Archives for the month of: October, 2016

About a year ago, I read an interesting post from one of my friends on Facebook.  He said that when we die and go to heaven, we will realize just how many things about God we actually got wrong.  I couldn’t agree more.  There is not a single person alive who gets it 100 percent right at all times.  For most of us who identify ourselves as Christians, we try to live a life reflective of who we believe Jesus has called us to be.  However, we are shackled by our imperfections.  We have imperfect actions, thoughts and reasoning abilities, which even impact the way we interpret the Bible.  Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”

When it comes to interpreting the Bible, I believe that it is impossible to completely comprehend God’s word solely through scholastic measures. Spiritual discernment and revelation is also needed.  Additionally, I also believe that our relationship with God is an intimate one.  While Biblical truths are absolutes, there will be times when our Biblical interpretation will be based on our discernment and personal relationship with God.  With that said, here’s a cute funny story.

Sometimes, we forget that God knows just how imperfect we are.  In our pride, we try to camouflage our shortcomings.  We fail to realize that it’s during our most vulnerable moments when God can really reassure us of who He is.  The story of Gideon reminds us of just that.

In the story of Gideon, God had given Gideon a specific assignment.  However, in his humanness, Gideon doubted God, and he asked God for a sign to reassure him that he had heard him correctly.

36Then Gideon said to God, ‘If you are truly going to use me to rescue Israel as you promised, 37prove it to me in this way. I will put a wool fleece on the threshing floor tonight. If the fleece is wet with dew in the morning but the ground is dry, then I will know that you are going to help me rescue Israel as you promised.’ 38And that is just what happened. When Gideon got up early the next morning, he squeezed the fleece and wrung out a whole bowlful of water,” (Judges 6:36-38, NLT).

Twice Gideon asked for a sign, and twice God obliged him.  God did not chasten or chastise him.

Oftentimes, we feel as though we have to be perfect before God, and that is not the case.  The story of Gideon shows that it’s okay to ask God for confirmation.  I am not saying that we should have a lot system approach to God.  What I am saying is that God is sensitive to our humanness. With that said, here is the cute, funny story:

A few moons ago, I was experiencing a tumultuous season.  Although there seemed to be no immediate resolution to my situation, I felt as though the Spirit of God was reminding me that everything was going to be okay.  However, I wasn’t sure whether I could trust the voice in my heart because everything around seemed far from okay.

One night, as I laid awake trying to figure out the solution to all my woes, God laid the story of Gideon on my heart.  As I read the passages in the middle of the night, I was moved by Gideon’s humility.  In that moment I decided to ask God for my own sign.  I figured if He did it for Gideon, He could do it for me.  A part of me felt silly.

“What could I pray for,” I thought.  “What sign could I ask for, and what was the confirmation that I was looking for?”

I wanted to ask for a sign that I could not blame on mere coincidence.  I wanted my sign to confirm the words that were whispered in my heart.  After a few minutes of deliberation, I had finally come up with one, and it had to do with birds and my patio.

My entire back patio, with the exception of a small hole at the top where the squirrels had once used the mesh as a makeshift trampoline, is enclosed by a screen. That night, I prayed that if by morning, a bird had fallen through the hole and landed in the patio that would be my confirmation that everything would be okay.  A part of me felt silly for making such an arbitrary prayer request. Nonetheless, the first thing I did the next morning was check the patio.  There was no bird.  Secretly, I was disappointed.  More than that, I felt even more silly, but then a funny thing happened.  Later that day, I was watching television on the sofa when something caught my eye.  Hopping around in the patio was this guy:20150811_142611

I couldn’t contain my excitement.  I just know my circumstances were about to change.  I just knew that the breakthrough that I was praying for was about to take place.  But it didn’t.  A few weeks had passed and nothing had changed.  My circumstances were still the same.  But even though I felt silly, I couldn’t resist the urge to ask for another sign.  This time I asked God to send a different kind of bird.  When I awoke that morning, I had resigned to the fact that I had officially lost my mind. Then I heard a loud thud on my roof.  I ran to the living room and peer outside, and this is what I saw:

20160205_164121

I know many are probably thinking that these are all coincidences, but to me, they are the miracles that I had prayed for.  I wish I could say that my circumstances changed that day.  They didn’t.  Though my circumstances hadn’t change,  I had.  That day, I had gotten the confirmation that I needed.

A lot of life is about perception and what we chose to believe.  Oftentimes, our beliefs and our miracle coincide within the same space in our minds.  Though I might not have seen a physical change that day, I did receive a peace that surpasses all understanding.  I also learned that I didn’t have to be afraid to show God my humanness.  I also learned that He was not afraid to meet me where I am.  Perhaps He could meet you where you are too.

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Sometimes, I wonder whether hard work, drive and ambition are dying virtues—extinguished—buried somewhere along with chivalry, good manners and decorum.  Our social media culture has created the expectation of overnight success and instant stardom.  A few decades ago, people were trying to keep up with the Jones.  Now, it seems as if most people are trying to keep up with the Kardashians.  Once upon a time, resumes were reflective compilations of tenacity, hard work and dedication, a stark contrast to today’s Internet culture where opportunities are heavily reliant on self aggrandizement and even, self deprecation.  Followers equal dollars.

 

Here is my question:  If everyone is off becoming an Internet super star, who’s actually learning and training to become our next leaders—our doctors, our lawyers, our teachers, our philosophers or our politicians?  Where are the new, future world changers?  I’m not saying that the next visionary cannot be discovered behind a computer screen.  What I am saying is that there is a low probability that ALL our future leaders will be discovered on YouTube.  The sobering fact is that many of us are going to have to put in a little elbow grease in order to achieve success.

 

The pursuit of celebrity is nothing new. The over-the-top lifestyles that are oftentimes depicted in movies, magazines and television can be alluring, but there is a cost.  You are either going to pay in time or in kind.  Oftentimes, shortcuts are more expensive in the long run because nothing is ever truly free.  The question is: Are you willing to pay the associated price?

 

I think we need to go back to a time where we revered the people in our communities—people whom we actually know and have seen the results of their tireless efforts.  The unsung heroes in our families and our neighborhoods are often the ones who are making the most difference in our society.  They should be the ones whom we celebrate.

 

Fame and fortune should never be terminal goals because as independent virtues, they are both inherently valueless.  They should be deemed as conduits for change—a means to an end.  To whom much is given, much is expected (Luke 12:48).

5Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear,” (Matthew 24:35, NLT).

Have you ever felt forgotten about—overlooked?  Sometimes, it’s so easy to feel as if God has answered everyone else’s prayers but yours.  You’ve pray.  You’ve fasted.  You’ve done everything you know how to do, but there seems to be no avail to your situation.  In some cases, you’ve been waiting so long for an answer that you have almost forgotten the question.  You have even begun to wonder whether God will keep His promises to you.

Numbers 23:19, says, “God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through,” (NLT)?

In both of the above-referenced passages, the Bible reiterates the fact that God is not a liar.  In fact, oftentimes, in Scripture, we see God go after those who attempt to turn Him into one.

God’s promises in our lives aren’t simply confined by time.  Those promises can often surpass our existence.  Just look at Abraham.  God promised to make him into a great nation—a promise that continues to this very day.    Throughout the Bible, we see countless examples of God’s promises to the Israelites and illustrations of His faithfulness.  In fact, God has been vigilant about going up against individuals who try to thwart His plans.  God will always avenge his people when there is an eminent threat against his promise.  Just ask Saul.

After a period of judges, the people of Israel demanded a king to rule over their affairs. Saul had found favor with the Lord, and he was anointed as King by the prophet Samuel.  However, Saul’s reign was cut short by disobedience, and possibly pride, but, that’s another story.

1One day Samuel said to Saul, ‘It was the Lord who told me to anoint you as king of his people, Israel. Now listen to this message from the Lord! 2This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has declared: I have decided to settle accounts with the nation of Amalek for opposing Israel when they came from Egypt. 3Now go and completely destroy the entire Amalekite nation—men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys,’ (1 Samuel 15:1-3, NLT).

Unfortunately, Saul was disobedient.  Not only did he spare the Amalekite king, he and his men also took plunder from their victory.  This angered God, and in his anger, God renounced Saul as king.  At first glance, one might wonder what was the big deal.  Saul made a stupid mistake for which he was truly sorry (1 Samuel 15:10-31).  But it was more than a simple mistake.  We have to remember that God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8).  There was more at stake than simply carrying out an assignment.  The Amalekites had inadvertently attempted to make God a liar.  When they challenged the Israelites, they didn’t realize that they were going after God’s Word.  John 1:1 say, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” (NIV).  You see, when the Amalekites went after God’s word, His promise, they went up against God Himself.  God had to defend His Word.  He had to defend Himself against character assassination.  Therefore, He had to avenged the Israelites.  Friend, whenever God has made a promise in our lives, we must take confidence that His character will make Him keep His promise, not for our sake, but for His.  God’s Word MUST prove true.  Hence, He will annihilate all threats to His word.  Think about this.  There was such a large period of time that had elapsed between when the Israelites left Egypt and when Saul took reign, yet God still remembered His promises to the Israelites.  We should take confidence in this.  We should also take heed.   God will avenge those whose promises have been threatened by another.  With that said, I think about the verse in Mark 9:42, “But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone hung around your neck,” (NLT).  Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him,” (NIV).  I wonder what is the fate of those who hinders someone else faith and cause them to doubt God?  This is a sobering thought.  It’s no wonder that when Jesus went on the cross he said, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing,” (Luke 23:34, NIV). If many of us knew exactly what we were doing, we probably wouldn’t do some of the thing we have done.  But thank God for grace.  Tonight, we should remain confident of this:  God’s will be done.  We pray that God forgives those, including ourselves, who go up against God’s will, for we truly do not know what we are doing when we do so.  God, tonight, I pray for the broken and the forgotten that you will remember them!