“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people,” (Matthew 3:1-5, NIV).

When Jesus hung from the cross, he pleaded with God, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do,” (Luke 23:34, KJV).  The evening news and the Internet are filled with stories of evildoers who do truly understand the weight of their sins.  They do not realize that the dirt that they heave upon their opponents is actually being poured upon their own heads—burying them.  If many truly knew the ramifications of walking the path of wickedness, they would immediately switch courses.  They fail to realize that there will come a time when each of us will have to give an account of all our actions and careless words.

Although the Bible foreshadows humanity’s depravity, it also reminds us of God’s sovereignty and goodness.  Ephesians 6:12 says that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities.  When we see displays of injustice and immorality in our world, we should pray.  “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds,” (2 Corinthians 10:4, NIV).  We might not be able to change hearts, minds, behaviors or outcomes by our accord, but God can!

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One of the greatest and most humbling reminder on our road to self-discovery and reinvention is that we are not Jesus!  Yes, as Christians, we are meant to bare each other’s burdens, but we are not called to save, to fix or to restore anyone, including ourselves.  That’s Jesus’ job.  Some many of us in our quest to become Christ-like, or just plain liked, have resorted to becoming a receptacle for others to unload.  We allow others to dump all their “stuff” on our doorsteps.

 

Healthy relationships should be symbiotic, meaning each person should take turns serving the other.  There should be a healthy balance.  Our relationships should improve our lives and well being.  If we find ourselves giving more that we receive, we place ourselves in a position to become out of equilibrium, which puts us at risk for suffering emotionally, mentally or even spiritually.  Additionally, when we fail to set boundaries in our relationships, it sends the message that it is okay to not respect us. It tells others that our feelings do not matter.  That’s not only unfair, it’s also unhealthy!

 

One of the best ways to stop being a receptacle is to learn to love ourselves.  At times, loving ourselves might often mean putting ourselves first.  As Christians, we sometimes have a tendency to pervert the Gospel.  The phrase “die to yourself” has been misused and abused.  In fact, when asked by the Pharisees which of the Commandment was the greatest, Jesus replied that we should first love God, then love our neighbors as we would ourselves (Mark 12:30-31).  In that verse, Jesus commands us to love God, ourselves, and then our neighbors—in that order.  In order to love someone as we love ourselves, it is implied that we first love ourselves.  It is imperative that we love ourselves.  Oftentimes, this might mean saying no to others.  Additionally, it is important that we set aside time for ourselves to allow for a reset.  We will find that by doing so, we will also redefine the boundaries in our lives and have more healthy and productive relationships.

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Most of us are doing the best that we can.  At the half-way mark of our 21-day journey, I remind you to be kind to yourself!

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If we were to count the things in our lives that went wrong, the list could be endless.  But what about the things that have gone right?

Thank you, God, for waking me up!

Thank you, God, for making it through traffic!

Thank you, God, for not falling ill!

Thank you, God, for not falling!

Thank you, God, for protection against things I cannot see!

Thank you, God, for the rainy days!

Thank you, God, for the sunny days!

Thank you, God, for the birds!

Thank you, God, for provision!

Thank you, God, for family!

Thank you, God, for friends!

Thank you, God, for clothing!

Thank you, God, for shelter!

Thank you, God, for love!

Thank you, God, for laughter!

Thank you, God, for peace!

Thank you, God, for discernment!

Thank you, God, for revelation!

Thank you, God, for all the things that I should have thanked you for but did not!

Thank you, God, for being YOU!

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“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 4:6-7, NLT).

Life can be difficult at times.  There are some seasons in our lives when it feels as though we are living under a cloud of darkness and sorrow.  If it’s not one thing, it’s another.  Some days it takes all of our energy to just put one foot in front of the other.  We watch as the clock ticks, unsure whether we have the wherewithal to make it through the day—the hour—the minute.  In those moments, it’s easy to feel as though all hope is gone and that, somehow, God has made us the subject of His ire.  We feel overlooked—forgotten about.   It’s hard to take James, the brother of Jesus, serious when he instructs us to consider our trials and tribulations joy.  Where is the joy in death or loss?  How do we celebrate compounded failure or rejection?   All of these things suggest a world that is out of control—out of God’s control.  Yet, when we view the picture above, we capture a glimpse of a world that is structured and organized.  Not one cloud has fallen from the sky.  The lake has abided by its boundaries.  The birds are untroubled by the day’s woes.  There is a peace represented by the order.

On days where it feels as though life is falling apart, I challenge you to take a walk.  Go to the beach or the park.  Smell the roses.  Observe all the things that are still subject to the control of God and extrapolate those finding to your life.  If God will take care of the birds, he will take care of you (Matthew 6:25-34).

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Lately, I’ve found that the first thing I do after waking up and the last thing I do before going to bed is to read the news.  It’s actually gotten pretty depressing.  The typical news story portrays the world as one that has gone to hell in a hand basket.  Stories of savagery and inhumanity are ubiquitous.  Murder, rape, and pillaging are some of the most common headlines.  The sensationalism is beyond the categorical scope of yellow journalism.  The story contents are vile and the commentaries are even more viscous.  This morning, as I attempted to scroll the Internet for my daily dose of news happenings, a small, still voice told me to stop.

 

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life,” (NLT).  In this visual age, our world has become inundated by sensory images, and unfortunately, most of the tactics have been subliminal.  Everything and everyone is vying for our attention.  We have to be cognizant of the information that we filter through our eyes, our hearts and our minds because what we allow to resonate in those places often shape our emotions and our actions.  While it is important that we keep abreast of current events, it is critical that we filter out the hysteria and the nonsense.  The seeds that we water will be the one that will take life and grow.  If we plant seeds of negativity and despair, then our days and our lives will be filled with doubt and turmoil.  If we plant seed of hope, then our lives will be fruitful and productive.  So, during these days of fake news, political turmoil, and civil unrest, let’s take heart that goodness still exists.  God still sits on the throne.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  The promises that God made yesteryear are still relevant today.  Filter out the negativity and embrace the promises.

Go ahead! Quit your job!  Purchase that house!  Tell your pesky neighbor where to stop off.  For goodness sakes, make a decision.  Take a leap of faith! What’s the worse thing that could happen?  I say all this in jest.  Yes, we must exercise wisdom and caution when making decisions, especially life altering ones, but far too many of us seek other people’s permission to chase after our hearts.  Our paralysis is symptomatic of our indecisiveness and our insecurity.  We ask for permission because we are fearful of pulling the trigger.  We believe that if we place the onus of making a decision on someone else, it absolves us of the responsibility.  Here’s the truth: Every decision has consequences—some good and some bad.  Unfortunately, sometimes, we just cannot avoid the negative consequences of our actions.  It’s a part of life in this fallen world.  The good news is that many successes are birthed from misfortunes.  Failure is a part of life. It’s a part of growth. When we ask others for their permission before we act, we are relying on their gifting, perception of life and past experiences, which may be different from ours.  Additionally, we make the assumption that the people from whom we seek permission have our best interest in mind.  Those individuals could have a malevolent agenda.  The Bible says that it is wise to seek counsel.  It does say that we should ask permission.  Next time, before we ask people for permission, we should seek God and His Word.  Why wouldn’t we ask the author of our story about our role in His script.  The next time we attempt to seek advise on a course of action, we should pause and ask ourselves whether we are seeking counsel or whether we are asking for permission.  If we are asking for permission, then we should go to God instead.

 

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We all have our own emotional baggage—some more than others.  Each one of us has areas where we suffer from insecurities.  In other words, we all have our own ish!  So why do so many of us get caught up in the waves of other people’s emotions?  Our emotions get so entangled with those around us that when they are up we are up, and when they are down, we are down.  This propensity can make it difficult to sort through our own issues.  More importantly, taking on other people’s issue is draining—physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  It creates a whirlwind in our minds and our hearts.

One of the biggest things we could do for ourselves on our path to self discovery and reinvention is to guard our hearts.  Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”  The first thing we need on the path to guarding our heart is to be aware of when people are trying, whether advertently or inadvertently, to suck us into their personal cataclysm.  The next step toward guarding our heart requires us to put on our invisible armor to ward of penetration of any and all toxicity.  For our sanity, we have to be careful that we are not going through someone else emotions.

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!

20170704_214052You are enough.  You are bright enough; beautiful enough; gifted enough.  Plain and simple, you are more than enough. Learn to encourage yourself.  Learn to drown out the voices of doubt by speaking daily words of affirmation.  Place these assertions over your mirror, on the walls or on your refrigerator.  You are beautiful!  You are worthy!  You are gifted!   You are smart!  You are enough!  Ephesians 2:10 says, “we are God’s handiwork.”  Psalm 139:14 says you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Our media driven culture has created a comparative society where our worth is determined by sound bites, selfies, and carefully crafted online profile.  We are constantly fighting against need to say that what what we have is not enough.  Today, let us celebrate everything, including our imperfections, that define who we are.