Just Keep Swimming…

Just Keep Swimming…

Upstream. Against the current. Even after losing yourself in the waves of disappointment. Just. Keep. Swimming.

This line spoken by Dory in the movie Finding Nemo is such a memorable one. It’s a reminder to keep going no matter what. Dory’s character is most memorable for her “can do” spirit, even in the face of what appears to baffle her. Even when she forgets her surroundings, what she’s learned and who she’s met. She keeps a positive mindset and presses forward with enthusiasm. Now, I understand if you’re reading this and thinking that you can’t relate to that level of optimism in the face of what you’ve been making your way through lately. But I want to remind you of something. God is faithful. He knows what you’ve been going through and He cares about every detail!

On those difficult days, there are words of encouragement that can be found throughout scripture to address your situation. For example, Proverbs 24:16a in the New International Version says, “For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again.” This is a beautiful reminder that, no matter what gets you down or how many times you feel defeated, in Christ, you don’t have to be! There will always be an opportunity to get back up and keep going. God guarantees it. Another important reminder we receive in scripture is not to grow weary in doing good because a beneficial outcome awaits on the other side of our perseverance (Galatians 6:9). God’s word is filled with affirmations reminding us that He’s on our side, rooting for us.

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Childlike Faith: The Importance of Having A Teachable Spirit

Childlike Faith: The Importance of Having A Teachable Spirit

The biggest downfall of the Pharisees (Jewish priests) was that they believed they knew all there was to know about God. Due to this, they lived from a place of stagnancy in regard to their faith (this is where a lot of religious practice begins to replace true worship and relationship with God). In Mark 10:15, Jesus addresses a group of people, exclaiming, “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” The confidence in His statement speaks volumes. Jesus essentially says, “Without a doubt, I inform you…there is no other way.” Jesus quells all confusion with those two phrases. All that is left is for the listeners to absorb the remaining information: “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child...” The focus of this clause in Jesus’s warning is the receipt of God’s kingdom in a specific manner, like a child. How do we go about doing that? Let’s explore this together.

First of all, what does it mean to be teachable? Romans 12:2 AMP gives us an understanding of this as Paul states:

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A Necessary Cool-Off Period: How to Address Interpersonal Conflict

A Necessary Cool-Off Period: How to Address Interpersonal Conflict

If you have ever been angry with someone or about something and then reacted in a way that you regretted afterward, then you can understand the importance of taking time to think things through (in observance of the wisdom of Proverbs 19:2). However, just as it is important to observe a “cool-off” period, it is equally important not to let so much time pass that the purpose of addressing the issue is diminished (Ephesians 4:26). God, the author and perfecter of time, provides a blueprint for how to address difficult issues with reasoning and accountability while still loving those He confronted. As I read through the popular bible story, commonly referred to as “The Curse,” I gleaned a few life lessons and made some interesting observations regarding how God went about addressing a difficult issue with Adam and Eve. Let’s take a closer look.

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Pay Attention, Be Prepared + Pace Yourself

Pay Attention, Be Prepared + Pace Yourself

With all that is happening in the world right now (this pandemic, police brutality in the US, protests occurring worldwide, etc.), it can be easy to forget that we have approached the half-way point of the year. As summer beckons us outdoors and the days extend in their brightness, we may be excited for freedom or experiencing trepidation regarding the “new normal” of wearing masks during all outdoor and social activities. Amidst the whirlwind of emotions we are likely processing internally or are confronted with through our conversations with others, there is still one thing that has been consistent throughout this time. God has been speaking. The question is, have you heard what He’s been trying to tell you?

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What is Love? : A word on reconciliation in light of the times

What is Love? : A word on reconciliation in light of the times

At this time, when hatred has, once again, reached a fever pitch, the names of slain Black individuals continue to increase, institutional oppression persists, COVID-19 affects Black and Brown communities at alarming rates, and our neighborhoods are over-policed but somehow under-protected….it can be so easy to give into the fear and fury that builds within. However, whether you are a member of the affected community or an ally, please allow love for humanity to precede hatred of injustice in informing your decision making. Know that righteous anger for justice to be implemented is critical to the cause, but, never forget that love is a tool to be implemented at all times. Love is an action word as well as a heart posture. The Bible instructs us to be angry and not to sin (Ephesians 4:26). When we seek justice from a place of anger or hatred, we aren’t seeking justice…we’re seeking revenge. God made it very clear that vengeance belongs to Him (Romans 12:19). As monuments of oppression are being torn down, seeds of peace need to be planted in their place. That peace begins with reconciliation, rooted in love.

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The Two-Fold Nature of God’s Purpose

The Two-Fold Nature of God’s Purpose

The story of Jesus feeding the five thousand is quite popular for the miracle shared, but, as I read through this text, God highlighted a few details that are equally important for those who He has called (hint: that includes you). Without further ado, let’s get into the story.

13 When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities.

The “it” referred to at this point in the story is John the Baptist’s beheading. If you are at all familiar with the relationship he had with Jesus, then you understand how devastating this news must have been to hear (Jesus was baptized by John, who was given the special assignment of preparing the way for Jesus before his arrival and public confirmation by God (see Luke 1:5-25). The story continues:

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A Story of Commitment & Unexpected Blessing

A Story of Commitment & Unexpected Blessing

The biblical book of Ruth is often referenced for the story of how Ruth met and married Boaz. While that story holds many important themes, today’s focus is the relationship between Ruth and Naomi. Ruth is a woman who is from a place called Moab. Naomi meets her after a long journey from Bethlehem, Judah (her home country) to Moab and some difficult years, following the loss of her husband. Naomi had two sons, named Mahlon and Chilion. These Hebrew sons married two women from Moab, Orpah and Ruth. The story reports that they stayed in Moab for about ten years before both Mohlon and Chilion die. At this point, things seem a bit bleak for these women. The story makes no mention of either of the wives bearing children. All they have left is each other. In a patriarchal society, that was a great disadvantage. However, as these women begin a new journey, things take an enormous shift in a new direction, though they don’t know it at the time.

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Being Overwhelmed Can Be Beneficial…

Being Overwhelmed Can Be Beneficial…

You read that correctly. There are so many things that have the potential to overwhelm us: work, relationships, difficult life experiences, social media, etc. The word overwhelm doesn’t have a very good reputation but hopefully this can shed some light on another aspect of the experience. In this post, I’d like to share a recent encounter I had with God and what I learned from it, in hindsight.

When God speaks, things happen. They become. They change. They grow. As they develop, they sometimes outgrow their current environment and need a larger, more accommodating space. Stick with me here… A few days ago, I experienced an immense pouring out of inspiration from God. I rushed to write it down so that I wouldn’t forget it. In my doing so, I became overwhelmed with the thought of needing to expand on the concepts I recorded but felt the urging of the Spirit to make a plan (the urging made it clear that I am unable to produce at the level or with the excellence that God desires if I don’t organize the information He provides. What previously worked for me (writing spontaneously), is no longer sufficient. I need to make room in my schedule for intentionality). I could sense His desire for me to meet Him in obedience. God wanted me to make an effort to do the work as He instructed so that He could partner with me to bring it to fruition.

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The Importance of Godly Community

The Importance of Godly Community

In the biblical story of the garden of Eden, we are introduced to the scene of the serpent starting a conversation with the woman we now know as Eve. He begins their discourse with a question:

“Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Genesis 2:1 NKJV)

Let’s pause there for a moment. Whether they were already speaking before this or not is unknown, but, either way, something about the question foreshadows the serpent’s intent. He brings up a topic that involves a third party who is not present.

Lesson #1: Be wary of people who gossip. Godly community does not entertain hearsay.

Sounds simple enough. Let’s continue…

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Nature Reveals God’s Handiwork

Nature Reveals God’s Handiwork

Every morning when I wake up, I look out the large window across from my bed and witness the day begin. When I’m up early enough, I can catch the first glow of dawn as the sky reveals a bright, warm red with an intensity that gently fades as the light spreads across the sky. I hear the birds chirping. I see the squirrels running about the trees in excitement and curiosity. I embrace the calmness of those early hours as I enter my quiet time with God.

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