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!

Resist the devil and he will flee

One of the strongest attacks from the enemy (also known as Satan) is the constant condemnation and accusation he brings to  your life. Whether you’re a Christian or not, Satan doesn’t discriminate, he’s always ready to accuse you. Thankfully there is a way to stop these thoughts. Jesus has set us free through the redemption of His perfect sacrifice on the cross. Due to this, we now have the power through Jesus to cover ourselves with His precious blood. “Now there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who not not after the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” – Romans 8:1

There is a grave danger when we allow ourselves to dwell in the past, our uncertain future, or on what could have been. These are tactics the enemy uses to ensure that you don’t move forward. The devil gets a foothold if we give it to him. Don’t allow yourself to be manipulated nor taunted by the devil. Propose it to yourself to not allow Satan to play with your emotions, you’re not his puppet. I believe that part of the reason why we allow these thoughts of condemnation to filter through our mind and spirit, is the lack of self-dominion. We do not know how to stop these thoughts and we entertain them. We have the Holy Spirit talking to us, but instead, we choose to ignore that still small voice. So how do we choose to stop these thoughts? Below are a few tips on how to do this effectively.

#1 Remember that you’re in control. God’s word says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and sound mind.” – 2 Tim 1:7.  This means you have the fruits of the Holy Spirit and one of those fruits is self-control. Believe that you are equipped to stop those fiery darts with the shield of faith. You can lift that shield and cover your mind with the word of God. This will counter those lying words.

#2 You have been set free. The word of God says that “Whom the Son sets free is free indeed.” – John 8:36. You’ve been forgiven, redeemed, and purchased at a price. Nothing that you did in the past is unforgivable, Jesus already paid the price for your sins. Your past is “finished” and so are you sins. You’re no longer a slave to sin, but a slave to Christ. Proverbs 28:13 says, “Whoever conceals their sin does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” That word gives me a lot of hope. To know that if you’ve sincerely repented to God about what you’ve done…mercy is sure to follow. God’s mercy is indeed new every morning. Let your soul and your mind rest in the Spirit of the Lord. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom!

#3 Look ahead. The greatest weapon you have against the enemy is the present and the plans that God has for you. While we shouldn’t boast about tomorrow, God is the one who decides where we go, if we do this and that. Those days are filled with hope and desire…days of prosperity. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Don’t look behind, the past is considered garbage, whether good or bad, you’ve gained Christ now. Have hope in your heart that all will be well and God does not remember your sin. He’s that kind and generous. His desire for you is to move forward in Him, remain in Him, and He will make His home in you.

God bless.

Social media and the age of idolatry

We’re living in a time where idolatry is subconsciously socially acceptable by the double tapping of a thumb. We’re no longer concerned about our own lives, but we vicariously live out our lives through the Instagram feed of others. For some, it’s just a pass time, for others it’s an indirect way of “keeping up” with the life of someone, and for the majority of us, it has become a place of constant comparison. Brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s be honest, how many times have you’ve scrolled up and down a stream of IG pictures or videos and compared yourself, or possibly even coveted? Whether you admit it or not, did it consciously or subconsciously, the fact is – we’ve all done it. There is a serious consequence to idolatry and the Lord definitely doesn’t approve of it, simply because it only expresses the “ingratitude” we feel about our own lives and our own journey.

Thankfully we have a merciful God that is patient, kind, and slow to anger. As followers of Christ Jesus, we must always remember what he said to us regarding idolatry, “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. We cannot constantly worry about our inadequacies, our failures or shortcomings, the truth is… God is sufficient and your life is in His hands. We can easily be ensnared by idolatry, simply by just scrolling through social media. In an age of constant information and easy access to it, we need to learn how to stop the buck when it gets out of hand. I highly believe that Satan will use social media and pervert what was intended for good and use it to his advantage. The good news is that we have the authority in Christ to have dominion over what we allow to dwell in our spirit and in our thoughts.

How do we have dominion over our thoughts and prevent it from becoming thoughts of vain imaginations and idolatry? After all, thoughts are likely as fast as the speed of light, can we really stop them? While those thoughts may be coming at you like fiery darts, you have the ability to hold every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, even after it has passed through. You don’t have to agree with it, nor accept it as your own. Simply discard it, repent, and give it to God.

You’re probably thinking, but how do I know if a thought is idolatrous? Well, let’s first identify what is idolatry? Idolatry isn’t just having deep adoration for something, the true essence of idolatry for God is to replace that “thing” or “person” over God (Read Exodus 20:3-5). The depth of idolatry can creep in like a little fox that comes in to ruin the vineyard, it only takes one thought of comparison or ungratefulness, to literally covet. Colossians 3:5 describes what idolatry is, “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience.” Before Christ, we were disobedient and likely ignorant to Satan’s devices. Today, I encourage you to evaluate your thoughts and determine whether they are idolatrous. Do not let those thoughts overrule you, define you, or create something in you that is displeasing to the Lord. After all, we have a responsibility to control and monitor what we think. Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”

So how do I know if a desire or a thought is idolatrous? A good rule of thumb is to always use the filter of the Holy Spirit. When a thought comes through, ask yourself – is this true, is it noble, is it right, is it pure, is it lovely and admirable? If you cannot answer this with sincerity, something is off. If you take a look at the story of Hannah in the book of Samuel, you can see how Hannah desired deeply to be a mother, but was barren. Peninnah, the second wife of Elkanah, was a very bitter woman. She had the ability to bear children for Elkanah, but the idea that Elkanah loved Hannah more, consumed her. She did everything in her power to make Hannah feel miserable for not bearing children. Peninnah’s idol was her husband. Hannah didn’t want children to supersede Peninnah, nor to gain more value in the sight of her husband – she simply yearned to be a mother. Hannah understood the importance of depending on God for her needs and not allowing a deep desire to become more important than the presence of God. She did what any devoted person to God would do, she put it in prayer and vowed to give this son, if granted, back to God. It takes a strong woman to be able to let go of what you so deeply yearn to have. That’s a good sign that the gift did not become an idol for her, her first love was God. Later we see how the Lord not only answered her prayer, but gave her more than what she asked for. 1 Samuel 2:21 says, ” And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters.”

What is the ultimate lesson? We must always depend on God and thank Him for what He has already given us. As social media takes on different forms and evolves, we must make sure that we’re transformed by the renewal of our minds. Hope this blesses you and ministers to your life. God bless.

 

 

What is my calling?

 

For so many, success is to have material gainings, a big family, getting married, wealth, a successful career. But the true meaning of success really lies in the depth of what God has called us to do on this Earth, His specific purpose for your life and why you walk this Earth. Discovering your purpose and the reason why you were born, is having true success. God chose you before the foundations of the Earth and believe me, His purposes in your life will be accomplished.

Many of us are eagerly seeking and running after a or “the dream,” but what if I told you that your calling will chase YOU. Your dreams and calling are already within you, God has already planted them in you. Similar to your DNA, everything is written and you were designed a specific way. Your future, your story has already been written. Notice what God’s word says…

Psalm 139 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well……. Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.”

Did you see it? God has already written your story, in His book! What a great author He is. He knows your calling, your PURPOSE! He will fulfill His purposes in your life, but this won’t happen until you live out your days for Jesus. Remember it is God’s purpose, not yours that will be fulfilled. That gives us a great relief to know… because God is working out His own purpose in your own life. Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”

God is good. Today, if you’re concerned about your calling and you fear that time is running out. Fear not! There is no need to worry about the future. Your goal is to live out the present and to continue being in God’s will. In your intimate relationship with the LORD, He will guide you and direct your path. God will reveal it to you day by day. There won’t be a need to manipulate situations, people, or strategically force things to happen. It will just come naturally.

Praise the Lord for the time He has given us. I encourage you to make the most of each day and let God lead. He will bring you the divine connections and the divine doors. Remember to walk in His ways and with wisdom daily …and refuse to worry another day. Your ministry, your purpose in this life will be fulfilled before you die; just remain in Him and He will remain in you. Everything really is beautiful in its time and be sure that God will be on time with your purpose in this life as well and in the life to come. You were designed for greatness and your life is essential; God will use your life to fulfill His purpose here on Earth. You’re a part of His great plan. Amen!

The mind of Christ means having a renewed mind.

When you first come to the Lord and you surrender your life to Him, in other words, you’re born again; there is no doubt that the Holy Spirit immediately begins to work in your life. The HS begins to help you move in the direction towards living a life that is pleasing to the Lord.

Not a lot of people understand the importance of having a renewed mind in order to have the mind of Christ. Truly the mind of Christ was always God’s will, “yes and amen.” Christ never walked this Earth during His ministry with limitations on His mind and neither did He ever walk a life that was double-minded. It’s important to note that God does not want us to be double-minded because being double-minded actually brings unstableness (James 1:8). When have you ever met a person that says one thing and does another, and actually earn the respect of people? You automatically know who you can count on and who is simply just unstable. The same is with God, if we say we believe, then why do we doubt at times God’s ability to do anything?

As we continue this incredible journey of being a follower of Christ. We must understand that being a follower of Christ requires us to die to our selves, our old nature, our old habits, and our old way of thinking. There are strongholds in our minds that prevent us from seeing miracles and moving forward into the promises of God, due to our lack of renewal of the mind. As the word of God says, as a man thinketh, so is he.

Today, I encourage you to look at areas of your life where you find yourself doubting God, in disbelief, or perhaps holding on to things from the past. Why must we renew our mind? Below are some reasons:

  • The promised land: If you’re continuously thinking about the past like the Israelites did. They ended up staying in the desert for 40 years. God was upset at their complaints and did not allow them to see the promise. If we stay in the past, we can’t move towards the future.
  • We will be people of integrity. A renewed mind means we are people that can be responsible, trustworthy, and disciplined.
  • Anything is possible. When we think that with God anything is possible, literally that will happen. We must be people of faith that walk not by sight, but by faith.
  • A renewed mind means hope, joy, peace, and trust in the Lord. When we renew our minds, we trust that God is in control. Therefore, it allows us to be still and surrender every part of our lives to our heavenly Father. Heaven on Earth will be established in our lives.

I hope this post finds you well. May the Lord bless you and give you a renewed mind this new year. If you’re interested in learning more on this topic, feel free to click on this audio. My pastor at New Season Christian Church goes into depth about this in his new series, “Renewed Mind.” The series is in Spanish.

https://soundcloud.com/newseasonchristian/la-mente-renovada

God bless!

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