Currently, I am working on a new book entitled: Are You Ready for Transformation? The subtitle is It’s All in Your Mind. The book will be ready in September. Prayers are appreciated that I am obedient to the Holy Spirit in writing.
Racism is a sensitive issue at this time in United States history. Many people of varying races often use what is called “the race card” to manipulate a desired outcome. Although this happens frequently, the fact is that racism is still an issue in the United States today after all the movements and education on the subject.
My Personal Experience
During my lifetime, I have developed friendships with people of various races and cultures. I praise God for these relationships. They teach me great lessons and make positive contributions to my life.
Recently, I visited Washington, D.C. to attend a conference for educators. Of course, a friend and I took the time to tour as much as possible. Washington, D.C. and the surrounding area has people of many races and cultures. Personally, I think this is wonderful. How can we reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ if we never see them? (Incidentally, this has nothing to do with the subject of illegal immigration. That is a topic for another discussion.) What troubled me is the amount of distrust and even hatred I could feel being directed my way from some of these people. I began to become defensive in my own mind which made me feel even more uncomfortable.
I praise God for His faithfulness in sending conviction my way when my mindset is in the wrong place. The Holy Spirit spoke to me and asked me when I would be the one to walk in love. I was stunned and deeply convicted. Of course, the Holy Spirit is always right. Someone has to take the high road. Someone has to show love. What I did next is completely against my natural personality. I began smiling at these people who were starring at me as if I had no right to be in my own country. When possible, I spoke to them. Some returned my smile or my greeting. Others did not. That day, I was reminded of a valuable lesson. God’s love is unconditional. God loves even when the love is not reciprocated.
The only way to overcome the issue of racism is the same as any other sin issue–Jesus Christ! Does the Lord care about racism? Of course He does! All humans are created in His image. He did not create us all to look exactly alike or think exactly alike. Our God loves variety, and He commands us to love each other. We can appreciate the differences of others, yet be confident in who we are in Christ. How? Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Racism has been used as a political talking point. The race card has been used and abused, but we must not forget that there are still cases in which people are very racist. Through prayer and walking in the love of Christ, we can pull down this stronghold. No, we will not reach everyone, but we can start somewhere. Why not let the solution to this worldwide problem start with you? Reach out to someone of a different culture or race. Allow them to see the love of Christ in your life. The Holy Spirit has ways of tearing down walls that divide people. Let’s yield to Him!
“There is no Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male and female since you are all one in Christ Jesus,” Galatians 3:28 CSB.
I want to begin this post by apologizing that it has been so long since my last post. With so many viruses going around, my husband, children, and I have taken turns with illnesses. In addition, my children are both involved with school sports. I am not attempting to bombard you with too many of my life’s details, but I want my readers to know that my absence has not been from intentional neglect.
If we are all honest, we have all told what is known as bold-faced lies. Many of us have omitted information that needed to be in our stories or statements, and, truthfully, many of us have added information that was not accurate to our stories and statements. However, to be fair, we have omitted facts when relating events to people simply because all the details did not need to be told. Those omissions are hardly a sin. People do not want to know every detail of every story we tell.
Wisdom Versus Deceit
The bible is very clear about walking in lies and deceit versus the truth, but sometimes the line between simply using wisdom in what we tell and willfully operating in deceit can be a fine one and even a bit blurry. Not only does the Bible tell us what is expected of us, but the Word of God also gives strategies for living out His instruction. Often, we are not looking for those strategies, or, we do not realize that we have come upon something that is meant to serve as an application.
Romans 12:2 is a perfect example of such an application. We are told that knowing God’s will is accomplished through being transformed by renewing our minds. In other words, changing our thinking is a key to victory over sin. The book of Proverbs in the Old Testament is full of practical wisdom in every day situations. The Holy Spirit is meant to guide us as well. John 16:13 states that the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth. Wouldn’t it be logical to assume that since He guides us into all truth that He will guide our words? Of course!
In other posts, I have explained ways to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. In a nutshell, prayer and time in Word bring about that sensitivity. Applying what we learn and obeying God makes us even more sensitive to His voice. Jesus told the disciples (Matthew 10:19) that they had no need to worry about what they would say when they were facing persecution. They were assured that God would give them the words to say.
1 Peter 3:15 states that we must sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts in order to know how to answer everyone about the hope we have. The word sanctify means “set apart”. We must set apart time with the Lord and esteem Him higher than all else in our lives. In doing this, we will be guided as to how to answer people about various issues with truthfulness, yet, without too much information.
Truth Brings Freedom
There are times in my past in which I walked in deceit with those around me. If I felt it was needed, I would manipulate details in a story to make myself appear favorable. Mind you, I was a born-again believer at this time. Trust me, the Holy Spirit convicted me. I did something dangerous with that conviction. I did not listen to it. Eventually, I hardened to the sound of His voice. A time of repentance had to be taken to soften what was hardened.
Since that time, I have found such freedom in being truthful in all matters. Of course, I still seek guidance from the Holy Spirit because I tend to blurt out too much “truth”. Ephesians 4:15 states that we must speak the truth in love. Love coupled with truth brings just the right amount of information. Giving too many details, or, speaking truth too harshly can do more harm than good. Thank God for His word and for giving us His Spirit to guide us.
As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we want to live with integrity. Doing this allows others to see Christ in us. It also maintains good relationships with others. If you are in the habit of being deceitful, ask the Lord to help you today. He will never fail to answer.
Have you ever heard someone say, “It’s all in your mind”? This can be annoying depending on the nature of your problem. Surprisingly, the fact is that in many cases, it is true. No, that does not mean you are crazy. It simply means that many of our battles are either won or lost in our minds.
Change Your Thinking
Often, the changes we wish to see can only come about when we change the way we think about the situation. If I want to change the way I feel, most likely, I need to change the way I think. Many of you reading this post might ask me if that is truly possible. According to the Bible, it is totally possible. In fact, we are commanded to do just that when our thinking patterns do not line up with the Word of God.
Romans 12:2 states that we are transformed by the renewing of our mind so we can live out God’s will in our lives. I find it interesting and not at all a coincidence that we are instructed in verse 2 to renew our minds after being told in verse 1 to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to the Lord. Such a feat could only be accomplished through changing your thinking.
What Needs to Change in Your Life?
Everyone has weaknesses and faults that they have to address in some way. Everyone has situations they would love to be able to handle in a more effective way. It will not happen until you change the way you think about the given situation. For example, if I am angry at a co-worker, yet I know I need to forgive this person, I will be unable to do so until I change the way I think about the situation. In order to make this change, I need to know what God’s word says about forgiveness. Once I am familiar with scriptures concerning forgiveness, I put those into my mind and allow the transformation process to work. God’s word says that I must forgive as Christ forgave me. I would remind myself that Christ forgave me for so much more than what I must forgive my co-worker. Next, I would repeat the process with other scriptures until my thinking is changed.
Taking time to journal through the process helps in two ways. It helps the process as I am going through it, and it serves as a good reference should I face the problem again. Barb Raveling has a process that she calls Truth Journaling. It works very well. Visit her website for further details.
I realize that this sounds like a great deal of work. Truthfully, it is, but if you desire the change strongly enough, you will be willing to do the work. True change comes from within, within your mind, that is. Being transformed by the renewing of your mind will not happen overnight or through trying the process once. It is a process that is ongoing, and it will take time as well as patience. However, it is worth all the work. Most of all, it is worth giving God the praise when the work is done.
Disclaimer: If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, your mind cannot be renewed until you come into a relationship with Him. Romans 10:9-10 states that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. With the heart, you believe resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth you confess, resulting in salvation.
Do not take the title of this blog post out of balance. I understand that it is necessary to stand against evil. I just want to make sure that I am not always standing against something but standing for something as well. Often, Christianity is frowned upon because Christians often talk about what is wrong and name only the list of acts that are sins.
Of course, the issue of sin is to be taken seriously and dealt with rather than swept under the rug; however, it is important to be reminded that none of us can overcome the power of sin in our own strength. If we could do that, then, Christ would not have had to come and suffer and die for us.
You Will Know Them By Their Fruit
In Matthew 7:16, Jesus stated that both false prophets would be recognized by their fruits. Those who are genuine will be recognized the same way, so, it is important to know what types of fruit we should be looking for. Galatians 5:22-23 explains what the fruit of the Spirit is. In other words, if a person has the Holy Spirit dwelling in her, there are certain characteristics that will eventually manifest. These are love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.
Instead of always speaking out against hate, I should speak out for love. When depression comes, I should speak up for joy. I should seek out peace when strife comes instead of simply speaking against strife. Does this make sense?
Although God deals with sin, it is important to remember that He also deals with us according to our righteousness. In ourselves, there is no righteousness, but when we accept Christ, He is our righteousness. Salvation is instant, but sanctification is a process. When Christ is in me, He will begin to help me cultivate the fruit that is the evidence of the Holy Spirit being in me.
Are You Only ‘Against’ or Are You ‘For’?
With all that was just stated, I come back to my first statement: Is it what you are for or what you are against? Do you stand for righteousness, or do you simply stand against what you deem to be sinful? It is important to give thought to this because if you only stand against what is sin without pointing people to the hope that is in Christ, then, you are in danger of developing self-righteousness. That type of righteousness is no righteousness at all.
When we speak out against the things that break God’s heart, it is also in the heart of God to point people to the solution. The solution is always Jesus. If we only point out sin, but fail to point out the way to righteousness, then our ministries have failed.
There are times when it is important to show righteous indignation, but there are also times when nothing but love will help. Displaying the fruit of the Spirit in our lives is what will make a difference. People will take notice of that fruit which will bring glory to Jesus. They will notice because it is something different from what they have seen before.
How about you? Are you only talking about what you are against, or, are you letting others know what you stand for?
Worrying is something that comes natural to us all. As parents, we worry about our children. As employees, we worry about job security. Lack of financial stability brings worry. Marital issues give birth to worry. In general, potential lack in any area brings worry.
Is it possible for worry to become an idol in our lives? My answer to this question is yes! Anything that comes before God is an idol. I can make an idol out of anyone or anything, but worry becomes an idol when it becomes exalted to a position of obsession.
What Does the Bible Say?
God’s word has a few things to say about worry. Jesus spoke of worry at least twice during his time on the earth. In Matthew 6:25-33, He addressed our concern with having our needs met. Jesus told those around Him to avoid worrying about what they would eat, drink, or wear. He went on to say that our heavenly Father knows we have need of those things. In verse 33, Jesus exhorted those listening to seek God’s kingdom first and His righteousness, then all other necessary things would be added to them.
If you back up and read verse 24, Jesus stated that no one could serve to masters. One would serve either God or money. I find it interesting that Jesus discusses money right before He says not to worry. He knows us better than we know ourselves, and He knew that money is an issue for many people. It takes money to have food, clothing, and other necessities. However, seeking God above all else will result in everything else falling into place.
In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul writes that believers should be anxious for nothing. In other words, rather than worry, we should commit everything to prayer. He further states that by presenting our requests to God, we would be allowing God to guard our hearts and minds. Worry begins in the mind, then, proceeds to the heart. These areas must be guarded in prayer.
Another Area of Worry
Jesus addressed another source of concern for believers. Of course, at that time, He was directly addressing His disciples. Now, we can apply His sayings to our own lives. The source of worry that He addressed was worry over what His disciples would say to their persecutors when handed over to them.
In Matthew 10:19, Jesus stated for His disciples not to worry about how they would answer government officials when arrested. Jesus gave assurance that He would give them the words they would need to speak.
Although we might not be persecuted as the disciples were, this type of worry can consume us. For example, if I have to confront someone (this should always be done with much prayer, fasting, and humility), I often rehearse what I am going to say, and I have even planned what I would say if the person responded in certain ways. When we have to confront issues, it is best to allow the Holy Spirit to guide our words. If we have to face someone who is belittling us, we must trust God to give us the words to say, or, trust Him if He tells us to say nothing. He knows what is best.
The Fruit of Worry
Has any good thing ever come from spending time worrying about various matters? Someone once said that worry is like a rocking chair. It will take you back and forth but get you nowhere. I have found this to be true in my own life. When worry surfaces, prayer should be the result. Once the matter has been committed to God, thank Him for what He is going to do about the situation.
In Exodus 4, Moses worried about what he would say to Pharaoh. God assured Moses that He would be with Him. In Genesis 16, Sarai worried that she would not have although God had promised that she would. Worry resulted in Sarai taking matters into her own hands and giving her maid, Hagar, to Abram as a secondary wife so they could have children through her. This was a custom that took place in the East during that time period, but it was not God’s will. As a result, Abram and Sarai had to deal with the consequences of their actions.
What has you worried? A child? A job? An enemy? A spouse? Even if the source of your concern is your ministry or church, God has the answer. Do as the word says, and by prayer and supplication make your request to God. Allow His peace to guard your heart and mind. It is not easy if you are addicted to worry, but it is the only way to tear that idol down.
Why do we think we can take better care of issues than God? We might never make such a statement verbally, but when we worry excessively, refusing to give our concerns to God, we make an idol of our worries and think they are best left in our own hands. Do not be deceived. Give your cares to the Lord and let Him give you perfect peace.
In John 10:10, Jesus stated that He had come so we could have life and have it abundantly. Of course, the words of Jesus are total truth, but there are time in which it seems I have life overwhelming rather than life abundantly. How about you?
Even at its best, life is unpredictable. We never know what unexpected circumstances will arise needing our attention. However, even when it is not great, life comes from God, and there are always aspects for which we can be thankful.
A Horrible Day
Often, we have one of those days that just seems off somehow. Nothing happened that we could not handle, but it just seemed that a few limits had been pushed. Some days, you and I can be out of sorts and not be sure of the cause. Jesus is still Lord even on those days. His grace is sufficient on those “off” days. Furthermore, He cares about those off days, and we are free to bring them to Him asking for grace.
Unfortunately, there are days that are just horrible no matter how you look at them. Various circumstances or events can be the cause. A bad report from a doctor, the death of a friend or loved one, the loss of a job, receiving divorce papers, or a variety of other negative events can change our lives in nearly a split second. Jesus is still Lord in these times and circumstances. He is in control. Of course, knowing He is in control can lead to questions. How can a loving God allow these things to happen?
No matter how overwhelming life becomes, we can still go to Jesus for healing and restoration. Even if the circumstances are not that horrible, we can still go to Him and allow Him to take our frustrations. There is nothing too big or too small for His care.
Dealing with the Overwhelming
There is no perfect, cut and dried answer that I can give you as to ways you can deal with life when it becomes too much. All I know is that I have learned in every circumstance to go directly to God in prayer. When I fail to do this, I usually end up taking matters into my own hands. As a result, a mess of my own making usually occurs.
When life is overwhelming and problems seem to come at you in droves, it can be tempting to take matters into your own hands. It can be tempting to make rash decisions that bring temporary relief. 1 Corinthians 10:13 reminds us that all temptations we face are common to other people. In other words, other people have been where you are. We are also reminded that God provides ways of escape through temptation. As a result, you can run to Him when you are tempted to allow daily life to awaken every negative emotion you possess.
If you have had an unusually horrible day, or, if you have simply had an irritating day, go to the Lord and ask Him to help you learn from the experience. If you are facing grief, find someone to talk with who can help you through the process. God gave other people to help carry our burdens. Ask those God has placed in your life for help, then, when the time comes, be willing to be of help to others.
In Luke 19, Jesus told a parable that served as an illustration of His second coming. Verse 13 leaves a firm command that says “occupy until I come.” The parable was a story of a man who left to go on a trip, leaving his servants in charge. They were to take care of his personal money matters until he returned. One servant failed to do what had been asked of him. The results were anything but positive.
The Second Coming
As Christians, we hear often about being prepared for the second coming of Jesus Christ. Although it is a soon coming reality, we miss an important part of what Jesus was saying in the parable. He will return, but he wants us to occupy until he comes. The word occupy in this particular text comes from a word that is speaking of an action similar to a military occupation. In other words, we are not expected to sit idly by while looking for the Lord’s return. We have work to do, action to take.
While we are waiting, we have life. The life we have is by the grace of God, so, we should be living that life in a manner pleasing to Him. Not only should we do our best in all our undertakings, but we should also point people to Jesus Christ. Our job is not to be idle or careless, but we should be living lives obedient to the Holy Spirit, then, when He returns, we will not be caught by surprise.
What Should You Do?
The theme of my blog comes from Philippians 1:21 which states that to live is Christ and to die is gain. When God calls us home, it will be gain. In the meantime, to live is Christ. Living my life is pleasing to Christ. Even when it is mundane and appears to be of no significance, it pleases Christ for me to live to glorify Him.
When you demonstrate His love to others through acts of charity or mercy, it brings glory to Him. Think about it. You have at least one opportunity on a daily basis to demonstrate forgiveness. There are opportunities on a daily basis to bring glory to Christ through the way you live.
The phrase “to live is Christ” does not indicate a life that is perfect, nor does it indicate a perfect person. You and I will make mistakes. When we do, we should repent, then move on. When those who do not know Christ see us repent of wrong doing and move on, it will speak volumes about the love of Christ.
While we are waiting on Christ to return, we do not have time to get into disputes over various end-time beliefs. Trust me, I have my own views concerning how it will all take place. We should spend our time spreading the good news of salvation. We should live to make a small difference in the life of another person. It is important that we occupy because Jesus might return during your lifetime or mine, but if He does not physically return, the time will come when He calls us home. Either way, we need to occupy while we are here.
Our unity with Christ and each other, as Christians, is so vital that Jesus labored in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane before His death over those who would be His. John 17 provides a detailed look at the prayer of Jesus. He labored in prayer to the point that His sweat became blood.
Unity with Christ
Before you or I can be in unity with each other, we must first be cultivating our own individual relationships with Christ. In Matthew 22: 37-40, Jesus first instructed those around Him to love the Lord with everything in them. After quoting these words from Deuteronomy, Jesus finished the rest of the command which was to love your neighbor as yourself.
If you or I fail in loving God, we will fail in loving each other. God is love, therefore, it is vital that I am found in Him so that I can love Him in return, then, love my Christian brothers and sister.
A relationship with God has to be cultivated through prayer and time in the Word. If I avoid speaking to God and fail to listen to Him, what kind of relationship would I have with him? If you avoid communicating with your spouse, friends, or family members, can you truly have good relationships with them? If you avoid listening to your loved ones, is a good relationship with them possible?
Unity with Each Other
I have heard some Christian teachers say that unity does not mean uniformity. In other words, I do not have to become just like others in order to love them. In fact, I do not even have to agree with all they do to love them. Love is not dependent upon uniformity. The love of God is so much more. Love still chooses to seek a relationship with an individual although there are differences.
God made us all unique (see Psalm 139). He did not want us to become clones of one another. He knows we all look at things differently. He knows that we are not going to serve Him in the same way. I believe He did this intentionally.
When you listen to a band or an orchestra, you notice that the instruments are not all the same. They have different sounds. With practice, those who play the instruments learn to harmonize their sounds so a beautiful symphony is heard. It is the same with God’s people. Our different gifts can come together and harmonize to accomplish the spreading of the gospel and building up of the kingdom of God on the Earth.
How to be in Unity
There is no magical formula to the challenge of unity in the body of Christ. It is a matter of working together despite differences. Accept that there are issues on which you will disagree with your brothers and sisters. Accept that they are not just like you. Be willing to work together despite the differences.
It is time for a disclaimer. I am not saying that we are to accept the message of those who claim there is another way to God besides Christ nor am I suggesting that we go along with teaching that is blatantly false. I am suggesting that we lay aside those differences that are not a matter of eternal salvation and work with each other to win people to Jesus Christ. There comes a time when we must decide to only know Christ and Him crucified. The rest can wait while we point the lost to Jesus.