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 

 

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!

 

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.

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.