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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
WordPress has these daily prompts that help bloggers come up with topics to blog about. Sometimes they fit my audience and I use their prompts, sometimes I don’t. One of the prompts for last week was: “You’ve being exiled to a private island, and your captors will only supply you with five foods. What do you pick?”
To me that’s a one sentence answer: Steak, shrimp, pico de gallo, fried plantains and something to wash it up. But it got me thinking on this verse where Jesus said :”It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ Matthew 4:4
What are the five spiritual foods that we need, not only on a deserted island, but every day of our lives?
- Prayer– In order to fill our lives with the presence of the Lord we need to pray. Think about any relationship in your life. If you don’t talk to that person, you don’t get to know them, you don’t get to spend time with them. Prayer is the way to communicate with God.
Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.Colossians 4:2 Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.
- Read the Word of God– To live under God’s will we need to know exactly how to live this gift of live that we were given. I hear people all the time saying that they don’t know what God wants from them. Here’s the thing, God gave us a manual on how he sees things, expects things. In this book he portraits who he is, how he feels about us and what live he wants for us to live and how to do it. The book is called The Bible.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 – All scripture given by inspiration of God, and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness
Joshua 1:8 – This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success
- Worship– When we worship the Lord we place ourselves in his presence. We were created for worship. I don’t know about you, but nothing fills my heart of joy and peace like entering in a place of worship with the Lord.
“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
- Fellowhip– God didn’t create us to be an island. There’s a lot of us and it is for us to fellowship with one another. We are to love each other, encourage each other, pray for each other and help each other. By this I’m not talking about acts of charity, I’m talking about everyday life. Yes, the insane obnoxious coworker/neighbor, the teenager with an attitude, the messy spouse, the rude client/customer service person and the prideful acquaintance.
John 17:23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may knowthat you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
- Love-The two most important commandments we have to comply with are related to love. First, love God our Lord with ALL our hearts and then love others as we love ourselves. Everything is born out of love. Practicing love everyday in everything we do will nourish our lives.
Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
I leave you with this banquet. I would love to hear your thoughts.
I’m sure that just like me; many of my sisters out there have heard horror stories about mammograms. I don’t know why as women we have the tendency to create horror stories about those things that relate to our bodies. We heard horror stories about how our menstrual cycle was going to be. We heard the horror stories about our wedding night, child birth and many other things. And in a latter part of our life we have heard those same stories about our preventative checkup for breast cancer.
I admit that the horror stories kept me away from getting tested for a couple of years. I would go to my annual checkup. The doctor would give the order; the nurse would schedule my appointment and then I would miss it. Ironically I’ve been supporting the Breast Cancer Awareness Cause for about the same amount of time that I’ve been avoiding getting tested.
This year, a coworker who has promised to share her story with us later in the month, went through the experience of breast cancer. She used to have this pretty long beautiful hair and I had not seen her in a while. We ran into each other in the bathroom and I felt confident enough to ask her if something had happened. She briefly told me her story. I will not anticipate the details of her story, but it was preventative testing what help detect her cancer at an earlier stage. I told her about my fears and how I had been avoiding it. She encouraged me to get tested and I promised her that this year I would.
To be honest I had already missed the original date of my test. So, I called my doctor’s office and reschedule. The morning of the test I didn’t want to get out of the bed, but I decided to get up and go. I was late to my appointment. I think I secretly wanted for them to tell me that they couldn’t see me, but that was not the case. I was finally in my gown waiting to be called into the testing room and in my mind I was thinking Should I just get dressed and leave. Nah, I made it this far.
Let me tell you that I felt like a fool after the testing was done. The tech told me that it is true that in the past, this was a painful test, but that technology has advance and now everything is done digitally. The whole process takes about 15 minutes. No pain, no discomfort, no horror stories to share. It was almost like taking a chest x-ray.
As soon as I left the office I thought of writing this post. I know that someone out there has been running from this the same way I did. If the blessing that God has given me through this forum saves one life, it is worth telling my story. If like me, you’ve been running to get tested. Stop listening to the horror stories. I’m living proof that it was the greatest experience ever and that next year I will not hesitate to go.
Before becoming closer to Christ I use to have this image that it was the world against me and I needed to be strong for me and for everyone around me. Once I understood what it says in Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I understood then that I had to give all my troubles to the Lord and that if I was feeling burdened was because there was something I was holding on to. I had learned that his yoke is easy and if he trusted me with things, he always made a way for things to get done while I kept my peace.
I also learned what says in Ecclesiastes 4:12 “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” So when the first bullet hit, I rounded up my accountability team, fought my battle on my knees and although I was wounded I was still up and kicking.
Then a grenade came over, it’s OK. I went back to my prayer warriors to start covering me. I was still on my knees fighting the good fight. I reached out, pulled all those resources that I’ve learned in my walk. I was bleeding, but I was fighting.
While this was going on, and on one of my personal times with God the scripture for study that night was Numbers 11:11-17
He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors? Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.”
The Lord said to Moses: “Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the tent of meeting that they may stand there with you. I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take some of the power of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them. They will share the burden of the people with you so that you will not have to carry it alone.”
As a leader, the scripture caught my attention, but it really went over my head. I was still standing in faith that the bleeding and the pain would get better and I would be able to move forward. The enemy saw my determination and that God still trusted more on me, so he decided to send a missile. It’s not that I was caught off guard, it was that I was already wounded, so I fell down holding on to everything that had been entrusted to me. I continued to pray, but there was so much smoke that I couldn’t see. I kept crying out for help, but I couldn’t even hear my own voice. I trusted God in this “valley of the shadow of death” but I felt like I was drowning. I kept hearing voices coming for help but I couldn’t see their hands. I didn’t know what to give them from everything I was holding on.
Last night when I finally did what I should have done and had done the first two times, I surrendered and everything fell off my hands. The fog lifted and the Lord showed me the image of Moses holding his arms up during the war against the Amelekites. When his arms were tired and Aaron and Hur held his hands up and even placed stones under his arms so that he could remain with his arms up. Then I understood. I had been surrounded by angels who were just waiting for me to see them. I was not on the floor as I thought. I had been surrounded all this time and I just couldn’t see it. It was very humbling to hear that I had been held, that I was being supported and surrounded by love all along. All I needed to do was allow God to open my eyes.
If you’re struggling right now, allow me to pay forward what has been given to me. You can comment on the blog or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be standing behind you in prayer as many have been standing for me through this storm.
Until next time, be blessed.
Being trapped at home snowed in, I had the opportunity to watch the Michael Dunn’s trial. I had promised myself that after Jodi Arias I was done with trials, but this one caught my attention because of the circumstances around it.
The media and social media have compared this trial to the George Zimmerman trial, and although there are many similarities, there a huge differences in my opinion. I’ll try to stay as objective as possible and try stay within the lines of facts because I know there are a lot of people being affected by this tragedy.
- These two cases came out of Florida and caught media attention
- An adult shot an unarmed teenager.
- The shooter and the victim were from different races.
- In both cases the shooter claimed self defense.
- In both cases the shooter alleged that the victim had a weapon.
- In both cases the shooter alleged that he was threatened.
- In both cases no weapon was found on the teenagers.
- Racism was an important part of the cases.
- Gun control has been part of the discussion.
- George Zimmerman called 911, in fact more than once before the incident, so he knew police was on their way. Michael Dunn never called 911. I know I’m trying to stay to the facts, but this part was hard for me to understand. I can understand that he didn’t call 911 from the gas station because he claimed to be afraid. He said he didn’t do anything wrong. I can even understand his perception, but if he was attacked why wouldn’t he call the police to catch his alleged attackers?
- George Zimmerman stayed at the scene and immediately told the police that he had been the shooter. Michael Dunn fled the scene and although he didn’t deny being the shooter, he waited for the police to find him.
- The incident between Zimmerman and Martin was in a dark kind of alley under the rain. The incident involving Dunn and Davis was in a well lit parking lot.
- In the Zimmerman case there was very few witnesses, mostly what people were able to hear in the rain. With Dunn there were multiple witnesses and even some videos.
- Zimmerman had physical evidence of an altercation. Dunn had no physical evidence of being attacked.
- Zimmerman was granted out on bond to await trial. Dunn had to remain in jail throughout the process.
- In the Zimmerman case there was a loud, high level of interest and outrage from the community and certain important leaders. Although the Dunn case has been classified as a high profile case and the local community has reacted to the case, it has not reached the levels that the other case did.
In terms of the results, a jury has decided that George Zimmerman was not guilty and acted in self defense. In the Michael Dunn case, the jury is deliberating as I type this article.
Keep both the Martins and the Davis in your prayers. Both families lost their child in a very tragic manner. They will not able to see their kids get a career, get married, or have children. I lost a sister when I was very young and it wasn’t a tragic death. I know from watching my mother that there’s not a single day where she doesn’t think about my sister and that although time does make things easier, that pain is always there.
Matthew 5:4 – Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
As a society we need to look at ourselves and how we are living. We are in a place of intolerance and violence. Let’s go back to what Jesus asked us to do:
“’Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31
…and remember that your neighbor is ANY human being around you regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, lifestyle, belief, political affiliation, socio-economical status.
Until next time, be blessed
Starting Tuesday afternoon the south was hit with a winter storm. There are many approaches to this story. We can either complaint or see how God worked through this crisis. At the time I’m writing this there are still people stranded on the roads or at temporary shelters. I’ve heard of five deaths, a baby was born who was named “Grace” and many cars are still on the side of the roads from people who had to leave them and walk to a safe place.
I can rant about a lot of things that have upset me about this situation. The authorities have not accepted responsibility, not for the snow, I think we are smarter than that. We are not blaming anyone for snowing but for how some things were handled. There has been no sense of accountability, partial truths and some total untruths. Which reminds me of Psalms 146:3 “Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there.”
But there’s another side to this story where we saw not only the southern hospitality, but the spirit of community and the Good Samaritan spirit in full action.
Chick- fil- A decided to serve food to stranded drivers. Drivers were sharing any food, water and blankets they had. Some people walked around their streets passing food and water to the stranded motorists. Supermarkets, gas stations and hardware stores (Home Depot)became shelters. Schools had to keep children while their teachers and employees made every effort to make them feel comfortable, ensure that they were fed and kept them safe.
On a routine day we have people whom we like more than others. I experienced the coming together of people whose personalities I see clashing every day. They were checking on each other, praying for each other. The differences disappeared and they focused on what was important, thy neighbor.
So yes, it was a difficult time and it’s not over yet, but I’ve been able to see that there’s still hope, that although the flesh has a tendency to evil, goodness shows up when the rubber meets the road.
My prayers are with those who lost loved ones and with those who have not made it home. Know that this is not just one of those we are praying for you cliché. We Are Praying for YOU! I invite anyone who reads this and it’s home safe to join me in praying, not only for those who are still struggling, but also a prayer of gratitude for the fact that you are home safe and warm.
Matthew 18:19 – Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
If you have been part of this experience and need to vent, have a special prayer request or a praise report, feel free to share it with us. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it publicly, just email me at email@example.com
Stay warm. Stay safe. God Bless.
Do you remember the series of Movies “Back to the future” with Michael J. Fox? Maybe I’m revealing my age here. LOL! For those who have not seen this movie, it was the story of a crazy scientist and a teenager. They had created a time machine. Marty (the name of Michael J. Fox’s character) is the teenager. He’s living an unhappy life at home. He goes back in time to his parent’s senior year of high school, witnesses the time where they met and understands the reason why things came out to be the way they were in the present.
He interferes with the past, but when he comes back to the future realizes that his interference has affected the outcome to the point where he now doesn’t even exist. He now has to go back to the past to fix what he has done, but still had to interfere because he wasn’t able to go back to the exact same moment in the past.
There are many times when we wish we had a time machine. We live in the land of if’s. If I had not done this, I had not said that, I had not met this person, the list can be endless. I admit sometimes I can actually pinpoint the exact moment when my decisions led me through the wrong path and I wish I could take them back.
But recently I have changed that perspective. I’ve learned that even the worst events in my life and the worst decisions I have made has taught me lessons that has made my life better. How is that possible? Well , that’s just a fulfillment of a promise from God.
Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Are you not wiser, more mature for those life challenges that we’ve had? Let’s stop living in the past and the Land of If’s. Let’s use the present with is all we have.
When you feel like the burden of this day is taking a toll on you, stand on these scriptures:
Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
“This book is in a class by itself, you will not be able to put it down! The characters pull you in and you begin to feel their emotions. Excellently written. The title fooled me, the saying goes” never judge a book by the cover “and this is one of those books.” By Duezette
During the US Senatorial Campaign in Missouri, a politician stated that if a woman was involved in a situation of “legitimate rape” the body knew how to reject the products of conception and she wouldn’t get pregnant. This raised a huge issue, as it should have. Starting with the concept of legitimate rape, implying that there are situations of non-consensual sex that are not considered rape. Why am I bringing this up now? Recently, NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” aired an episode dealing with this issue and brought it back to my mind.
I don’t agree with the biology of this concept and I know a lot of people were outraged by the insinuation. But then it became an issue of faith when the Bible was misquoted insinuating that God approved of Rape. These were some of the scriptures utilized.
- Deuteronomy 22:28-29– This scriptures talks about pre-marital sex not rape and how a man who was already engaged to this woman should marry her after having sex with her.
- Deuteronomy 21:10-14 This scripture talks about marrying a prisoner of war women, not rape. Now historically no woman had a choice in the men they married in those times. Within that logic every woman before the 19th century was raped and we know that’s not true.
- Zechariah 14:1-2 This scripture is describing the situation going on, not asking for women to be raped.
Personally I couldn’t serve a God who believe in rape, but I know this is far from the truth. I know how he has healed me from situations that were not His will but someone else’s misuse of free will. Taking the Word out of context is a old trick from the enemy to distract us from the healing that God has for those who have been hurt.
If you have been sexually assaulted, I know that you are hurting. Do not believe this is your fault. Do not believe that this was God’s will. This was the misuse of someone’s free will and God wants to free and heal you.
Now this is what Jesus has asked us to do with each other and it shows the Truth of God’s heart:
John 13:34 says “”A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” NIV
We also read in
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” NIV
Jesus said that when Moses was giving the law, he allowed certain things because of the hard hearts of men. Although he said that in relations to divorce, I can see that translating to other subjects. God has not approved for women to be hurt. If we love others, we would not hurt others and that’s the True command.
Until then, be blessed.
“This book certainly held my interest straight through to the very emotional ending. ”Mary Anne Benedetto
Have you ever been in a competition where Christians discuss their denominational differences almost like football fans? I think what we miss as believers is that our differences are really as the many ways of making white rice. What do I mean?
Growing up I learned that to make white rice I had to place oil, water and salt, bring it to a boil then pour the rice. Some people use butter instead of oil, some add garlic powder. At the end of the day you get in your plate the same thing: white rice
The Word of God tells us in John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
I believe that our particular rituals work for us in our humanity. Just like music is a matter of taste, but at the end of the day is the message of the Word of God that we are called to live by. I also believe that our discrepancies are used by the enemy to distract us from our real purpose which is to spread the Good News to others. So when you find yourself and those around you that we are ALL here to do the work of the kingdom and not for our purposes. I also invite you to use that opportunity to come together and do something for the kingdom that all of those in the conversation can agree. You will see that you have way more in common than you imagine.
Until next time, be blessed!
“This book certainly held my interest straight through to the very emotional ending. ”Mary Anne Benedetto
The beginning of a year is a good time for reflection and planning for the future. 2012 was a hard year and we saw in many ways how the church was either an important part or absent in those events that we experienced.
So in a society that is visibly degrading progressively, we as believers have to ask ourselves where is the church. On my last post I talked a little about who the church is and the importance that the church has for Jesus Christ. He is the one we say we follow and worship. But the bottom line is that WE are the church. The church is not a building or even an institution. Every time one of us makes the decision to follow Christ we become the church.
The word “church” as rendered in the New Testament comes from the Greek term ekklesia which is formed from two Greek words meaning “an assembly” and “to call out” or “called out ones.” In summary, the New Testament church is a body of believers who have been called out from the world by God to live as his people under the authority of Jesus Christ.
So when we ask where the church in the tragedies, the sadness and the scandals was the question really is, where was I? How did I contribute to this situation? Was I an element of healing or part of the problem?
You may wonder, what is it required from us. To love others as we love ourselves.
Don’t know where to start. I’ll give you a good starting point.
Follow 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. 35 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, 36 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? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 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.’
Until then, be blessed
“This book certainly held my interest straight through to the very emotional ending. ”Mary Anne Benedetto