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!

Tares be gone?

Most of our lives, we spend it protecting ourselves and building impenetrable walls. And for good reason, we’re not always surrounded by people that want or have the best intentions for us. However, here is what I’ve come to understand about what Jesus intends for us to learn when we’re surrounded by such people. He doesn’t want us to build walls or pray that they go away, He has a much bigger goal to accomplish in you my friend. Today, I would like to introduce to you to those tares, which will indeed be a necessary ingredient with your walk with God.

Now biblically speaking, in the parables of the tares, in Matthew 13:24-30…Jesus distinctly refers to tares as sons of disobedience, in other words, people who are not followers of Christ. But I’ve also come to understand that in life, there will also be people like tares (disobedient Christians), who look like wheat, act like wheat, but are double-minded and will be tossed like the waves. In my personal experience, I’ve learned to identify Christians who are tares. Not saying they’re bad people, but they’re people who do exactly what tares know to do – absorb you and distract you. Okay, so what do we do about it and what does God say about this? In the parable we see how the workers of the field were worried and asked if they should gather the weed up. The owner of the field is very wise to tell them to wait until the harvest is ready, and not uproot the weed or else the wheat will also perish. The day of judgement will be that day of separation. But until now, we have to learn to live in the world and not be of it. The same goes with the people we surround ourselves. Jesus wants us to learn to walk alongside people who are like tares, but He wants us to be wise in how we relate to them. Tares and wheat grow together, but wheat bears fruit, tares are always (spiritually) dry. What we need to be careful with is making sure that we create healthy boundaries and do not allow these people to dry us up spiritually.

I used to believe that praying for the tares to go away would solve all  of my problems, but instead, the Lord highlighted to me that the tares in my life will always exist. Tares of all types and sizes will appear in my field, and in different seasons. People will come and people will go, and I will have to learn how to navigate this life with them in my field. I have to accept that some people will never change, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t or that I will let them influence me. I also learned that I have a godly responsibility in creating clear boundaries and let my ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and my ‘no’ be ‘no.’ This is how we create healthy boundaries and form our  godly character. Be imitators of Christ.

If you recall, Jesus chose His 12 disciples, but yet there was a tare with Him all along – ladies and gentlemen, his name was none other than Judas. It was necessary to have this tare alongside Him. Jesus demonstrated what it is like to walk alongside people who don’t have the best intentions for you. Satan will always attack you, either through people or through circumstances, but we need to remember that the fiery darts will always be launched, but they won’t ever prosper. God Himself will make sure you are not destroyed. Today, I encourage you to observe the tares that are around your life and ask God to give you the discernment on how to interact with people who are tares. Ask God to help you endure the process, to form your character, and to help you understand what God wants to do in your life and in theirs. Lastly, ask God to remove them from your life in His perfect timing. Next time you see a tare near you, don’t be quick to remove it, let God remove it for you when the harvest is ready and you’ve matured in character.

God bless 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.

Being prudent will preserve your life

Pause. Pausing is perhaps the best and wisest thing to do as a Christian when being prudent. There is wisdom behind this action, being a prudent Christian can actually save your life. You’re probably thinking I’m exaggerating, but in this article I want you to consider the benefits of becoming a prudent person and why it is important. If you recall, God’s word says that every idle word will be judged. “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.” – Matthew 12:36. If that doesn’t scare you, then I don’t know what will. There is an incredible benefit that comes with the art of being prudent – you keep your soul out of trouble and you guard the hearts of others too.

Below are a few tips to consider:

#1. Measure your words. Before you speak, allow the Lord to minister to you about the situation or circumstance. Every word you utter matters, it can literally light up a forest and cause unnecessary offense, or spread offense among the body of Christ. Always question yourself, is it necessary to say this and will it edify or tear down? Sometimes words can be excessive and where there is a multitude of words, sin can abound. Proverbs 10:19 – “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.” However, if the situation calls for it and the Lord has given you permission to counsel someone, by all means do it, but with precaution. Proverbs 10:11 – “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life.” 

#2. Discretion keeps you. We’ve all made mistakes in the past. Perhaps you’ve divulged information about someone you shouldn’t have. Or perhaps you were put in a precarious situation where you didn’t know how to act or what to say, but instead you opted to sharing it with someone. Whatever your situation, it’s important to note that discretion will always preserve your integrity and you automatically exempt yourself from ensnaring yourself into a trap the enemy has for you. The enemy is very astute in this area, he will brew a set of circumstances to make you stumble. The prudent person foresees this and carefully analyzes the possible outcomes and consequences of opening their mouths or entertaining gossip. Proverbs 2:11 – Discretion will watch over you, and understanding will guard you, 12to deliver you from the way of evil, from the man who speaks perversity.”

#3. You avoid unnecessary “frenemies.” There is nothing worse than to get new “frenemies” because of your lack of discretion. People will distance themselves from you when they see you like to divulge the private conversations you’ve had with other brothers and sisters in Christ. Or if you decide to share your unedifying thoughts to someone because you are impulsive. Being impulsive and led by the flesh gives you the  perfect recipe for a new “frenemie.” Notice how I said, “frenemies,” because that’s exactly what happens within the body of Christ. You become a hypocrite to that brother or sister in Christ because of your lack of forgiveness and lack of addressing the person in private. Distancing yourself from a brother or sister in Christ does not solve the problem, it only makes it worse. Omitting an offense to someone and allowing it to grow a root of bitterness is also a sin. This is why the Lord says, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.”-Matthew 18:15. Brothers and sisters – be wise. When you’re discreet you avoid creating new problems with people. Not all Christians are equal. Not every Christian is spiritually mature enough to understand or have compassion about your concern; not every Christian cares about your problems, and not every Christian will be discreet. Be wise with whom you speak to. If the Holy Spirit has not allowed you to be fully open with someone, then learn to listen to instructions.

#4. When you’re prudent, you choose your battles. Not every battle is meant to be fought. Some people will speak ill about you and it will reach your ears. Whether it is criticism, false witnessing, or hate speech, you will need to exercise self-control. Some things are meant to be confronted and other times, you will have to let the Lord fight your battles. Some battles are simply meant to be ignored. Your soul will be more at peace when you let the Lord take revenge and not you. His justice is perfect and righteous. “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.” – Isaiah 54:17

God bless you brethren and remember this verse whenever you’re about to open your mouth… Matthew 10:16 – “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves. Be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”

 

The processing matters more than the promotion.

   In the church today, we have many Christians who desire position and recognition, but many don’t have the maturity to sustain such calling. Having a high regarded position and sustaining it are two different things. When God calls us to do something great, He will first make sure that you’re put through the fire, to test the authenticity of our faith.  If you recall in the story of the young shepherd boy David, before he actually became king of Israel, he was heavily persecuted by king Saul. David had to defeat many giants before he sat on the throne. If you’ve been called to a great position in ministry, prepare to endure the cost of it.  The good news is that if God called you to it, He will bring you through it.

So why is going through “the process” before receiving a position so important? Like anything in this life, we must first be tested with small things to see if we can handle the big things. If we don’t go through the process, we will not have the grace to maintain what God has entrusted us with. Below are three key points why you must go through the process to see the glory of God manifested in that calling or promise.

#1 Your motives are tested and so is your character. Jesus prays for you and wants you to stand firm throughout the process. God would rather permit trials in your life, than to see you remain lukewarm or stagnant in an area of your life that was never worked or tested. If you succeed against all temptations, you will also strengthen your  brothers and sisters in Christ to be faithful to God. Luke 22:32 says, “But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

#2 Embrace the challenges. God does not give anyone something so delicate like a kingdom to someone, if He knows they don’t have the courage to face challenges head on or defeat temptations. Behind every giant there is a great blessing, but behind every challenge, there is another giant already lined up. If you allow yourself to be processed, God will help you defeat that Goliath. This Goliath could represent your ministry, criticism, hate, envy, gossip, strongholds, fear, or persecution . Whatever the giant, God has equipped you to fight it. 1 Samuel 17:40 says, “Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.”

#3 God’s anointing qualifies you, but the process prepares you. God can anoint you to fulfill a task or a promise, but this does not mean the promotion will be immediate. It is much better that you are processed than to be thrown into the fire without preparation or covering from the Lord. Many people confuse the anointing with immediate promotion. Just because you’re not there yet, does not mean the promise has not been fulfilled. The anointing gives you the grace to sustain the position and the burden that comes with what God has assigned you to do.  Isaiah 4:3 – “A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

Today, I tell you the truth. If you’re more concerned about what God has said, rather than what God is doing in you, you will miss out on the blessing. Remain focused on the things at hand, what has God entrusted you with now. Perhaps it may seem small and insignificant in your eyes, but sometimes it those very tasks that will bring you great glory and destiny. “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin,” says the Lord. I leave you with this verse, “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded”- Luke 12:48.

Let God do the processing in you and you will be thankful when you see the maturity you’ve gained to sustain the position. God bless!