Chosen Generation
 
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We live in a fast paced world. Always moving. Always progressing at a rapid pace. We have fast food restaurants so we don’t have to cook. DVR so we can fast forward through commercials and see our favorite shows.  E-Mail so we don’t have to wait on the postal service to deliver our pertinent messages. We have quick fixes and solutions for just about everything.  Progression is good but this fast paced environment has eliminated a fundamental part of life, especially spiritual life and that is (cue the horns): WAITING.  Who does that anymore? Nobody wants to wait for anything.  But if there is one thing that Christ is clear about it is waiting. In bible story after story God demonstrates through His children  the process of waiting.  The word says “ Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6). There are so many lessons that can be gleaned in the waiting periods of our lives if we’d just sit still and hear God in the middle.  Here are a few lessons learned from waiting:

1)      Waiting teaches you who you are – it is said that the fabric of a person is not seen in the good times but in those times that are difficult. Waiting is a difficult time for many but it teaches you things about who you really are that you can’t discover at a speedy pace. For example, a car driving on the highway may appear void of denting and scratching because the fast pace doesn’t allow you to see its flaws.  But, if you see that same car at a red light, the damage is more apparent.  Waiting works the same way, it allows you to slow down so you stop covering up your dents but allow you to see yourself as you really are. And as you discover your flaws waiting is a good time to work on the healing process.  (James 1:2-4)

2)      Waiting gives you rest – waiting forces you to sit down and rest.  When you realize that God really in fact is in control, true rest can be your experience if you choose. Waiting causes your soul to be still. When you live life in fast forward, you never really allow yourself to sit back and rest on God’s promise.  But waiting allows you to rest on God’s promises. (Matthew 11:29)

3)      Waiting gives you peace – peace is similar to rest but yet different.  Often times we look for our solution to bring us peace when God is saying the peace is in the waiting.  We think that once the promise is fulfilled then all of a sudden our life will be at peace.  But, God promised to give us peace that would pass our carnal understanding. I can guarantee you that peace is not something you have to wait for.  (Philippians 4:7)

4)      Waiting produces – a flower does not begin to produce when the petals bloom at the peak of spring.  But in fact, the seed begins to take root and grow from the time it is planted. In the same vain waiting also produces long before the evidence is clear. Waiting produces many things but I will focus on two which include: spiritual muscle and fruit.  First, waiting exercises your spiritual muscle called faith.  Faith is strengthened as you believe God to fulfill His promises to you.  (Hebrews 11:1) Second, waiting strengthens and produces many fruits. (Galatians 5:22) says “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, good, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”

Don’t allow the world or the enemy to convince you that waiting is a negative thing.   It will only be negative if you spend your time dwelling more on the wait and less on the lessons that the wait is trying to teach you.  We are all going to be students of Waiting University whether we like it or not. But you do have a choice whether you will graduate with honors or barely pass.

 
 
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The Mark. In this Christian journey, we are all trying (or at least we should be) to reach the goal, the mark, the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus.  Serving the Lord is certainly no easy feat.  Especially when we live in a  world where gratifying the flesh is the “IN” thing.  It often seems like very few people around us are trying to reach this goal that Paul talks about in Philippians 3:14. But, those of us who want to grow closer to Christ know that the journey towards the mark is an essential part of the walk.  Which brings me to the reason I am writing this blog.  This week commemorates Jesus’ journey to the  cross, to His purpose, His mission for coming to the earth to die for our sins.  As Jesus had great purpose for living so do you and I.  

In this journey of life we must understand that the work never ends.  As long as we are in human flesh, we will be works in progress trying to reach that mark I discussed previously. Luke 22:39-44 shows us even Jesus had to press toward the mark as He faced the reality of His demise. The scripture tells us “39Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground (TNIV).” Jesus knew that His high calling was death, burial and resurrection. He knew that He had to die so that we would have access to the kingdom of God. Yet, when facing death (His purpose) His fear is revealed to us.

Isn’t it amazing how we can know our purpose and mission yet still struggle. There are times when we feel like we have it all together.  Like we have this walk down “to a tee.” But, as we pursue our purpose struggle will reveal to us the many scars that are still left behind. You see Jesus’ journey would not have been complete without His struggle in the Garden of Gethsemane. Our journey will not be complete without the struggles that God places in our lives to show us the scars that we still have.  Struggle reveals that we are still works in progress.  What He reveals to you will be to your benefit and not your demise.  Allow God to mold you into the person He designed you to be, you will be surprised at the person you become.  So, let Him peel back your layers, struggle by struggle, line upon line, precept upon precept.  The amazing and awesome news is that “…he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).” 

 
 
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There is absolutely nothing ordinary about the way that Jesus loves us.  At least not in the way we are used to love. You see the love that Christ has for us ain’t your ordinary love.  We are used to love that is conditional, love that is temporary.  Even when we really love someone, it can’t compare to the amazing unconditional love of Jesus Christ.   We are used to love stories that show the beautiful side of human relationships. Which is good, but having that type of love leaves you unprepared for the rough side of love.  The love that sees who you really are and still chooses to love you.  John 15:13 puts it like this “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus’ type of love was willing to die just to prove how much He loved us.  He knew who we were, He knew that people would reject Him, He knew that some would never receive Him,  but He chose to love us anyway. That’s some deep love.

Humans are frustrating, fallible, flesh.  That simply means we don’t always have it all together.  But, the agape love sees through the cracks of who we are to the core of our souls.  There is never a time that you should feel unloved.  People fail, but Jesus’ love never fails. He loves you just because, no strings attached.  I can dig that type of love, we’re so used to being loved  or loving based on conditions. But just imagine, there is someone who loves you just because.  Take time to embrace this fact.  If you can ever grasp and comprehend Christ's love for you, it will change your life.  So, rest in the fact that someone loves you unconditionally, for eternity, just because.

I know your used to the Fairy tale kinda love
The date night, holding hands, Love story type
The butterflies in your stomach and stars in your eyes
That “love struck”, new beginning “I can’t wait to see them” type high

The talking on the phone til you falling asleep
Writing love letters, composing poems tryna be deep
The “I love you” today don’t know you tomorrow
That sometimey kind that you can’t keep but  you can borrow

Allow me to introduce you to this eternal love
The loved you before you were created
The died on the cross for you He was hated
But He chose you each and every time
Put himself and his life on the line

That’s a love that I know is hard to comprehend
But He loves you just because and calls you friend
Don’t miss the opportunity to accept His love
His love is with you always, always above

 
 
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Everyone has had one of those days when your faith is challenged.  Even when your foundation is strongly built on hope in Christ Jesus, there are moments when our flesh weakens and we just don’t want to have faith.  Some believers are not willing to admit that they have moments like these, but I will speak for myself when I say that every once in a while I have one of those days.  One of those days when you’ve waited so long for God to answer your prayers that it seems like it will never come to pass. One of those days when your problems seem so massive that you forget that you have hope in Jesus. Just one of those days.  Jesus proclaims in Luke 22:31-32(NLT) “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat, but I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail.” Jesus understood our humanity, and He knew that from time to time our faith would be weak. But, the most important thing to understand is that you should not stay in that moment.  My pastor often says that there are bad moments in good days. I will further say there may be moments when faith is lacking inside of our extreme faith in God.  It happens.

So, what do you do when your faith takes a potty break? You go looking for it, only to find that it has taken “a pause for the cause.”I had one of these moments last week (Valentine’s Day to be real transparent and exact) but in that moment where my faith began to wane, I heard within my spirit “And we know.” Romans 8:28 says “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.” You see, although there are moments when your faith is challenged you have to get an “and we know” deep within your soul.  Knowledge is fact, faith is evidence of that fact.  I am reminded of Noah, who God told in the Old Testament, to build an ark for he and his family to prepare for floods of rain that God was to send to destroy the earth. Noah had not seen rain “but he knew” what God had spoken unto him.  I am sure that his friends doubted him, and his neighbors probably laughed in his face because nothing that God told him to do made sense.   And he waited through many years of preparation before the manifestation of the promise would come. I am sure that Noah had a moment while building this huge ark where he said “Now I’m building this ark for a flood and I’ve never even seen rain” but the fact that he kept building says that “he knew” that God was faithful to His promises.

When your faith wants to fail, it is essential that you know that God has a purpose and a plan that is much greater than you.  It’s not easy when the doctors give you a bad report, but you have to know that it’s all a part of the plan.  Sometimes you ask God why your life had to unfold in the way that it did, just know that all things are working.  The good, and most importantly the bad.  God is up to something.  So, when the enemy comes with seeds of doubt to challenge your faith, tell him “I know” that everything is working for my good.  Cause even if God doesn’t do it in the way we want Him to, we know that His way is always better.  Then you can go from a potty break to a praise break, cause you know, everything is gonna be alright.

 
 
So, in American culture there has been a long time fascination with celebrity look-a-likes.  Some people have actually made a living impersonating well known actors, singers, and other performers.  Many everyday people look up to famous celebrities as heroes and often idolize everything that they do. It makes sense; familiar faces always pique our interests especially when we feel like we know them on a personal level. 

Imagine if you had an impersonator to present to the world your truth, what would your look-a-like reflect about you?  Are you too busy trying to blend in with those around you that you end up reflecting more of the world than of the Father?  Definitely something everyone should take time to think about. The word of God tells us in Genesis 1:26 God spoke: "Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature (Msg).  We should strive daily to look more like Christ.  When the world looks at God’s children, they shouldn’t see a reflection of themselves, they should see something different; a reflection of Christ.


Think about all the time you put into polishing your outer man.  We put on make-up, fancy clothes, and various accessories simply to present to the world our best outer selves.  But, at the end of the day, who are you really striving to look like? Are your friends higher on the list than striving to look like Christ?  Are you so fascinated by the glitz and glam of the world that your mirror reflects more secular culture than spirituality?  Know that you are made in the image of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He created you to show the world Himself on earth.  As you get dressed in the morning, think about who you are striving to look like.  If it’s not Christ, you may need to reevaluate that which you honor in your life. 


You are made to be a reflection of Christ so that you can say confidently, “I look like Christ.”  Stay focused on the goal and keep striving.  

I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back
. (Philippians 3:12-14, Msg).


 
 
Are you willing to sacrifice your desires in order to bring glory to God? This is the question that all believers must face at some point in our walk with the Lord.  On one hand, our flesh desires to see things come to pass in the way and time frame that we have chosen for ourselves.  On the other hand, our spiritual person desires to see the will of God manifested in our lives however He sees fit to perform it.  So the battle begins between the flesh vs. the sprit, His will vs. our will, and oftentimes our humanity takes over and we submit to having things our way.   Unfortunately, when we do things our own way, God can no longer get the glory out of the situation. 

The bottom line is that victories that are orchestrated by us remove the possibility of God getting the glory out the situation.  To truly give yourself away to the Lord, and surrender your all to Him means that you trust that He knows the best way.  We make ourselves miserable trying to figure things out in our own way.  But, it’s not about us, it’s all about Him.  Just think about it, humans were created by God as one of the ways to reflect Himself on earth.  We can only bring Him glory by allowing Him to manifest through our lives fully.  Haven’t you messed up enough situations trying to handle them on your own, I know I have. 

Phillippians 3:8 states: Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I've dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn't want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God's righteousness (message bible).

What is most important to you in life? It might be time to reassess the things that you place a value on.  As the sayings go “come correct or not at all,” “Go hard or go home.” If you choose to serve Christ, trust Him to handle it all.  Don’t just give God a portion of you, give Him your all; that is what will bring glory to Him.  So I ask are you willing? Are you willing to count it all as dung so that the the kingdom of God may be advanced and so He can get the glory? Are you willing to be a vessel? Are you willing to allow God to orchestrate the story all to bring Him glory?

 
 
At some point in life everyone has believed a lie. Whether it was a lie from your family, a lie from classmates, a lie from a significant other, or a lie from a friend, we have all believed a lie. We believed people when they said we were worthless, not good enough, ugly, too this, too that, unlovable, crazy, stupid, and slow.  Whatever it was we believed, did we ever stop and take the time to consider what God said about us? Probably not. To be truthful, I used to believe everything anyone said about me, specifically the hurtful damaging lies that played like a bad record in my impressionable mind. After all we are human, and people's words and actions can have an affect on us whether toward the good or the bad. Unfortunately, we tend to remember the bad most of the time. But, I would venture to say that the very thing that the enemy says you are not is the very thing that God says you are.

Satan is referred to in the Word of God as the “father of lies (John 8:44).” His sole purpose is to make you believe the hype. He uses people on the earth to accomplish the task of making you feel as though you are not good enough and that you can’t make it through the situations in your life. Webster dictionary defines a lie as “a falsehood uttered or acted for the purpose of deception; an intentional violation of truth; an untruth spoken with the intention to deceive.” The enemy uses lies to defeat you so that you are not able to accomplish that which you were created to do. As well, he uses lies to usurp your peace, your joy, and your faith in the Almighty God. 


But, I say to you this day DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE! Never concentrate on what the enemy says you are not.  The word says in 3 John 1:2 “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” You must come to a place where you believe the very thing that God says you are. God says that you are beautiful, kind, special, chosen, set apart, loved. Believe Him! His greatest desire for His people is that we realize how special we are to Him, how much thought He put into our creation (Psalm 139; Jeremiah 1:5). The only way to refute a lie is with the Truth. What truth is God trying to get you to realize? Believe the words that He says.
 
 
Have you ever really stopped to think about the amazing work that Christ did on the cross? Or tried to place yourself in His shoes and imagine how you would have felt, what you would have done? In our human mind, it is hard for us to grasp the awesomeness of what Christ did for us. It is even harder for us to understand that His death, burial, and resurrection covered the multitude of our sins. Not many people would have been willing to sacrifice their lives for sinners, misfits, and seemingly undeserving people. But, HE did. He knew that humanity would need the ultimate sacrifice of a savior.

Yesterday, I came face to face with the ultimate love of Jesus Christ. I was given the choice to reject a child of God or expose to him the unchanging love of Jesus Christ. Simply attending a birthday party for my godson, I never realized the fulfillment that could come at the party’s close. As we were wrapping up the party, an older gentleman approached the picnic area obviously under the influence of some substance, most likely drugs. After a brief conversation with the gentleman and his attempt at a Michael Jackson dance routine, I felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to witness to this man. I asked him if he knew that Jesus loved him, and if he had ever accepted Jesus as his Savior.  I began to sing Jesus loves me this I know…and he became so calm.  As I was singing, some of the other men attending the party surrounded him and began to pray.  I will never forget the look on this man’s face, as if he understood that Jesus really did love him and could set him free. I immediately remembered the scripture Matthew 25:40 that states “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”


It is crucial in this time that believers of Jesus Christ begin to continuously share His love with the least of these. There are so many people struggling and in search of something greater. I remember how I felt when I realized all that Christ had done to cover my sins, and how much He truly loves me. So as the song says “this little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” Someone needs to know today that Jesus loves them, I challenge you as well as myself to no longer be passive about the gospel of Jesus Christ. But, everywhere we go it should be our mission as people of God to tell men what Jesus did to cover their multitude of sins. 


Luke 15:7 “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
 
 
I’m sure everyone has seen the show Extreme Makeover where contestants deemed “ugly ducklings” are given a once in a lifetime chance to transform their appearance through a series of plastic surgeries and beauty treatments. By the shows end the contestants often appear as totally different people, more beautiful to themselves that they have ever been. I could imagine it could be overwhelming for a person who has always felt physically unattractive to finally be able to look in the mirror and like what they see. Yet, I question whether an outward transformation of physical beauty can truly change a person on the inside. In the culture that we live in, superficial beauty and outward gratification is most often seen as a path toward inward happiness. But, I would venture to say that the previous statement is the farthest from the truth. I’m sure many of the contestants on Extreme Makeover found after returning home that their new outward beauty could not solve the inward issues they may have been facing prior to getting the makeover. 

So, how do we reach toward transformation from the inside out? It is battle that many of us face on a daily basis. How do we get to the place where our changes are no longer superficial but true and consistent? We are all shaped by the things that have transpired in our lives. We are products of the environment from which we come. It is an easy thing to put on makeup or grow a beard to make us feel more beautiful or transform our outside, but to make the inside beautiful is another thing. What a journey this can be for someone who desires true transformation. I have personally been on the alter so many times, only to realize that after I got back home the change didn’t look so easy anymore. My problems felt like mountains again and God felt so far away. But I have learned several things along the way:

1)      You must know who you are as a person and know where you truly stand. You have to face yourself everyday, so it is imperative that you are honest with yourself and God as to where you truly stand. (For me, I am honestly still trying figure out who I am) You can’t change from the inside until you know this. Proverbs 23:7 states “for as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Be honest with God he can help you change. 

2)      You must know who God says that you are and how He feels about you. God has so many wonderful thoughts about us. Jeremiah 29:11 says “for I know that thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not evil, to give you an expected end.” Knowing what God says about you will carry you in your weakest moments. Read the Word of God. 

3)      You must renew your mind daily.And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God,” Romans 12:2. Past hurts and pain will always try to overwhelm our minds and hinder our transformation. For this reason, we have to continuously acess where we are and make strides to think like God thinks rather than as the world thinks, or even how we feel about ourselves. 

4)     You must realize that changing from the inside is a lifelong journey. ”I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” Philippians 3:14. The journey of changing from the inside out may begin today but it continues for a lifetime. Storms will come, circumstances will change and you will have to begin again sometimes. But, in the end it is worth the journey to become the best You that you can be. 

Let God transform you from the Inside Out!


 
 
 
A month into the new year and old habits still die hard. Every year we come up with new resolutions to reach toward goals that were not attained in the old one. But, typically our resolutions tend to be more toward the side of vanity or personal success i.e. losing weight, getting a new job, trying more adventurous things. Yet, we forget about character changes. What if our resolution list went something like this:

Have a more positive attitude
Treat others with more kindness
Deal with emotional wounds

There is a strong possibility that all of the other resolutions lead right back to dealing with those things on the inside of us that go unnoticed year after year. Could it be that we fail to achieve certain goals because of our attitude toward life. This has been my struggle for some years now. Having a positive outlook on life is a hard thing, especially when there are negative things going on in your life. But, a positive attitude is a must.  It can transform your whole outlook on life. I received an e-mail with a story about two men who were sharing a hospital room together. One of the men had to lie down all day every day. The other patient was able to sit up and look out of the window for an hour each day. The man by the window would tell his roommate about all the beautiful things he saw outside the window each day, the beautiful flowers, marching bands, and couples walking hand in hand. The man confined to laying on his back loved to hear about all these things. One day the man by the window died. The roommate eagerly asked to move by the window so that he could view all the beautiful things his old friend once talked about. However, he looked out the window to find a cement wall. He later found out that his friend had been blind.  His positive outlook on life changed the way he responded to his life predicament and thus he was able to spread positivity to others.  My new year’s revolution this year is to have a more positive outlook on life, it makes a world of difference. 

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4: 7-9