The story of Easter brings many messages and applications when you dive deep into the actual events of the days leading up to Christianity’s main event. One such message hit me last night on Good Friday. I was watching the Good Friday live stream of Mosaic from the comfort of my living room and a line jumped out at me: “Jesus was still the victor while He was suffering”.
In our society to suffer is often times looked at as a punishment or as an attribute to the life of one ill equipped or in other words… a loser. If you are winning at life then you are happy, have everything you want and are in optimal health, right? Those of us that have been around a bit know that suffering is a natural part of life. At some point, we are going to go through a season that we don’t want to be in whether it is a job where we are belittled everyday, a family member that tries to constantly sabotage our efforts or a health condition that changes our daily living habits. Maybe you’re the only single person in your circle or maybe you just can’t find a circle and you feel lost and alone.
I, for one, am dealing with aloneness and worth issues stemming from a set of current circumstances in my life. Are these circumstances permanent? Most likely the answer is no, but being able to navigate the unfun seasons without letting it rip you of your worth can be difficult. This is just one of the life applications we can glean from Easter.
Jesus also had a horrible set of circumstances He had to walk through while He was still the Victor. He was betrayed by a close friend and handed over to Roman soldiers who stripped Him of His clothes, repeatedly beat Him, hurled insults at Him and taunted Him as the King of the Jews. These Roman soldiers could easily be present day bullies who live to demean, insult and ridicule others. These soldiers even went as far as to crown Jesus with thorns and nail Him to a cross for His unbelievably slow and painful death with a sign adorned to His cross stating He was the King of the Jews. The mockery continued until He breathed His last breath. And it wasn’t just the soldiers who ridiculed Him the entire time it took Him to die… The onlookers and another criminal hanging beside Him joined in spitting, taunting and laughing at Him until He breathed His last breath.
But what did Jesus do during this time of extreme hate and ridicule? He simply uttered the words “Forgive them for they know not what they do”. Jesus knew that He was the victor despite His circumstances. He knew His worth was not tied to what was happening that day. He knew that He was just walking through a moment and that another moment was coming – a moment that would change everything. His ridiculers might have had fun for a while, but a day would come when His ridiculers would see Him in a new light.
The same is true for each of us. We may have to walk through some unpleasant seasons in our lives where someone treats us harshly, doesn’t appreciate our talent or good nature or is just hell bent on ruining our day, but we can still be the victor in these moments. Our self-worth is not determined by who other people think we are; our self worth is determined by who God thinks we are …co-heirs to His throne to be exact.
A couple of excerpts from “So Will I” by Hillsong say it perfectly:
“And as You speak, A hundred billion failures disappear, Where You lost Your life so I could find it here, If You left the grave behind You so will I…...
I can see Your heart, Eight billion different ways, Every precious one, A child You died to save…”
That’s who you and I are. Really. That’s who everyone is, really. A precious one, a child Jesus died to save…
Carrying this knowledge deep in your soul is what allows you to walk through the grey seasons without loosing your worth. It does not mean you walk through muddy waters thinking you are better than everyone else or deserve better and mount up resentments. What it does mean is that you simply go through the muddy waters with the knowledge that you are fiercely loved and cared for and you continue to learn and grow and do your best, trusting God to carry you through the rough parts and asking for guidance along the way.
Preface to a New Adventure
2017 is coming to a close and I for one am glad to put this one in the books. It was a hard year to say the least. I lost my residence and I could not find another one so I was forced to crash around until I finally came to the conclusion that I had to go back to Memphis and back to my mom’s house. I never meant to return to this city apart from visiting family. My mom and brother may call it home, but it has never been my home. It has been a hard pill to swallow to say the least. On top of this is the fact that I have not been able to obtain gainful employment. Things were looking good at the beginning of my return, but I continued to be the one among two that was not chosen. I am working retail at the moment and I am wondering how long this scenario is going to last. I have some pots warming on the stove, but none of them are near the salaries I was getting earlier in the year… though they do beat my old salary by more than a bit.
The one thing that has been good about this return to Memphis is the fact that my creative energy is back. I have been writing again and I have a slew of projects on the horizon. This is something I’ve been questioning God about… Why is it that my creativity is coming back now? Why not while I was living in Los Angeles or down in Florida? God’s response was simple and to the point as is customary for our relationship. My love of the outdoors and my penchant for being out and about and trying new places and things is a distraction. Apparently, if I want to blossom in some creative areas I have to take myself away from the fun.
Another area of concern I have had involves church. The only church I have ever felt comfortable in is Mosaic in Los Angeles. I finally found a church I was okay with in Jacksonville meaning I liked the pastor and I like the music, but I was never fully comfortable. I moved shortly after I started to get involved and have been going to church with my mom. Her church is probably the only close version to the churches I like in Memphis. The preaching is okay, the music is good, but I always feel extremely uncomfortable when I attend. I am just sick of visiting church after church and always feeling so uncomfortable… So I asked Jesus why I am so uncomfortable in His churches? I am still digesting His response… A lot of these large non-denominational churches like that of the ARC churches are known for exerting a great amount of control over the people in their congregations to try and keep the church a safe and healthy place. The problem is I am picking up on that male domineering control and it is making me supremely uncomfortable to the point that I want to bolt out of the building and get to where I feel safe which is outside in the parking lot. I am not a cookie cutter, drink the kool-aid kind of Christian and I feel that at this church… you have to be or you just fall of the schedule so to speak. I feel like God has called me to attend a leadership class at this church and now I have to decide if I can go to the class or if I should vagabond around town until I find somewhere to worship that doesn’t make me want to bolt.
While 2017 brought a swarm of unwelcome events, I am hopeful for a stark contrast in 2018. I am looking forward to getting at least two of my creative projects completed and I am hoping to get a third project up and running. I am hopeful for new employment that will allow me to get debt paid off and will allow for a path of upward mobility whether with that organization or some place else. I am just hopeful for a lot of forward movement. I don’t want to waste time this year… I want to move forward… I want to step into my future.
Touchdown or Crash-Landing?
Sometimes life takes you way, way, way up in the air and just leaves you there, hanging. After a while you can’t help but wonder if you are headed for a touchdown or a crash landing.
While my financial situation hasn’t changed, my stress level has skyrocketed. The company that I have been trying to run from is crumbling before my eyes. There is good news though! After feeling uneasy and unsafe for so long I had started to question if my past was causing issues in my present, but it would turn out that my gut, my discernment, my instinct – whatever you want to call it – it was telling me something is off and so are all these people. I couldn’t understand it. It was unfounded and I found it crazy that I felt safer in gang-ridden Los Angeles than in Jacksonville, FL, but as I now know those feelings weren’t so unfounded after all. This is the good news. It wasn’t me. It was and is the company and people I call my day home. While I cannot share any of it here at this time, it does feel good to know that I can and should trust my instincts.
I have been questioning many of my past decisions that were made based on my gut instinct and while they look like they might have been wrong – current happenings say otherwise. Following your gut instinct can lead you into a deep valley, but that doesn’t mean you were lead astray. In my case, I know that the valley I am in is a back-to-the-basics, re-grounding and re-focusing list of lessons that will make all the difference when the gate opens to the pasture in my future.
One of those lessons is the simple truth that I can ask Jesus for a hug whenever I feel overwhelmed and over stressed. I learned this one evening while in shavasana after a hearty detox flow. I saw myself as a little girl in a white dress balled up crying my eyes out. Jesus came to me and picked me up and I watched myself disappear into His light. I did catch a glimpse of myself in His arms and I was smiling from ear to ear and happy as a child could be. I then saw present day me get up off the yoga mat and walk into Jesus’ arms disappearing into His light. While I was watching all of this I felt an overwhelming sense of peace, calm and tranquility. I was immediately elevated somewhere above my current human status and experienced a calm I had never known before. I guess what I felt was love and my tear stained face proved it. And I have felt this same tranquility again and again as I have taken Jesus on His word when He told me at the end of that vision “Don’t forget I AM always here.” I no longer deal with anxious or unwanted thoughts in bed and I no longer worry about what to do with myself when I am alone. Some people have alcohol or weed or a host of other things, but I have Jesus and I find Him to be the most effective calming presence with zero negative side effects.
I am also finding out what is important to me and what deserves my focus and what does not. I am sad to say that like many people who grew up like I did – I have quite a fascination with materialistic things and the finer quality things at that. Take it from one who always wants the most expensive of everything… It turns out that I look just as good if not better in what I can easily afford! I do have to admit that my pride took a hit and I might have had to be forced into one of the stores after exhausting myself in 100-degree heat trying to replace a pair of everyday sandals that broke, but once I was in the store I had a hard time leaving.
And then there’s that whole living with intention and learning to make the best of every situation and becoming a living example of what I want to see more of instead of what I want to see less of…. Yes, I do agree… trusting your gut can lead you into a deep valley, but it does not mean you misunderstood or made a mistake. It does mean that you went where you needed to go to learn what you needed to learn for when you get plucked out of the valley and into the pasture that is your future. I mean what’s the purpose in getting everything you want if you have no idea what to do with it? I am now realizing this could have happened to me and it would have been a complete disaster! Oh and another something – I am finding that when I spend the day in Jesus’ arms – all those personality traits that I have been trying to get rid of somehow disappear and I didn’t do anything but ask Jesus to let me sit in His arms all day long. They say Jesus is sufficient and after spending the last couple of weeks in His arms I can say with complete certainty that He really is more than enough.
Swing Batter Batter Swing!
As I mentioned last month, God is really wanting me to step up my game for Him. After His initial question to me (Why are you acting like a newbie when you’re a veteran of the faith?) He began directing me towards what living the life of a veteran looks like and means for me. First off, He has placed some amazing women in my life through Celebrate Recovery and I call them amazing because they seem to be veterans of the faith when in reality most of them are the real newbies. They have their focus on helping others and on walking and talking a real and tangible faith in Christ. It is through these women that God is helping me understand what it is He is calling me to do with my life. I always knew that Jacksonville was training or as God put it preparation. And while I may not be entirely sure as to what I am preparing for I can say it must be ministry related. Personally, I am really making an effort to be more outwardly focused. I mean if I want to be one of those people who changes the energy in the room or brightens someone’s day, I can’t be engrossed in my own pity party now can I? I mean if I am all caught up in me and too busy in my own head then I am unable to interact with those around me. Trust me when I say that I know what it is like to be around people who drain the energy out of the room without even saying a word and the truth is when I am attending my own pity party I am that person. Now this does not mean that I do not allow myself to feel the hurt, disappointment or loneliness that I am feeling. It means that I acknowledge my feelings and then get back to the world around me.
One of the women in my CR recently gave her testimony and in her testimony she said something that God used to knock me over the head. She was discussing the energy we addicts put into our addiction and how most of the time we don’t even put a fraction of that energy into our recovery. The night she spoke this into me, my own personal monster was awake and I was very aware of my monster’s demands. I was not me that night, I was my addiction. Her words brought me back though because I immediately thought about how there was no distance too great, no price to high and no inconvenience when it came to me and my bottle. However, when it comes to anything else in life I find that the distance is almost always too great, the price almost always too high and the inconvenience almost always absurd. And you know what? I especially find this to be true when it comes to God, church and the people He brings into my life for which I have no doubt are there because He is hoping I will step up for Him in their life. Ouch! I mean God went to the expense of His only Son for me so there really shouldn’t be anything too inconvenient for me to do for Him.
Personally, there are many things in my life that I need to do better and I am trying to tackle them one by one. For starters, I am working on keeping my word (aka not backing out at the last minute because of fear, not feeling good or any idea that comes into my head) and I am putting a lot of energy into being on time for work, church and all the other appointments one has in life. I am also working on taking better care of myself by eating better, getting more sleep, exercising more and obeying those moments when my soul says it needs a minute or four. I am also making an effort to be more social at CR and at church. I need to be reaching out to new faces, being the person to say hello instead of waiting for someone to say hello to me, in other words, I need to start taking the lead and I am focusing on doing just that with every church I visit and every CR I attend. These may seem like small matters, but they shape who I am and how I see myself and they are also small details that veterans practice everyday.
Happy Easter to all of you or as I like to call it... Happy New Life Day. Christ died the worst death possible so that He could conquer the worst humanity could muster...We were His end game. He endured it all so that we could have new life in Him... so that we don't have to stay in the hole we've managed to dig for ourselves no matter how giant that hole might be... :)
Trust in the Trenches
Once a tissue box, now a prayer box.
They say that Jesus loves you. What about me? - Jewel
Oh, the T-word… I spoke about it last month, but it is has been a serious struggle for me this month. Yes, the word I am referring to is TRUST. I have to say that I have been in and out of church my entire life, but I don’t think I ever grasped the real, everyday concept of trusting God. I guess in a way, I have always had other people to rely on in the event I got myself in any sort of physical or financial strain, whereas, now I do not. While it is important to trust God for a roof over my head rather than a park bench, which is a reality that is extremely too close for comfort at this moment in time, my main concern is my seemingly inability to trust that God really does love me.
A Christian man at one of the meetings I attend always asks me why I’m having such a problem because as a Christian the twelve steps should come easy to me. This made me think about the things I easily trust God with versus the things I have a hard time handing over to Him and leaving in His care. What I found is the things I have absolutely nothing to do with are easy to hand over, but the things that I play a part in are the things I keep taking back. As it turns out, I have a serious trust problem. I mean the Bible doesn’t say our works makes us righteous; it says our TRUST makes us righteous. Never mind the fact that my inability to trust states that I have more control than my Creator and Sustainer. I mean come on! Yes, the choices I make and the actions I take do have consequences, but if I am honestly doing the best that I can and seeking God’s will daily, does God not honor that effort and add His touch to the situation? Did I not write about this last month?
I guess I should add that I am having a problem seeing myself as a person of worth and value which is why I am having a hard time grasping the reality of God’s love for me. All of my self-sabotaging ways are a result of this deep inner feeling that somehow, some way I’m just not good enough, but God has an entirely different view. God created me to be a blessing and not a curse. He created me for a specific purpose and has a specific plan for the contributions I will make to this world. I’ve been trying to force myself into agreement with God’s view of myself and getting absolutely nowhere except for Discouragementville. Then I heard God whisper that I am trying to make a leap where I need not make one. All I need to do is be willing to accept that what He says about me is true. If I am willing to accept that what He says about me is true then I can be willing to act like what He says about me is true and as I act like what He says about me is true I will eventually become His truth. I will become all that He says I am. I just have to be willing to accept His truth, which allows me to act on His truth, which will at some point down the road make me His truth. AWESOME.
I’ve started praying the following prayer each morning: Lord, help me to trust You. To believe that you really do love me and to know that what You send me is good. Because sometimes the best presents arrive in the ugliest wrapping paper.
I have to be honest that these first two months in Los Angeles have not been easy. For one, I am up in the valley and apparently “no one hires people from up there”. Second, I happen to live with six female college students who don’t speak a lick of English as they are all from the great land that owns us, China. Being from China you would think they would be at least a little tidy, but they are just like American college students in that they are filthy and apparently under the impression that a fairy is going to clean up after them. My biggest problem as of right now is parking in that I am not use to having to have cash on hand 24/7 to park and I happen to be out of cash at the moment. Dear State Farm Bank: Please send me my debit card, as it is of utmost importance that I receive it. I am also not use to pedestrians being everywhere so if you, a pedestrian, see a silver Impala please look before crossing because I am probably not even aware that you exist. On the bright side, I am finally starting to get a handle on navigating this giant city and as a result only make one wrong turn per trip, which is an improvement of gigantic proportions.
Boredom and lack of human interaction has also been a major problem in these first two months. As is being stuck in a hot, un-air conditioned house in the valley that could use some serious TLC. Moreover, I am facing the fact that I need income as medical bills keep arriving that I cannot pay. Adding to the boredom and impending financial doom is the fact that I am getting sober for the umpteenth time. Needless to say, I need something to give and I need it to give now. Unfortunately, I seem to be sending out resumes left and right and nobody seems to be interested. Moreover, those that are “interested” only seem to be interested in telling me that I need to “move to the city” or better yet “you need some experience before you can intern here”. Um, really? I thought internships were for experience and as a matter of fact, I am in the city! And for the love of God, the 405 is not that bad! Suck it up Lalians, Suck it up!
Any who, things got to the point that I felt like I was suppose to receive some sort of key in order to actually live here and without that key I would be doomed to wander the streets as a beggar. No matter how much I prayed or cried, nothing seemed to be changing. I felt locked out and I had no one to seek advice from and I didn’t know what to do so I did the only thing I could do… I unloaded all of this on the poor messianic pastor at the messianic synagogue I have been visiting and I did this unloading during the service. He, obviously having dealt with a bunch of crazy people in his life, asked if I had ever tried fasting and prayer. He said that whenever he needs a breakthrough in life, whether it is financial, relational, emotional or physical, he sets aside a day or a weekend to fast and pray. He told me that Yeshua, himself, in the seventeenth chapter of Matthew, told His disciples that some problems require fasting and prayer. As luck would have it, the congregation was having a day of breakthrough prayer and fasting the very next day. I assume you think I went. You would be wrong. I got scared at everyone trying to get me to go so I left the service as quickly as possible. I must have resembled a dear caught in headlights. Note to self: flight response is alive and kicking; fight response – not so much.
After I got home, I looked up Matthew chapter seventeen and found in verse twenty-one that Yeshua did indeed say that some things can only be conquered through prayer and fasting so I decided to do my own little version in the solitude and safety of my little rented room in the hot, sticky valley that everyone pretends doesn’t exist. Being that I have never done this before and being that I always have a bit of method to my madness, I decided to plan out my six hours of prayer and fasting… I’ve never done this before and thought a whole day was a little presumptive of myself.
Hour 1 (12-1pm) – Praise
Hour 2 (1-2pm) – Prayer
Hour 3 (2-3pm) – Praise
Hour 4 (3-4pm) – Scripture
Hour 5 (4-5pm) – Prayer
Hour 6 (5-6pm) – Praise
Okay, so maybe I did a lot more praising than I did praying, but due to a recent realization, I actually connect to God through praise much more than I connect through prayer. While, I could probably do a whole post on all that thought encompasses, it will not be done today.
I do have to say that the experience did not disappoint. I thought I was going to be bored. I thought I would not be able to concentrate or run out of things to say, but let me tell you that when the God of the Universe wants to talk, He has a way of commanding your attention beyond all of your human capabilities. I used the Praise & Worship channel on Pandora for my praise hours and actually found some songs and artists that I really enjoyed. As for the first hour of prayer… I began by telling my God and King my purpose for this time and explained in detail what I was feeling and what I felt I needed from Him. After that, I opened up the floor for Him to speak and well, let’s just say He relayed what He needed from me before He could give me what I claimed to so desperately want! I had recently taken a class entitled Actualizing Your Soul’s Goals with Mastin Kipp from The Daily Love, an online blog and community. In this class Mastin taught us the difference between goals and intentions and lead us through a series of exercises designed to bring out our own individual purposes for this life. By the end of the class everyone had a list of intentions, goals and grounded action steps to help them reach the goals that would bring true fulfillment. I have to say the class was awesome and I was immediately hit between the eyes with the realization of what was keeping me in a very unhealthy cyclical holding pattern from which I was desperate to break free. I thought the work from that class was done, but during the first hour of prayer God took all of my class work and went much, much deeper. I ended up spending the last thirty minutes of prayer completely re-writing my intentions, my purpose and something Mastin calls my Major Definite Purpose. I had gotten ahead of myself in the class and while the majority of what I wrote was and is true, I have work to do before I actually get there. AMAZING!
After the initial prayer hour, I continued with my itinerary until I came to the scripture hour. I actually didn’t have a clue as to what I was going to do with that hour. I suppose I was planning on looking up some verses on some particular topics I am struggling with but I ended up just asking God to guide me as I opened His book and He did. It seems He has some things to tell me about life and how one is to live life. He directed me to several scriptures, one of them being 1 Thessalonians where Paul talks to the new Christians regarding how they are to live their lives and why. He also led me to look over the Ten Commandments again. It seems as though God wanted to remind me that He has some advice on this thing called life and that it would be good for me to familiarize myself with such advice both on a physically practical level and on a mentally practical level.
And don’t think the hours of praise were a vacation either. I strained to really listen to and contemplate the meaning of the words I was singing and in those words I found God speaking loud and clear regarding many aspects of my life. It is interesting to note that I now feel that my own personal life purpose is to… “Be a blessing to everyone I meet by empowering myself so that I can empower others to live out their own individual purposes thereby sharing their own unique gifts with the world and making the world a better place by having done so.” … When I am so far from being a blessing in any sense of the word to any other human being on this planet. In simplest terms, I have a lot of transforming to do in terms of what I say and what I do blending into a recognizable harmony.
All in all, I am very happy with the outcome of my first ever day of prayer and fasting and feel it is a great way to reconnect with God, empower yourself when feeling vulnerable or need divine insight into a person or situation. It is especially useful for times when a breakthrough is needed. If the door is locked, go to the Person with the key… You know, the Person who created the door and the lock or at least allowed the lock to exist. Of course, the challenge is to keep your focus on God and His love and NOT on the end result because God will only give you that which you are ready to receive. Though you can be sure that He will reveal exactly what you need to cultivate in your life in order to be ready for that which you want.
As for me, I guess I was ready. Let’s just say that the giant door on the entertainment industry appears to now be unlocked. I have received a multitude of internship opportunities and am in the midst of the selection process as I type this post. On an even more pleasing note, I am beginning to receive interviews for paid positions within the industry too. Hopefully, I will land an offer soon and be well on my way to obtaining a place of my own in this land known as La la.
A Transforming Love
This might come off a bit conceited, but bear with me because those that know me, know that I am not the least bit of the sort. And with that said, I think the problem with America today is that we have a lot of Christians living in the infancy stage. They haven’t gotten to a point where they are able to be tolerant of others and not have it impact them and their faith in a negative way. I was once such a Christian and after some agnostic/Wicca years and a long rocky road back to God I can understand the ever-present right and the ever-present left of our society. I think the ultimate aim of a Christian is to represent Christ to the world. We are to live our lives as a testament to Him and His love. Unfortunately, many Christians find themselves doing the exact opposite even though they are blind to the fact. In order for one to be tolerant of others, one must be firmly rooted in their own beliefs and confident in their own preferences and choices regarding lifestyle. I firmly believe this is the biggest hurdle to why many Christians are not able to be tolerant of others beliefs or lack there of while still showing God’s love and acceptance while living a life of love and service to others. It takes a lot to be surrounded by those who don’t believe the same as you or live a lifestyle the same as you and still love and support them without loosing some of your own personal convictions. The simple truth is many of us are just weak when it comes to certain sins. I know that was my hang-up. Each of us has our own area of weakness. Some of us have trouble keeping our pants on while some of us have trouble telling the truth while some of us have trouble coveting the blessings of others. After all, to God, it is all sin. No hierarchy, just sin and it puts all of us on a level playing field whether we want to admit it or not. And don’t think I don’t realize that there are plenty of non-religious people that could use a good talking to… because for every infant Christian there is an infant non-religious zealot doing the exact same thing, but I cannot speak to them since I am no longer one of them.
God loves us where we are. He doesn’t require us to change who or what we are in order to receive His love. He takes us as we are and He slowly molds us into better human beings as we progress in our relationship with Him, our creator and sustainer. He sends the Holy Spirit to be the convicting force in our life. Our friends might support the notion, but it’s not their job to convict. Conviction belongs to the Holy Spirit. That’s why Yeshua said, “Those without sin shall cast the first stone.” He knew no one would be able to stand in judgment against another and instead they would be compelled to stand in love with that other human being.
My personal walk has held inside it a lot of scenic routes and I am thankful for these adventures as they not only help me better understand those with opposing beliefs, but they help me to firmly ground myself in my own beliefs as well. I’ve made no attempt to hide the fact that I once left God because of the church- hell; the church almost cost me my life. The reason being I once mistook the church and it’s leaders for being God, which they are not. The only convicting power on this planet is that of the Holy Spirit. I believe that our job as Christians is to be an example of the love of God for every human being on this planet. We are to tell others of His love and live that love out, but we are to leave the convicting and the changing of life or lifestyle to God. He can do it. He’s done it in every follower of Christ on this planet and He can do the same for every follower of Christ to come. It saddens me how so many of my brothers and sisters in Christ are so hard hearted to those a little different from themselves. Even when they admit to being full of sin they don’t seem to have any compassion for others nor care to find out why someone believes or acts the way they do. How can anyone impact another without even trying to understand where another is coming from or trying to imagine walking a mile in another’s shoes?
I come from a long line of southern pastors, but I have not always believed in the existence of God, but He never held it against me and even after I believed and decided for a time that I might have been wrong He still loved me. He was always standing beside me with arms wide open ready to welcome me home. And when I finally did come home, He didn’t scold me and He didn’t make me change into this person I was not – He just loved me and that’s what He asks of those who follow Him - to simply love others in the same way that He has loved each of us. We are all full of faults and a whole lot less than worthy than we would like to believe, but He accepted us as we are and we should do the same for everyone and especially those who have yet to find Him.
If you are a Christian looking to make an impact in this world I challenge you to just love people. Tell others of how much God loves them and follow it up with examples of how God proves His love to you everyday. If you want to push something, push an honest and ongoing conversation with the creator and sustainer of this universe. Be kind; treat people the way you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes… After all, Yeshua, himself, said everything rests on loving God first and then loving your neighbors as yourself. For He said there is no greater commandment than these. Yes, it is true that Christians need to step up and take back this country, but not in the way it is being propagated: For it is by our love for not only one another, but for all of mankind that we shall be known as His.
When Angels Come Close
I have to say that I am both a skeptic and a seeker at heart, but when you have personal life changing experiences with both God and the devil you tend to cease with all the questioning and start listening and can be a wonderful thing. I have decided to keep this particular post short and sweet and in doing so I will not be sharing my first hand experiences with the devil and his minions for it is not he that I wish to bring any sort of glory to anyhow. Instead I will focus on three very powerful experiences I have had with what I believe to be angels or archangels.
The very first visit is engrained in my mind and I can still remember it like it was yesterday. I was in very bad sorts and in the process of desperately crying out to God. I was sitting on my bed to be exact and in the middle of pleading for help from both God and His warrior, Saint Michael the Archangel when I suddenly looked up and over to my right. To this day I have no idea why I looked where and when I did, but I feel that something or someone made sure I saw what I saw and that was what I believe to be Saint Michael. There floating right about eye-level next to my chest of drawers was a beautiful golden sphere of light. The center was pure gold and it had rays of gold extending out in every direction. This sphere was only there for a second or two and then it was gone. It took me a minute but I realized that the formerly cold and heavy room I was sitting in was now warm and glowing with an abundance of love. I felt light as a feather and had a smile the size of Texas plastered across my face. I giggled and giggled and giggled in complete and pure delight and the feeling lasted for about three or four days. All I can say is that I was in complete peace. Every care and concern of this world had vanished and I was in a state of pure ecstasy. I cannot put into words what my soul felt for it is simply beyond words, beyond this human experience. It took me a long time, but I eventually came to the conclusion that what I felt that night and for the majority of the rest of that week is only the tiniest smidgeon of what it must be like to be in Heaven. And yes, to this day my mind is still completely and utterly blown by this revelation.
The second visit occurred in the middle of service at the messianic synagogue I was visiting. A family had come in with a woman who was obviously fighting cancer and she sat beside me. I learned that this was the first time in quite a few months that she was strong enough to attend service. Consequently, the rabbi wanted to bring her up front and have the congregation pray for her. I believe, at the time, she had undergone a surgery and was gearing up for a transfusion and chemo with no guarantee of any sort of success. Needless to say, the medical doctors were doing all they could and if God had any further purpose for her on this planet He was going to have to step in as human medicine was about to run out of options. The rabbi called her and her family up and the congregation began praying as the rabbi rebuked the cancer. Afterwards, she returned to her seat, but there was something very different. There was a presence with her that was not with her before. I was absolutely thrilled to bask in this overwhelming presence of peace, as I needed some myself. As the service continued I slowly became aware of the fact that since I am sensitive I may very well be the only person in this synagogue who knows that this lady had gone up to get prayer and had come back to her seat with an angel. A year later, I was still visiting the same synagogue when the rabbi reported that this woman was in remission. It was on this day that I realized I had been privy to a miracle and I never even knew it. I use to get really upset about being a sensitive, but after this experience I am no longer upset about it. I may not always understand nor like some of the things that come along with being sensitive, but being privy to a miracle is pretty much one of the most awesome things anyone can ever be a part of while being on this planet.
The third visit also occurred in a service at the same messianic synagogue. This time the visitation occurred at the closing ceremony of Yom Kippur. During the service I had specifically asked for freedom and that my mind, heart, and third eye would be guarded. As the shofar sounded I felt lightness in my chest. The feeling became bigger and lighter and I felt as if my soul might implode or explode… I wasn’t sure, but the feeling was lovely. I assumed that it was my soul-self recognizing the sound of the shofar and it was not until I got in my car afterwards that I realized I again had a smile the size of Texas plastered on my face. I laughed and giggled uncontrollably all the way home. This time I had been in close proximity of what I assume was an archangel and I hadn’t even been aware of it. I was floored yet again. I have a few guesses about this visitation: (1) Angels came close to watch over the closing ceremony, (2) the sounding of the shofar brought angels into the service or (3) I was freed from a stronghold like I requested during the service. Either way, I know that heavenly visitors joined in the closing ceremony and I think that’s just awesome.
Like I said, short, sweet and to the point. I am still floored over the whole smidgeon of Heaven bit, but God’s been blowing my mind a lot lately and I for one hope His trend continues.
What's Your Zeal?
Zeal is defined as an enthusiastic devotion to a cause, ideal, or goal and tireless diligence in its furtherance. On a similar note, love is defined as an intense feeling of deep affection. Given these two definitions one could easily say that if one loves something or someone that one would also have zeal for that something or someone.
Now, according to Matthew 22: 36-40, Yeshua states that the greatest command God ever gave was to love the Lord your God with all of your heart and all of your soul and with all of your strength and the second greatest command God ever gave was to love your neighbor as yourself. He goes even further to say that everything depends on these two commands. What’s interesting is that these two commands are actually not new. The Lord God ADONAI actually gave these commands in the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. Since both the Lord God ADONAI and His son, Yeshua, made a point to tell people this don’t you think we should do more than glance over them?
So I ask you: are we living out these two commands?
Unfortunately, more often than not, the answer is no and so I ask, what’s your zeal?
Zeal For the Law
If you have zeal for the law, then you tend to do your best to obey the law. You tend to inadvertently ignore the heart and thereby ignore the motives and intentions behind your actions. You probably have a daily relationship with God, but you tend to try and barter for blessings since you keep all of those pesky laws. Your attention is on the Law and what obeying the Law can get you. In short:
An outward focus
The underlying belief is that the law brings you closer to God
Your focus tends to stay on your actions and the actions of others
You force obedience on yourself and possibly those around you
Zeal for God
If you have zeal for God, then you tend to try to do your best for God. You probably have a daily relationship with God and as that relationship grows you find yourself wanting to understand Him more and as you understand Him more you find yourself surprisingly wanting to obey Him all the more. Your attention is on God and what He can do through you. In short:
An inward focus
The underlying belief is that your relationship with God brings you closer to Him
Your focus shifts to the motives and intentions of your own heart and the hearts of others
Your relationship with God is what makes you want to obey His commands
The Bible states over and over that God is more concerned with the motives and intentions of our hearts than He is with our actual actions. Why? Well, it is the motives and intentions of our hearts that create our actions. An easy and yet still very controversial example is the use of alcohol among Christians. The Bible never explicitly states it is wrong to drink, but it does state it is wrong to get drunk. This might seem contradictory until you look at the intentions behind those actions.
For most people in most situations, the action of having a couple of drinks results from the desire to relax or celebrate; whereas, the action of getting wasted results from a wide array of negative desires. The most common being to run away from a problem, to become someone you are not, or to commit a sin. You know the saying if you have to get drunk to do it then you probably shouldn’t be doing it and you are probably going to regret it to boot. The point is, when you look at the probable intentions behind those two actions it is easier to see why God might not be too concerned about the first and doubly concerned about the second. No parent on this earth wants to see their children behaving in potentially dangerous ways because of stress or ill motives and neither does God, our heavenly Father. I guess to put it another way, if the heart is in the right place then the right actions will ultimately follow.
So my question for you is simple. If you are going to love God and love others in the same way you love yourself, which those of you who follow the Old Testament or the New Testament have been commanded to do… Do you need to have zeal for the law or do you need to have zeal for God? And please, don’t get me wrong because I am not saying the law is bad, but what I am saying is that in order to really know or love someone you do have to know his or her heart, right?