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That’s just the way I am!  You’re too judgmental!  Maybe you are just too picky?

Relationships are hard, both platonic and romantic.  They require work, sacrifices and compromises, especially since we are all broken, imperfect people with a suitcase filled with baggage.

It is impossible to navigate the world alone.  We all need friends.  “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.  If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble,” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, NLT).  With that said, we have to learn to choose our friends wisely.  Relationships should be supportive, encouraging and empowering.  The people in our lives should directly and indirectly champion us to become better versions of ourselves.  We are the company that we keep.  The Bible reminds us of that in 1 Corinthians 15:33: “Bad company ruins good character” (NLT).

Compromise is needed to make any relationship work, but it should never be license for mistreatment.  Yes, we should all accept people for what, who and where they are, but this does not mean that we have to accept what they are willing or capable of offering.  For example, if we are in a place in our lives where our emotional love tank needs to be filled at a level eight capacity in order to make us feel whole, loved and valued, and someone is only willing or able to give at a level two capacity, then it is within our right to terminate or reposition that relationship.  The problem is that oftentimes, people with relational deficiencies take offense to being reassigned.  They often say things like, “You should accept me the way I am” or “You’re being judgmental.”  Yes, it is true that we should accept people as is, and that we should not be judgmental, but it is equally true that we don’t have to accept what someone is giving us simply because they are unwilling or unable to give us more.  It doesn’t mean that they are bad people, nor does it mean that we are.  It just means that we not compatible at the particular moment, which could change in the future.  It is okay to say that we want and need more from our relationships.  It’s even okay to say that we deserve it.  We should be in relationships with people who allow us to make demands of them, and who are willing to make an attempt to meet our needs.  With that said, we must be willing and able to do the same.  We also must be okay with others telling us that we do not fulfill their relationship criteria.  Some relationships are seasonal, and maybe those seasonal relationships have run their course.  That’s also okay.

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Today’s entry is called Just Dance, but I could have very well titled it Just Sing.  My recommendations for today is to crank up the dial on the radio or the iPod and scream at the top of your lungs.  Gyrate your hips as if no one is looking.  The idea is to cut loose—be foot loose and fancy free.  Have some fun.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the everyday drudgery.  Between work, school, bills, spouses, children and other responsibilities we have forgotten how to have fun and not take life too serious.  Even King David took time to cut a rug.  The Bible says that David danced for the Lord with all his might (2 Samuel 6:14).  Just dance!  Just sing! Just be!

 

Traditional slavery, chattel slavery, is officially illegal in all countries.  However, while most of the world has since eradicated the antiquated systems that once forced multitudes of people into involuntary servitude, today, there is a new form of slavery—a new slave master.

 

According to Cambridge Dictionary, slavery is defined as “the condition of being legally owned by someone else, or the system in which people are owned by others.” Wikipedia puts it this way:  Slavery is “a legal or economic system in which principles of property law are applied to humans allowing them to be classified as property, to be owned, bought and sold accordingly, and they cannot withdraw unilaterally from the arrangement. While a person is a slave, the owner is entitled to the productivity of the slave’s labor, without any remuneration.”  In today’s capitalist economy, financial institutions have become the new captains of the slave trade.

 

Proverbs 22:7 says, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender,” (NIV).  No where is this truer than in “free trade.”  The average American is shackled by debt.  According to an article published on Nerdwallet.com, as of October 2015, the U.S. household consumer debt profile was as follows:

  • Average credit card debt: $16,140
  • Average mortgage debt: $155,361
  • Average student loan debt: $31,944

 

The article further went on to say that the total debt owned by American consumers was:

  • $11.85 trillion in debt
    • An increase of 1.4% from last year
  • $918.5 billion in credit card debt
  • $8.09 trillion in mortgages
  • $1.19 trillion in student loans
    • An increase of 5.9% from last year

 

The median household income for 2014 was $53,657. As the numbers suggests, most Americans are in over their heads in debt.  The problem is not so much the debt itself.  The problem is the issue of usury, which is illegal and morally reprehensible.  Merriam-Webster defines usury as, “the lending of money with an interest charge for its use; especially:  the lending of money at exorbitant interest rates.”  How does one quantify and/or qualify exorbitant?  Today’s credit card APR can range from low 13% all the way to 29.9 %.  I would make the argument that even 13% could be considered exorbitant.  Who determines exorbitance?  I’m sure it’s not the average citizen.

 

The main difference between traditional slavery and economic slavery is that most individuals, at some point, voluntarily entered into their financial engagement(s).  However, the similarity that both conditions typically share is the inability to readily disengage from the entanglement.

 

Let’s take another look at the definition of slavery.  The first part of the definition of slavery asserts that slavery is orchestrated by “a legal OR economic system.”  By definition, the financial system is an “economic system.” So, check.  The second condition of slavery is that an individual is “legally owned” by another individual(s).  Yet, another check.  I must say this, although individuals are not physically owned by financial institutions, they are economically imprisoned and shackled.  Before I expand on this though, I would like to state the third condition of slavery, which is “they cannot withdraw unilaterally from the arrangement.”  Check!

 

Most financial institutions are in the business of buying and selling debt.  It is not uncommon for people who are saddled with debt to see their loan(s) change hands several times during the lifetime of their loan.  With each change of ownership, there are new notices and disclosures, which are usually multiple, page documents that are typically indiscernible, microscopic fine-print with an inherent obligation for compliance.  In essence, the borrower does not get to pick and choose which terms and conditions they accept and agree with.  Once the loans are sold, the borrower’s finances become subject to the new lender’s (“owner”) discretion. The borrower cannot readily disengage from the financial obligation without legal recourse or ramifications.  In some cases, many individuals are working solely to pay debts.

 

There are people who are reading this post and are probably thinking that individuals who are indebted are in the position that they are in because of poor decision-making.  While that may or may not be true of some, it’s not true of others, and I caution such thinking.  There are many individuals, who have made prudent decisions, yet have still found themselves victims of circumstances, including divorce, life, sickness, death, fraud or even hunger.  Not everyone in debt is living above their mean.  Some people are simply trying to live.  A mother who uses her credit card to buy food and clothing for her family is a far cry from a squanderer.  A young, doe-eyed humanitarian who made a prudent decision to attend medical school to refine his God-given gifts and impact his community and the world around him is far from what I would call irresponsible.  While I am sure there are people who’ve placed themselves in the lion’s den, this is not everyone’s story, and the truth is, even if it were, do they deserve to be eternally imprisoned?

 

King Solomon said it best when he said, “I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all,” (Ecclesiastes 9:11, NIV).  One on the worse things that any of us could do on our journey on this Earth is to make distinctions between “us” and “them.”  If anyone has lived on this Earth long enough, one of the valuable lessons learned is that time is the ultimate equalizer where “they” often becomes “me.”

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”

1 Corinthians 1:27

 

I pray that this quote encourages you as much as it has encouraged me today.  God is about to do something in the lives of the unassuming—the brokenhearted, the forgotten and the unrecognized.  He is about to elevate leaders that the world has criticized, mocked, beaten, captured and imprisoned.  He is about to do a new thing.

 

I know that I am speaking directly to someone’s heart today.  The Lord is about to use you in ways that defy imagination.  He is about to make your enemies your footstool.  Every tear that you have shed has been captured.  Psalm 56:8 says, “Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll — are they not in your record?”  God has heard your cries.  There might seem as if there is no way out.  It might appear as if everyone has abandoned you and told you ‘no,” but please know that it is during your darkest hours when God does His finest work.  It was during the darkness that God called light into existence.  It was after Pharaoh’s heart was hardened that God parted the Red Sea and delivered the Israelites from the hands of the Egyptians.  It was after Job had lost everything that God restored him two-fold.  Please be reminded that God is a God of grandeur, and while his preparation might be done in seclusion, His restorations are never done in private.  God’s promotions are for His glorious victory.  Therefore, they are always on display. Matthew 23:12 says, “those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted,” (NIV).

 

Be grateful for all who denied you.  God is elevating you in a manner that you will be indebted to none other than He.  The blessings of the Lord make a man rich, and it adds no sorrow with it, Proverbs 10:22.  Know that God has already blessed you, and He is about to make a public proclamation.  In Jesus, name, Amen!  The Bible also says that even before God restored Job, Job repented and humbled himself.  He praised God even while he was covered in ashes and riddled with sore.  Wherever you are, praise God.  Praise His glorious name.  Know that the end of your story was written even before the beginning, and it’s not over until God says that it’s over.  Glory to God.

Empty Well

It is so important for us to read the bible in context.  So often, we memorize key verses and phrases, and neglect to see the bigger picture.  This morning, as I thought about this blog on empty wells, Galatians 6:2 came to mind: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ,” (NIV).  But as I meditated on the verse, I realized that it was the second verse of the chapter.  What did the previous verse say?  In fact, the previous verse served as a cautionary statement.  It said: “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted,” (NIV).  The New Life Version reads, “You who are stronger Christians should lead that one back into the right way. Do not be proud as you do it. Watch yourself, because you may be tempted also.”  Firstly, the verse calls for the “stronger Christians” to lead his brother/sister back into the right way.  Secondly, it cautions the “leading” individuals to refrain from becoming proud and to be careful of falling into the same trap.  The truth is, we all have areas where we are strong and areas where we falter.  Moreover, these areas may vary by season and/or circumstances.  It is important for us to understand that while God has called us to bear one another’s burdens, there is only one Savior.  We were not designed to save everyone.  In fact, if we do not continue to replenish our wells, then we run the risk of running emotionally and spiritually dry.

If you are consistently playing the role of the go-to person in your relationships, there will come a point where your well will run dry.  If you incessantly pour out and do not replenish your reserve, you will bottom out.  This could have multiple physical, mental and spiritual ramifications.  Below are a few things that I have found helpful during some of my darkest moments.

  1. Be kind to yourself
    1. Know that some days you will fly, and some days you will fall. Some people will think you are the greatest, and some will think that you are the worse.  However, neither one of these things define who you are.  Only God defines you.  He made you, and He knows who He has called you to be.  No one else has that authority, including you!
  1. Keep inventory of your “well” reserve
    1. Most credit counselors advise against credit card use. Why?  With credit card usage, there is a tendency to spend more than we have.  Debit card are just as bad.  I would venture to say that most people are not balancing their account ledger after each swipe of their card.  It’s no wonder the banking industry makes so much money on overdraft fees.  The same is true of our emotional bank account.  If we are not keeping an accurate account of our balance, there will be a tendency to over extend and/or over commit.  If we don’t keep accurate accounting, we will spend more than we have to give.  This brings me to Item #3.
  1. Learn to say “No!”
    1. Saying “no” is way more than simply refusing a request. Sometimes saying “no” could mean declining to answer an email, a text or a missed called.  For some, this is the biggest step towards establishing healthy boundaries in relationships.
  1. Keep inventory of those who are making deposits and withdrawal into and away from your wells
    1. Relationships are seldom equal. However, our relationships must be mutually beneficial.  In other words, we will have relationships where one person brings more to the table than the other.  The important thing for us to remember is that we should maintain a healthy balance of the different types of relationships in our lives.  Again, if we are always giving more than we are receiving, then our relationships are out of sync, which will eventually lead to a dry well.
  1. Take note during your hour of darkness.
    1. Who are the ones calling solely to check on you—not to gossip, not to vent, but simply to check on your well being?  Oftentimes, when you tend to be the strong one in your relationships, people erroneously think that you don’t have problems or that your problems are secondary to theirs.  Please understand that is an unfair and unrealistic expectation.  The people in your life must be able to acknowledge that you too are human, and as such, you too have your cross to bear.
  1. Know that you cannot be everything to anyone person.
    1. I recently had a conversation with a friend who said to me that in relationships, we meet our needs by drawing from the many wells in our lives. Whenever, we start to draw predominantly from one well, we put that other person in an unfair position, which is too much pressure to place on any one person.

Now, after having said all that, I will say this:  When we are weak, God will make us strong.  There are times when God will push us beyond what we thought we could do or where we thought we could go.  However, the problem in many of our lives is that we fail to ask Him for His counsel, and we busy ourselves with things, people and tasks that He never commissioned us to take on.  Sometimes, God is doing a work in our lives and He is doing work in others’ lives as well.  My final parting note is that we should seek God in all that we do, and He will give us the guidance that we so desire.

Martha Picture

When I think about the adult life of Jesus, I often wonder what life was like for Him. Besides His disciples, did He have a lot of friends?  I imagine that most people who befriended him were more interested in His miracles than His friendship. But what about His disciples? Where they His friends?  I believe He loved them all dearly, even though, He might have been a bit partial to Peter, James and John.  I also believe that Jesus had a genuine friendship with Mary, Martha and Lazarus. He loved them dearly, so much so, that He wept when Lazarus died.

Jesus, if you would have been there, my brother would not have died. Jesus, if you would have been there, my father would not have gotten cancer.  Jesus, if you would have been there, we wouldn’t have lost our child. Jesus, if you would have been there, I would have been delivered from the clutches of drugs and alcohol. Jesus, if you would have been there, I wouldn’t have been molested. Jesus, if you would have been there, I wouldn’t have gone to jail. Jesus if you wouldn’t have been there, I wouldn’t have (fill in the blank).  Do any of the above scenarios strike a chord? How many times has Jesus wept in our lives? Instead of giving him the benefit of the doubt, we scold him. We curse him. We abandon him.

I believe the reason Jesus cried was probably deeper than what we see on the surface. I don’t believe that Jesus cried because Lazarus died. Why would he? He was the Son of God, and he knew that he was about to raise him from the dead. In fact, in John 11:4, Jesus said, ““Lazarus’ sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” Jesus had promised that Lazarus would not die in that moment. However, the caveat was that God would receive the glory.

When it came down to it, Mary and Martha, whom he loved dearly, did not trust him. They called themselves His friend, yet they didn’t even give him the benefit of the doubt.  The body was already buried.  The wailers were already mourning.  They had fully embraced death.  I believe in that moment Jesus’ humanity took over. And he was deeply saddened.  To make matters worse, Martha had the nerve to give Jesus a piece of her mind.  Now, it’s easy for me to sit on this side of time and judge her through the lens of retrospect.  However, Martha is no different from me.  How many times have I “reprimanded” God for not delivering a promise on my timetable?  How many times have I buried living promises because their slow movement mimicked rigor mortis?  How many times have you?  Thankfully, God is faithful, even when we are not (2 Timothy 2:13).

40 Jesus responded, ‘Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?’ 41 So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, thank you for hearing me. 42 You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.’ 43 Then Jesus shouted, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ 44 And the dead man came out, (John 11:40-43, NLT).

Here is one of the pivotal things that Jesus did when He was surrounded by unbelief. He praised God. Psalms 100:4 says, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name,” (NIV). Before Jesus attempted to access the promise, He ignited His praise. So often, so many of us cannot wait to get in God’s court, not so that we can praise Him, but so that we can wag our finger at Him and give Him a piece of our minds.

The Bible says that we should enter His court with thanksgiving. Doing so, reminds us of our rightful position before the throne. We serve God, not the other way around. God encourages us to be authentic–to share our hearts with Him and surrender our pain. However, we need to acknowledge that He is God.

Today, as we embark on our second day of our challenge, I challenge you to enter His gates with thanksgiving. For the next 20 days, start your morning by thanking and praising God. Before you open your eyes in the morning, enter His court with thanksgiving. It doesn’t have to be a long sermon, just thank Him. Also, throughout the day, thank Him for your “Lazaruses.” Thank Him for those promises that are not dead, but are sleeping and waiting on the right time to bring glory to God.

Today’s Prayer: Lord, we step into your court with thanksgiving. We thank you for being God. We thank you for making all things new. “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me,” (v.41). Lord, on the authority of Jesus, I pray, “Lazarus come out!” Lord, you know us individually, and you know what our “Lazaruses” are. Lord, we speak to those promises that appear to be dead, but are only sleeping. Come out! Come out! Come out. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

According to popular belief, it takes 21 days to establish a habit. That idea stemmed from Maxwell Maltz’s book Psycho-Cybernetics, a book on improving self-image. However, there are critics who assert that the 21-day theory is a misinterpretation of his work. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. Let’s leave scientific theory off the table and look at common sense for a second. Common sense tells us that if we keep doing something over and over, then it will become a habit. I don’t know whether 21 is the magic number. I would imagine that the number of days to establish a habit would differ for each person. I would also imagine that the longer an individual commits to a course of action, the more likely he or she will continue doing it. When trying to develop a habit, the hardest step is not the commitment to continue. The hardest step is the decision to start.

In my life, it is God’s grace that has allowed me to achieve all that I have. In fact, Philippian 4:13 say that I can do all thing through Christ who strengthens me. Notice, the Bible said “all” things, not “some” things. Therefore, I want to accomplish “all things” in my life. In order to do so, I have to establish some new habit, and I am going to do it in 25 days. Why 25? ”The number twenty-five in the Bible symbolizes ‘grace upon grace.’ It is composed of 20 (meaning redemption) and five (grace) or grace multiplied (5 x 5),” (biblestudy.org).  In everything I do, I want to do it with God’s grace.  So over the next 25 days, I would like to start a challenge called “25 Days of Fearlessness.”

Being fearless can often appear daunting.  The spirit of fear constantly threatens to overpower and immobilize us.  Fortunately, God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).  The best way for us to understand who we are in God is to simply understand who God is.  The challenge over the next 25 days is to chronicle God’s magnitude in our surroundings.  Take a picture of something that you believe illustrates God’s enormity.  If you don’t have a camera, write it down.  Describe it.  Journal the encounter/experience.  For those of you with access to social media, post your picture on your social media page with the caption, “25 Days of Fearlessness.” Also write a brief description of how your picture illustrates God’s greatness.  Relate that image to the challenge(s) you face that day.  Use your image to remind you of who God is and who He has created you to be.  Most of all have fun!! Happy posting/journaling.  See you tomorrow.

20140622_100201-1On Monday, February 17, 2014 I started a countdown to what I thought was going to be my emancipation.   I had two target dates. The first was March 28, the date of my very first production—What’s Your Status: An HIV Awareness Story. The second was May 5. In my heart, I believed that was the date that the tides of my life were going to change. However, May 5th came and went without much fanfare. In fact, the entire month of May was rather uneventful, yet, in my heart I felt I still needed to continue the countdown. As each day went by, I crossed it off my calendar. I was in unknown anticipation of something spectacular yet to come. It wasn’t until the end of this weekend that I realized what I was counting down to.

Before I continue, I must go off on a brief tangent. A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with my uncle. We were discussing the topic of evangelism. Our discussion about sharing the gospel stemmed from an earlier conversation that I had with an acquaintance who had questioned me about Christianity and my relationship with Jesus. My acquaintance asked me whether I believed that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. My answer was simply, yes. Now, I say the word “simply” in gest because it wasn’t as simple as just saying yes. I have found that people who question the authenticity of Jesus have a hard time believing that He is the only way. Truthfully, if I were not a Christian, I too might have a hard time acknowledging the fact that someone that I didn’t believe in controlled my destiny—my fate—my eternity.   However, the fallacy of that argument is that belief does not precipitate truth. Whether or not someone choses to believe in a particular principle (or person) does not negate or validate the authenticity of the argument. Needless to say, I found the conversation with my acquaintance uncomfortable. I felt silently attacked. I felt judged. I couldn’t gage whether this individual’s questions were genuine interest or whether they were an attempt to be argumentative. Nonetheless, I answered the questions that were asked of me as best as I could. Even after the conversation was over, I still felt a little unsettled. I wondered whether I had said all the “right things” and whether I said them the “right way.”

I relayed my ambiguity about my conversation with my acquaintance to my uncle, and the very first thing that he said shook my core and resonated with my soul. My uncle reminded me that long before anyone talks to an individual about God, God has already revealed Himself to that person. In John 15:16, God said that we did not choose Him. He chose us. The second point that my uncle made was that no one, single person is ever responsible for the salvation of another. We all fall in line on a chain of messenger. Each person plays their specific role in delivering the message. Furthermore, God uses everything in and of the Earth to draw His creations closer to Himself. You see, it’s never about us. It’s always about Him. When we try to take on the role of conversion, we are placing way too much pressure on ourselves—pressure that God never intended for us to bear. The best way that many of us can share the Gospel of Christ is by sharing our lives and our stories. How we live and what we do should convey what we are trying to preach. People will seldom listen to our words if our actions fall short.

So that was my tangent. Back to the countdown. This past weekend, I finally realized that the thing that I had been subconsciously counting down to was the Vous Christian conference that I attended over the weekend. It was a life altering event. Thousands of young adults packed the Filmore Auditorium in Miami Beach, Florida and celebrated Jesus. In fact, they were blowing the roof off of that auditorium. It was spectacular. The preaching was great and the worship was amazing. As the weekend drew to a close, I realized that the reason that I had been counting down was that God was preparing my heart. He was drawing me to Himself. It’s great to know that even in 2014, God still choses me, and He also choses You!

It’s so amazing how our past experiences shape who we are. While my career as a journalist, can be summarized by a summer beat reporter position and periodic freelance assignments, I still remember my early experiences that shaped my journalism training. One of my favorite projects was a semester-long assignment in one of my upper level journalism courses where each student in the class was assigned to a different city in Miami-Dade County. My city was El Portal, which I had never even heard of prior to that class. We each had to pick a random house in our assigned city and find out as much as we could about the homeowner based solely on public records. It’s amazing how so much of what we assume to be our private affairs is actually public record. Driver’s License, marriage/divorce licenses/certificates, death/birth certificates and property tax information are all public records. Now, I must state that my assignment was prior to the frequent availability of online public access websites.  Back then, there was an awful lot of leg work involved.  I actually had to know which jurisdiction my city belonged.  I needed to know where to look. Today, I could probably have access to someone in Juno, Alaska.  Now, you just need to know how to turn on a computer (or in some cases, use a phone). That brings me to today’s topic—privacy.

One of my favorite books of all-time is 1984. George Orwell’s classic, which was published in 1948, was far advanced for its time. For anyone who has ever read the book, it is a foreshadowing of modern society. Big brother is watching. Both in the book and today’s culture, there is no assumption of privacy. Just type in anyone’s name into an Internet query, and you could find out almost everything there is to know about them, AND their families. While I can understand the argument that the government requires access to gathered information to maintain the safety of its citizens and the Republic. I cannot understand why the average citizen should have access to that information. The argument of personal, individual safety is invalid. It’s also reflective of our entitlement generation—we have a right to (fill in the blank). Such thinking is actually dangerous. Whenever a society has more rights than responsibility, disaster is eminent. More often, I think the access to “public” information places private citizens in danger. Today’s carte blanche access to “public” information places personal information in nefarious hands. For example, a potential stalker/killer now has unlimited access to his prey. While I don’t have any statistics, and I have only seen one Lifetime movie to support what I am about to say, however, I would be willing to bet the farm that access to personal information provided by Internet search companies have played a contributory role in individuals’ demise and death.

 

I have often wondered how come there isn’t a public outcry, or better yet, a governmental crackdown on these Internet search companies. Maybe there is a slippery slope of greasy palms that impedes efficacious regulation. Maybe we are so distracted “selling” our information ourselves on Facebook and Instagram. Again, we started this discussion by stating that governmental access to “public” information is for the safety of the Republic. But how safe is the Republic when even our enemies have access to our territory and our citizens?

Have you ever noticed how some people always seem to have an opinion that is far from encouraging?  Not only are these people opinionated, they are seldom shy about expressing their views.  Well today, I want to express some views of my own, and I hope they encourage you.  So here goes:

Today, I want you to know that God is NOT mad at you.  In your life, so many people will try to lead you to believe that your misfortunes are directly correlated to your disloyalty to God.

Before I move any further, let’s just get one thing straight, none of us are faithful to God.  We are all adulterous people.  The good news is that we are saved by Jesus’ righteousness, not our “good deeds.” Just know that if God was in the business of punishing us based on our actions, we would all be goners.  Thank God for grace.  However, with that said, know that we can be within God’s will and still face turmoil.  Doubt it?  Look at Job.  He was right smack in the will of God, yet he faced the fight of his life.

I don’t know where you are right now.  Maybe you made some bad decisions along the way.  Maybe you haven’t.  The truth is, it doesn’t matter.  Thankfully, God has never been a God that dwelled in the past.  He has always existed in the present.  The current condition of our heart is all that matters.  God will guide us through the rest.

In order to be encouraged, we need to know that there will always be people who judge us and say that our circumstances are due to our lack of faith, prayer, or action.  Know that their opinions are irrelevant.  God is the only one who truly knows our heart, and only He can judge.

Maybe, we are exactly where He wants us.  Maybe God is using our trials, not a punishment, but to develop our character and better prepare us for our future blessings.  Job’s friend had erroneously thought that his adversities were the result of dishonoring God.  They couldn’t have been more wrong.  Maybe our friends are wrong about us too.

When it comes to life, there are no experts.  The “expertise” of man can only take us so far.  The problem is, even the most scholastic theologians have based some of their theories on hypotheses and suppositions.  At some point, each and every one of us will have to embrace our Spirit and the Word of God in order to determine our right course of action.  The closer we get to God, the more we will be convicted about whether or not our actions are in line with His will.  The take home message is this: Don’t let others cast doubt into your relationship and your walk with God.  Find out who He is and who you are in Him so that you will be better equipped to ward off the attacks and commentaries of the enemy.