I have the blessing of being part of two worlds that although to the naked eye are very distant from each other, they are quite similar. I have a job, a normal 9-5 and I also have a ministry life which is what I call my full time job.
Before I started in ministry, I longed for the days were I would have the opportunity to dedicate more time to the work for the kingdom. I still have desire to give even more than what I’m already giving. To be quite honest, it was not what I expected.
At work, I had the challenges anyone has: having to submit to authority, following rules and policies, taking care of those around you, develop relationships, following the chain of command, knowing that with higher titles came more responsibility. Also the understanding that all those underneath you wouldn’t understand your decisions because they didn’t have all the information or the bigger picture while on the other hand I disagreed with the decisions made above me. Wait, was that work or church? Exactly!
I used to complain a lot every time there was a challenge at work. A dear friend of mine told me every time, “God is using these experiences to create skills in you for your life in ministry” I thought she was totally crazy. In my mind, church is the place where I learn to deal with the world. I was wrong and she was right.
See, this is why as Christians we get criticized all the time. Christianity is viewed with rose colored glasses and the expectations of those who claim to be following Jesus are quite high even amongst ourselves. We get called hypocrites all the time, which may not be far from the truth. Why? Because we put a mask on our faces trying to live up to those expectations instead of the actual life that God intended for us. We even hold each other to those higher expectations, that God didn’t place on us. God knows that we’re not perfect, who are we trying to fool?
As I became part of ministry and started growing in responsibilities, I realized my friend had been right all along. The way I managed up or down in my corporate life were the same skills I had to use at the church. Why the surprise? We need to realize that WE are the people in the church. Yes, the teacher at your child’s school, your doctor, your boss, your neighbor, the gal who served your fries on a drive thru, the one who lost the patience with you on a customer service call and of course, there’s you and me. Why would I or anyone expect a different behavior? Aren’t we all a work in progress?
Christians are people who recognize that there’s a higher power that knows better than them. People who realize that following Jesus their lives can change and they can find a love never experienced before. We are made perfect through The Word of God, not ourselves, so less be honest about where we are in our journey. That’s the way our testimony will give Glory to God.
When two people are in love and they feel that they are “perfect for each other” they get married (for the most part) They may be perfect for each other, but even those who have been married to the love of their lives will tell you that it wasn’t always easy. There were disagreements, tears, challenges and a lot of work to do.
In our relationship with Christ, the same happens. We come with preconceived notions of how life should be lived according to those around us. As we grow in our personal relationship with Christ, we realize that some of the things we thought were right, may be wrong. We also learn that the way we are used to manage things is different, so the battle between flesh and spirit starts bringing those tears, disagreements, challenges, changes, disappointments and letting us know that there’s a lot of work to do in us.
The more transparent we are, the better the process goes.
We are not perfect people; neither are our leaders. As Christians we’re all pursuing to do God’s will, but sometimes we miss the mark. Let’s take off the mask of perfection, let’s be transparent. Let’s show this world why life in Christ is worth living. It is because in spite of our imperfections we found perfect love, because we found hope in a hopeless world and joy within our tears.
2015 has been quite a different year. Different is usually associated with a negative connotation, but different is not always bad. God has taken me into a journey that I never imagined.
In 2009, when I started this blog and had just finished the first draft of my first novel (The Road Home) I thought I had finally found my purpose. I’m not implying that I will no longer write, I actually miss it a lot. But I’ve been placed on hold to pursue other things for the Kingdom of God.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord in Isaiah 55:8 I have to admit that I still can’t get that through my head. After a life of fighting for everything, I stop the fight and have left the Lord be the pilot of this life that belongs to him anyway. My small mind thinks that with every step that’s as far as I’m going to go, yet the Lord surprises me again.
When I started writing, I never thought I would get a book to see the light of day. Now I have 4 books published: The Road Home, Growth Lessons, Season’s Greetings from Amelia and A Brothers Vow. I also have 2 other novels waiting to be edit for release: Saving Paola and Breaking Free.
In 2010 I started attending a ministry program called Celebrate Recovery to deal with the domestic violence in my marriage and eventual divorce. Today I’m the Ministry Leader of the only Spanish Celebrate Recovery in GA and a State Representative for Celebrate Recovery in GA. These are not my accomplishments, but places where God has brought me to that I never imagined. The State Rep happened this summer.
It’s been kind of a quiet year. I’ve been a little reclusive doing a lot of introspection. It has been a year to connect with God at a different level. It’s been a year of growth.
I also moved to a new apartment in the summer. A smaller but way better apartment. My dog is happy as the complex has 2 dog parks, and she gets to drag me there to play.
For the first time in my life I have a television over 24 inches, not an accomplishment but something that happened. It looks really good and weird to see the clarity of some shows like if you were sitting right next to the characters or walking with them through hallways and streets.
It’s been a peaceful year. I’m really enjoying being quiet for long periods of time. I’m enjoying silence, which is a different pace for me. I don’t want to get too comfortable ad stop chasing dreams, but for now being able to breath is a good place to be.
Happy New Year 2016!
A passage of scripture stood out to me recently. 11Corinthians 4:18. “So we fix out eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” It made me think.
In the passage, Paul is talking about our future hope when we die. In this life, we are wasting away, our bodies are getting old and feeble, but these troubles are light and momentary. Someday we’ll experience an eternal glory that is so much better that we can’t even imagine it. He encourages us to think about the Eternal when we will see the Lord face to face, even as He now sees and knows us.
So what do I normally “fix my eyes on?” The TV screen, the computer, my kindle, my clothes closet, the refrigerator and kitchen cabinets—just to name a few things. But as the apostle says, I will experience these things for a short time. More importantly, we should focus on the next life. That’s Heaven for the Christian.
So here’s a short list of the “temporary” things we witness daily.
1.All the items I mentioned above, 2.house and place of work, 3.pets, 4.our car, 5.i-phones, 6.friends, 7.bar-b-que grill, 8.cosmetic products, 9.movies, 10.books.
Sure this stuff concerns us and occupies our minds, but how often do we center on the “eternal?”
- God’s word, 2.our lives in Heaven, 3.the Lord, 4. Jesus’ sacrifice for us, 5. speaking to God in prayer, 6.Praising God, 7.Singing to the Lord, 8.Spiritual gifts, 9. the Holy Spirit, 10.Sin.
We live in this world and must focus on daily chores and responsibilities. But maybe we should set aside more time to “fix our eyes” on what is unseen. You can’t go wrong, and I believe it would lift our perspective on this life and the next.
The last 48 hours have been quite funny and sad at the same time. For the last 6 years I had stopped celebrating Christmas. I got divorced 6 years ago. I live alone with my dog and felt that there was no reason for me to put decorations or cook a big meal because I didn’t have anyone to share it with. Yes, I’ve gotten invitations from family and church family members, but it didn’t feel the same.
This year I got really down during Thanksgiving for the same reason. One of my brother’s in Christ saw me the Monday after and I told him how I was feeling. He told me to decorate my place and invite him and his wife over for dinner. Although I appreciate their gesture; something didn’t set well with me.
The next Sunday, visiting a friend’s church, they were talking about the meaning of Christmas. The pastor was talking about the time when Mary was visited by the angel. We all know the story, the angel told her she was going to fulfill the prophecy, have a virgin birth. She basically said let God’s will be done. Joseph wasn’t happy, but another angel came and told him this is from God and he went OK. He married Mary and off they went to Bethlehem and had the baby.
Was it that easy? I’m not a parent. Your 14 year old comes home and says she’s pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Think about it, I’ll wait. Your virgin fiance tells you that she’s pregnant by the Holy Spirit. I’ll give you a chance to digest that. You are minding your business cleaning the house and an angel shows up and tells you that you are going to be carrying God’s child.
The faith and obedience that Joseph and Mary had to believe God’s plan against what the world was in those times and it’s right now, most of us wouldn’t pass that test.
It got me thinking, what are we really celebrating? Everyone knows that Jesus was not born on December 25th, but that as a society we picked that day to celebrate his birthday. Are we really? Our Christmas celebrations have become about us and not about Jesus, even for those of us who go to church.
I’m sure many will think I’m the Grinch and I’ve come to terms with that. Our traditional Christmas celebration is usually to decorate the house, a tree, and have lots of food. I’ve heard that Christmas is about gathering the family together. I didn’t read that during the story of Christ’s birth, but here we go. And of course we need presents, lots of them, especially for the kids, because we need to make it special for them. So we go to church, and pray before the meal and read under the Christmas tree the story of the birth… Being the good Christians that we are,”right”?
I think we’re wrong.
If we’re going to celebrate the birth of our Lord, shouldn’t we be giving gifts to him? Shouldn’t this be a day of service to others as an offering to him instead of serving ourselves? Naty, what the idea of getting together with the family? You can do that any time of the year. Actually why are you waiting for Christmas to tell anyone you love them? That sweater or new TV is going to be the same sweater or TV March 13th as it is on December 25th. Save that gift for that person’s birthday.
Naty, what about the kids? What about starting to teach our children the true meaning of Christmas so that they don’t stumble through the same paths that we have?
We get hung up on coffee cups (which I know it was a hoax). We say we need to put Christ back in Christmas, when our celebrations don’t put Christ in Christmas.
As I was thinking about this post I realized that the majority of us actually partake in the 7 deadly sins even while celebrating that God sent his only son to save us from hell. Naty you are exaggerating! Am I?
Gluttony- I don’t even have to explain that.
Anger- It’s a joke already about the fights that happen when the family gets together.
Lust-Remember lust is not only about sex, but about things and pleasures that have nothing to do with God.
Envy-Wait, why is their gift better than mine?
Pride- I’m not inviting/calling XYZ, You remember what s/he did to me? Or, I have to make sure my outfit is perfect for the next Christmas party.
Sloth-This one comes right after the gluttony attack.
Greed-It’s the season to “give” but I’m expecting to receive too.
We already received our Christmas present. It is JESUS, is he not enough?
That was my revelation. I realized that when I was married, I still didn’t have a big family. It was usually my husband, my mom and I. But I used to invite anyone who didn’t have a place to celebrate to my house. I was sad out of my selfishness because I had forgotten who my real brothers and sister’s really were. I had bought into the lie of the traditional Christmas. And as I try to get closer to God I’m no longer afraid to be criticized for not following the world but for following Christ.
I think this is the real gift, anyone who says that they love the Lord should give to Jesus on December 25th. Ironically this is in Matthew 25:34-40
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
I challenge you to celebrate the true nature of Christmas. From this year forward, I know I will.
Christian marriages aren’t immune to the world’s problems. It’s through the grace of God and the couple relying on Him that makes it possible to thrive in a marriage. When couples aren’t thriving, they’re only surviving and someone usually is getting hurt in the process.
Amongst the Flames is an inspirational tale of two Biblical born-again Christians who are having difficulties in their marriage. Cole is blindsided that there was even an issue going on in their marriage. He thought everything was fine, while his wife had been struggling for quite some time. How much damage and hurt is too much for a marriage handle? Can Cole and Megan figure it out and mend the brokenness? You’ll have to pick up a free copy of the book to find out.
Christians have an amazingly powerful tool that unbelievers do not, and that’s the relationship they have with the Lord. The Creator of the universe is readily available whenever we are in need. Sometimes we think we just showed up on earth without an instruction manual for life, but that’s not true. We have the Bible. Our Bibles only being opened on Sunday morning won’t ever bring an enriched and vibrant walk with the Lord. It’s only when we truly rely on Him day in and day out that we can have a deep relationship with our Creator. When we have that closeness with the Lord, we are able to see our spouse in a new light and many of the problems we once had fall away.
The Scriptures clearly outline the importance of staying in the Word. Here’s one of the passages that come from Matthew 4:4.
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”
It’s only when we have an authentic and close relationship with Christ will we be able to truly have marriages the way they were designed to be. Our closeness with the Lord cultivates a life in us that is by design. God has wonderful plans for each of us, but he’s a perfect gentleman. He will never force us into His will for our lives. He has to be allowed in to do his work.
Amongst the Flames will be sure to stir a newfound hope and love inside of you that you won’t soon forget. It’s the first book in the Ashes & Embers series and has been a top rated book on Amazon throughout its duration on the charts. Be sure to snag a copy today and take home this free inspirational Christian romance read.
Amongst the Flames – FREE at all major retailers
Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0140IE1J8/
AMONGST THE FLAMES is book one of the Contemporary Christian Romance Series, EMBERS & ASHES. Follow the lives of the men of Fire station #9 as they face the fires on and off the job. Inspirational romance stories full of faith, hope and love that will leave you feeling inspired.
“A burning building doesn’t scare me at all compared to the thought of losing you.”
Firefighter Cole Taylor is the man everyone looks up to at Firehouse 9 in downtown Spokane. He’s been at the department for ten years and has no fear when it comes to dangerous situations.
Megan Taylor, Cole’s wife, is a stay-at-home mother of their two boys. She was everything Cole ever wanted in a woman and the perfect wife any man could ask for until one day when she decides to leave Cole.
Cole has fought hundreds of fires in his lifetime, but he had never tasted fear until he came to fighting a fire in his own home. Amongst The Flames is a Christian firefighter romance that tackles real-life situations and problems that exist in Christian marriages today. It brings with it passion, love and spiritual depth that will leave you feeling inspired.
About T.K. Chapin
T.K. CHAPIN writes Contemporary Christian Romance books designed to inspire and tug on your heart strings. He believes that telling Contemporary Christian Romance stories of faith, love and family help build the faith of Christians and help non-believers see how God can work in the life of believers. He gives all credit for his writing and storytelling ability to God. The majority of the Contemporary Christian Romance novels take place in and around Spokane Washington, his hometown. Chapin makes his home in the beautiful state of Idaho and has the pleasure of raising his step-daughter Emma and two nephews Isaac and Landon with his beautiful wife Crystal. To find out more about T.K. Chapin or his books, visit his website at http://www.tkchapin.com.
I know it’s not Worship Friday, but we shall worship every day. I really like this song. It reminds me of my life before Christ. It reminds me of the times when I was going to church sitting in the last sit by the door so that nobody would see me. I would not talk to anyone; I didn’t want to make any relationships so that nobody knew me and the things that I was ashamed of. It wasn’t until I decided to resubmit my life to Christ that I realize that he had been waiting for me to get out of that corner all along and he didn’t care about those things that I kept holding on to.
Recently this song has been playing a lot on the radio, but now, being on the other side of that fence it has actually made me realize how some of us don’t help that process. Sometimes we act like the older brother from the prodigal son. I’m glad that when I was in the wilderness God sent people who were not judgmental and critical or I would have stayed in that wilderness longer. My shame and my condemnation would have kept me away from seeking the light because I would have thought that God was not going to accept me where I was, because those who “were with the Lord” around me would be telling me how unacceptable I was.
It cause me pause. There’s a saying that we may be the only bible a person will ever read. It causes me to evaluate how my attitudes, behaviors and words could repel or attract someone to Christ. Even with fellow Christians, we forget that not everyone is at the same maturity level. Do I encourage them to grow or do I discourage their faith making them feel that they don’t do enough?
We can sometimes hide behind providing correction to impart judgment. We say with authority that we are called to tell the truth in love. But what is love?
Is this what we practice when we tell the truth? Is what we’re saying our “truth” or God’s truth?
Food for thought
As always I like to make an inventory of how things are going usually around my birthday and the end of the year. God planned those very well because they’re exactly 6 months apart. I know I haven’t been writing as often as I used to. The funny thing is that I think about posts I want to write all the time, but the butt to chair connection hasn’t happened. The year started with great news, I was moving into a new 9-5 that would allow me more breathing time to write and do other things.
At the beginning of that transition I decided to take some time off. My last 9-5 had left my brain cells quite fried and I needed to take time for myself. After resting a little, I decided to catch up with some life things that had been left behind. Do we ever catch up with life? I don’t think so.
I was able to finish the first draft of “Saving Paola” earlier in February, but it’s sitting there waiting for a second review. I’ll get to it…lol. God has been pressing in my heart some things. I had been entrusted with a ministry back in 2013 and just like newborn babies; they require more attention than grown up children. As a new “mom” I was trying to figure out what to do. God never calls the equipped but equips the called and let’s say that boot camp is his form of training. I say this to say that although I was tending to this baby ministry in autopilot for the last year, now that I had the opportunity to give it some time and dedication, it became my priority.
It’s been an exciting process. I’m learning and doing things that I would not have imagined in my wildest dreams. I recently had to move residence, which I’m sure most of you know how pleasant that experience is. I like the new place. It’s a lot smaller but I know that it is exactly what I need. One of my goals is to learn to live a simple life. We have so much junk that we don’t need or use and I don’t think that’s good stewardship.
Right now I’m living out of boxes still trying to decide what to keep and what needs to go. It’s going to be a journey. But I think of you, my readers, a lot. I miss interacting with you and letting you know about all the things that I’m learning about how to live this life that has chosen us with Christ. So forgive my selfishness.
I was reminded yesterday how big writing is a part of my life is and the part that plays in my calling. Ironically, because there are no coincidences in God’s kingdom I ran into someone this morning that had found this page and told me how it had meant something to them. So here I am. No promises on frequency, I have a lot on my plate right now, but with the commitment to not let this much time go by.
Not too long ago, I was sitting by the entrance of one of my favorite restaurants waiting for takeout. I usually dine in and hadn’t paid much attention to my surroundings. The place is clean, good customer service and superb food, nothing to complaint about. This particular day, while having the opportunity to seat there and with nothing more to do than look around (my phone battery was low); I noticed something I had never noticed before. Right behind the bar was an altar to a god. Something inside of me didn’t feel right. Here I was picking up lunch and now I had a dilemma, where am I investing my resources?
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Matthew 6:24
If we look at social media and regular media, the world has decided that our belief system should accompany our support as patrons to different businesses. If you agree with their policies and their beliefs, we support you, if we disagree, we don’t. That’s actually a great concept.
Many remember the issue with Chic-fil-a a few years ago. A sector of the population disagreed with their views and decided to stop eating there. Others who didn’t even eat there, decided to do so out of principle. Walmart has had the same issues, where some people support them and others not due to their practices.
Which way you decide to go is a decision between you and God.
However, my experience at that restaurant has left me thinking, what businesses do I support? And by support I mean where I spend my money? As a believer, I’m responsible for administrating the resources I’m provided, which are not mine, are for kingdom purposes. “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. ” Luke 12:34 I will be held responsible for how I used them. No, I’m not cutting everything out of my life, but I’m more aware of the things I do and allowing the Holy Spirit to let me know, where I need to go to do what?
You may be asking why you chose Starbucks on your title. Do you have something against them? Aside from the overpriced coffee, not really, I actually love their soy chai latte. But for the last few weeks I have not been able to stop looking at their logo and decided to look into what it meant. It did look like a Hindu goddess to me, but in researching, Starbucks says she’s a siren. A seductive siren…
CEO Howard Shultz has explained the following: “The mermaid was exotic. She was also topless. At first, and despite some complaints, Starbucks just rolled with it. As Schultz later explained, “Bare breasted and Rubenesque, [the mermaid] was supposed to be as seductive as the coffee itself.” But then the time came to put the logo on the delivery trucks, and that was problematic. “The logo was huge,” Heckler’s website relates, “—and so were the mermaid’s breasts.”
Are they selling coffee or sex?
In the Starbucks website the same man describes her as follows:
She is a storyteller, carrying the lore of Starbucks ahead, and remembering our past. In a lot of ways, she’s a muse –always there, inspiring us and pushing us ahead.
And she’s a promise too, inviting all of us to find what we’re looking for, even if it’s something we haven’t even imagined yet.
She means something different to everyone who sees her, who knows her. For me she’s kind of the final say on the spirit of everything I write and everything we do. Even as I’m writing this, I wonder what she thinks. (She likes it, by the way.)
Am I launching a campaign against Starbucks? No. I’m just trying to demonstrate a point, which is… There’s a lot that we do in auto pilot without knowing what and who we are really supporting. We should take pause in our lives and see where and how we are investing the resources that were entrusted in us.
Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. Colossians 2:8
Food for thought