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.
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
In Romans 12: 14-16 we get a lesson on how to be with others regardless of how they treat us.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.
When we read this we know in our gut that is no easy task. We tell others what we know. We repeat the right words like a chant, but in the actual day to day is a different story. Be honest with yourself, how loving and blissful are you in your commute? How forgiving with that parent that yelled at your kid at the game.
Living in harmony is everyone’s wish. But when that neighbor’s visitor always parks in front of your house, or their dog eats your most precious flowers, you’re not really in a blessing mode. Still, God calls you to be.
The words, “we are all created equal” is not true at the end of the day. We are all unique and different. Our society has decided on how we are to be categorized. We are not created equal but to God we are all of same value. Think about this: a quarter is 25 cents, 5 nickels are also 25 cents; not equal but of same value. So when we meet other people that society has categorized as lower than us because they haven’t have access to the things that we have financially, emotionally, education or spiritually, don’t look at them as less but treat them with respect. Know that their value is the same as yours and that you are in their lives to be of service.
Believe it, at the end of the day, you will learn that you are more blessed by them than whatever you were able to do for them.
Until then, be blessed!
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
The tricky part about love and honor is that it’s not just for those who we like. Being devoted to love those who are mean to us is no easy task. But this is something we really need to get serious about, after all is our second commandment right up there with loving God above all else.
The other misconception is that love is just tolerating everything others do and that’s not what love is. Love also brings correction and boundaries. Honoring others above ourselves doesn’t mean idolize them, it means to honor them in spite of our rights, hurts and emotions.
But in all we must be sincere about our love for others. Yes, no fake it until we make it. When that love is not possible, it means that we don’t understand the love of God. Its at this time that we need to have Him show us his love and show us how to love others.
This also means that we are not happy when something bad happens to someone we don’t like and let me say, that means everybody. It includes, the neighbor, the coworker, the politician of the other party, the player of the opposite team, the driver who cut us in traffic and the person who did us wrong. It means that the most important muscles to workout are love and forgiveness.
That’s plenty to process, until next be blessed.
This is an amazing worship song. I need this song to be my alarm because it will not only get me out of bed energized but filled of the spirit. After a long hard week of work we need to be refreshed and renewed and what better way than praising God.
How awesome is recognizing that God is almighty, all powerful, all amazing? We are all in need of a showers from heaven of peace, love and just his sweet presence. Enjoy this song and have a great weekend.
4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to showmercy, do it cheerfully.
Just as I closed the last post, verses 4-8 talk about being humble into our gifting. Sometimes we have the tendency to forget that not all of us are really created equal. Each of us has a gift and a purpose. We were each given a personality as a tool for our specific mission.
Sometimes in serving we get hung in terms of titles within our ministries. Who’s the leader, the elder, the minister, the main person? Honestly we were not all created for every job. Yes, some positions have more exposure than others, but it doesn’t make it more meaningful. In their immaturity people want to be in the center of a stage or the center of attention and those who are not place there by God will not thrive.
Recognize your gifts and thrive within what God has given you. For example, I have the gift of writing, some administrative gift that comes along with leading. I’ve always been involved in some sort of leadership position; in ministry, school, work, etc. Even when I’ve hid myself away from it, it finds me. That doesn’t make me great or the most important person. I alsohappen to be a big picture person, details tend to elude me. Every day, in all my life scenarios I have countless stories of those with better administrative gifting than mine who take care of those details that I don’t even think about. Those details are just as important and sometimes more than the work I do.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, yes I have the opportunity to speak in front of people. It’s not my favorite thing to do, but I know I do it well and its part of my mission. Now, if you ever catch me with a microphone ready to sing, you all have open permission to knock me out of the stage before your ears start bleeding. Both the worship leader and I are in front of people, but we both have very different roles. At the same time, if the person behind the sound system is not there in their gifting, it doesn’t matter because nobody is going to hear us.
Do what you love and what you’re good at. Those gifts and desires were placed in your heart by God to guide you in through your purpose in live.
Until next time, be blessed
In this part of the letter from Paul, I see a reminder of the older brother in the prodigal son story. It is very often that those who have not come to the feet of Christ because of our behavior. I know there was a time in my life when I thought my sins were too unforgivable. Sometimes looking at those around me with their pretend perfect lives made me feel even more unworthy to come closer to God. We are called to love the sinner, not the sin. How many times we are judgmental just because someone sins different than us?
If we are ambassadors of Christ, how are we showing his love? Wasn’t Jesus who said that he who was free from sin to cast the first stone? Wasn’t Jesus who said to the woman at the well that she was forgiven even though she had been promiscuous? So who are we to judge?
There’s an old movie from Al Pacino, which I don’t recommend anyone to see, but in my time I did. It’s title “The Devil’s Advocate”. The storyis of a man who basically gives into the devil to gain worldly things. Once inside he realizes that he was losing more than gaining and he rejects him. But in the very last scene, the devil comes back in a different shape and lures him again. Why? Pride is the most common sin among Christians, when we think we are better than “those” people because we go to church or serve at one. Even among each other, fighting over position and places within our service within the church.
Instead we are called to be sober, to remember where we came from. We are called to remember that we are administrators and not lords. We need to recognize that we each have a place on a mission that was specifically designed for us. In other words, in the eyes of God the CEO and the janitor are equal… and sometimes the janitor gets extra points for doing his work for God.
Here’s plenty. Until next time, be blessed.
Today I had a real conversation with the Lord, one of those were you hear his voice immediately, not spiritually but audible. I had not turned the radio in my car in weeks. I was so consumed by my thoughts that any noise bothered me. Today I decided that I wanted to turn it on. As I’m driving the music is playing in the background. I’m not listening.
In my conversation with the Lord I was telling him that apparently I was feeling lonely. I say apparently because I didn’t recognize it until without thinking I told someone that I was carrying my burdens alone. I was also telling the Lord about something that I need, but not sure how to go about it. I said that maybe I shouldn’t push forward and settle for something less in the meantime because maybe I’m not ready for the actual blessing I’m praying for.
I started bringing out all those areas where I struggle and that maybe I need to wait for me to be better before things can happen for me. As I’m talking I caught a breather. You know how it is when you can’t get a word in a conversation and when that person takes a breather you finally jump in. That’s what the Lord did with me today.
When I took that breather, in that moment of silence this song started to play. The very first verse says, “I want you as you are not as you ought to be” I kept quiet and started listening. I knew immediately that God was speaking to my heart. I had never heard this song before but it was the answer to every part of my conversation with God.
How many times we believe the lies of the world and the lies of the enemy? We can’t be what we want to be. God can makes us into what we are called to be, but to be that, he just wants us to come to him just as we are. So much love…so much love.
So enjoy this Worship Friday with me. I hope it speaks to you, like it spoke to me.
Sometimes as Christians we get hung up on religion. We hold on to a single scripture that may be out of context. Or better yet, we think that if we say the right things at the right time we’re part of the “club”. For those of us, especially those who are new to the faith, that’s not enough. We want to know what really pleases God. We want to be doers of the word, so what’s the answer?
I’m sure there’s a tons of scriptures that guides us into God’s will. However I found a letter from Paul to the Romans that basically sum it up for me. In this letter we get to see the distinction between living by the law like Pharisees, and living by the love of God as Christians are called to. If you allow me, I would like to spend the next few days going through this scripture thoroughly. I’ll be using the New International Version on these posts.
A Living Sacrifice
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
This is a very powerful thing to read. We should know that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. A lot is heard about how men or women are owners of their own bodies and can do as they please with them. Well, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Our bodies are supposed to be a living sacrifice to please God.
What does that mean?
- Do I take care of my temple properly? (rest, food, exercise)
- Do I partake in high risk endeavors that could place my body at risk? (risky ventures, drugs, alcohol)
- Do I utilize my body outside of God’s will? (Yes, I’m talking sex)
I think that’s plenty to think about for today. On our next time we will be talking about Verse 2
As always let me know your thoughts and send me any prayer requests.
Until then, be blessed.