Four emotions to keep in check during the COVID-19 crisis

We’re experiencing some incredible times, where the norm is no longer the norm. Our lives our now consumed with the priority of isolation and social distancing. We don’t really know when this virus will hit its peak nor how soon we will we return to normal.  It seems that by fall time we may see the first anti-viral vaccine for it. But as we process these events and live through them, we must remember that aside from making sure we’re safe, our emotional state and how we respond to this crisis is even more important. We should maintain a healthy outlook on life, our future, and check our emotional condition. There are four emotions that I identified during this season that helped me understand that I must be aware of them and not subconsciously fall into the trap of fear, loneliness, discouragement and paranoia. After all, Jesus did remind us to renew our minds daily, so that we do not fall into temptation, self-pity, anxiety, and a slew of other emotions that can grip us and create strongholds as a result of this crisis.

Here are the four emotions I identified:

#1 Fear: With the thousands of deaths that continue to rise on a daily basis, it’s no wonder that fear is the driving force to this pandemic. Obviously no one wants to die, but that shouldn’t cause us to lose our peace. After all, we all will die one day.  In God’s word, we’re reminded that “to live in Christ and to die is gain,” meaning, death has lost its sting and it is all thanks to the perfect sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If we die, we gain eternal life and if we live, we live for Christ here on earth. Truly, the perfect love of Christ, casts out all fear. So there is no need to consume yourself with the idea of death, if you trust in God’s plan for your life. Ecclesiastes 3:11- “He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

#2 Loneliness: When someone gets infected with COVID-19 virus, it is an automatic quarantine and isolation for a specific period of time. This can definitely be difficult and challenging for families, and it takes a toll on the person infected. It’s important to communicate and provide support for people who are sick. Rejection can bring sadness in the person, discouragement, lack of hope, and even suicidal thoughts. It is advised that a person who is sick should stay home, but at the same time, we should continue to keep in touch via phone or online, to check up on them. And if you’re on the other side of the spectrum and you’re not sick, but at home, try to see the positive in this as hard as it may seem. Look beyond the crisis and see how this has already impacted the world, and it will never be the same. What we once took for granted, has now taken a new perspective and meaning to the lives of everyone.

#3 Discouragement: Discouragement is definitely an emotion that can reach any of us, even the most positive person. It’s pretty normal to feel this way during this crisis. To prevent this cycle from continuing, I encourage you to read the word of God, pray, and worship. Also, do things that you enjoy doing, to keep your mind distracted from the crisis. Discouragement can easily turn into depression, so watch out for that.

#4 Paranoia: I’ve seen news stories where people have become paranoid and clean every five seconds as a result of this pandemic. It’s understandable that we have to be precautious, we need to disinfect, stock up on groceries and basic essentials, but this doesn’t give us permission to become paranoid. Due to the paranoia of people, shelves are empty of the most basic essentials for daily life. Your peace of mind is everything and it is not worth losing your mind over this. The word of God says in Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” I encourage you to remember that the peace of God gives you the freedom to act with wisdom, but not with anxiety. It’s important to be cautious, but it’s not good for it to become excessive. Wash your hands, don’t touch your face and practice social distancing, and you should be fine.

Hope this blesses you and reminds you to keep your emotional state in check. Do not let any of these emotions take over your peace of mind nor allow the emotions of others to be inflicted on you. Trust in the Lord, with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

 

 

 

Find joy in your worst circumstance

For many of us, finding joy in the midst of difficult situations may seem impossible. But did you know that it is possible to have the joy of the Lord, during the worst times of your life? In your moment of grief, pain, or sorrow, we hardly pay attention to joy. What can we do to endure through the worst moments of our life? We simply look at the joy that is set before us, just like Jesus did. If you recall, Jesus Christ was devastatingly beaten, punched, spit on,  mocked and crucified at Calvary. But, Jesus was able to endure this tragic death because He looked at the finish line with hope, knowing that the world would be saved through Him. “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:2 

It’s important to stay in the presence of God, in order to find that joy. God’s presence is everywhere, but not everyone is aware of it, because they don’t have a relationship with Him. Entering His presence is different, He abides in you and you abide in Him. This is the key to maintaining joy and calmness during your worst times. Because in those moments, your eyes are fixed on Jesus, and He will provide you the comfort and peace, that no one else can. I remember the time I heard the news that my Golden Retriever, Bentley, had lymphoma cancer. I was in the middle of a tutoring session with a client and I had to keep my composure after hearing the most devastating news. I’m not going to lie, I was devastated until the day he passed away, but little by little God gave me peace as I came to accept that this was his fate and God was taking him. All I could do was enjoy every single moment I had with Bentley and keep praying for joy and peace. There was absolutely nothing anyone could do to provide me comfort and joy during those moments. It was not their fault, they just were not experiencing my grief. But the incredible thing about God’s character is that He is experiencing this grief right along with you. God cares about your emotions and He can also empathize with you, because He himself bore our iniquities on that day that he died. This verse comes to life when you enter His presence and actively pray to experience this joy, even in your worst moments. Psalm 16:11 – You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”  

The bottomline is to seek His face and do not neglect His presence. And if you don’t have the strength to pray, simply say, “Jesus, please be with me.” I promise you, He will show up.

If you’re going through something difficult, feel free to comment below or contact me personally, so that I can pray with you. May the Lord bless you, give you peace, and may His countenance always shine upon your face. God bless, beloved!

Finding love in a Christian circle

     Waiting on God for your spouse is not easy, it requires great patience. This is why the word says that patience produces character and character hope. If our character is strengthen, we are sure to not lose hope in Christ and in His promises to us. Throughout my journey as a Christian, I remember being single for a few years, wondering if marriage was in God’s plans for me. I remember having countless conversations with single Christians and married ones, and they all shared a common theme – waiting is hard. Every time I would see a godly couple courting or someone successfully married, I would hunt them down to ask them all types of questions. No one truly had the formula on finding your spouse, except, they would always say that God ordained it. Now it may seem as though your pool of options are limited, after all, we are a minority.  It may seem impossible to man, but with God all things are possible and He can bring you your spouse. Our God is supernatural, He isn’t random with His decisions about your life and He definitely isn’t a God of chaos, but a God of order. You’re probably asking yourself, are my opportunities of getting married looking dimmer and dimmer? Has God forgotten me? Is there any hope? And my answer for you is… God is good, kind, and just. All you have to do is trust Him. Below are some practical tips on how to approach the wait and run the race with endurance.

#1 Fast & Pray: If you have not done it yet, it’s time to get on this. Fasting and prayer combined together will open the heavens and bring divine intervention in your life. It will also bring repentance, in case you’ve idolized marriage, and it will bring revelation. God is interested in your love life and believe me, He wants you to be fruitful and multiply, but before that happens, you must walk with the Lord, just like Adam did in the garden.

#2 Stay focused on your God given assignment: This may seem like a given, but not many singles do this. Instead, they focus their energy on finding their spouse or making sure they’re found (with manipulation). This never works, folks, manipulation won’t help the cause, but instead cause you heartache. Focus on your calling, or on asking God to reveal your calling, so that you can put the Kingdom of God first. God will process you during this time, He will show you the mysteries of the Kingdom and when you’re ready, He will open the door to the promise land.

#3 Understand the times: A lot of single Christians are impatient and believe that God is late to the party. This isn’t the case my friend, sometimes we’re late to the party. God gives us all seasons of opportunity, to seize the day, to bask in His presence, but when we’re distracted, we miss the mark. What do I mean by this? There will be times when the Lord will bring you your spouse, he or she may even be in your circle, but you are closed off. Sometimes it’s not that God has not brought them, but instead, you have the walls of Jericho surrounding your life and people are naturally intimidated by you. Maybe you’re shy and don’t attempt to form friendships. And in other cases, you have may have a hard time discerning if this person is the right fit for you. I’m not saying you have to advertise yourself as available to everyone, be discrete, but don’t be closed off either. Learn to make godly friendships, surround yourself with people of God constantly, work in ministry together, and you will see how God will weave in this person into your life. You won’t even know what hit you, when you see it happen! We also have the other side of the spectrum, perhaps your heart isn’t in the right condition to embark on a love journey or you have not grown spiritually mature in the Lord. God will teach you how to wait for the harvest, when it is ready. But for the moment, sow, sow, sow!

#4 Let God be God: If you recall the story of Lazarus being resurrected from the grave, you may know where I am going with this. Martha in her grief demanded from Jesus and told him he was late and if he would have been there on time, Lazarus would not have died. Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life” – John 11:17. It’s quite clear that Jesus reminded Martha that He is in control. This is a reminder that God knows the desires of your heart and He knows what you need even before you ask. Keep in mind that your time is not His and His time is not yours. Ask God to give you revelation, patience, and discernment while you wait for your spouse to arrive. Because it is a fact, “Everything is beautiful in His time” – Ecclesiastes 3:11 

 

Jesus takes the pain away

Many of us struggle with letting go of our past or releasing the pain we feel because of afflictions. Perhaps it is a loved one that passed away, friendships that dissipate, a romantic relationship, or a recent layoff at the job. Whatever it is, letting go of pain is difficult. What does God say about these situations in our lives, how do we cope and how do we move on in a healthy way? There is a verse in the Bible that is very encouraging when it comes down to seasons like this in your life, and of course you may feel free to share any verse you may know, too.

Philippians 3:12 – “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.”

Jesus understands our pain and He is there to comfort us. Jesus wept when Lazarus died, even knowing that He could resurrect him, He still mourned the loss. In Philippians 3:12, the Apostle Paul is looking forward to what lies ahead, and his goal was to resemble and mold his character to that of Christ; to run this race faithfully until the very end. As Christians, we set our eyes towards heaven and the promise of eternal life. While things here on Earth can and are to hurt us, every suffering and every tear we shed, our Lord  Jesus will wipe away. Revelation 21:4, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” There is great comfort in knowing this, and we have this hope in Christ, that nothing can separate us from His love.

As we go through this pain of letting go, we can also look forward to better days. Weeping will endure for a night, but joy will come in the morning says the word of God. 2 Corinthians 4:17 reminds us that our afflictions here are temporary, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” Whether it is persecution for believing in Christ or any type of grief, God is holding your hand through it all. Be honest to God about your pain, your trouble with letting go, and He will help you. Remember that Jesus is near the brokenhearted and like pastor Joe Wyrostek at MPI Church, says, “Jesus takes the pain away.”

Give your burdens to Him, cry out to Him. Little by little, the Holy Spirit will show you why that dear beloved person left your side, or why that season ended in your life. He will make light of it and your spirit will comprehend it, until you are ready to let go. And if you’re having a hard time letting go, ask the Holy Spirit to help you, and He will.

God bless you, beloved child of God.

Dear griever, it’s okay to grieve

Let me first start by saying, no one wants to grieve. The process alone is emotionally exhausting and painful. Whether it is a family member, friend, or a longtime furry baby, it is quite clear that all of us will experience grief at some point in our lives. I find it difficult, however, to find that in the Christian community, it’s almost difficult to openly grieve. For many, it may even feel embarrassing to speak openly about it, for fear of not getting understood, not receiving compassion, or simply not being a “strong Christian.” And that my friends, is not godly at all. In fact, Jesus always told us to carry each other’s burdens, no matter how small or big they are. And His word also says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” – Romans 12:15.

Recently I received news that my beautiful Golden Retriever of 9 years of age has lymphoma cancer. To be honest, I was very hopeful this plague would not touch my “tent” so to speak. But reality set in and I realized, Christian or not, no one is exempted from this, the devil does not discriminate, he comes to steal, kill, and destroy. The only difference believers have is the hope of Christ and everlasting life. Everything else comes down to the original sin that entered the world, death.

As you can imagine, I’m devastated and the only thing that has alleviated the pain, is to understand and accept death as a part of life. Psalm 23 has helped me understand this and receive peace. It says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” I’ve meditated on this psalm and I realize that God isn’t saying He will deliver us from death, but that we don’t have to fear evil. Death is real. But death doesn’t have a grip on us, Jesus conquered death. And because He conquered death, we get to live for eternity as believers in the Son of God. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t know where my dog will be after he dies, only God knows. But what I do know is that despite death being so near, Psalm 23 reminds me that God is with me during this painful time; His rod and His staff comfort me. I don’t have to fear death itself, I don’t have to fear of what I will endure, and in the silence of my prayer, I can hear God saying to me, “I’m with you. Do not be afraid.”

If you’re grieving today, I’m here to tell you that it is okay. Grieve my friend, it’s a process. Cry, let it out, don’t apologize and don’t hold it in. The Lord says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness,” – 2 Corinth 12:9-11. You can be in distress, in persecution, in agony, but God’s reminds you to be still. Let His grace, love, and comfort overwhelm you. Like the apostle Paul once said, “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast ]about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” 

May the Lord give you the strength and peace that you need during this time. Thank God for the people who mourn with you and bless them. May God’s love always permeate in your soul and remind you that you’re not alone. He is with you and He mourns with you. Let His ministering angels minister to you. God bless!

 

Aspire to live a quiet life

One of the most intriguing Bible verses that I’ve encountered has been 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, “Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” This is one of those verses that always leaves me meditating and pondering on what it means to live a quiet life as a Christian. For a long time, I figured it was simply, minding your own business and staying out of gossip. But to my surprise, the Holy Spirit has revealed much more to this than meets the eye. Living a quiet life as a Christian doesn’t mean to live in secrecy or secluded, it means to live a transparent life. In other words, being a representative of Christ and living for Him, not for yourself. Ambition, boasting, self-seeking glory, social media, and anxiety are things that we bring upon ourselves that prevent us from living this quiet simple life. Below are a few keys that will help you reevaluate your life or help you achieve this quiet life in Christ.

#1 Social Media can inhibit a quiet life. In this world of constant and instant feed, it’s very hard to live a quiet life. We’re so busy following people’s lives, we forget about our own. Or we’re too caught up in the frantic pace of society changing, we post every detail about our lives, and eventually we lose the essence of what is important – living a life of hope, faith, and love.  Here are some tips to ask yourself, before you post on social media. Does this post bring me joy and will it bring others joy? Why am I posting this? Is it better to keep this private and exclusive to myself and my family? Is it necessary? Is it edifying? While there is nothing wrong with social media, it is important to keep a leverage on why we post things and the reasons behind it. “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.”- 1 Corinthians 6:12. Too much of anything is never a good thing. Even ministry on social media can cause you to lose focus on your own intimacy with Christ. This medium can become a hindrance of that quiet life so many of us aspire to achieve and this becomes even more evident when everyone, including your neighbor, knows every detail about your life. Intimacy and privacy is suddenly lost. If you’re okay with that, then keep on posting my friend. Overtime, the Lord has taught me to be wise about what I post on social media, to consider why I am posting it, and to pay attention to the internal dialogue I have when I see other people’s feeds. I think this one is the most challenging…even though no one hears , God hears you loud and clear. “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” – Psalm 19:14

#2 Rejoice and live simply. The Christian life is without a doubt, filled with ups and downs. Christ wants us to live a life of simplicity and peace, not turmoil and strife. For many of us, that could mean, living at peace with your family, spouse, job, or relationships with friends. A life without contending and constantly being on the defense. Other things like allowing fearful thoughts to creep in, doubt, and insecurities about your circumstances can become strongholds and make you lose your joy. Comparison is another way to lose that goal of living a quiet life. We can get caught up looking at other people’s accomplishments and we get frustrated by how slow we’re moving. This is where we must learn to listen to God’s wisdom first, be humble, and appreciate what God has given us now. Leading a simple life is not the worst thing in this world, it’s actually very rewarding. And when I mean simple life, I don’t mean sitting idly, I mean being diligent and working hard towards your dreams…but not to the point that ambition or competition overtakes you and you’re never satisfied with what you already have. In other words, be content with what you have now and let the Lord do a great work in you, in His perfect time. Your joy is not dependent upon what you achieve tomorrow, your joy and satisfaction is dependent on Christ.

#3 Declutter your mind. With so much clutter on our minds, we tend to lose our joy and peace. It’s important to learn that God wants us to prosper and succeed in all that we do. But we cannot achieve this, if we’re constantly living in anxiety about what the future will bring. Today, I encourage you to put your thoughts in order, remove the clutter in your mind, and set back your intimacy with Christ. “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” – Colossians 3:2 

Grace and peace to you!

Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and ‘no’ be ‘no.’

For such a long time, my character has always been that of an extremely cautious and kind person. There is nothing wrong with that, but there has to be a balance. I’ve always been someone who is extremely careful not to offend anyone with my words and at times, I haven’t been firm with my answers. While it is good to measure your words to not offend, the truth is, it is inevitable to offend no matter what you do. I think many Christians today believe that being kind, means saying “yes” to everything people ask or say. While on the contrary, Jesus doesn’t want us to be that way. He wants us to be salt. He wants us to be steadfast and unshakable. He wants us to be firm on the rock. He wants us to not be double-minded. Shall I go on?

I’ve learned so much in this season and God continues to chisel my character. And the way I know this, is due to the countless opportunities I’ve had where my flesh wants to say ‘yes,’ but instead I listened to God and said, ‘no.’ There truly is a blessing in disguise when you’re firm in your answers and you don’t beat around the bush. Take for instance yesterday, I purchased something at a store and the cashier asked me if I had an in-store credit card. I automatically said no and proceeded to take out my card to pay. She looked at me, asked me another question, and I kindly said, “I don’t want to open one, thank you.” Before, I guarantee you, I would have answered all of her questions and considered the “discounts” and all the gimmicks, and finally said ‘no.’ This my friends is what I call, character development. Even in the smallest things, we need to learn how to have a straight firm forward answer. Not only will it save us time, it will save us from future headaches. Can I get an amen?

Below are some reasons why having a firm loving character can really produce good fruit in your life.

#1  You don’t waste time. Believe it or not, if you’re firm with your answers. You won’t have to repeat yourself. It’s that simple and people will simply have to understand your conviction. For example, if someone comes up to you with a different doctrine that does not preach Jesus Christ, you must remain firm on your faith. It’s good practice. “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” 1 Corinth 16:13 and “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.” Matthew 7:24 

#2  You’re secure in your identity. “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”- John 8:59. When the Pharisees heard Jesus speak in this manner, they were offended. With good reason, He was declaring Himself God. You see, Jesus knew his identity and He was not about to compromise the truth in order to get these men to follow Him. So many times we compromise our decisions, just to please people. Jesus was our prime example of having a firm identity. Our identity is in Christ Jesus. You know who you are and because of that, you can get yourself out of unwanted situations. The door of escape is always there.

#3  You establish healthy boundaries. Having a firm character allows you to love God above all, love yourself, and love your neighbor. It’s all tied together. When we stop pleasing man, we gain authority in Christ. We serve people, but we’re not called to be slaves nor to be intimidated by their faces. Galatians 1:10 says, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

#4  You prevent future problems. Many times in my life, I’ve been quick to answer and I haven’t taken the time to process the possible outcomes. Thankfully, God has worked everything out for my good, even my hasty decisions. And while God’s grace is sufficient to help you endure any future problem, why not prevent them before they happen, by making wiser choices. “Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God.” – Ecclesiastes 5:2 

#5  You’re respected. You’ve probably been around someone who always commits to something, says they will show up, but never does. That unfortunately builds a bad reputation and people will no longer believe or listen to what you say. Hopefully that isn’t you, but if it is, today you’re going to turn that around for good. The reality is, if you’re someone who has firm character, people will respect you whether they like you or not. They know your word is accountable and true. 1 John 3:18 – “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

Grace and peace!