Reader’s Choice: How is God using my writing skills?

I gave yesterday my readers the opportunity of choosing what blog topics they would like and for the next couple of weeks we will have a Reader’s Choice post. After I opened the proposal I prayed, God please don’t let them ask me anything I have no clue about. No worries, even if that was the case I would do the research and we would both learn together. Isn’t that what this walk is all about?

So, the first question was: How is God using my writing skills?

When I started seriously writing two years ago I had a serious case of WIMS (Woe IS Me Syndrome). At the same time, I had no choice but to give into what God wanted me to do because it was pressing so hard in my heart. I’ll start by saying what it has done in my life.

Writing has given me a sense of completion. After years of wandering like the Israelites I’m finally in my element. There’s no better satisfaction at the end of the day, that no matter how many hours you spend in a project, you are enjoying what you are doing, because you love what you do; and I love what I do. This experience has enriched and deepened my walk and knowledge of the Word of God. The fact that the bible is my source of reference for everything I write helps me learn every day more and more about His Word and His purpose for my life. It has also helped me stay accountable. I truly hear from some of you if I miss a posting.

This writing journey has given me a new community. The only Christian writers that I knew before this were those from whom I had bought their books and probably met two at a book signing. I now belong to an awesome group called Grace and Faith Authors Connection. He has placed in my path a huge writing, supportive community of writers, Christians and Non-Christians that have taught me so much. Just like when I started back my journey with Christ and I felt like a two-year old learning how to walk, eat, speak and dress…My writing journey has felt somewhat like that. Every day I open my eyes and one of these fabulous people has something to sow into my life. Just know that I’m trying to pay it forward and I hope that I’m doing the same for them.

I also learn from my readers. The beauty of writing, especially blogging is that you can have a conversation with others about a specific topic. I appreciate all of your comments, inside the site and outside. You are a blessing to me and my walk.

Part of my WIMS; was the fear of who is going to read this Lord?  I’m humbled by saying that I have followers from all over the country and as far as I know I have a few from United Kingdom and other places. It is great that I get to witness and share the love of Christ with so many people. The Glory is to God!

As for you, this is what I’ve heard. I get e-mails and messages with testimonials quite often about how something I wrote has touched someone’s heart, has inspired their day or was the answer to a prayer they had. The one that sticks out the most in my mind was a devotional I wrote titled “A Spirit of Cinderella”, which is now part of my book Growth Lessons. This devotional talked about the fact that sometimes as believers we think so little about ourselves that we feel like we are still living in the dungeon when our Prince Charming has already come to the rescue.

I received a message from this beautiful lady who happened to be a model. She expressed how she was feeling so insecure of herself and how she had been praying to God to lift up her spirits. She ran into my posting and apparently was the answer to her prayers.

I’m totally humbled by this experience, as all I do is show up to the paper and share what God wants me to say or is doing in my life.

As always I love to hear from you. Is there anything from “The Rising Muse” that has touched your heart in a special way? If you’re shy and want to share in private I still want to hear from you, you can send me an e-mail at therisingmuse@gmail.com

To obtain a copy of Growth Lessons, which also talks about the things that God has been placing in my heart and my new living lessons, click on the picture to get your Kindle edition. The rest of November will be Reader’s Choice Month, so if you have something specific you want me to talk about, go to my Facebook page and let me know about it.
In Christ

Naty

Prayers for those we lost

In our day to day, unless it is brought to our attention we are usually not aware of what is done on our behalf behind the scenes. I have family who have been in the military, to my knowledge nobody active right now. So even when I’m very grateful to the armed forces, I admit that I don’t think about it all the time because I don’t have people around me who are in active duty.

Sadly it was brought to the forefront this week when 30 of our finest where lost in the line of duty during a mission. This was the biggest loss since this senseless war started. Regardless of our feelings for our government and our war, the reality is that they are willing to go and fight for us day by day. As we are fortunate to have vacations, go shopping, watch television, speak our mind, practice our faith and go about our business these men and women are risking their lives for us to enjoy that freedom.

There’s not much that can be said but to express a sense of an immense gratitude to them and to their families for giving them to us. To let the families  know that there’s a country that truly appreciates your sacrifice, mourns with you, prays for your healing and restoration.

Moving Forward

First of all I want to apologize for not writing in the last few days, between Camp Nano and other distractions I have not been able to sit down long enough to concentrate. I’ve been thinking a lot about how sometimes we are affected by issues regardless if they have direct or indirect impact in our lives.

Life is never without challenges, disappointments and painful events, most of them out of our control. The way we react to those events and the way we view those events will determine our behavior and ultimately potential future outcomes.

When something unexpected affects negatively our lives its very common to feel anger, sadness, shock, resentment, disappointment, grief and many other negative feelings. Ephesians 4:26 reads “In your anger do not sin” : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” but I know there are wounds that are longer lasting, however once the sun comes back up, it may be time to start our baby steps back on the road of life.

We believe that we have no control over those feelings and that’s not totally true. Yes, those feelings are normal. We should not stuff them or deny them. We should talk about them and process them, the problem arises when we sulk and get stuck on them.

At some point the grieving process of an event runs its course and yes, the timing is different for everyone, but when the grief hinders you from functioning, you’ve gone too long.

That’s why I say that you can ultimately impact your future outcomes, for example…the loss of a relationship may be devastating, but it could open the door to self examination, discovery and the potential of a new, sometimes even better relationship. The loss of a loved one is devastating, but if you have faith that they are in a place of no pain and no sorrow, that will give you hope. The loss of employment or some other financial loss will not be easy to recover until you get back on your feet.

Feel what you need to feel, process what you need to process, but then it’s time to get up and move on. Trust that God will make everything right and that he’s in control. That there’s no evil that will not be avenged and no good deed unrewarded.

Faith will get you through

Be blessed.

National Day of Prayer

 

Dear Heavenly Father,

All your children unite today to praise you and worship you. We thank you for your love, your mercy and your forgiveness.  Father we are grateful for your everyday provision. For everyday you give us breath, health, a roof over our heads we are thankful.

Today we ask you to protect our nation. We are grateful for those who everyday give their lives to defend our country, defend our right to peace. We pray protection over them and over their families whose lives are just as sacrificial as those in the field.

Lord forgive us for the inactivity of your body. For our refusal to move out of our comfort zones into the fields that you have called us to work. We ask you to refresh and revive our spirits. Give us your heart so that we see the pain in our brothers the way that you see it. Give us your mind so that we can purify our thoughts and work according to your purpose. Give us your wisdom so that we can make the right decision in our lives.

We ask you to protect our leaders, government and religious. These are the people called and chosen to guide our nation. They are in need of wisdom, they are in need of a compassionate heart, they are in need of a strong sense of justice that only you can provide.

We ask you for those who are suffering. Allow us to recognize their pain and give us the steps to follow to heal their wounds.

We ask you for the lost souls, that we are able to exemplify a life in Christ that they desire. Open their hearts so that they receive the invitation of the Holy Spirit. Give us boldness to preach your Word and life by it.

In closing, continue to teach us how to live our lives closer to you. That our lives become truly “ more of you and less of us” and that when the day comes we are able to celebrate the final victory with you in heaven.

In Jesus name we pray,

Amen!

Is the use of medicine opposing faith?

As a believer, a Christian seeks to do God’s will and remain in it. There are times where if we’re not careful, we can take a legalistic approach to the Word of God that could hinder God’s purpose in our lives. In this case I’m talking about sickness and healing.

 God CAN heal! I have no doubt. God WANTS to heal! I believe that too. Then, is it lack of faith to use medicine to deal with our illnesses? I’m not so sure. By medicine I’m not entering into the argument of natural medicine versus pharmacology. Although I personally believe that God placed one on the earth for us and gave the wisdom for the other, but that is a total separate discussion.

I’ve heard fellow Christians refuse medical treatment because they think that it would demonstrate a lack of faith in God’s power to heal. I’ve been in situations where I’ve been sick and I’ve been asked if I had prayed. I even heard someone say that they didn’t even take an aspirin but they prayed all things out. I’m not discounting the need for healing prayer and declarations. I’ve experience the power of the healing prayer. At the same time I don’t believe that I should not take vitamins, supplements or medicine just because I prayed and that the use of one doesn’t mean I have no faith in the other. 

In researching for this subject, I came across a message board that was discussing the issue and one of the participants said something that struck a cord. “This would be like saying that we will not work or pay our bills because God is our provider” It struck a cord not in a negative way; it just gave me a picture of the Israelites crossing the desert receiving manna and birds as provision. Should we now not work or go to the supermarket because that would be us telling God that we do not have faith on his provision? I don’t think so.

 I believe that just like with provision, God utilizes several methods to deliver healing. The quickest example for me was the healing of the blind man. Jesus made a paste from dirt and his own spit and healed the man and then had the man wash his face. (John 9:1-41) Jesus is God and didn’t have to go through all that trouble, but he chose to go that route.

 So what to do? Have faith in your healing, pray for your healing, believe in your healing, and ask God through which way he wants you to obtain the healing, via fasting and prayer, via forgiveness (yes, resentment and unforgiveness makes us sick) or by simply using something that he placed on earth or in our wisdom for our benefit.

I found this great pamphlet about sickness, healing and medicine all based on Scriptures that I hope you find as interesting as I did. 

http://www.eternalgod.org/lit/booklets/healing_view.pdf

Blessings!

Christ vs. Christians

Jesus
Image via Wikipedia

I have a few non Christian friends; some belong to other beliefs, some non active Christians (saved but not living for Christ), “spiritual” (those who know that God exists somewhere but have no desire to live for him) and some professed atheists. Ironically, we have a lot of religious conversation and to my surprise sometimes they know more about what Jesus said and his expectations than some of my own Christian friends. Some of them ask me to pray for them when they are in the middle of a situation.

In our conversations I’ve identified certain trends of why some of them are not attracted to Christianity, so I wanted to share them with my fellow believers, because they do have a point.

  • It’s not Him, it’s y’all-I’ve never heard even atheists’ bad mouth Jesus or Christ. It’s not Him who bothers them, they don’t like Christians. As soon as someone proclaims to be a Christian in front of them they form an expectation of how we should behave and we tend to fall really short in that expectation, giving us very little credibility to our words. In other words, our walk doesn’t match our talk.
  • Judgment-We are perceived to function out of judgment and not out of love. Some unbelievers are living lives that according to the Christian walk is outside of the “acceptable”. Some of them have had experiences were they have attempted to reach out to learn about Christ and have been received with judgment about how they are going to “burn in hell” for their actions instead of loving them through their circumstances.  I have to stop here and say that this happens to Christians who leave the faith as well or to some of those non active Christians that I was talking about. As humans, we can all fall short of the glory and what are we to do. Galatians 6:1 reads “’ Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted” If the sin of that person is a personal struggle for you, don’t go there, the point is not for you to fall, but help directing the person to someone that can actually help, in love. If it’s a struggle for you, seek help, because it means that you have unresolved situations yourself.  Be honest about it. But how many times have people been humiliated and condemned for what they have done instead of pursuing their restoration.

We also sometimes forget how we got to the feet of Christ. I’ve been on both sides of this equation. Personally, when I became a Christian I was        very young, so I didn’t experience the redeeming life with Christ after big fallout. I was prideful. I didn’t understand why people couldn’t get it together, until I fell on my face and didn’t know how to come back. It was then when I understood mercy and grace. God placed loving people in my life to show me the way back, but those people never made me feel like I was scum and they were holy, which brings me to my next point.

  • Being genuine- Life in Christ is a journey not a destination. I think much is emphasized in the church and the rules than the relationship with God. With this I’m not saying that church and guidelines are not important or necessary, but many times we try to make people act a certain way that they are not ready to instead of loving them through the process and allowing the Word of God and their personal relationship to Jesus to flow and do the changes that GOD wants to make in a person, not the ones we want to see.

Just like a child knows when someone loves them or not, wounded people know too. If you honestly don’t love someone, don’t try to fake it, they will know and your words will mean nothing, especially if you’re saying that you love them in Christ.

  • Authenticity-Trying to fake life and present a holier than thou image just because you’re  a Christian and present that once you received Christ live was a bed of roses repels unbelievers more than anything.  When people are struggling, thinking that there’s no way that God would accept them where they are now, keeps them away from Christ.

I have a friend who has had some of my same struggles, she was key in my return to Christ because I saw how even though she had gone through, God made it happen for her. She taught me the steps to take out of the gutter and how I had believed the lie of no redemption and how God really wanted me, but she didn’t do it by Bible thumping although we did speak of the Word. She did it by sharing with me how through the Word, God spoke to her in her darkest moments.  Wait! She has dark moments being a Christian…Huh, there’s hope for me!

I knew then what to pray for and how to stand on the Word of God, because of her story. Is she perfect? No! Is she living a perfect rosy live now? No! She has a real life with the same struggles that everyone has, the difference is how she overcomes them and that inspires me to overcome mine and hang in there.

Why was this instrumental? Because even though I knew the Lord, up until that time those speaking into my life were just pointing out what I was doing wrong and how I was going to burn too if I didn’t get it together. If I, who knew the Lord couldn’t get back, how do you think someone who doesn’t know his love would feel even compelled to try?  Someone said that you may be the only bible someone reads. If you’re condemning other people’s lives, that’s what their erroneous bible is teaching them about a life in Christ.  If you’re not real with your own struggles and your own difficulties then, they will know that you’re not trustworthy and that the god that you claim to serve is just as phony as you are. Is that how you want to present Christ to others?

When this subject has come up I’ve told my friends to look at Christ and not at us, because we are human and jacked up. All I can do is try to live as genuine as possible, pray and allow God to work in their hearts and in mine (because I’m still a work in progress), because at the end of the day Salvation is a personal decision and it’s not me who saves, but He who lives in me.  So you my fellow believers are you living an authentic life or do you wear your Sunday mask every time you have to talk about Christ? Do you talk about Jesus, or do you try to live like Jesus?

Food for thought,

Blessings

Call to sanity: Bishop Eddie Long

I really didn’t think I was going to address this subject, but the more I hear about it, I feel compelled to do it. I’m talking about the situation that Bishop Eddie Long is being named in.

 I think as Christians we have lost perspective. Part of the reason why I didn’t think it was a matter worth talking about is because this is a legal issue between the accusers and the accused. Yes, Bishop Eddie Long comes on television. He’s still a human being and so are the young men who are involved in this process. I do recognize that is sad to see Christians involved in things that go against our beliefs, but we can’t lose perspective these are human beings as well. Sin is sin; lies, abuse, murder, adultery, stealing is all the same in the eyes of God. “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone” John 8:7

 It comes down to this…someone needs to repent and someone needs to forgive, end of the story! I don’t know who is guilty or who is not and it’s not my place to know. I know that if justice is not obtained on earth it definitely will be achieved in heaven, so all I hope is for a transparent and honest process from both parts and that whoever did comes forward with the truth and repentance and who ever received the offense is ready to forgive.

 Why did I decide to write this? I’ve heard of fellow Christians enraged by the situation, which it’s understandable, but I think we are focused on the wrong thing. Our duty right now is to pray for all the parts. For those who are near Bishop Long and the young men, they need to pray for wisdom to give adequate counsel and to determine where God wants them to be at this moment in time. We all need to pray for a congregation that is hurting because of these allegations.  

 I have never stepped a foot on New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, but I feel for all the people in the congregation, because I can understand that they are hurting. This is their time to look to God and not towards men for their answers.

 I love my pastors. I’ve been part of my church family for 5 years now and I have a great respect for my leaders. I do recognize that they are humans and that just like me they can fail and that because of their visibility their attacks are way bigger than mine. I pray that God covers their every step, but if tomorrow something was to come out, true or not, my pain needs to turn into prayer because I can not forget that before they are my pastors they are souls to the Lord. Isn’t that what we as Christians are called to do?  Isn’t our job to go after the lost? I don’t know who is lost in this case and as it’s not my job to judge, so I don’t care. I do exhort everyone to pray for ALL; Bishop Long and the young men that have filed these accusations. Both sides are hurting, and both sides are important to the Lord.

 Be blessed.

October: Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic violence against woman.
Image via Wikipedia

Abuse is a cause very dear to my heart; all kinds of abuse. I think it’s despicable that someone will use their God’s given talents to overpower another creation and enslave it. October is domestic violence awareness month and I want to use this forum to give some hope to those who are in a domestic violence situation or recovering from it.

It may sound very basic, but there are people that have not realized that they are in a domestic violence situation. The primary causes its denial. Many people feel like their situation is not abusive because they don’t have bruises to show or their partners have never raised a hand on them. Others do know that they are being abused, but shame, guilt, erroneous beliefs, finances and fear may have them paralyzed to make a decision out of their abusive relationships. I don’t judge your choice of staying or leaving. All I do know is that God wants so much more for you.

Abuse comes in different shapes and forms. Physical abuse is more evident and not to be taken for granted. Emotional and psychological abuse is just as traumatizing and leaves permanent scars in those who endure them.

What is emotional and psychological abuse?

I want you to read the article in the link below. Basically it says that when you’re humiliated, manipulated and coerced into things that you don’t want to do. That’s emotional abuse!

http://www.womansdivorce.com/psychological-emotional-abuse.html

Regardless of the type of abuse someone is enduring, this is not what we were created for. For the most part the abuse comes from men to women, although we recognize that there are men that are being abused and it’s totally unacceptable as well. The Bible specifically states “God-of-the-Angel-Armies says, “I hate the violent dismembering of the ‘one flesh’ of marriage.” So watch yourselves. (Malachi 2:16 MSG). In a marriage, who’s the “one flesh”? The spouse. God doesn’t approve of violence in our homes.

Proverbs 10:11 “The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covered the mouth of the wicked” We are supposed to treat others in love, God doesn’t approve of verbally abusing each other. James 3:10 “Out of the same mouth proceeded blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be” Our mouth was created to praise God, eat…lol!, and bless others…not to use it as a weapon against others.

There’s so much ground to cover on this subject. To be honest, I’m learning along with you. Join me in this journey during this month, to uncover the truth of God’s plan for our lives, which is to prosper us and give us a brighter future (Jeremiah 29:11) and not of destruction. Abuse destroys lives and that’s not the plan of God.

If you’re in an abusive situation, seek help. Even if a door doesn’t open right away, keep knocking. Yes pray, but act! Even if you’re not in a domestic violence situation, join us in this discussion and support our brothers and sisters in pain.

Be blessed.

Natalicio

Natalicio is another word for birthday in Spanish. I happen to be counting another one of those in my calendar. I woke up this morning thinking about my daily routine, even complaining about things here and there and then I stopped myself.

New Years Eve is not the only day to make inventory of your life, every time another year of life is added is good to see where you are, especially in comparison to where you’ve been. I started by thinking where was I for my last birthday. I remembered having a family dinner and a small gathering at home. I am grateful for the efforts but I was not in a good place.

This last year has been filled with hard lessons and great challenges, but has also been filled with the Mercy and Grace of Jesus Christ. I look at myself in the mirror and I’m definitely not the same person I was. I have grown a lot and thank God it has not been in my dress size. I have made new friends, have taken new risks and I can look at the future with purpose.

I also reviewed that God has allowed me to live this far, not saying that I’m old, but any enterprise more than 20 years is a long journey. I looked at my life with gratitude. I have a God that has provided for me every single day. I have never gone to bed without eating, unless I wanted to and I obviously don’t chose to. I’ve had a roof over my head all my life. I’ve always had clothes to wear, and all of you should be grateful for that too. My bills have always been paid, a delay here and there, but that’s my stewardship challenge, not lack of provision. I can’t even count the many times God has saved my life from trouble. I stopped my pity party and looked at life in a different light. I made a decision. Today was the day to move forward; to start looking at life for its blessings.

I felt filled with joy and left my house to live the first day of my life, it was truly my birthday; my day of birth. To complete my joy, friends and family overwhelmed me with demonstrations of love. I was already happy to be alive and have the Lord, everything else was icing in the cake, and I had tons of it, all fat free as it was all involved in love.

Even if it’s not your birthday today, take an opportunity to look at the blessings in your life. Be mindful, your job may not be perfect, but at least you have one. Your check may not be enough to allow you to travel, but your bills are paid. You may not have the latest fashion but you’re not naked. You may not be able to eat at a fancy restaurant, but you don’t go to bed hungry. Be grateful for all you have and all the blessings God has poured into your life and experience your own birthday.

Sex Scandal in the Catholic Church

Church Sex scandals are a hot button topic these days and have maintained high visibility in the media recently.  I was moved to write this because I believe that the passion and intensity surrounding this issue has skewed a lot of people’s opinions and perspective and I believe that I can give a more balanced view on this issue.

It is terrible that as a people we have to be watchful even with those who we have been conditioned to trust, namely men and women who claim to come in the name of God. Sex scandals have not been exclusive to the Catholic Church, many preachers and pastors have fallen short of the grace and those things have become public. It is always disappointing.  I think part of the disappointment comes from forgetting these individuals are merely men and women. We have the tendency to elevate their position because of the part they play in our communities, social settings and the body of Christ. The reality is that yes, their responsibility is to lead and teach us about the Lord, but their humanity doesn’t leave with their calling.  Actually, as Christians we need to pray harder for our leaders because their attacks and strongholds are often as large as their calling.

I’ve heard people blaming celibacy for these events. I respectfully disagree. Priests and nuns know that this is a requirement of the commitment they have made. If sex was the driving force then priests having relations with Nuns or other secular adults would be just as, if not more, prevalent. The truth is pedophilia, rape, and sexual abuse is not sexually driven. They are driven by a deeper disturbance; it’s about control and power more than the sex itself.

 The other part where I respectfully disagree is where it has been commented that because it was male priests with male boys, that it was due to homosexuality. Homosexuality is not equal to pedophilia. Statistics show that the majority of sexual predators are heterosexual.

Now the thing that really bothers me about these cases is the way they have been handled. Whether the abuse was committed by clergy or the man down the street, the inequities in the handling of the situations are abhorrent. The fact that many of these priests were simply relocated to new communities, with no consequences or rehabilitation program, is ridiculous. On top of that, the new communities were not advised of the person’s past behavior. If the church wanted to take care of it internally, like the military handles issues that pertains to soldiers; I don’t have issue with that, however, relocating them to another community is unacceptable. Instead they should have been placed in some manner of recovery program and then reassigned to work in a position where they didn’t have access to children at all. Is that lack of forgiveness and mercy? No! That’s wisdom. Slapping their wrists and telling them to not do it anymore, without true rehabilitation, placing them back into the communities to do more damage, is irresponsible, dangerous and ultimately criminal.

It is hard for me to understand why servants of God would think that this would stay hidden forever?  The word of God says that “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13 NIV) which means that nothing that they were doing was going to remain a secret.

I encourage you to pray for our religious leaders. They have a great responsibility and with it great lengths of attacks. I pray that they take the authority that has been given to them by their calling and correct appropriately those who have been entrusted to them.

I pray for those who have committed these terrible acts that they find themselves in true repentance before God. That they turn their hearts, make amends when possible and face accountability for their actions.

 I pray for the victims. I hope that their hearts continue to look to God for redemption and healing. God can restore anyone, and He can restore the souls of these who are suffering and their loved ones.  I encourage you to pray the same

Be blessed.