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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Today is the End of the World

Today there’s a  group of people waiting for the Apocalypse to come. They were not told the hour, but as I write this at 1 EOWpm EST, it hasn’t happened. They’ve been told this in many occasions and when it doesn’t happen, the response is that they were not worthy of Jesus’ return, therefore he didn’t come. You may laugh at their believes, but if we’re not careful, we can all be in a situation following false doctrines and/or prophets.

I’ve always been curious about how cults work. Cults are not always a result of poverty or ignorance; you see educated and well off people joining these groups. They blindly follow a leader that tells them that they’re a messenger from God. Who doesn’t want to follow God? Therefore they believe what they are being told and follow blindly.

I grew up in church, but was never one to read the bible. I was taught that the man at the pulpit was chosen from God to shepherd his people, therefore I believed that what he said was true and that what he said came from God. Of course, everything he said he had a quote and a scripture to attach to it. I’m not saying that I was mislead in church. I just know that once I started studying the bible myself I was able to separate the truth or lack of truth of what God was saying to me or about me.

Where am I going with this? Sometimes because someone has a leadership position we trust in what they say. This is very true for believers, were they idolize their pastors, ministers’ u other leaders just because they are “men or women of God” and don’t stop to question some of the things that are being said. Let me clarify that I’m not denying that pastors, ministers and religious leaders have a high calling; they do deserve respect and honor. However the key here is “men and women”. They are still human, they still can make mistakes and they too can fall from grace.

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I was watching one of my real life crime shows the other night and it was about a pastor who killed his wife, but then was telling several women from his church that it was God’s will for them to be intimate with him as a way to supply his needs since he now didn’t have a wife.Some of these women were married to their husbands. Three or four women struggled with it, but then gave in, including the deceased wife’s mother. Yes, his mother in law.

I’ve also been reading about this group waiting for today’s apocalypse. Here’s what I learned. Part of their routine is to read the bible everyday. I couldn’t understand if they were reading the bible, how this “prophet” has them believing all these things and doing things that they do that are against the word of God. Everyone who has left the cult has said the same thing, that they were following “The Prophet” and not God.

We are responsible to study the word and contrast what we are being told with the word of God. The Word is the authority, not who is reading it to you!bible

It is not my job to judge what these man or women did. I do feel it is my responsibility to alert all my fellow Christians that if what someone asks you to do does not match with what the Word of God says, it doesn’t come from God. These are not the only cases where religious leaders have taken advantage of their position and the vulnerability of their parishioners. It has not only been with intimate relations, but with financial transactions, abuse and instances of power. “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” Psalm 118:8

In the bible we are warned about false prophets (These are just a few):

  •  Jeremiah 14:14 ”Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.”
  • Lamentations 2:14 “The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The oracles they gave you were false and misleading”
  • Matthew 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves”
  • Mark 13:22 “For false Christ’s and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect—if that were possible”

We should have a trusting relationship with our religious leaders, but our relationship with God should supersede that. God has a plan, and only one. His word is unchangeable, he has not changed his mind about his plan, and we’re the ones that veer from it. Therefore I urge you, when in doubt, go to the source.

In my journey with Christ, I have not found a single issue not being addressed in the bible; no matter how big or how small. If what anyone and I mean anyone requests of you goes against the Word of God, once again, it doesn’t come from God and you should remove yourself from that situation. 1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Like John says here… “Test the spirits”, go to the word of God, pray for your own revelation and don’t move until your spirit is at peace and in accordance with the Holy Spirit.

Be safe!

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?

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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,

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.

Love in Action Romans 12:9-10

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 

actionThe tricky part about love and honor is that it’s not just for those who we like. Being devoted to love those who are mean to us is no easy task. But this is something we really need to get serious about, after all is our second commandment right up there with loving God above all else.

The other misconception is that love is just tolerating everything others do and that’s not what love is. Love also brings correction and boundaries. Honoring others above ourselves doesn’t mean idolize them, it means to honor them in spite of our rights, hurts and emotions.

But in all we must be sincere about our love for others. Yes, no fake it until we make it. real loveWhen that love is not possible, it means that we don’t understand the love of God. Its at this time that we need to have Him show us his love and show us how to love others.

This also means that we are not happy when something bad happens to someone we don’t like and let me say, that means everybody. It includes, the neighbor, the coworker, the politician of the other party, the player of the opposite team, the driver who cut us in traffic and the person who did us wrong. It means that the most important muscles to workout are love and forgiveness.

That’s plenty to process, until next be blessed.