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!
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
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!
We are no looking at:
Romans 12:11-13 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
When we serve we need to check our attitudes and motives in check. We start a new service assignment with excitement, like all new things. At the beginning we are learning the ropes, then we go through the phase of knowing our roles and probably improving our service. But like everything in life, not every moment is a happy and stable one. We will run into moments of discontent, burn out and stress.
Those difficult moments can’t be avoided, but how we address those is what could make the difference. We can choose to run away from our commitment due to offense or burn out. In those moments we need to make the decision. Who are we serving? Are we serving God or the people who make our lives easy? Are we followers of Christ? If we are, we need to remember that some of those who followed him throughout his ministry were chanting “Crucify him!” right outside Pontius Pilate’s doors. That didn’t change Jesus’s mind to complete his mission.
We need to serve with joy, hope and in prayer. Only keeping our connection with God will give us the strength and peace to get the job done. Remember, he never sends out to the field the equipped, but equips the chosen ones.
Finally remember that every act of service has to be with the same final purpose, to spread the Word of God, to show his love to others. It’s not for us to look pious in front of others. We are just ambassadors of the true message.
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