Simplicity

images (1)

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?

images

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!

Advertisements

Where’s my blessing?

Yesterday we celebrated the ultimate demonstration of Love. God in the flesh died for blessingsour sins, but didn’t stay dead, but conquered the grave to provide us with salvation and a new life. There are times when you don’t feel like you are living that life. You see others succeeding around you and here you are, serving the Lord and not getting what you believe to be rightfully yours.

I was reading the passage of Genesis 27:1-45. This is the story where Isaac is dying and tells Esau to make him dinner and he will bless him. Jacob and his mother plot against Esau, trick Isaac who ends up giving Jacob the blessing. Once the truth comes out, Esau feels defeated. The blessing was given to his brother and now he’s empty handed. His father tells him that now he can’t give him anything. Esau gets bitter and angry against his brother, but it was because he didn’t listen.

See, many times we’re in Esau’s position. We think about job that we want or the relationship that we’ve been in; suddenly they’re yanked out of our hands and we get bitter. It was ours we say. We’ve been faithful and working so hard. Why did my blessing go away?

add_toon_info.php

This is what we hear, “You will live away from the richness of the earth, and away from the dew of the heaven above. You will live by your sword, and you will serve your brother…” Everything was taken from us, now we have nothing but slavery to our pain and the yoke of seeing someone else enjoy what we believed to be ours. Here’s what I’m encouraging you to do today…keep reading!

See the next verse says,

“But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck”

In other words, you don’t have to live one single second in bondage. If you choose to break free right now, you will never be under that yoke, because you decided to break free. New mercies are waiting for you every day, and your blessings are intact. That what you thought was yours and stolen will be given to you tenfold, but only once you break free from the yoke of your brother. When you break the jealousy, the envy, the anger and unforgiveness, you will be set free.

This is your day beloved. Maybe it’s you who need a resurrection.

 

 

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.

TwasChaos-640x400

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.’

mat

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

Merry Christmas

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.

WF: Beautiful

When someone is in an abusive relationship they feel devalued. People often ask how someone could allow another person to abuse them. The reality is that abuse is a slow systematic process. The abuser recognizes the vulnerabilities on their object of abuse and preys on those vulnerabilities.  It doesn’t happen overnight, but eats slowly at the core of the one suffering the abuse.

Once the chains of abuse have been locked, several things extend or perpetuate the abused to stay with the abuser. The lies that were believed, the toll to the self-esteem, the dependence on the abuser (emotional, financial, cultural, etc.) will make the smartest and most educated person stay in an abusive situation. It is very hard for someone who has not lived or is not living in an abusive relationship to understand. This isolates the victim even more.

Questions like: Why do you allow it? Why don’t you leave? And comments like: You are in this situation because you want to; do not help but alienate more the one that desperately needs help. And sometimes the only help that you can provide is a listening ear.

But my point in this Worship Friday is to tell you out there to stop believing the lie. Stop believing that you are not worth it. Stop believing that you are not special, that you’re unloved. Stop believing that you’re not attractive. You are perfectly made. You’re beautiful. I hope this song encourages you in the darkest hours and gives you the strength to know that to He who created you, you are all.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14

If you need to prayer or to share your story, don’t hesitate to email me at therisingmuse at Gmail dot com

WF: Worship Friday

Sister’s of the Heart

Follow the Tour

Jan 27th
Jan 28th
Feb 8th

Feb 9th

Feb 10th

Clue Review

Feb 11thThe Rising Muse

Feb 12th

Feb 13th
 Feb 14th

Enter for chance to win fun prizes!

Thank you for your comment.