1/29/2017

Jeremiah 9: The Abuse of Covenant as a Privilege Leads to Destruction

As a ministry leader in training, I cannot stay silent regarding the state of American society and the hypocrisy of Christians who do not see the injustice and wrong in the changes impacting the livelihood of others from various beliefs, ethnicity, races, gender, and sexual identities. 

This past week I've been drawn back to Jeremiah 9, a text that I explored from the perspective of the marginalized, but this time I'm drawn to the message for the privileged. 

Jeremiah 9 exposes Yahweh's reaction to being tired of saving and redeeming his people who claim to love and believe in his covenant, but actions reflect nothing of his ways. The offenders Yahweh addresses are the privileged, the people of the covenant, "Pure Hebrews." 

Judah was a place where people of various backgrounds lived, however the Hebrews were the higher tier of society and oppressed those who did not fall into their identity. 

The covenant that Yahweh created with the people of Israel was grounded on communal law. That's the whole point of the 10 commandments. How the nation of Israel developed as one under the beliefs and laws of God. This is the same nation that came to know Yahweh as a God of justice and righteousness by being freed from their own mistreatment and oppression, yet here they are in Judah after years of not living out their covenant, oppressing and mistreating others. Natives of foreign lands, people of lower economic status, those who did not fall into their lineage were suffering at the hands of the privileged. 

1 O that my head were a spring of water, and my eyes a fountain of tears, so that I might weep day and night for the slain of my poor people! 2 O that I had in the desert a traveler's lodging place, that I might leave my people and go away from them! For they are all adulterers, a band of traitors. 3 They bend their tongues like bows; they have grown strong in the land for falsehood, and not for truth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know me, says the Lord. 4 Beware of your neighbors, and put no trust in any of your kin; for all your kin are supplanters, and every neighbor goes around like a slanderer. 5 They all deceive their neighbors, and no one speaks the truth; they have taught their tongues to speak lies; they commit iniquity and are too weary to repent. 6 Oppression upon oppression, deceit upon deceit! They refuse to know me, says the Lord.
Jeremiah 9:1-6

Jeremiah 9 introduces us to God's disgust and vocalized lament towards those who oppress and act out of his covenant. 

7 Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: I will now refine and test them, for what else can I do with my sinful people? 8 Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks deceit through the mouth. They all speak friendly words to their neighbors, but inwardly are planning to lay an ambush. 9 Shall I not punish them for these things? says the Lord; and shall I not bring retribution on a nation such as this? 10 Take up weeping and wailing for the mountains, and a lamentation for the pastures of the wilderness, because they are laid waste so that no one passes through, and the lowing of cattle is not heard; both the birds of the air and the animals have fled and are gone. 11 I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins, a lair of jackals; and I will make the towns of Judah a desolation, without inhabitant. 

A nation that constantly cried out for help and claimed to be the people of God, but their actions never showed it. At this point Yahweh decided to let Judah as whole fend for themselves. The destruction he had been saving them from over the years could no longer be avoided, and Judah would soon fall to the same fate of Northern Israel.

20 Hear, O women, the word of the Lord, and let your ears receive the word of his mouth; teach to your daughters a dirge, and each to her neighbor a lament. 21 "Death has come up into our windows, it has entered our palaces, to cut off the children from the streets and the young men from the squares." 22 Speak! Thus says the Lord: "Human corpses shall fall like dung upon the open field, like sheaves behind the reaper, and no one shall gather them." 23 Thus says the Lord: Do not let the wise boast in their wisdom, do not let the mighty boast in their might, do not let the wealthy boast in their wealth; 24 but let those who boast boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord; I act with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the Lord. 25 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will attend to all those who are circumcised only in the foreskin: 26 Egypt, Judah, Edom, the Ammonites, Moab, and all those with shaven temples who live in the desert. For all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel is uncircumcised in heart.

Yahweh commands the women to teach a lament because it will be the only thing helpful in the upcoming days of destruction. Women held no power in this time and essentially were marginalized. Yahweh is advising the privileged to learn from the marginalized and let go of the idea that their privilege will save them. The same oppression and mistreatment they forced upon these marginalized groups would now fall upon Judah as a whole, and no one would be immune. The marginalized would hold the advantage from the viewpoint of knowing oppression, knowing resistance, and knowing survival. If the privilege had any sense, they would do well to listen, learn, and follow the marginalized to survive the impending doom. 

How do we know Yahweh is targeting this message to the privileged? Verses 23-26 points it out to us plainly:

23 Thus says the Lord: Do not let the wise boast in their wisdom, do not let the mighty boast in their might, do not let the wealthy boast in their wealth; 24 but let those who boast boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord; I act with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the Lord. 25 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will attend to all those who are circumcised only in the foreskin: 26 Egypt, Judah, Edom, the Ammonites, Moab, and all those with shaven temples who live in the desert. For all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel is uncircumcised in heart.

Yahweh calls out to the wealthy, the wise, who in this time were priest and other political leaders, and the mighty meaning those of power. Then specifically calls out those who are circumcised, meaning those of "pure lineage", the children of Israel, the children of the covenant. Yahweh makes it clear that while these various nations of the desert may not bear the mark of his covenant, the true offenders are those who do bear the mark of circumcision. They may claim to be his children, but their hearts show otherwise.

SO WHY AM I SHARING THIS?  

America has been digging itself into a hole since its conception. Claiming to be one thing for everyone, but it's actions only benefit a few. As a nation full of diversity in every facet, marginalization and oppression are huge issues that fail to be acknowledged and addressed.

More specifically, as a nation that claims religious freedom, the reality is that it's simply not true. Christianity holds the privilege, and I'll further that to say mainstream (white) Christianity holds the privilege, because there are other theologies within American Christianity that fail to be respected and acknowledged. 

This is where the issue lies. Too many Christians claim to this covenant, the one the Christ represented, but not many live it out. Just like the Hebrews in Judah, Christians have oppressed and turned a blind eye to plight of the marginalized in its own country. Am I saying all Christians are like this? No. But let's not be in denial that it's still majority. 

58% of Protestant/Other Christians voted for Donald Trump
81% of White Evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump

Majority of those who cling to the covenant of Christianity voted for not just a person, but a representation, values, and beliefs of hate, fear and oppression. All of which are in direct violation of what Christ represented and what a "real" Christian is called to be.

Just like the privileged in Judah, the privileged of America has abused the covenant of Christianity to justify its privilege at the expense of the quality of life for others. And just like the Judah, America is now falling to its own destruction because of these things.

To Marginalized Groups
Sadly as we have seen in this first week of the new administration, we are still being persecuted and will still have to fight no matter what. However, that same burden is our strength. We know how to survive, we know how to fight, we know how to resist. 

It is totally unfair and there is no justification for this mistreatment. If anything Jeremiah 9 shows that the God the privilege claim to know and reflect, is not the same God of the covenant, and simply calling yourself a Christian isn't enough.

Communal law is the foundation of the covenant, from the Old Testament to the teachings of Christ. The living covenant has always been about loving others fully, treating them with respect, making sure that everyone has, and choosing to love beyond our personal pain, biases, and experiences. 

Please know that the majority that claim this covenant are not representative of it. There are Christians out there that stand against injustice, and for the fair treatment of all. 

Conclusion
We are in for dark times ahead. Beyond the President, the people we have in the positions of power are not in for the greater interest of all, and the people that voted him in support that. That's the reality of what's happening. 

We are witnessing the Abuse of Covenant as a Privilege that is now ultimately leading to Destruction. We are in for the fight of our lives. No generation has escaped the burden of the fight. Now it's our turn. 

This is your moment to decide which side you are going to stand on. When history talks about this era, which side will you have to say you stood on. The marginalized are going to fight because we have no choice but to fight. Our survival depends on it!

However, to those of privilege, those who cling to your covenant so dearly, are you going to choose to show it in action? 

When God commanded the people to lament in Jeremiah 9, it was much bigger than just grief. Lament encompasses a cry of not just pain and suffering, but one of accountability. It is a way to signify to society that the people are not fine with what's happening. Every march, protest, vigil, petition, safe haven, and act of resistance is a lament being pushed forth to let those of privilege and power know that the people are not OK with what is happening. 

To be in communion with God is to be in communion with community. To be in communion with Christ is to be in communion with his love and resistance against hate. Covenant does not equate privilege or immunity from suffering , it demands action of its values for all. 

Are you going to say you're a Christian or are you going to BE a Christian?

12/14/2016

The Power of Lament for the Marginalized: A Sermon for Empowerment


Yesterday, Dec. 12th, I was able to share my final project in my Intro to Old Testament class. The entire semester we have been working on a paper that explored a text of our choice. The project was an opportunity for us to bring it to life in today's society.

My paper focused on Jeremiah and the role lament played for marginalized communities. For my project I thought it was only appropriate to explore what a lament may have looked like for those groups in Jeremiah 9 that had to cope with societal destruction in addition to their daily oppression. 

My inspiration came from Kendrick Lamar's song, "We Gon Be Alright." Thus, the name of my sermon is We Gon Be Alright. I have provided the transcript below the video. Thank you for your continuous prayers and support of my journey. I only hope to share all that is shown to me! God Bless!

We Gon Be Alright


Text: Jeremiah 9: 23-26

23 Thus says the Lord: Do not let the wise boast in their wisdom, do not let the mighty boast in their might, do not let the wealthy boast in their wealth; 24 but let those who boast, boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord; I act with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the Lord.
25 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will attend to all those who are circumcised only in the foreskin: 26 Egypt, Judah, Edom, the Ammonites, Moab, and all those with shaven temples who live in the desert. For all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel is uncircumcised in heart.

In Jeremiah 9 we encounter a tale of privilege and oppression. The children of Israel have used their covenant and privilege to justify the oppression of the marginalized living in Judah. Yahweh sees the unjust actions of those who claim to be his children, and gives Jeremiah one of the darkest death prophecies we see in this text. After damning Judah to death and destruction, he orders the women to come mourn and teach a lament. And in the final verses that were read, we hear God say that he is going to judge Israel as they have judged and mistreated the marginalized within their community.

I can only speculate what the marginalized groups in Jeremiah were thinking once they heard that more death and destruction were coming their way. I can imagine that if they were to raise up a lament in that moment, it would share a similar sentiment to the lyrics of Kendrick Lamar's We Gon Be Alright.

Alls my life I has to fight,
Hard times like God
Bad trips like: "God!"
Nazareth, If I'm messed up
Homie you messed up
But if God got us then we gon' be alright

Lamar starts off his song referencing one of the most popular and powerful lines from the Color Purple delivered by the character Mrs. Sophia, “ALL MY LIFE I HAS TO FIGHT.” His intro perfectly captures the despair, the frustration, and pain of marginalized groups trying to survive. But also in the same phase of despair, Lamar says, “But if God got us then we gon’ be alright.” 

The marginalized in Jeremiah 9 had to be thinking the same thing. They had publicly heard God denounce Israel for its poor communal values and the oppression of their people. So while there was no sight of good things to come, they were aware that God stood on their side and against injustice.
Going back to Lamar’s song, as he progresses his lyrics began to evolve from a place of despair to a voice of empowerment as he recounts some of the most traumatic injustices experienced by blacks in America.

Wouldn’t you know, we been hurt, been down before,
When my pride was low, lookin’ at the world like, “where do we go?”
And we hate Popo, when they kill us dead in the street for sure,
I’m at the preacher’s door
My knees getting’ weak and my gun might blow but we gon’ be alright

The people of the marginalized nations that Yahweh mentioned in this text knew hardship. They were familiar with the lament of low places and death. From the ancestors of Hagar, to the Moabites who were discriminated against early on, survival and overcoming the depression of oppression was no new challenge. And although the anger may have never subdued from their mistreatment, in this moment through Jeremiah’s prophecy, they came to know God as one of justice and righteousness.

I can hear them chanting in their waking up “We Gon be Alright.” In their daily living, “We Gon Be Alright.” In their crying out of the injustices carried out against them, “We Gon Be Alright.” In the denial of recognition from Israel, “We Gon Be Alright.”

We see ourselves in the marginalized groups in Jeremiah 9 because they shared the same fight we’re still battling today. If anything we should look at these groups in Jeremiah and the lyrics to Lamar’s song and realize that our hope should never rely on the means of the offenders to bring justice, but the constant factors that have always showed up and showed out: 1. God, and 2. Community.

We are not wrong for feeling the anger and despair we experience. We don’t deserve to be treated less-than the majority. And most importantly, God does not agree with these actions and communal lifestyles, and he stands in support of the marginalized.

So as times seem to get darker with no sight of improvement in future, remember we’ve been here before. The things that were intended for our death as a people, failed. It doesn’t take away from the sting of life, but we know how to survive this. It is in our blood, our ancestry, and as long as we stay together as a community and fight injustice together, “We Gon Be Alright.”

To the innocent incarcerated brother, “We Gon be Alright,” to the sistas stepping up on the front lines to be the movement fighting for change and the vessel of healing within our communities, “We Gon be Alright,” To my LGBTQ brothers and sisters continuously fighting to be accepted and respected for who they are, not who they are expected to be, “We Gon Be Alright,” To the allies willing to fight against the evils of the privileged and stand with the marginalized, “We Gon be Alright,” To the black and brown bodies walking in fear of being the next hashtag while still fighting to survive in this world, “We Gon be Alright.”


We may have to live through the destruction of this world, but we are not damned to be succumbed by it. God has got us! Do you hear me? Can you feel me? We Gon Be Alright!

7/06/2016

Realizations in a Time of Suffering, Injustice & Revolution

As I prepare for bed, these were the final thoughts that ran through my head about our current times.

We all have a role to play, and it's not to tear down anyone taking a stand in their call and fighting for the cause. No a change and revolution isn't going to happen with marching alone or prayer alone. It requires a cohesive unit individually functioning in their call and collectively working with intention towards the cause of equity, justice, and human rights.

I know my role I'm a healer. That's why I do everything in my strength to create spaces for people to grieve, work through trauma, and heal. There is not a bone in my body not capable of doing so. I dare not slander any other role, because God knows I don't have the strength and power to carry those things out, but my sisters and brothers that do... I commend you!

The fighter is there to be the strength and resistance when most can't, the activist is there to be the voice when we feel too stifled, the teacher is there to educate and pass on the legacy and charge of this never ending work, the writer is there to document truth and history so we never forget! There are so many more roles that I couldn't cover if I wanted to.


What's not going to work is criticism of any of these callings because they all matter and they all have impact. I encourage everyone to find your place and step BOLDLY in it. Find what makes you feel alive, comes naturally and is a part of who you are. Step into that greatness and donate it to the cause. We need every willing spirit to step up to plate. Find your place and ground yourself firmly in it! Take your place and stop allowing others to dictate your footsteps that they'll never walk! Lead from your place so that others see it's possible! And make sure you give back so that the cycle NEVER ends.

It's time to take our rightful places in this world and fight the hell we are faced with daily, but we have to respect each other and allow each person to bring their gifts to the table.

Don't place a basket over your flame. Burn and let no man put you out. The time is now...


1 Corinthians 12The Message (MSG)

Spiritual Gifts
12 1-3 What I want to talk about now is the various ways God’s Spirit gets worked into our lives. This is complex and often misunderstood, but I want you to be informed and knowledgeable. Remember how you were when you didn’t know God, led from one phony god to another, never knowing what you were doing, just doing it because everybody else did it? It’s different in this life. God wants us to use our intelligence, to seek to understand as well as we can. For instance, by using your heads, you know perfectly well that the Spirit of God would never prompt anyone to say “Jesus be damned!” Nor would anyone be inclined to say “Jesus is Master!” without the insight of the Holy Spirit.

4-11 God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful:

wise counsel
clear understanding
simple trust
healing the sick
miraculous acts
proclamation
distinguishing between spirits
tongues
interpretation of tongues.
All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when.

12-13 You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It’s exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptized.) Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive.

14-18 I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.

19-24 But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you”? Or, Head telling Foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out”? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the “lower” the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. When it’s a part of your own body you are concerned with, it makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. You give it dignity and honor just as it is, without comparisons. If anything, you have more concern for the lower parts than the higher. If you had to choose, wouldn’t you prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair?

25-26 The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.

27-31 You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything. You’re familiar with some of the parts that God has formed in his church, which is his “body”:

apostles
prophets
teachers
miracle workers
healers
helpers
organizers
those who pray in tongues.
But it’s obvious by now, isn’t it, that Christ’s church is a complete Body and not a gigantic, unidimensional Part? It’s not all Apostle, not all Prophet, not all Miracle Worker, not all Healer, not all Prayer in Tongues, not all Interpreter of Tongues. And yet some of you keep competing for so-called “important” parts.

But now I want to lay out a far better way for you.


5/04/2015

Life in Love Means No More FEAR


1 John 4:17-19 The Message (MSG)

To Love, to Be Loved
17-18 God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.

19 We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

It was so ironic that today I didn't wear my No More Fear bracelet and my coworker reminded me of living without fear.

Fear is the underdog and the elephant in the room at the same time. Everyone thinks little of it, yet knows it has a large presence. It's the forbidden emotion to feel, but has the greatest impact if gone ignored. Most importantly  where fear exists, love does not.

Love is very important to me. I want to experience it in every facet of life. However, from time to time I indulge in fear. I knew fear could paralyze you, but it wasn't until reading this scripture that I realized I wasn't living a life of love if I included fear.

Fear will make you Judge/Doubt instead of Trust
Fear causes bitterness in the face of new opportunity
Fear causes blindness in reality
Fear causes Hate/Death instead of Love/Life

Today I realized that we are being called higher to really fall in love with life. It's time to stop fearing the very intention of the life we are to live. I'm so consumed with not knowing the next step that I can't hear or see the love in my life right in front of me.

How can God give me the desires of my heart, a life I can truly love, if I can't stop covering my eyes out of fear to see it?

There is more to life than progress, there is Love. If you become too obsessed with progress you will miss out on all the love right in front of you. In love all is ok, all is right. No more fear...

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched; they must be felt with the heart. - Helen Keller

3/26/2015

It'sTime to Grow Up - Let's Get Real About Purpose

I know before I have said Romans is my favorite book in the bible, but now I think my 2nd favorite book has got to be Ephesians. In my last post my meditation came from Ephesians, and it has continued to be my meditation. If you are going through any kind of transition in your life, Ephesians is a great book to read.

So on that note, as I meditated today on needing guidance in this period of transition, I read Ephesians 4. As I read the chapter I realized that we have to grow up at some point.

We are all working towards a greater cause, and if we are serious about walking our journeys we have to decide if we are going to leave old mindsets and behaviors behind in order to continue the journey. For me, God spoke clearly about trials and fear. I can't run away every time it gets hard or seems really new and scary. I have to choose whether I am going to work past my fears or allow them to end my story early.

You may need to decide the same. How often do you turn around because the road becomes too unfamiliar? You can't run from who you are and who you are destined to be. Right now God is calling us to grow up and get serious about the calling on our lives.

We have different journeys but it is our responsibility to make sure we are all walking them. It's time to be more mindful of your words and actions towards others. It's gets hard sometimes and what you say or do should not make your journey or the next journey harder.

This life is bigger than us and it's a privilege to live it! So now I'll leave you with the scripture. It's time to grow up folks!!!

(Ephesians 4:1-32 MSG)

In light of all this, here’s what I want you to do. While I’m locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.

You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.

But that doesn’t mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift. The text for this is, He climbed the high mountain, He captured the enemy and seized the booty, He handed it all out in gifts to the people. Is it not true that the One who climbed up also climbed down, down to the valley of earth? And the One who climbed down is the One who climbed back up, up to highest heaven. He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven with his gifts, filled earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ’s followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church, until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.

No prolonged infancies among us, please. We’ll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.

And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can’t think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion.

But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.

What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself. Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.

Did you use to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can’t work. Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. 

3/20/2015

God is Building a Home, and You Belong Here

Today I finally sat down to journal for a bit and through my writing I discovered I was becoming unsure if I was achieving my purpose right now. I was beginning to think that I would return home to the U.S. in three months and still not have my life figured out. So after expressing myself, I did what I know to do when I need to listen...I went to go read some scripture.

I came across a chapter in Ephesians that reminded me of something important; It wasn't long ago that we all started our respective journeys, and because of this God is still preparing us. He is still building our home and even in the midst of construction, we still belong here. So even though I feel like I am floating from place to place figuring things out, I belong right where I am because it's by God's doing that I am here. 

So I've decided to share this scripture with anyone else who may need to read this post today! Hang in there!

Ephesians 2 The Message (MSG)

He Tore Down the Wall

1-6 It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.
7-10 Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.
11-13 But don’t take any of this for granted. It was only yesterday that you outsiders to God’s ways had no idea of any of this, didn’t know the first thing about the way God works, hadn’t the faintest idea of Christ. You knew nothing of that rich history of God’s covenants and promises in Israel, hadn’t a clue about what God was doing in the world at large. Now because of Christ—dying that death, shedding that blood—you who were once out of it altogether are in on everything.
14-15 The Messiah has made things up between us so that we’re now together on this, both non-Jewish outsiders and Jewish insiders. He tore down the wall we used to keep each other at a distance. He repealed the law code that had become so clogged with fine print and footnotes that it hindered more than it helped. Then he started over. Instead of continuing with two groups of people separated by centuries of animosity and suspicion, he created a new kind of human being, a fresh start for everybody.
16-18 Christ brought us together through his death on the cross. The Cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility. Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father.
19-22 That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.

3/17/2015

The Spirit Series Finale - Part 5: Protecting the Spirit

Hello everyone! As usual I apologize for the extremely long delay. A lot has changed in my life and in a very short period of time, but you can learn about these changes on my new blog: My Living Abroad Journeys.

However, in the mean time I would like to bring closure to our Spirit Series which was a very important topic. If you are just starting or catching up you can find the previous posts here:

  1. Part 1- What is God's Spirit
  2. Part 2- Taking Care of the Spirit
  3. Part 3- Communication in the Spirit
  4. Part 4 - Love in the Spirit

We have explored what the Spirit is, how to take care of it, communicate through it, and love through it. Now the most important thing to do next is protect it.

So why is protecting the spirit so important? Well if you don't protect it, you will leave it vulnerable to any and all attacks! The bible speaks of the Fruits of the Spirit. These are things that the Spirit produces when it is protected and constantly engaged. 


Galatians 5:22-23 New Living Translation (NLT)



22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Remember how we talked about how the Spirit can feel lost, confused, broken, or even dead in Part 2? Well, it is because you are producing "dead" fruit. When you choose to engage in that pointless argument, seek revenge, proceed to cuss someone out, or allow your emotions to get the best of you, you are producing dead fruit.

Of course there are more actions that can be added to the list, but the focus should be that you are allowing things that are not good to penetrate your heart, mind, and Spirit. Eventually that means that your actions and way of life will also be corrupted.

This is not healthy and it isn't they way God intended us to experience life. The hard part is that we know we will encounter things daily that will threaten our spirits. So in order to keep our spirits from dying, we must protect it. How? Well let's look at some more scripture!

Philippians 4:8 New Living Translation (NLT)

8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Now this is easier said than done right? I mean it is clearly hard to think on something lovely when someone has taken your parking space, stolen your credit card information, stomped on your last nerve, or just made things entirely too hard. However, isn't it better when we don't engage in these negative behaviors? 

That person you just told off is now plotting revenge worst that you ever anticipated. Or the outcome may not have played out the way you wanted it. Now you have wasted time, energy, and self-control on things that produced nothing good to your life and the lives of others.

The reality is that yes, sometimes we will make bad choices and still fall short, but I love that this scripture proposes a goal. It says "Fix your thoughts on...," which means Aim to think about these things. That means you should practice getting in the habit of thinking and acting on truth, not lies/opinions/perceptions. It means aim to act in an honorable or respectful way. Act and think out of love. All the positive things you admire should be the things you think and focus on when life threatens your Spirit with negativity. 

It is your choice to and ability to do this, and that is not only worthy of praise, but also protects your spirit! If you are protecting your spirit, ultimately you are choosing to live in the Spirit, which is what we were destined for.

Understanding the physical is great, but we are not limited to it. When we choose to engage our Spirits in our everyday living we begin to see differently, think differently, and love differently! New possibilities expand and we are constantly learning and growing. We learn more about ourselves, other people, our purpose, dreams, abilities, and most importantly God!

So my hope is that through this series you have started the journey to learning about the Spirit of God in you! The life that you imagined and dreamed of is right over the hill but you have to seek it out. Engage with your Spirit, take care of it, communicate through it, love it and everything around you, and always protect it! I love you and I hope this series has been a blessing because it truly did bless me. As always I love you and stay tuned for more from my new blog, and new blog posts here too!


Simply Me

Simply Me