles each day brings."

What are you doing FOR God?
When God called you to follow Him, did you only agree on YOUR terms?
When God told you to share the Gospel, is it only in the situations of which YOU approve?
When God asks you to step out in faith and help, is your obedience only when YOU are comfortable? 
When God tells you to do something, is the schedule set only when YOU decide?

Don’t miss it. Don’t you dare miss what God has for you. I often wonder if the rich young ruler witnessed the crucifixion. If he told his children and grandchildren that he knew of Jesus and had a chance to go with Him. What did he think after that encounter when he left, saddened?

What about you? Do you leave saddened?

How many encounters have you had with God? How many times has God given you a chance and reached out to you? How many times has your heart been pricked with conviction and you feel the Holy Ghost urging you to talk to Jesus? How many times have you begged God to keep giving you chances, because you are "not ready." How many times have you told God that you need to take care of a few situations, just be patient while you correct and work on a few loose ends? That's not how it works with God. His love is infinite, not His patience. If you are consumed with worldly things, they will be the things that choke your relationship with God. They will be your demise. You will miss the point, and you will miss your chance.

I ask you again:
What has a call so strong that you won’t keep looking forward at the task God has for you?
What possession is worth communion and following Christ? You just "have" to have it.
What idol do you have that you have put above following Christ? You just "can't" give it up.



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

#TodayImGrateful for Veterans

#TodayImGrateful for Veterans.

1944 - Papaw James WW2
And it's true. I am truly grateful for the service rendered to our country, for ideals, for what we interpret as "freedom" in toto. In particular, I am grateful to one amazing veteran and his family - my grandfather, James. He had a brother, Obie, that served. My grandmother's brother, John M, served. Their parents served. My paternal grandfather, Burl, servied. My paternal uncle, Creighton, served. But my Papaw James was a special and unique individual to me. He was a giant in my life. Probably one of the only male role models I can look to with pride and admiration.

We called him Papaw James.

He loved his family. He loved my grandmother fiercely and nearly insanely, and he loved his children. When the time came and he had grandchildren, he loved us. He would constantly play with us, talk to us, and yes... reprimand us. He was of an older generation that were stricter, but he was one of the most hilarious people I have ever known.

1944 - Papaw James
WW2 Uniform
I never understood him growing up because his life was based in realism. He and I never came to certain places of "understanding" because, to him, I was a dreamer. The BEST advice I've ever been given came from my grandfather and grandmother. They were conflicting, they didn't make sense at the time, and I never appreciated them or their wisdom until later in life. (Isn't that the great tragedy of growing up?!? We finally understand what they meant and want to talk with them, but it's too late...)

My grandmother told me: "Darlin', knowing yourself is important, but 'being' yourself is overrated. Be whoever you darn well want to be." She meant that, too. I think she was nearly prophetic. Don't accept whatever is handed to you. Don't be what you are told you must be. Look inside, find that spark, find that fire and be who you want to be. Be the best you you dream up! Be more than people can imagine for you!

My grandfather was of a different mindset. He was pragmatic and a worrier. He had been kicked and knocked a few times and he was one that would hope that your dreams came true, but he planned for disaster. The advice I remember from him was gathered at his kitchen table. We sat there talking over my day and all of these amazing things I was dreaming up for a project: "Pet, could you pull those curtains back for me? Do you see out there? What do you see? I'll tell you. That's a real world out there. You hear me, Nut? You need to grow up a little. I understand that you have big hopes and big dreams - but those don't get handed to you. What are you going to do to make it happen?" I hated being told that. I hated the fact that he didn't jump on my dream bandwagon and immediately drop everything to ensure my hopes and wants and wishes were fulfilled. It's also the best gift he ever gave me. It hurt, but it resonated. It stuck. The lesson stuck and over time I can attribute my successes to the fact that I KNOW it will never be handed to me. I will have to work harder, overcome prejudice, fight more, plan more, pray more, put in MORE hours, and do any and every part of every detail I must do to win. He knew that me coming from rural and beginnings and being a spoiled and sensitive boy would be tough. He knew I'd need to work that much more. Best advice ever.

1944 - Papaw James & Bunt Henderson
My family was held together by those two. Mamaw was the oldest and the matriarch of her family. My grandfather, the same. We always had every holiday at their house. Everyone came. Everyone. Some of those traditions are being lost by those of us left. We don't visit the cousins. We don't make the small times as special. But we should. My twin cousin, Michelle, and I keep vowing to do better. Amanda and I are promising, promising, promising to meet more. But we don't. I call Lou Nell and talk some, but I need to go see John M and Howard soon. Do you have veterans in your life? Giants that inspired you? Thank them. We don't know what they know or what they go through.

Do you have coworkers that served or are serving?
Do you have friends that you respect that served?

Remember that most go away as children. They leave as freshly scrubbed 18 year olds and come back older. They come back having seen things we may never see, or never know. I romanticize my grandparents and my family because we all sat around together. Those stories were passed to us, including the horrors. My family loved one another, supported one another and prayed for one another. We kept each other. Not all veterans have that. Reach out to veterans and thank them.

#JustBeingMichael ツ