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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!

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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,

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

Drink your Starbucks

Not too long ago, I was sitting by the entrance of one of my favorite restaurants waiting for takeout. Igods 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?

starbucksYou 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.)

That’s interesting…

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

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Practicing humility

humility 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 practicelike 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.

humility-and-mind-up-jan-2013-10-638Believe 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!

 

 

Not just serve, but how to serve

serving 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 serving2peace 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.

Do not conform Romans 12:2

As we continue to go through the Study of Romans 12. Last time we heard about our bodies being a living sacrifice to worship God.  Let’s see what Verse 2 brings us.

 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

differentThere are two things that catch my attention on this verse. First we need to recognize that although we are in this world, we are not of this world. You can laugh, but yes we are kind of aliens. We belong to God whose kingdom is way beyond this earth. As adopted children, His home is our home.

I tend to see life, like an out of town work related trip. When you’re outside of your home you may have some of the things that you have at home. You may have a television, a bed, a bathroom and many amenities depending on the hotel. You get as comfortable as possible but you don’t bring all the things you have because you know that eventually you’re going home. You enjoy the time, but know for sure that after a few days you’re missing your own bed.

We don’t change our mailing address to our hotel room, that’s because that’s not where we live, that’s just where we are staying. Life it’s not too different.

We have the tendency of conforming to what society is doing. We tend to forget that we were sent here with a mission. Just like our work trip, it was not a vacation. Yes we may go roam this new city at night, but during the day we’re here to work.

Imagine this work trip again, in which you decide to maybe stop by the office every now and again but not every day as you’re supposed to. Instead you go touring the city, sleep late, and do any or very minimal of the work you were sent to do.  Just like life, this trip has an expiration date. When you get back home, how is your boss going to receive you?  How are you going to account for the time you were entrusted to do your job.

Talking about things to account for, let’s say you have a business credit card.  Can you go and buy brainyourself new clothes, gifts for your friends, have a spa day on your business credit card? Isn’t the company paying all your expenses? In life, God is providing for you to fulfill the mission that he commanded you to do. How are you going to account for what you did?

The second part of this that really caught my attention was the way we are to be transformed is by renewing our minds. It’s been said that we are what we eat. But we eat a lot of things mentally and spiritually too. What are we feeding our spirit and our mind will determine how we allow the Holy Spirit to do a transformation in our lives.

Until next time, be blessed

Five Foods

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?

  • PrayerprayerIn 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.
It’s obvious that God wanted us to pray.
  • 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 biblewere 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

  • WorshipworshipWhen 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.”
John 4:23-24

  • 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 fellowship 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-loveThe 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.

Until then,

Be blessed.

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Childlike

quote_0058-childlike-faithI had a beautiful learning experience the other day. I was leaving the church lobby in a rush to go to my ministry obligations. It was a very cold day. A mother was in the lobby with her little girl. She could not have been more than three years old. She had a cute character hat. I told the girl how cute her hat was, if she would let me have it. Without thinking it twice she took the hat off her head and gave it to me.  Then I said that since she was so generous, if she would like to come with me to keep me company as I didn’t have any little girls. Again without hesitation she walked towards me with a smile.

Now, my adult mind was freaked out thinking someone needs to teach this little girl to not be so open to strangers. I crouched next to her and gave her the hat back telling her that my head was too big for it and that it would look better on her. I also told her to go back to her mom, that I was glad she was willing to come with me but that he mommy would miss her. The little girl just smiled. I asked her one last thing, if before she left she would give me a hug. Immediately she opened her little arms and wrapped them around my neck. Her innocence and sweetness really made an impact on me.

When I walked out of the church lobby I could hear the Lord speaking to my heart. He was saying that’s what he means when he said in Matthew 18:3 “”Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”. We may have to discerning with each other because of the world we live in, but we have to totally abandon ourselves to Him.

As I was driving to the next building where I was expected for the night and I was still meditating on the event. The Lord showed me the image of a little child at the edge of a pool jumping into his father’s arms. I know that the absence of an earthly father have made it a challenge for me to be able to jump blindly into my Heavenly Father’s arms in total abandonment. I feel blessed for Him using that little girl to show me how it feels to be loved unconditionally, without fear into his welcoming arms.

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Have you experienced that? If so, share your experience with us. I would love to hear it. If not and you’re struggling with it; let us know as well and allow us to include you in our prayers.

Until next time,

Be blessed.