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Simplicity

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Last summer I had to move. My 9-5 was relocating, my lease was becoming not affordable and I just needed a change. Before I moved into that apartment, I use to live in a town house. I had to get rid of a lot of things coming from a town house to a 2-bedroom apartment. This time I decided to move into a 1-bedroom apartment. I made that decision purposely. Again, I had to get rid of a lot of stuff. Guess what? I still have a lot of stuff.

The reason for the downsize was that I wanted live a simple life. I still look at houses in real estate websites that are gorgeous. At the end I always asked myself, who’s going to clean all that?

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As time goes by, I’ve been trying to prioritize my life. What’s the point of having my closets filled with things that I never use? What’s the point of having all these things around to have more to clean? In return I can have more time for more important things. I can have more time to write, to read, to exercise, to pray and most important to rest.

Luke 16:13 “No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

When our focus is in getting more stuff and not in our live purpose, we are practicing a way of idolatry.

I haven’t just worked on simplifying my surroundings. I’m working on simplifying every aspect of my life. My schedule, the things I eat, the company I keep. Life is complicated enough without us trying to do more than what we’re called to do.

Simplifying our life will help us have more time for more important thing, and probably more resources to accomplish our goals.

Thbd8f307411d23d6481031f5d786380c0e Lord has not asked us to hoard treasures on earth, but to store them in heaven. Now I’m sure that none of the treasures that he was talking about can be found at your preferred department store or at the mall. That scripture in Matthew also says that where our treasures are, so is our heart. It’s our heart in the things that the world craves or in the simple things the Lord has created for us.

Is out lifestyle living by: Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

 

Have a great week!

Looking at our true selves

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 perfectedtold 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?

God's planChristians 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.

 

In Christ,

Are we celebrating the REAL Christmas?

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.

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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 to7-Deadly-Sins 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.’

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I challenge you to celebrate the true nature of Christmas. From this year forward, I know I will.

Merry Christmas

Arguing About Faith on Social Media

I was having an interesting exchange with a gentleman on social media the other day. His wife had responded under an article regarding debating with people in social media about values. Her position was that she felt that defending her values and point of view was basically was she was called to do.

I decided to reply. I had recently read Proverbs 23:9 “Do not speak to fools, internet 3for they will scorn your prudent words”. No, I didn’t just post this scripture and moved on. I said that after reading this I had changed my point of view.I explained that sometimes I felt like defending my values in social media, but I took a step back and started observing before speaking. I realize that there are people who like to say outlandish things just to get a raise out of others and actually enjoy debating with people just for the fun of it. While your blood pressure rises, they are laughing on the other side until they burn you out and they move to the next victim. The exchange is futile and fruitless.

I shared my experience and observations. I said that I had opted for demonstrating my values and beliefs in my daily life. I post things I wish to share and if anyone approaches me I’m always willing to share my testimony. That arguing in social media, in my opinion was not an effective tool of evangelism. That’s when the fun began.

Her husband came to the thread and asked me why was I against people speaking about God publicly? He said that my scripture was out of context and that I was trying to impede the furthering of the Gospel. For a little over an hour, that I will never get back, I attempted to explain to him that I was doing nothing of the sort. Until a light finally went off and realized that I should have followed my own advice to begin with and I walked away.

One of his challenges was that we as Christians needed to defend God. I honestly laughed. Me, little human dirt is going to defend the Alpha and Omega, Almighty God. Yes, to me it was funny. God doesn’t need defending in my mind. As far as I’ve read in the bible, he’s asked us to remain in his Word and love others while speaking the truth in love. He’s asked us to defend, protect and provide for the orphan, the widows and the needy. I haven’t found a single request to defend him. If someone has the scripture I’m always open to learn something new.

As I was meditating about this post I remembered that he doesn’t even ask us to defend ourselves.

  • In Matthew 5:39 Jesus tells us, “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek”
  • Then in Luke 12: 11-12 “When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
  • Matthew 10:19 “But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say”

Yes, 2 Timothy 4:1-22 tells us “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, grandmawho is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. ..”

So yes, we are called to reprove and rebuke…but keep reading; it says with complete patience. It calls us to be sober minded, and endure suffering. How much teaching can we provide when we’re spending our energy defending our points of view? How do we model Christ in our interactions; face to face or online   ? How attractive (and by that I don’t mean putting a dog and pony show) are we making the Gospel to the lost? Does my life shows something that they would want for theirs?internet

I have to ask that myself that every day to stay focus into what God has called me to do.

Be blessed

WF: Open Up The Heavens

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.

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Book Blast: The 21 Day Challenge!

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Living a Life of Faith: 21 Days of Faith Challenge

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WF: Losing

When we are worn out with the challenges of life, usually life just throws us another curve. I tend to tell myself that’s what life uses to keep me on my toes so that I don’t get bored. I’m never bored. And when that extra curve comes; have you noticed that it’s usually related to the ones closest to us?

Our loved ones have the key to our hearts, and what they do, don’t do or what happens to them, tends to hit us harder. A harsh word makes us evaluate how could this be happening after all the love that we have given? A painful incident makes us feel powerless from being able to protect them. A bad choice makes us feel helpless to the fact that there’s nothing we can do about other people’s choices.

Somehow it makes us feel like we are losing the battle…

But remember that when Jesus went to the cross, he went for the same reasons. He was able to DO something, die for our sins. But it also hurts his heart when we make bad choices and because of the freedom we have he is powerless of doing anything unless we decide to turn to him. After the love that He has given us, he too experiences rejection, neglect and abandonment from us.

nailsBut in the hour that counted, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:24). At the moment where we were attacking him the most, he begged for our mercy in spite of his pain.

Don’t we want to be more like Jesus? Then let’s pray that he helps us be graceful with those who hurt our hearts. Worship with me today and until next time… Be Blessed…..

Hurry, I Have a Plank in My Eye

The other day I was talking to a friend whom I appreciate but who complaints a lot about other people. Some days she tells me all about how good this person is with her. A few days later she tells me how terrible this same person is towards her. Now if we allow ourselves to be honest with ourselves we all have those same moments with people in our relationships. Everyone has its good days and their bad days. The reality is that we don’t feel the same way about people all the time.

I remember long time ago I was working with this lady who had been married for a long time. I asked her what her secret was. She told me that in love, in any kind of love, you have to love someone everyday and that doesn’t mean you like them every day. I’ve thought about that statement and it’s very true. We are called to love one another, not to like one another. We may not approve of someone else’s behavior, but we are still called to love them. That is exactly what God does with us, that’s the expression of unconditional love, to love people in spite of how they think, act or behave.

But this is not a post about unconditional love. It’s about searching our souls for what it is that annoys us about the other people around us. I’ve learned through my journey to become closer to Christ is to become the 4yr old and ask why, why, why? I don’t do that to annoy my Heavenly Father. I do that to learn a lot about myself.

As someone who works in the behavioral health field, I understand that some of our thoughts and behaviors are not always conscious and mostly are a result of our heritage and life experiences. So when something happens, before jumping to a decision on how to deal with the situation, I want to know, why it bothers me so much? Most of the times I’ve had to discover that there’s a part of me that acts exactly the way of whatever it is that annoys me.

How is it possible that something that really bothers me in others, is also a behavior that I display? I have come to the conclusion that God presents us with those situations, so that we can see ourselves in the mirror and know how annoying we can be to others. I know that I complain about that same person that I was talking about at the beginning of this post. I complain about the way some days she’s very negative and complaints about others. But some days I talk about how much of an instrumental key she’s in my life. You see… I do the same thing that she does and that annoys me.

The bottom line is that I can’t change anyone, but I can change me. I appreciate every opportunity the Lord gives me to show me who I am to perfect me into a closer image of Jesus Christ.

Until then, be blessed

WF: Your Love Never Fails

The thing we should never forget about being a Christian is that our walk doesn’t come without pain and sorrows. Actually Jesus tells us in Matthew 10:34 that he didn’t come to abolish the pain. So what’s the difference between living a life for Christ and not, HIS LOVE…

Those of us who have chosen to believe in the Lord of Glory have discovered the peace that reaches all understanding. We know that even in the darkest of nights, we are not alone. There’s always a light inside of us that will show us the way out. Each of our tears will be held and comforted. We know, because he has said so, that even when we walk in the shadow of the valley of death HE will be with us.

On our loneliest day, we are not alone; we are always comforted by the Holy Spirit. The world can’t understand why we can smile in the middle of tragedy. They can’t understand how we can forgive the most awful of transgressions. How it is possible that we can let go of shame, humiliation and fear? Because Jesus took that all to the cross and that burden is not for us to carry anymore.

My friends, I don’t know where you are today. I don’t know what you’re feeling, but I do know that the God of Glory will lift those ashes and bring you through and every promise will be fulfilled. When you are so weary that you can’t even stand, kneel.

Lamentations 3:22-23

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.

 Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.

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.

A House Divided

For the most part, we tend to believe that those around us have a similar mindset as ours. Isn’t that the reason why they are our friends, family or who we chose as spouses? But that is not true all the time. There are times in our walk were we are exposed to other ideas and personalities and they do not conform to our ways of thinking.

It is harder for us to deal with those situations when the person having the different mindset is someone very close to us. The reasons for this are endless. Sometimes someone in the equation is wrong. Someone may not be listening well. Someone may just have a different opinion.

The Word of God tells us clearly in Mark 3:25 that “A house divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”  This is something that we don’t want. We want our relationships to grow and flourish. We want them to be peaceful and loving. So what are we to do?

Stop and Listen- Maybe there are some valid points to the other point of view.

Ask questions-Sometimes we get stuck in our positions due to not understanding what is being presented to us. If we get clarification we will be more equipped to form a different position.

Be Loving and Graceful- Even when we disagree, we will not be able to keep the lines of communication open if we present ourselves in a hostile manner.

Remember Ephesians 4:15 “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”

Consider if any position goes against the Word of God-If the position of the other person goes against the will and Word of God you can explain that. Not by hitting them on the head with a bible, but once again telling the truth in love. From that point it would be the other person’s responsibility to either continue on the wrong path or make changes. Always remember to love the person and not the sin.  But what if it’s you who are wrong (*gasp*) then maybe it’s you who needs some alone time with God, set aside your pride and decide to either follow God’s will or your own.

Agree to disagree- You can still love a person and have a harmonious relationship knowing that you don’t agree about something but still love and respect each other. It is too boring to agree on everything sometimes. LOL

Until next time, be blessed.