Faith

Modesty and the Modern Woman

Modesty by definition is defined as freedom from conceit or vanity, propriety or decency in dress, speech, or conduct. According to 1 Timothy 2:9, in like manner also, women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array. Here we read in Scripture, the Apostle Paul giving one of his young leaders by the name of Timothy instructions for the church on structured discipline. We see specifically in this verse how Paul informs us women on how we are to govern ourselves both inwardly and outwardly. He has given us guidelines for public worship. Teaching us how we should not exploit our feminine charm.

Oftentimes we hear the sayings beauty is in the eye of the beholder, beauty is only skin deep, and going further to say that you are only as beautiful outwardly as you are inwardly. I find each one of these statements to be true because we see it demonstrated daily. When there is a lack of an essential quality present whether it is of confidence, or having insecurities inwardly, it shows outwardly. To give you a much clearer example, when we are not confident and secure within ourselves we oftentimes feel that we have to present ourselves in such a manner as to receive validation from someone, in order to make us feel worthy. This manner is not just seen in attire, but it is displayed in our speech and conduct as well. It is almost a normal sight to see women degrade themselves in attire in order to attract attention, as well as conducting themselves with distasteful and obscene behavior using corrupt and profane language to try to prove meaningless points. I believe that this happens because some women have adopted a false reality that allowed them to believe that in order to be desired or accepted they have to degrade themselves. What this type of behavior really shows is, there are women who are unsure of themselves in terms of knowing who they really are in Christ. It is not unscriptural for a women to want to be attractive. However, to what degree should women pursue attractiveness?

Now, we are not to get sidetracked or thrown off when Paul talks about the braiding of hair, gold, pearls, and expensive clothes and think that we can’t have those things. While understanding the Scripture you have to understand the time period. So for us today Paul is not implying that we should not wear these things, he is simply indicating that we should not try to draw attention to ourselves with these things. I believe that this general rule emphasize that the way we dress and our behavior must express reverence for our God.

As for me, I have always been fashion forward. I have been a true lover of fashion since I was a little girl. It’s my birth mark, it’s going to stick with me forever. Growing up I was big on being different. I literately would get upset if someone had the same shirt or shoes that I did and my mom knew it and came up with a solution by redesigning everything that I wore, because I wanted to stand out. My mom worked in the retail industry so I was always exposed to trends early. However, I was taught early in life that appearance played a big part in how people would perceive you. And that has stuck with me since my youth.

Now was I always a conservative dresser, umm! Not every day, but for the most part I was. I didn’t care too much for short shorts because I had very skinny legs and I didn’t think that I looked right in them. Halter tops and tied up shirts were my thing. Now, in these days we have far too many women wearing things that are not made to fit them. That goes for every shape and size. We have to understand that what looks good on someone else does not always look great on us. You have to go with what works for you. I believe that as women who represent God, we have to raise the standard in this area. Although God is not focused on the outer appearance, he looks on the heart, I believe there needs to be some accountability to have respect for both ourselves and God.

The reason why I am big on modesty, dressing appropriately, is because of my love and reverence for God. My heart’s desire is to please God and represent him well. Oftentimes we claim to be followers of Christ, but our action demonstrate otherwise. Our life and life style should model that of Christ. I want to cause people to come to Christ, not run away from him. The only way I could be that light is by living my life according to his will.

We as women of God have to be actively concerned with the things of God. There is a generation of young believers seeking to be led by women who are equipped and ready to win with Christ. God does not want us to be preoccupied with materialistic things causing us to give our attention to everything except him. Looking good is a plus for the believer in Christ, however God does not want us to become overly consumed with primping ourselves before a mirror, chasing the latest fashion, but he wants us doing something beautiful for him, and become beautiful doing it. True beauty is possessing qualities that give great pleasure or satisfaction to see. We as women of God possess an abundance of great qualities.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to just be remembered as the lady who wore nice jewelry and fine clothes. I want my life to exemplify more than just materialistic things.

Modesty and Decency are the key words to reflect on.

How do they fit into your vocabulary?

Tips for a Successful 2018

I created this list shortly after midnight on January 1. It was originally drafted on my cell phone to be used as a quick, short post, but it became more extensive than I thought it would and for that, I realized that the word count clearly called for a blog. I was hesitant to share this because it is not one of the blog topics that I have decided to write for 2018 (at the close of last year, I planned and scheduled [by quarter] every blog topic that will be written this year) but I’m a teacher at heart and a serial encourager so I had to share.

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

  1. Keep God Guided Resolutions (Read Proverbs 3:5-6; Proverbs 16:3): Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance as to what you should pursue…follow where He leads, I highly discourage pursuing any resolution or goal that God is not in…as a wise woman once said, “it’s better to be in God’s perfect will than in His permissive will.” Meaning, it’s you choice, God’s perfect will and plan for your life or God’s tolerance.
  2. Mix it with Faith (Read Hebrews 4:2) Once you consult God who has your master plan, mix whatever “it” is that He purposes for you to do for 2018 with faith. Act on what you hope for with your best effort to achieve your goal and God will grace you where you need help. That’s a sure recipe for success. Remember that faith without works is dead. (James 2:26)
  3. Be Spiritual, Be Social (Read 2 Timothy 2:15): Social media is a great way to connect with others, hey, I personally love it, but don’t let it occupy more time than Jesus does. Because being spiritual and giving God face time is what will set every day of your year. Also, we are set in communities of people to love and sharpen one another. Get together for coffee with a friend, schedule a playdate with your children and a friend, do something together. We are meant for community. Keep being social, but make those spiritual connections with God as priority number 1 and with people in real life.
  4. Gather (Hebrews 10:25) Studying God’s word and gathering together regularly at a Bible-teaching church will have you well-equipped for every good work you’ll do this year & ready for every test you’ll face. We all have a fight on our hands as believers and you out there who don’t have a relationship with Christ, I know you’re fighting something too. None of us have always been saved from sin. Anyway, it’s important that we know how to fight according to (Ephesians 6:8-13) so that we will be able to stand and not fall during our battles. If you cannot physically go to church because you are disabled or otherwise unable to attend, Live Stream! You can even support most ministries with your tithes and offering virtually so that the Kingdom of God is even more funded to fulfill the Mission of Jesus Christ.
  5. Organize Your Year with a Planner Having a space where you can write your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly plans is invaluable. Since last August, I’ve been using Corie Clark’s @corieclark @purposefulplanner, and have heard great things about #passionplanner, and there’s tons of others—find the one that suits your needs. Leave a comment below with your favorite.
  6. Give Thanks There’s something joyful about being thankful, I believe that’s why God tells us to ask Him for what we need with our thanksgiving on our lips (Read Philippians 4:6). I started using a Thanks Journal just before the New Year and it is so good! I had been patiently waiting to get my shipment of journals in the mail. Grab a cute notebook and begin the practice of writing down what the Lord has done. That way, you will not only lift your spirit, but you can also have a record of ALL the wonderful things that God has done. Know that, thanksgiving is not a seasonal offering to God on a holiday, our thanks as believers, must be perpetual.
  7. READ! There just isn’t an excuse not to read. I’m pretty sure that I read more books last year among all of my writing deadlines, than I’ve ever read in one year. They were all pretty much free audiobooks through my local public library system’s Hoopla app. While I bought some really good paperbacks last year and I only had time and energy to scan over my hard copy of Jerry Jenkins, Writing for the Soul, which reads like a writer’s manual. It is amazing! Audiobooks saved my reading life during that deadline season, now I look forward to cracking open several of the books that I actually purchased hard copies of during last year. I’d love to hear what you’re reading or what you’ve read and recommend. Share in a comment below.
  8. Join a Community Joining a community that’s centered around your interest(s) allows you to be confident that you already share something in common with the people you are connecting with. I write, so I was blessed when Karolyne Roberts @thewritersretreat, created the Write VIP @thewritevip, a FREE, professional, craft sharpening network for writers and creatives alike. I also just love the pure heart and storytelling acumen of Jena Holliday, of @aspoonfuloffaith…She is helping mamas and simply all women alike over at #MotherCreative. You should check her out. Just, find what interests you and then seek out ways to connect with those people.
  9. Know What to Entertain and What to Ignore I have stated this for years and it is still necessary to hear. We cannot get a second of the time spent wasting our energies on things that should have never had our attention in the first place. A wise man once said, Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. When we give attention to useless arguments, we are not stewarding our time wisely. He continues, But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms. Sometimes you do need to answer back, I see it all the time, people with large platforms being personally attacked on social media, but no matter your notoriety, we all could benefit from choosing our battles. Some criticisms are constructive and purposed to build you up. Other criticisms are meant to tear you down and leave you rehearsing your hurt feelings over and over and over again in your mind. Please rest from that this year and cast your cares on God.
  10. Take a Digital Detox Of course there’s other ways to discipline oneself from distractions that eat at our time and inhibit our productivity. Here’s just one way to rediscover calm, quiet, and clarity among all the noise. Take a digital detox if you feel that you need one in order to get stuff done. No explanation or warning to your followers is even necessary. This could very well be what you need in order to make those faith moves that you’ve been dreaming of. A couple of years ago, I chose to do a digital detox while pursuing graduate studies, that decision gave me amazing clarity of thought and as a result, I achieved straight A’s every semester while working full-time.
  11. PRAY! No matter how many times we have to #prayfor someone or something or someplace, it is our connection to our Maker that heals us, that calms us, and directs us in all seasons.
  12. Protect Your Peace! Guard it as if it were your most prized possession. Threats to your peace are inevitable, but go to God, your spiritual leader, and or to a wise friend to discover what should be done to pursue your peace. Everyone’s situation is different. And God does speak to you through the wisdom of others.

 

Now that you’ve read this far, implement what you’ve read that applies to you.

My prayers for a joyous year full of peace in your heart and home, productivity, and wonder!

Was this helpful? Leave a comment to let me know. I would love to hear from you!

Could a friend or family member benefit from reading this list? Please share this with them. Your community needs to be as sharp and as strategic as you are for 2018.

Need more ideas? We have more where these came from. Feel free to use the contact tab to contact our ministry directly.

*None of my mentions are sponsored ads. I have always been willing to share what I love or what I’ve found to be useful to me personally in my life. I would not ever mention something or promote anything that I have not tried myself without stating as much.

 

 

10 Truths to Cure Worry

The Great Physician is in and He is always ready to treat new and existing patients in need of His loving care. He is never full so you won’t have to ever go anywhere else to receive the attention you need. He understands that every patient is different and their ability to handle worry also differs, but He prescribes and orders the same treatment to cure it, the command–DO NOT WORRY (Matthew 6:25-34). In times when you feel a sense of uncertainty, when you feel like the cares of life are too much to bear, take a dose of the most potent remedy there is–the Word of God. You have nothing to lose in trusting God, but plenty to gain including the peace of God that relieves worry and allows you to sleep through a storm and to remain calm in chaos. Combat worry by concentrating on what you hope will be instead of what you dread. Your relentless faith in things hoped for and your focus on a good report and a brighter day will be peace to your mind and wellness to your body and your soul. These ten truths to cure worry when taken seriously and consistently will have you better and stronger in no time.

  1. Worry is Wasted Energy Worry is a waste of energy because it is partly the fear that something bad could happen. There is always the possibility that something bad could happen, but the alternative is that something bad will not happen. So, do not waste time on worry, what will be will be because the reality is that in this world we will encounter trouble, hard times that are our tests, and in such moments we are made. The ultimate peace and confidence is understanding that God will be with you no matter what life brings. Read 2 Timothy 1:7; John 16:33; Romans 5:4
  2. Cast Your Cares on God To cast means to throw or move in a forceful way, throwing your cares with abandon to God immediately releases the heavy weight of worry from your heart and tosses your concern in the hand of the One who can actually change people or situations. Read 1 Peter 5:7
  3. Have Faith in God Fear and faith cannot inhabit the same space. Fear is the antithesis of faith. Faith is the ability to hope in what has not yet materialized in the natural world. To have faith in God is to have hope in the God of possibilities, the God that cannot lie, and the God who cannot fail. It is not a matter of if He will come through, but when His timeline is for coming through. If He delays His intervention, trust that He has not forgotten, but will intervene on time. Read Mark 11:22-24
  4. All Things Work Together for Good No matter what happens in our lives, the good, the bad, and the [downright] ugly, it is all working together for our ultimate good. How refreshing and comforting to keep in mind while we are going through that eventually and with certainty God will make use of all things negative, that no experience will ever be wasted, and that everything will serve us for good. Read Romans 8:28
  5. The Lord is With You Understand that the ultimate Fixer is always with you. So replace worry with calm and replace fear with hope. Read Isaiah 41:10; Matthew 28:20
  6. Do Not Worry, Pray In your trouble cry to the Lord, and He will rescue you. As you pray and cry out to the Lord, He is already calming the storm through divine intervention and making the necessary provisions for you. Read Psalm 107:29
  7. Change Your Thinking Meditate on what will aid in your mental well-being and rid your mind of the thoughts of worry that threaten your peace. Think on the following things and the peace of God will be with you: truth, whatever is honest, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good report, whatever is virtuous, and whatever is praiseworthy. Read Philippians 4:6-8
  8. Worrying Robs You Of Today Tomorrow is not promised and takes care of itself. Worrying about tomorrow robs you of today which you have right now in your hand to impact and to find the joy, light, and goodness in it. Read Psalm 118:24; Matthew 6:31-34
  9. Trouble Does Not Last Always Just as seasons change, trouble has a definite end point when it must come to an end, we just have to wait patiently for God because (unless it’s revealed to us) we do not know when trouble will come or when it will go. The comfort is knowing that God knows, that He is faithful, and most of all that He cares about what you are going through and will take care of you. Practice ignoring the enemy’s lies that the storm will never end; not only will it end, but you will make it through the storm alright. Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
  10. Praise Remedies Worry One sure way to eliminate your worry is to begin to thank and praise the Lord for who He is and for the wonderful things He has done. While praising you are minimizing the thing or person that is causing you to worry while magnifying God’s ability to do anything, but fail. Furthermore, while praising, you are reaffirming your confidence in God, and affirming your faith in the God who is the same yesterday, and today, and forever. Read Hebrews 13:8; Psalm 107

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Food for the Single Soul

While you are single, not in a relationship, not dating seriously, not married, you may be regarded as lonely and missing something, even the best out of life. However, despite your empty datebook, single relationship status, and subtle disdain by a society that views singleness as the plague, you are whole and not awaiting your better half, you are the better whole to your one day husband if God wills you to marry. Do not let society, age, or any other pressure rush you into marriage by encouraging you to write your own love story because that is an opportunity for the enemy to send you one of his children which would not be God’s best for you. During this upcoming holiday season, family, friends, people with good intentions, and others without good intentions will ask, “So, when are you getting married?”, and wait patiently for your hesitant answer. One of many appropriate and gracious ways to answer is by saying something to the tune of, “God has not sent my husband, but I trust God’s timing.” Understand that God will not withhold any good thing from you. He is a good God who knows how to give good gifts to His children, better than any earthly father ever could, that’s for sure. While He will not withhold any good thing from you, including the good thing that is a husband, that does not mean that He will not allow that thing you desire to be delayed, to await perhaps his or your necessary preparedness and the perfect timing for the presentation of your perfect for you gift, into your life. Though your meeting with your one day husband tarries, wait for him, because God will make your wait worth your while if you trust Him with all matters especially matters of your heart.  While desiring the temporary pleasure of life that a husband and family brings, desire more fully, and crave more earnestly what is eternal, the love relationship between you, your Maker and your Savior that will last forever. Today, I encourage you to spend your single days, your free, undivided time being devoted to God. What can you do for Jesus that would not be as feasible if your status were different?

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Citizens of Heaven

Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. Philippians 3:17-20

When I focus on earthly things–cares of this world, senseless tragedies, I am concerned, anxious, and upset. In the midst of my unsettledness, God elevates my thinking and reminds me that this ain’t home. I’m not home here on earth, I’m going home to a celestial place that is prepared for me and all those who love God and accept His Son, Jesus. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ready to go home just yet, however majestic, magnificent, and perfect it is. I’m just encouraged by the fact that, heaven is going to reduce this “momentary affliction” of a lifetime of constantly being between two extremes– trouble or tranquility, heartache or happiness, sorrow or joy to its proper size–so small, so temporary when compared to the eternally “far more exceeding weight of glory” that is to come (2 Corinthians 4:17 KJV). So, I am a citizen of heaven, the highest ground, a place whose God we will all one day, bend our knees before and declare our total allegiance to, above this country, above this world (Romans 14:11 NLT). So take heart, be encouraged that, the trouble, heartache, sorrow all serve as reminders that there is a better place that those who believe are destined to go.

Thank God that, this ain’t home.

Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I’m taking.” John 14:1-4 The Message

To Trick-or-Treat or Not to Trick-or-Treat? That is the Question

All things are legitimate [permissible—and we are free to do anything we please], but not all things are helpful (expedient, profitable, and wholesome). All things are legitimate, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life]. 1 Corinthians 10:23 AMP

In 2015, the National Retail Federation expected American consumers to spend close to $7 billion on everything from pumpkins to costumes to candy. That’s more zeros than can fit on my calculator! Halloween is so widely celebrated that it is only second to Christmas in popularity. However, since there is nothing Christ-like about Halloween, the two holidays could not be more different. Though Halloween is portrayed and accepted by many as a harmless day of trick-or-treating and creative dress-up, nothing about Halloween glorifies God. The holiday has a dark side that is undeniably anti-Christian, and could potentially dim our light to those who are watching our walk. Its origin dating back 2,000 years ago, is saturated in evil—witchcraft and witches and warlocks and other wickedness that are deeds and representations of darkness and of the perpetrator of darkness, the devil. In Bible days, both the practice of witchcraft and sacrifices made to gods were punishable by death (Exodus 22:18, 20). God commands that, we have no other gods before Him, He is the LORD our God, and we are to worship Him only (Exodus 20:3-5).

So, if the origin and practices of Halloween do not please God, should Christians celebrate it? It may as well be a no-brainer. If we were created to please God, and we please Him by how we live, what we say, what we do, but especially how we love, then doing something that doesn’t glorify and bring pleasure to God in the exercising of our freedom may be permissible, but is it expedient (1 Corinthians 10:23)? Without regard to its dark origin, if you still choose to celebrate Halloween, who are we to “judge another man’s servant” (Romans 14:4 KJV)? You do not serve the interest of people, but of God and only He can rightfully judge your decisions. However, if we do all things as unto the Lord, we should ultimately make the decision that honors God whether concerning Halloween or any other topic of concern. Since we have a rewarding freedom in Christ, we should enjoy our freedom wisely.

Over the years, the Church has done a wonderful job of redeeming Halloween for the glory of God by offering the community faith-friendly alternatives for the occasion. Some alternatives include: local Harvest Festivals, non-spooky costume—Costume Parties, Pumpkin Patches, Trunk-or-Treats, Hallelujah Nights, and so much more! Consider finding one of these events in your area if you want to honor God, while having some fun this Halloween.

Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Philippians 1:27a NLT

 

Looking Beyond the Storm

God is our refuge and strength [mighty and impenetrable],
A very present and well-proved help in trouble.
Psalm 46:1 AMP

We never welcome storms whether they are natural disasters or storms that we encounter in our own lives. Storms cause fear, worry, and even death. They are the result of a fallen world much different than the perfect world that Jesus created. After six days of creating, God “looked over everything he made [and He concluded that] it was good, so very good (Genesis 1:31 MSG)!” Unfortunately, the world we inherited is far from good. As a matter of fact, storms themselves are proof that all is not right with the world. As we await Hurricane Irma here in Florida, a massive storm that has already displayed her power and has already claimed several precious lives, now more than ever, we have a greater awareness of the fragility of our existence. We are faced with the uncomfortable reality that we are not in control. No doubt the enemy capitalizes on moments like these as his diabolical plan is “to steal, kill, and destroy” everything that we hold dear (John 10:10a). Yet, what the devil intends to harm us, God uses for good and to save many as they turn to and put their trust in Him (Genesis 50:20). In times of trouble, God is near; He’s a very present and proven help when we are seeking Him most (Psalm 46:1).

We naturally view storms for their potential for destruction, but I challenge and encourage you if only for your own peace, to look beyond the storm. Look beyond what’s in front of you, and consider the opportunity storms present to put the sovereign God of the universe more brilliantly on display. Look beyond the storm at the countless blessings that still remain. Count them and reflect on how these blessings as opposed to your struggles can be more magnified. Look beyond the storm at what we are inevitably going to which is an outcome of good and of mercy that will follow us regardless of the troubles this life brings. Look to God, our mighty and impenetrable refuge and strength; turn more earnestly to Him. For only in the safety of a perfect God can we find the perfect peace we need in order to survive our storms.

 

 

The Power to Forgive

ForgiveThis article was written just over a year ago, soon after nine parishioners at Emmanuel Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, lost their lives at the hands of a racially motivated gunman who has since admitted to and been found guilty of the murders. The racially motivated events we have seen this year were (at times) bitter cases of déjà vu, and make the topic of forgiveness an even harder solution to present, but a necessary beginning for everyone affected by tragic losses and other transgressions. In light of these and other events, I believe there is an urgent need and opportunity for the church to unite to show the country and the world the only realistic solution to enduring problems.


On June 17, 2015, Dylann Roof went out at night to betray 9 parishioners in Charleston, South Carolina after having fellowshipped with them for an hour at their weekly bible study held at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Likewise, Judas went out at night (when most sins occur) to betray Jesus after he had broken bread with him (John 13:26). There’s no doubt in my mind that, Roof felt the love that was being shown to him by the Charleston Nine because he was a visitor and it is the norm to embrace visitors who join any church service. However, because Satan had already entered him and convinced him of his assignment to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10a), he rejected love and instead followed through with his diabolical plan. Judas too had an assignment that he carried out as it was prophesied, to betray Jesus; Satan entered him as well (John 13:27) and he followed through with his plan to turn Jesus over for 30 pieces of silver (Matt 26:15). Roof set out to end his story by committing suicide; Judas actually did commit suicide just after showing remorse for what he had done (Matt 27:3). Judas was remorseful and repentant to man, but he failed to be repentant to the one who had the power to save him. Instead, Judas as he was birthed to be, remained condemned. His story ended.

Some expect an apology or remorse from Dylann Roof. Without a doubt, apologies to man are gracious and human, but they are futile for a soul destined for hell. Man has no eternal rest to give, only God possesses that. In order to live in peace and to truly rest in peace, we have to be repentant to God. Unlike Judas, Roof is not the son of perdition, doomed for death that is, he did not take his life, his story has not ended, therefore, if Roof confesses his sin to God, He is faithful and just to forgive him and to cleanse him through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ, just as he forgave and cleansed every other follower of His. He too will become Roof’s Lord; that’s the scandal of forgiveness. Our sin at our worst may not be the heinous murder of nine people, but we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  As Christians, Jesus is our example, the image of perfection that we will never attain. Yet, I witnessed Jesus’ example in the sister of one of the shooting victims when (it was reported that) she quickly, without reservation, said that she forgives Roof and prays for his soul. So what about us, who may not have directly lost a loved one as a result of the Charleston tragedy, similar tragedies, or other offenses great or small? This close relative, despite her grief, tapped into a power far greater than hate, the power to forgive. Power is not relinquished when we forgive, it is retained and a part of you perfected. When you forgive, a wise woman once said, “you are not letting [the perpetrator] off the hook, because they will still have to answer to God.” You are, however, making your heart lighter through the letting go of offenses. You are giving grace to others that you yourself would like to receive when you fall short, and that you expect from God (Ephesians 4:32).

We are commanded to be lights in a dark world. Tragic events like these just prove the need for Christ and make His work on the cross more valuable; there is such a desperate need for Him. Many Christians of all shades wonder what their place is in the heat of tragedies such as these and it is clear: be light, be salt, refuse to conform, and foremost of all—pray without ceasing. Furthermore, our perspective should differ from the world’s. It should be at odds with the world because we are supposed to be like Jesus. We should be Jesus to the world, be love to the world in order to win some of them over for Christ. How are you illuminating, seasoning, and being a misfit in a world of conformity?

 

Dedicated to the Charleston 9

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Make Jesus the Star of Christmas

pexels-photo-217840When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:10–11)

It’s Christmas, starring Jesus, the reason we have anything to celebrate at all. Whether the advent of His coming is acknowledged or whether He is ‘Xed out of the world’s gatherings and plans, Jesus came to bring hope to the entire world. Despite His hope-bringing mission, He takes a less than leading role to our culture’s Xmas symbols which saturate the season with substitutions for Christ and distractions from Christ. Nevertheless in the hearts and minds of those who have accepted His sacrifice and who absolutely adore Him, Christmas is a time of reflection on a precious babe who made His appearance on the Earth He created to meet our desperate need for a Savior. The fact that Jesus left His position in heaven to descend to Earth should not be second to anything else this wonderful season has to offer, but should instead point us to everything true and pure that should be celebrated at Christmastime. Using this thoughtful list, make Jesus the star of the season in your life by sharing the kind of hope and love that make this the most wonderful time of the year.

  1. Give the best of your time, talent or resources as a symbol of how God gave us His very best in giving us Jesus and later Jesus gave the ultimate sacrifice of His own life to take away the sins of the world and to make things right again between humanity and God
  2. Share a smile, an encouraging word, but most of all share and spread the truth of Christmas to keep the message of Christ’s coming to Earth as the main reason for celebration and to remind us of His promised return as a glimmer of hope in a world that needs every reminder of the plan of salvation, that the story of Jesus is (fortunately) to be continued…
  3. Forgive Honor Jesus Christ by remembering His mission on Earth—to give us access to God again through the forgiveness of our sins. If God was willing to forgive, then you should let go of the heavy weight and toxicity of an unforgiving heart; do yourself a favor and forgive.
  4. Commune It is hard to celebrate baby Jesus without celebrating resurrected Jesus and soon coming King Jesus. Find a personal and maybe even a creative way to connect with our Savior, to remember His sacrifice, and to anticipate His return. Be intentional about not following the world’s pattern of being primarily focused on the materialistic and the substitutionary symbols of the season, but settle in to calm and allow moments for worship and intimacy
  5. Be Gracious Do something unexpected for someone, such as increasing your tipping at your salon, pet groomers, or favorite lunch spot; doing something nice for a widow; babysit for or take groceries to a single mother; or whatever you find in your heart to do to shine the brightness of the light inside of you because of Jesus

 Happy a Merry Christmas! 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Empty Seat at the Table

pexels-photo-196648“‘Tis the season to be jolly,” and all the rest. You are making and checking your gift-giving list. You are trying to make as many things merry and bright as you possibly can, but you cannot shake the feeling that this is not just another holiday season. The holidays are just not as cheerful as they would be if the empty seats at the table were filled with the presence of your lost loved ones. Whether it is one or more loved ones lost, the weight of their absence is often more heavily felt during the most wonderful time of the year. Their missing kisses, hugs, warmth, smile, and good-humor is magnified this time of year. Yet, no matter how much loved ones are missed, it is important to realize just how much of a vapor life is. So while you still have breath in your body, it is important that you live and find the joy that remains here: the smile of a child, the dawn of each new day, children at play, the spirit of giving, the birth of a baby, wedding bells, the encouraging words of those that give comfort, or more importantly, the peace that surpasses all understanding. While it is okay to move forward, to live, to enjoy your life without your dear loved one by your side and to find happiness in new joys and experiences, it is also okay to grieve as long as you need to. You may never get over the loss of a loved one (and you never have to), but you can get through it and go on with your life. Mourning is a temporary event that becomes a little less familiar with each passing day, or month, or year. As mourning reaches its end, the fondness of memories can be reminisced with a smile instead of a tear, with honor instead of pain, and with gratefulness to God for the gift that was the presence and connection you were favored to have had with your loved one. So while the empty seat at the table may reflect a deep hole in your heart, it can also or will hopefully begin to reflect your heart’s abundance of precious memories of happier times when laughter came easier and smiles were brighter.

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