Brokenness in our Borders

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Not too long ago I was with friends when conversation came up that made me uncomfortable. We were in a neighborhood that they did not often (ever) frequent, but that I had grown up in. It surprised them that the prosperous and well adjusted people we were visiting would live there voluntarily.  Then some other comment was made, and I felt my temperature rising. I chose to remain silent. I did not trust myself in that moment to speak up without offense coloring my tone and delivery. I think I’m ready to share now.

In this world we have a pretty clear idea of who is broken, messed up, really needs help or whatever you want to call it. Often times that image does not look like us. And if we are in such dire straights that we can acknowledge we need help, we can think of at least five others who really need help because they’re worse off than we are and really, you see, we’re not that bad off in the end.

If we are going to be effective carriers of the gospel, we have got to be able to recognize the brokenness in our borders. Jesus calls us to cover ourselves in the sweet smelling perfume of serving in humility and authenticity, but so often we Pharisaically parade around like white washed tombs, unaware of just how bad we actually smell. The unacknowledged gunk accumulated in us then never gets a washed out, and we keep skunking on.

I choose today to examine myself, and ask Holy Spirit to reveal to me that which needs to be taken care of. Then, I’ll let God lead me in taking care of it. I choose to recognize the brokenness in people who look like me and share a similar story, so that I can bring my story of victory in some of the same places they may still struggle, and vice versa.

I choose to recognize the brokenness in those who do not look like me or share a story similar to mine, so that we can build and encourage each other up in the same way as those who I more readily connect with. See, there is no ‘easy button’ with living out the Gospel. That call for loving on people is for everyone. Even the ones you wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole.

Spend some time this week with God and let Him show you how to love better. Let Him make you more like Him.

Do you really want to surrender?!?!?

The Old Ball and Chain!!!!

“The old ball and chain” is an idiom of many colors. Webster describes it as “something that severely restricts one’s activity usually oppressively (marriage, intended  to enslave a woman), and also the fleeting idiom replaces the word wife.  Steven D. Price describes it as prison.  In his writing “Endangered Phrases” he writes, “Marriage was prison (albeit with privileges), wives were wardens, and husbands wore a metaphorical ball and chain, the sort that prisoners wore to prevent escaping.

Now let me ask you this question. If you would or would be proposed to, would you say that your answer would be a choice or would it be forced? Typically the answer is hardly the latter. So why would we use this phrase? How has it lasted so long? Why add such a grim perception on something that is supposed to be beautiful, exciting, and certain?

I truly believe it goes with notion of surrenderance. Do I really want to surrender? Do I really know what that means?!?! Am I willing to understand? These are common questions that are often unnoticeably asked in many Christian communities.

Let me also ask this, what is the first step or process that is incurred when you are arrested?  It is typically when the suspect is asked to surrender before being apprehended!

So the crux of the situation would be why use such repugnant words regarding such an advantageous experience?  I believe it may be the imprisonment of fear. If we were “arrested” in marriage, we fear the loss of choice and freedom we believe we have in being single.

To be arrested, for most, represents the loss of liberty and even an audacity of freedom. It would be the ultimate horror for me, however I realize that being arrested is not only limited to what we perceive. When you are in this life you are arrested to so many things. Things that you can’t change. You are detained genetically by your parents, no matter who you call mom or dad. You are confined, while on earth, to your body, no matter what you do to it. You are even imprisoned by the perception of others, even if you could care less. All these restrictions, and limits. Yet I feel that even after this life, the same rules will apply.  The gift that God gives us is the gift of choice.

I’ve often been told that I’m so “black and white” in my perception of things. Well does the police say that an assailant is half way free to go? Does a doctor pronounce you half dead and allows you to leave the hospital? No. So with that being said, we should rid our hearts and minds of that idiom as it pertains to marriage.

In Christianity, one of the foundational analogies of our faith is that we are the bride of Christ and Jesus Christ is our groom.

What is exchanged in weddings? Vows! What is a vow? A solemn promise, pledge, or personal commitment. An example of what those vows would sound like would be, “I, Bae, take you, Bae, to be my husband. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor (traditionally obey) you all the days of my life.”

Now don’t get it twisted. The obedience part does not allow your spouse to abuse, detain, and arrest you.  No, the honor/obedience is cultivated through pure love. Love that is warranted with truth. Because I love you, I will obey my vow to only share my existence to you. Because of my love for you, I will willingly sacrifice the things that I used to have as one and share it with the knowledge that I’m forever committed to the unity in our union. Because I love you, I will not intentionally hurt you or cause you shame by cheating on you with another. I promise not to share myself to anyone else but you. Because I love you, I make a vow to be with you, in love with you, forever.

Romans 6:16 (NLT) states, “Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can obey God, which leads to righteous living.”

So you see if we believe fully in the, “ball and chain” as believers then we are really faced with this reality. In both lives, we will be arrested. One arrest represents death & destruction, and yet the other represents freedom and life.

If we are to be married to Christ, let’s choose to bewed Him. To make a vow and honor Him. When our engagement (salvation) was made, He bought the ring (the cross) that has been placed for us to bear.  Exonerating us from the chains of slavery, fear, and failure. Seeing us for the true bride and beautiful one. Immersing us intensely with intimacy and adorning us with His love. Remember that there is always a choice. Surrender to Christ and be arrested by God’s love! ❤️

 

“Where is my Justice?”

Where is my justice?!

This is not simply a question I have asked for myself when encountering injustice (though trust me, I have asked). When I look at this question I see the faces of loved ones I’ve known, ones I have not known yet, and some I’ll never have the pleasure of meeting. Chained, overworked, forced into unthinkable acts using even more unthinkable methods, we are facing a slave epidemic of proportions far more epic than the trans-Atlantic slave trade ever imagined it could be. Human flesh is now worth its weight in gold, human souls deemed a fair loss considering the gain. When I think of these lost ones I imagine I hear them crying out.

Where is my justice?!

Can you hear them?

All too often we don’t. I don’t. But as we enter the new year, with this first month being Human Trafficking Awareness Month, I resolve not only to lose a few pounds and gain a few good habits; I resolve to be love, and embody freedom.

Where is my justice?

All too often the answer to this most poignant question goes unanswered because the answer is us, and we are not moved. I decide this year to be moved. I decide to allow the brokenness of this world to move me. I decide to let Holy Spirit speak to me, and lead me in an answer to this question. If justice is a Man (and He’s coming!), and I am His hands and feet until His return, why is He not being seen?

It’s time to make Jesus famous on stages with an audience of One.

 

New Year, New Mindset

As we transition again into a new year,  I’ve noticed that there is always that one person who adamantly proclaims boldly, “New Year, New Me!” The response I have always given has been, “Why?” What is so wrong about your self that somehow you need to not only change but be “new.” To be made new is the supreme desire for every Christian who have read and believed God’s Word, but I believe that there so much more to it. For it is our past that defines us. It’s our mistakes that are the emblems of the scars on our heart that mold us in our wisdom today.

For New Years, I decided to celebrate in the “city that never sleeps.” New York City, to me, has always been larger than life! The lights, the people, and Times Square!!! New York makes my heart smile! While I was there, throwing out the old and ringing in the new, I had the chance to visit a very well known church. As I walked into the sanctuary, scurrying to grab a seat, I silently whispered a prayer. I found a good spot that was not too close yet not so far away. I began to lift my hands and close my eyes. Expecting sincerely one of the best worship experiences of my life, I was sadly dissapointed.  I continued to sing but in my heart, I was like, “Come on Jesus!” As soon as I utter those three words from my heart, God began to speak!!! I listened. These are the words He said. “Don’t allow the atmosphere to stop your praise. Remember when Elijah used God’s fire to flame the fire that was abundantly drenched in water. Even when the elements that you have are drenched with sorrow, devastation, and dead things; know that it’s the fire that He gives you that will light the flame for your praise and worship. It will astound those who delighted in the sight of you and your dreams dying. It will surpass your situation and will excelerate and activate things in your life to come alive!!! You are a thermostat not a thermometer!!!! Set ablaze your praise!” After my heart became alive!

Soon after the Campus Pastor, who was filling in for the Head Pastor, began to speak. He mentioned how devastating 2015 was. Also with the loss of a child, he became broken. However overjoyed, He revealed to the church that He has a newborn baby girl. He then proceeded with His message about having a new mindset in the new year. He mentioned and spoke about past, present, and future.  With full authority, he immediately lifted our heart with hope and challenged our minds to change.  He emphasized having a renewed perspective. He also encouraged us not to pray to get out of the storm, but to pray to see God in it! While the word was going forth, I became reminiscent of the story of Peter walking on water. I began to visualize how frightening that storm would have been. Yet I realized and understood that Jesus was in the center of it all. He controlled the elements and the situation. Even in the midst of doubt from others, yet Jesus still called out for Peter.  As the imagery flowed through my mind, hope began to flood my heart.  Suddenly I realized that “new me” is not what I needed.  As a matter of fact, “new me” would quickly become “old me” but possibly more worse. I truly understood that day the totality of Romans 12:2 which says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is— His good, pleasing, and perfect will.”

It all became clear to me. Instead of throwing away all of who you are, it’s so much easy to examine who you are. Then and only then change will take place.  Thermometers are thrown away, but thermostats are essential part of a bigger system.  Sometimes it takes a choice to ignite the things that we feel we never had. Then and only then we will discover true strength! Instead of you making yourself “brand new,” Look for God in the midst of it all. Eventually you will be restored, renewed, and finally “brand new.”