Not too long ago, I was sitting by the entrance of one of my favorite restaurants waiting for takeout. I 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?
You 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.)
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
This song reminds me of many times where we lose faith and question God about his timing. The times in my life where I’ve been in those situations I have to say in hindsight that God was always right. I mean we know he always is, but when we want something to happen or to stop happening we want movement now.
In those darkest places we think God is not listening. We think that there’s something that we need to do to make things happen. We beg, plead and bargain. After the storm we see that God was never late and that his apparent silence had a very valuable reason.
But while we’re in the storm, just like the song says, we need for him to comfort us, to hold us in his hand. We need for him to help us in our disbelief and soothe our impatience. This is a cry out to the loving Father who has promised that through this moments he will carry us through.
Is this you today? Let us pray for you. You can indicate your prayer request in the comments or send them privately to therisingmuse at gmail dot com
It’s a pleasure to worship with you.
Happy Worship Friday! (WF)
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If there’s something that we can’t say enough is how much we need God in our lives. We wouldn’t even have a life without him. We wouldn’t have a future if it wasn’t for his Grace and Mercy.
Let’s rest in his bosom, just like a newborn child; in total abandonment and filled with peace. Only in the presence of the Lord we can find happiness .
- WF: Bouncing back (therisingmuse.com)
The great thing for those who believe in God is that there’s hope. It doesn’t matter how hard life gets or how gray the things around us look we have hope. We have the hope that not only we can survive anything that crosses our path, but also that God will use it for our good.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
By Gina Cook
My name is Gina and what an honor to share my story with you. My prayer is that somewhere along the line of my story, you will feel hope and strength. They same time flies when you are having fun. I would like to say time has flown because my life has been a blast, full of laughter and health, yet looking back it is hard to believe that 7 years ago my life drastically changed and will forever be changed because of that moment where time stood still and life seemed hopeless.
Breast Cancer is no respector of persons, it doesn’t care who you are, where you came from, what color, what age or that you really don’t have time for this horrible disease. But here I was at the age of 31 years old and a mother of two young girls and a few days before my youngest daughter Dakota’s first Birthday, I was daignosed with Stage Three Breast Cancer with the tumor being over 3 Centimeters in size. I remember feeling as if I could not breathe and the sting of death was at my door. The Words “You have Cancer, and it isn’t good” was spoken by the Doctor.
My life that seemed so young and fresh with so much ahead, suddenly seemed dark and hopeless. And here in that moment, a new me emerged. I was a fighter and was not ready to leave this world. I was not ready to leave my daughters and my family behind. My purpose on Earth was not fulfilled and I was ready to put my boxing gloves on and fight this horrible Cancer. My brother in law bought me some red boxing gloves and had all my family sign them for me, and I was ready to fight.
Because of my size tumor and it being in three out of fifteen lymph nodes they removed from my arm, I began chemotherapy first to shrink the tumor. Immediately I began three heavy and hard months of Chemotherapy. Throwing up , so weak that I had to hold on to to anything in sight to make it to my destination. As if the throwing up and exhaustion isn’t enough then you lose your hair. What was once long and brown thick hair went to a short cut and then a week later fell out on my pillow as if to say “I’m leaving you too”..For at those moments when you are lying in your bed trying to sleep, you feel alone , alone with the thoughts of “How will I survive this?” Though family and friends surrounded me through this fight, I was still alone with my thoughts . No one could really know what I was thinking or feeling.
There are so many days it would take all my energy to get out of the bed. I would pray for God to give me the strength so my oldest daughter Macayla , who was six at the time, could see me look normal when she came home from school. The masked smile and “Mommy is fine, just tired” hurt as much as the multiple surgeries that I had including a Masectomy. I didn’t want my girls to lose their mom. I want to see them get ready for prom, celebrate Birthdays and holidays and see them get married one day. Yet through all these feelings, my heart still had a song.
I will forever remember that moment when my oldest daughter Macayla was running in the front yard. it was a beautiful day and she was chasing Butterflies that were all out in our front yard. I sat on the couch that was in front of the glass window and watched her. The words began to come to me and I walked slowly to the stairs. I grasped the stair rail and held on tight with both hands . One step at a time, I kept repeating the words in my head so I could remember it “My butterfly, you fly so high. You fly for me. Everything I am not know, you seem to be. My Butterfly take on the wind, fly so high, but come back again. Thank you for letting me see, myself through you. Your everything to me.”. I made it up the stairs and went into my closet. Knelt down on the floor and with my paper and pen birthed the song out of it’s cocoon “My Butterfly”.
For that moment she was flying for me but I began to see myself emerge from the cocoon and able to fly. Not physically but spiritually. I felt “HOPE”. I began to check my calendar off every day and what would be closer to my chemo and radiation treatments to come to end. My chemo treatments went on for over a year followed by radiation, more surgeries and after cancer treatments. On the weeks I did not have chemo, I would go for short walks with the girls, go to the mall for an hour if just to show my girls I could do it. I enjoyed every minute and second before the dreaded chemo stepped up to the box on my calendar.
I loved being around family and singing with my mom, sister and my brother Kevin who played the drums. It was very rare I would miss a church service. I didn’t want to quit singing because it got me through the pain. I began to write more songs and the healing process began. Soon the day came when I would see that all the fighting, pushing, and determination to beat this would come and I would hear the words “You are Cancer Free”. “Free” How appropriate those words were to me. I made it!!
Then there was my wonderful mom whom I don’t think I could have recovered as quickly, she would stay up at night with me, and rock my youngest daughter Dakota to sleep when I was too sick. My mom was my rock!! Through this I have met amazing people, made bonds that can never be broken and have continued fighting this battle for others. I have confidence like I never have before, I am empowered to bring Joy and life to others. I am involved as a volunteer with Long Leaf Hospice and am an avid Fan of running, and now a Zumba fitness instructor. My story is for everyone to see that though the disease is ugly , there is hope on the horizon, a sunset over the mountain that you climb and along the way I pray you feel the hands of God. For remember when you only saw the footprints, He was carrying you.
I want to dedicate this to my daughters Macayla and Dakota who are my Butterflies and will carry on the legacy of giving back and inspire others. They dance for me and continue to amaze me every day!
Hope lives !!
For booking Gina Cook as your guest speaker/singer at your event contact her on facebook or at firstname.lastname@example.org. myspace/ginacookmusic
Gina’s picture courtesy of “Dawn and Company Portrait”
Thanks Gina for your bravery and sharing with us
Researching information for this month’s articles I ran into something, that yes, I’ve seen but it had not clicked in my mind when I thought about abuse and it’s the term “spiritual abuse” in a relationship. This relates to when a spouse uses God to control or manipulate the other spouse with the Word of God or an alleged spiritual gift or “power”
These abusers use their spouses faith and a legalistic vision of the Word of God to manipulate, control and undermine their spouses. With this behavior the enforced their authority and the victim submits to avoid consequences not only with their perpetrator but with their higher power, as they believe this is coming from God himself.
The fact that the victims are being abused will make them be more submitted as they think that they must be doing something wrong, as they continue to be criticized or chastised by their abuser. On the other hand this can hinder their faith as they would have trouble understanding why God would allow them to live in such conditions, when it’s not God, it’s the other person’s free will that is attacking them.
Jeremiah 23:16 says “This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.” But if this is your husband or boyfriend, how can you tell?
- Study the Word yourself.
- If your spirit says something is not right, it probably isn’t. Look it up before you agree to do something.
- Pray and ask the Holy Spirit for clear direction.
- Read the Word in context and not singling out scriptures. Sometimes just reading a few more sentences can bring clarity to the context.
- In doubt, research. Sometimes just reading different versions of the same scripture will bring clarity to our notions.
- Talk to other Christians (be careful about this one, you don’t want someone who is misguided as well)
If you want to identify a potential spiritual abuser, read Matthew 23:1-39 ESV Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long”
- The abuse that nobody sees (therisingmuse.com)
- Breaking Free From Spiritually Abusive Power Systems ~ Helps and Research (thereformedtraveler.com)
In life we go through struggles and sometimes all that keeps us going is our faith.
One of my favorite passages in the bible is the exit of the Israelites out of Egypt and how God saw them through. Sometimes we are in our personal dessert and have to trust that since we serve the same God, he too will see us through.
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
In the past couple of weeks I’ve had some life changes, not necessarily negative ones, but changes nonetheless. I was feeling the stress on the change in routine. For the past couple of months I’ve been so focused on my writing and these changes have rearranged my schedule, and I was getting anxious on how things were going to get done now that I had more on my plate.
I’ve been reading the book of Isaiah and reading this particular verse resounded with my spirit, ”No, we’re going to study the Scriptures” People who try the other ways get nowhere, a dead end!” Isaiah 8:21 I felt God was trying to tell me that the reason why I was feeling overwhelmed was because once again I had forgotten to give it up and I was trying to do things on my own, instead of trying it his way.
Then the next morning the Lord woke me up with this song stuck in my head. Living for God is not only amazing, but when we recognize that no challenge in this world compares to his greatness and to eternity, our perspective gains focus.
Let’s worship together.
PS: If you tried to tune in yesterday for my interview with “Friends and Neighbors” my apologies. The show producers decided to record and my interview will be aired on October 16th at 4:30pm. Thanks for your support.
How often do we really notice what goes around us? We live our little Christian lives, with our Christian friends and our Christian activities. How many times do we really live the life that Jesus called us to live.
Listen careful to this song, it will give you a lot of food for thought. This weekend while having fun and rest with our loved ones, lets think about what else we can do with the time we have available.
Do you want to read about real life lessons on how to do this thing called Christian Life? Pick up a copy of my devotional Growth Lessons
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