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

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Becoming the church

The beginning of a year is a good time for reflection and planning for the future. 2012 was a hard year and we saw in many ways how the church was either an important part or absent in those events that we experienced.

So in a society that is visibly degrading progressively, we as believers have to ask ourselves where is the church. On my last post I talked a little about who the church is and the importance that the church has for Jesus Christ. He is the one we say we follow and worship. But the bottom line is that WE are the church. The church is not a building or even an institution. Every time one of us makes the decision to follow Christ we become the church.

The word “church” as rendered in the New Testament comes from the Greek term ekklesia which is formed from two Greek words meaning “an assembly” and “to call out” or “called out ones.” In summary, the New Testament church is a body of believers who have been called out from the world by God to live as his people under the authority of Jesus Christ.

So when we ask where the church in the tragedies, the sadness and the scandals was the question really is, where was I? How did I contribute to this situation? Was I an element of healing or part of the problem?

You may wonder, what is it required from us. To love others as we love ourselves.

Don’t know where to start. I’ll give you a good starting point.

Follow Matthew 25:34-40

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Until then, be blessed

clip_image002 This book certainly held my interest straight through to the very emotional ending. Mary Anne Benedetto

With the ever-constant presence of her closest friend, Aimee, Desiree slowly makes her way to God and learns the greatness of His power and love. Cynthia

A very engaging story about faith, love, and friendship, and the trials and tribulations that life can bring you. Jersey Gina

Living our life with purpose

I was talking to a friend about things we were looking for in future mates. My friend made the comment, “ I don’t care if he’s a garbage man, as long as he’s the best garbage man than he can be and it’s proud to be one. But if he comes home complaining everyday about the garbage and doing nothing to do something about it, then I would have a problem.” This comment got me thinking.

Sometimes we hate where we are just because we don’t know where we’re going. I like the way this is spelled out in The Message version for Proverbs 28:18 “If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.”

Once you discover your purpose in life and what you have been called to do, it doesn’t matter where you are and what you’re doing because you know that’s not your destination. Where you are can be a training element of where you’re going or a temporary way of provision until you can get to where God has called you to be.

I met this young man in a leadership class. He works at a fast food restaurant. He feels like God has called him to be a businessman and to eventually own a franchise of that said restaurant. I honestly don’t know his age, but he didn’t look a year older than 23. He had already gone from front line staff to a management position. He was trying to take as many courses in management and leadership as he could, to prepare for the vision he had. Now, fast food work is not easy. I know, I did some during my college years. He talked about his work with joy, not because he was enjoying the day to day, but because he saw it as an opportunity to learn everything better for when he owned the store.

With the economical issues we are facing, we all have had to make adjustments and sometimes God has steered us into places that are not what we dreamed about. Instead of looking at these places with defeat look at them as an opportunity. We need to remember that if God has allowed us to these places, “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 Let’s keep our eye on the prize and look to our vision.

What if I don’t have a vision? It’s time to get into the Word and into intimate conversation with God so that you can get your personal revelation. Yes, personal. God has a plan designed that is just perfect and specifically for you. Ephesians 1:4-5 NIV “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,”

Be blessed.

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In Growth Lessons, I was reminded of this beautiful truth: Our walk with the Lord is a process of growing up into the image of Christ. P. Yates

I would recommend this book for anyone who would like some common sense and light added to their life. C. Cunningham

Great for meditations and daily devotions. N. Thames

Fear of what’s coming

I remember when I was a child and I had done something or I thought I had done something, the hours waiting for my mother’s reaction to my behavior or actions was total agony. Even now as an adult, expectation is not one of my favorite experiences. Can you imagine how Jesus felt that night before knowing exactly what he was about to go through?

Let’s see what the scripture says: Luke 22:41-44 ”He pulled away from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, “Father, remove this cup from me. But please, not what I want. What do you want?” At once an angel from heaven was at his side, strengthening him. He prayed on all the harder. Sweat, wrung from him like drops of blood, poured off his face”

Hematidrosis (also called hematohidrosis) is a very rare condition in which a human being sweats blood. It may occur when a person is suffering extreme levels of stress, for example, facing his or her own death.

Think about how stressed out Jesus was to get to the point of sweating blood. The worse stressful day of your life can’t compare to it, how do I know? Did you sweat blood? The knowledge that you are going to die and in the way you’re going to die, the pain that you’re going to endure and for people who are not grateful for it and then he still loved us so much he went through with it.

There are no words for how amazing this is…If Jesus was able to endure all this pain for us, He will get you through anything you may be afraid of. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.Proverbs 3:5-6

Give yourself the opportunity of reading this powerful story of forgiveness, faith, friendship and redemption. It will change your life. The Road Home, available to you in Kindle and NookThe Road Home Cover (1)

WF: Light up the sky

Sometimes in life, even when we know that He is always with us, we feel alone or distressed in the journey of life. Stopping our race and looking around can give us the answer we desperately seek.

We look at the skies, we look at our children, our pets, and our plants and we can tell that undeniably someone is in control of our lives. We as believers know who that is and that’s the hope we need when we feel alone. When we feel like things are overwhelming us, that’s what we need to remember; that God lights the sky for us and that he’s always in control. That things always work for our good as we believe in our higher power Jesus Christ.

Happy Friday!

WF: Worship Friday

Seeking for a moving story of faith, friendship and redemption. Get your copy of my new book, The Road Home, which is getting great reviews and has readers at the edge of their seats. Kindle or Nook

The Road Home Cover (1)

Did Jesus talk about Grace?

There was a recently heated discussion on twitter about Grace. The points of contention where the following:

  • One side argued that Grace was the invention of born again Christians, but that Jesus never spoke of Grace, therefore there was nothing to it.
  • The other side argued that although Jesus per se didn’t mention the word Grace, his action and other statements implied the concept of Grace.

I think we need to start by defining what is Grace to have a frame of reference. I looked in dictionary.com and it defines Grace as mercy, clemency and pardon. It also says that it’s a manifestation of favor especially by a superior.

Starting from this frame of mine, I think that both schools of thought would agree that we consider Jesus Christ our Superior and Higher Power. I found in John 1:14-17 the following scripture “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying,

“This is he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

Now if I’m understanding this correctly Jesus is the Word who became flesh. The scripture says he was full of grace and truth. It also says that the law was given to Moses, meaning all those rules about the things we needed to do to be able to obtain favor in the eyes of God, but that grace (meaning clemency and undeserving pardon) came through Jesus Christ.

Jesus actually said that he didn’t  come to abolish the Law or the Prophets;but to fulfill them. Truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven” (John 5:17-20)

So does that mean that the other parts of the bible are just as important as his literal words? I think so. Does he call us out of legalism when he says that we should do more than the Pharisees and teachers of the law? I think so too.

As someone who has sinned and have been recipient of the Grace of God, I’m very glad that it does exist. No, Grace is not a license to sin and relay in the Grace of God, which I think is the misconception that those who feel that Grace is not real believe is the interpretation of born again Christians. But I didn’t deserve forgiveness for the sins I committed and break the laws established by God and I have to be thankful to Jesus for redemption and Grace and giving me a new opportunity to start again.

Don’t forget to check out my new Devotional Growth Lessons, and obtain a 10% discount with the coupon code PN34W.

Be blessed.