Where can I find inspiration?

Jesus Christ…Heard of Him?

Maybe you have never heard about Jesus Christ. This blog is your first-time hearing His name mentioned. Allow me to introduce Jesus Christ to you. One of the biblical authors, the apostle Paul, tells us good news about Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 in the Bible, Paul says,

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve…”

Jesus was a real human being who lived and died on earth, my friend. This is not a fictional story. John 3:16-17 from the Bible tells us why Jesus came. It says,

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.”

So, you see, Jesus came from God on a mission born out of love. Unlike others, God did not send Jesus to shake His finger in your face to scold you about how “bad” you are, or to stick his nose up at you to show how much your actions “repulse” Him. In fact, the intent was just the opposite. 

Emanating from God’s heart of love for humanity, and His compassion and mercy which He has plenty of, God was
propelled to send His Son, Jesus Christ–to save us from sin. The idea of humanity needing a savior is true. We do! Being “saved” from something suggests a problem or danger exists that we need to be rescued from. There’s
something bad or negative lurking around in the shadows. Right?

Well, yes, there is a danger lurking around in our human hearts and world – it’s called “sin.” Sin is not something God likes or participates in. On the other hand, humans, unfortunately, have a natural proclivity for it. We were born in sin and have the instinct to partake of sin’s fruit. At one point, God recognized how humankind’s proclivity for sin and evil was so great, He relented (or regretted) that He had made mankind. That’s pretty saddening, I’d say. It says, in the first book of the Bible, Genesis chapter 6, verses 5-7,

“But
the Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind had become
great on the earth. Every inclination of
the thoughts of their minds was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he
had made humankind on the earth, and he
was highly offended.”

 

We have an opportunity to understand here how God does take issue with sin (the word we hate to say); it is the problem or danger in us that stands in the way of Him and us. It’s in the way of us rightly relating with God because He is Holy and, as the younger generation would say, He’s “all good.” Yes, God is good and therefore sin must be faced, addressed, and dealt with in order to know Him.

Bing! This is where a Savior is key and Jesus Christ is important to get to know. Jesus Christ stood in the gap for you and me to handle this sin problem that offends God. Sin has a penalty—death–and somebody has to pay a price for it to stay in God’s company. This is what Jesus did. One time, for all, Jesus took the punishment for sin that humanity deserved so that we could become the righteousness of God. Jesus, a good guy, died a criminal’s death on the cross. The Bible says it this way in 2 Corinthians 5:19-21,

“In other words, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting people’s trespasses [sins] against them, and he has given us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making his plea through us. We plead with you on Christ’s behalf, ‘Be reconciled to God!’ 

God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.”

The good man Jesus, the Savior, took the fall for the bad guys (you, me, and the rest). We can, however, be reconciled (made right) before God right now and begin a relationship with Him because of the fall Christ took and the price Christ paid on the cross for our sins. Please, do so.

God wants us near and close to Himself, as family members. God, the Father wants you to know and experience His life. Simply believe and receive this truth about his Son, Jesus Christ—that He came as the Savior of the world and died, was buried, and rose again to bring you to God. He was more than just a religious prophet and teacher. In fact, Jesus Christ is the only One who can bring us to share in God’s eternal life, as Acts 4:12 shows us this about Jesus’ name. It says,

“This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, that has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among people by which we must be saved.”

Don’t reject the message about Jesus Christ any longer. It is true. Believe and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior right now. Ask Him to come into your heart and give you God’s eternal life. Then the truth about what this
eternal life is, as recorded in John 17:3, will immediately begin in you. It says,

Now this is eternal life—that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent.

“Welcome…nice to meet you. Please, come in and have a seat at my table,” you will sense God saying, once you do!  😊

 

Let us know if you received God’s life!

 

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Slow Down

Hello. I’m back from my summer break and must say I feel rested and refreshed. I’ve learned it’s okay to put things aside and rest for a while. This was not always typical of me. I had to always be busy or actively working on or doing something new. I was driven and consumed by success, ambition, making money, climbing the corporate ladder, and getting things right (especially this Christian life)–quick. My drive and what was compelling it, I discovered, had nothing to do with God! My drive was worldly, often fueled by insecurity and wrong motives. I’ve learned and still am learning the importance of slowing down, smelling the flowers, and gaining the right perspective. We’re all familiar with this traffic sign. It alerts drivers to exercise caution in a particular area because pedestrians are walking nearby. Drivers should slow down.

Slowing our pace, pulling away from demands, streamlining expectations, and drawing away from people sometimes must be beneficial for us. Didn’t Jesus do it? Mark 8:35 shows us He did. It says, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Even our Creator, God, after He completed His creative work, rested. Genesis 2-3 tells us, “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” Surely, if Jesus stopped healing, teaching, and preaching to regroup, and God, the Father, rested after work, shouldn’t we do the same?

For twelve years, I’ve been living with multiple sclerosis (MS). Before MS, I was naturally energetic and fast. My brain thought fast. I walked fast. I finished tests and spelled words fast. I typed, prepared documents, and proofread fast! I cleaned the house fast! And still, even now, I respond fast to a crisis. This was me. Fast could have been my nickname. It’s how people may identify me. No doubt, the MS has contributed to my slower pace now, (although my son is constantly alerting me still to, “slow down, Mom”). There was something more, however–besides MS–that triggered in me a need to slow life down. First, the more I experienced God in my life, I realized, unlike our fast-paced American culture and world, God doesn’t always immediately move when I need or want Him to. He doesn’t always quickly respond to my requests. God moves, responds, and acts in His time. This is sometimes difficult for us to grasp, especially when it involves something we believe He could or should have prevented if He would have. However, God’s kingdom is a mystery to us; it does not function or operate as earthly kingdoms. He reveals pieces about it to us little by little, because its ways are foreign to human ways. No one can say they have completely figured God out.

Second, this idea about, “setting our minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Col. 3:2) is not something we immediately comprehend. Ours is a fast-paced, fast answering, fast problem-solving world. Society tells us to “weather the storm” and “keep it moving.” Even as we watch on television the world calamities that happen, we hear news network reporters asking, “How quick was the response? How soon will repairs start? How fast did law enforcement arrive? When will the electricity be restored?” Since information now travels so fast via the internet, satellite, and cell phones, one is thinking, “Wow! Didn’t the catastrophe just happen?” But, this is our world–fast. It was my thinking too.

In my upcoming book, I talk about how as a child I visualized God as a superhero, like Superman, flying through the skies, saving the world from evil. I’ve since grown up and realized, however, God may not always act fast on my behalf. As a member of His family, there are times when daily, weekly, or year after year, my prayers to God continued–unanswered. I thought they were honorable prayers too, prayers that deserved special attention because they concerned areas of struggle and weakness I had or a sin I wanted to overcome. I mean, “God hates sin,” right? He’ll be here fast to help with this one. To my surprise, God didn’t immediately show up, let alone even address the situation I put before Him. He didn’t immediately come and show me a way out–sometimes until years later. God didn’t always immediately strengthen me, show me what to say, or heal my broken heart. I recall times crying out earnestly to Him, in anguish, seeking His help on a matter, his touch to relieve a pain that I felt warranted His immediate response. God did respond—but in His time. Contrary to how fast our society says we should move to keep up, I recall, in between my prayers to God and His response to them, I did: hurt, feel pain, cried, sweat, struggled, wondered, and thought. I did have to wait.

We don’t realize how earthly-minded we still are as Christians.  Instead of it being God’s kingdom driving us, we’re being driven and propelled forward maybe by our culture and societal norms and values, past hurts, settling a score, competing with someone, words spoken that left a scar, attempts to correct a past failure, and other things only you know. It’s wise to check in with ourselves to see what’s really driving us; it may not always be God.

When we’re so busy, moving fast, making things happen, and getting things done, at some point, we may finally look up and see, we missed the entire process and important small details. We neglected to recognize the still small voice inside us saying, “Stop, he’s hurting; she’s crying, sit a minute; look at Little Joey’s picture he drew for you; your husband had a rough day, rub his shoulders; look at that beautiful skyline; pick up that pretty Lily; go visit your sister today; tell them about Jesus, they’re ready; go, it’s parent/kids day at school; give her $20, she’s hungry; go visit your cousin in the hospital; hug him, he’s sad; sit down and listen, they’re depressed.” These seemingly insignificant whispers are wherein our blessing lies; it’s God quietly, gently speaking, and when we notice, we “do” what’s on His heart. Let’s slow down so we won’t miss these gentle nudgings anymore. For, it’s in doing these where our true success is measured—for God’s kingdom, that is.

Be blessed until next time!

A Mother’s Treasured Heart

Luke 2:19 (NIV) tells the story of how Jesus’ mother, Mary, treasured up and pondered in her heart words the Shepherds spoke about Jesus Christ. After the angel revealed to them who Christ was, they went to find this child. They found Mary and Joseph with the child and proclaimed to them and those nearby everything the angels had said about Jesus.  Verse 17 says, “When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child…and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. ” The scripture goes on to say about his mother, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Surely, Mary was just as amazed as the others by what the shepherds said. She did not fully understand what these words meant about the child she had just given birth to.

However, she “treasured” and “pondered” on them, the text says. These words reflect more than just simply thinking about something. These words are used as verbs here, which denote an action Mary took. Meriam Webster defines treasure as, “to hold or keep as precious; or “to collect and store up (something of value) for future use.” Ponder means, “to think or consider especially quietly, soberly, and deeply.” Mary heard the shepherds’ words, wondered what they meant and thought deeply about them, considered them of excellent value, and quietly stored them deep inside her heart. The scripture does not tell us another angel appeared to explain all this to her. Nor does it say how Mary discussed it with her husband, Joseph, or ran to tell her friends. She didn’t even dance around the room in glee at this announcement.

On the contrary, Mary was struck by the idea she was responsible for raising an incredibly special child. The announcement was extraordinary. In her bewilderment, she made a mature decision. Quietly and wisely, Mary stored the words from the shepherds deep within her heart. Somehow, I belive Mary understood–at that moment–those words would be the arsenal she would need to draw from as Jesus, the Christ, would grow “… in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). Now, things are becoming clearer for Mary.

May we follow Mary’s example with the children we’ve been gifted to love, care for, and guide. Surely, being a mother has its quirks and foibles. From our first look at our children, we don’t immediately know what will follow. Sometimes we want to know everything about our kids, or we try to craft them into what we want them to be. Instead, let’s do as Mary did and treasure the special moments we share with them and ponder in our hearts those special conversations when they are revealing themselves to us. As God did for Mary, in time, He will reveal to us our kids’ unique characteristics or abilities. Because, like Jesus, every child has a purpose when they are conceived.

Be blessed until next time…!

Worrying about Worry

No matter how dark the night, or bleak the news… No matter how difficult the trial, or long the test… No matter how unfair it seems, or how much it hurts… Just don’t worry!
Though you’re toiling the same soil, yet the fig tree has no bud… Though you’ve prayed and prayed some more, no answer is in sight… Though you’ve loved, said a kind word, but a slap returns instead… Just don’t worry!
Whether your anxiety is real or anticipated, your fear happening or imagined in your mind… Whether uncertainty has drained your spirit, blown your smile away with the wind… Even here, just don’t worry!

Why? Philippians 4:6-7

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

A worrier? Don’t worry. Make your request. Be blessed until next time! 🙂

Celebrating African American Author & Film Producer, Oscar Devereaux Micheaux

As an African American amateur writer, blogger, aspiring author, and lover of all things about theatre and film, on this last calendar day of Black History Month–a month where Black Americans focus our attention on the significant contributions made by past and present Black Americans to the United States, I chose to honor the life of Mr. Oscar Deveraux Micheaux in this month’s blog.

During a time when Black people faced various struggles in the Hollywood film industry (oftentimes excluded), Oscar Micheaux made significant accomplishments for the African American community as a writer, film producer, director, and entrepreneur. “[He] is regarded as the first major African-American feature filmmaker, a prominent producer of race films, and has been described as ‘the most successful African American filmmaker of the first half of the 20th century,’ [producing both silent and sound films.]”[1]

In his book, Slow Fade to Black: The Negro in American Film, 1900-1942, Thomas Cripps (1993) states, “Most early Negro appearances in film followed the Southern stereotypes of the wretched freeman, the comic Negro, the black brute, the tragic mulatto, in keeping with literary and theatrical tradition…to understand the history of Afro-Americans in the history of the cinema is to see a race in tension with white supremacy, in conflict with itself and its own ideals, in a quest to overcome disabilities, and moving slowly toward a viable cinema identity and an honest contribution to Hollywood movies. These stereotypes…were prevalent in Hollywood films up to 1942.”[2]  It is noteworthy how most of Micheaux’s novels and films centered around the social oppression of Black people during this time. Hollywood was not equipped or interested in producing films for African Americans, so, independently, Oscar worked outside of Hollywood and against it, producing over forty-four films–both sound and silent. His first film, The Homesteader, was produced in 1919, and his last, The Betrayal, in 1948. He also has seven novels to his credit. “[His] life and career can be divided into three phases: his years as homesteader and novelist (1910-1917); his years making silent films (1918-1930); and his years as a maker of sound films and as a novelist (1931-1948).”[3]

DJ Spooky, a.k.a. Paul D. Miller, continues by informing us how “…there was generally deep segregation in the [film] industry…Black creators [were] largely relegated to the sidelines, and Black performers largely forced to conform to, and thus reinforce, stereotypes in major Hollywood films throughout the 20th century… A genre of films known as Race films became popular. These films featured Black actors and were shown primarily to Black audiences. Many Black filmmakers during this time were able to independently produce and distribute films that focused on the everyday life of what it meant to be Black in America. [They] used this medium to combat stereotypes and set the tone for an independent Black cinema.”[4] This is where Oscar Micheaux would have an impact.

Born in 1884, the 5th child of 13, to Calvin S. and Belle Michaux in Metropolis, IL, Oscar’s father was born a slave in Kentucky… The best schools were available there and Oscar received his basic education. Betti Carol VanEpps-Taylor, (1999) writes in her book, Oscar Micheaux: Dakota Homesteader, Author, Pioneer Film Maker: a Biography, “Micheaux grew up during a transitional period for African Americans. Some of the four million freedmen benefitted from post-Civil War programs, but many struggled with poverty, bigotry, denial of franchise privileges, lack of access to education, and continuing oppression by a sharecropping system that replaced a legacy of slavery. [Most] looked to a small group of leaders for guidance and inspiration, and Booker T. Washington was the most influential African American at that time…He was the epitome of success, had risen from poverty and slavery to build a great school, and [became] a power broker and adviser to presidents.”[5] Surely, his mother’s deep religious beliefs and Bible teachings, coupled with the Washingtonian values of success through hard work, thrift, and economic ambition are what helped Oscar Micheaux face, yet overcome the varied challenges he did as he strove to become a prominent Black filmmaker.

As Micheaux grew, his journey took several paths. Discontented with local Black culture, and against his parents’ wishes, in 1901, he moved to Chicago with his brother, where he experienced “the good life.” He rented his own place and began to make and save money. He worked various jobs from the stockyards to the steel mills, [and as a shoeshine boy in a barbershop.]”[5] However, the job that most appealed to him and changed his life was working as a Pullman porter for the Southern Illinois Railways. In this job, he was able to travel and meet many affluent upper-class White people. He enjoyed hearing their stories because it kept him abreast of all the latest happenings. In addition, as his train route took him through the Western states in the U.S, he discovered a liking for it. Micheaux’s worldview expanded, he was able to save money, and eventually, he became a homesteader in South Dakota.

Patrick McGilligan, in his book, Micheaux, The Great and Only: The Life of America’s First Black Filmmaker (2009) concludes, “In his time, [Micheaux] became as famous—and controversial—as anyone in the field of so-called ‘race pictures.’ [He was] a self-made man who lived the American dream [and] boasted a record of undeniable achievement in spite of the obstacles erected against his race… He was the Jackie Robinson of American film. No, a Muhammad Ali decades before his time, a bragging black man running around with a camera and making audacious, artistic films of his own maverick style, at a time when racial inferiority in the United States was custom and law… [Micheaux’s films] were among the first films in history to attack lynching’s, segregated housing, gambling rackets, corrupt preachers, domestic abuse, criminal profiling by police, and all kinds of racial inequities.”[6]

Micheaux founded and was president of the Micheaux Film and Book Company (1920). Some of his films have been found and restored. His 1920 film, Within Our Gates—a race film response to racism–is available for viewing on YouTube or other streaming services. Three novels are available for download on Kindle: The Homesteader, The Conquest, and The Forged Note. There is an Oscar Micheaux Committee website where one can view a list of Micheaux’s novels and films, as well as a list of books written about him. Two of his films have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant: Within Our Gates (1920) and Body and Soul (1925). An annual Oscar Micheaux Film and Book Festival is held in Gregory, South Dakota, where they honor the life and films of the African American homesteader and filmmaker.

So, in the spirit of Phil. 2:3 (HCSB), which states, “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves,”  I want to thank the Lord for hearing about Oscar Micheaux. I am inspired by his story. His bravery to discover and use his gift at such a time when oppression, suppression, rejection, ridicule, and cruel treatment of Black people was at an all-time high is remarkable. Blacks were only recently freed from slavery, thus not seen as very significant at all. He blazed a trail for other African American actors, writers, and filmmakers. Now, African Americans are prominent on and off the Hollywood screen. We are writing books, and producing and directing films and theatre productions that speak to our experience in America and around the world. I’m excited to understand, as Micheaux did, that I can effect change through the written word. Against any odds, I can complete my first book, and, possibly, who knows, the film or play that’s been on my heart. You can too!

Americans, be inspired, you’ve made, and are making significant strides in race relations. African Americans, be inspired; while the struggle continues, we’ve made, and are making more headway. Human beings, be inspired because “trouble don’t last aways.” Thanks, Mr. Micheaux!

Be blessed until next time…


References

[1]Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_Micheaux

[2]Cripps, T. (1993). Slow fade to black: The Negro in American film, 1900-1942. Oxford: Oxford University Press. New Yor, NY. (pp. 7, 11).

[3]Bowser, P., Gaines, J, Musser, Eds, C. (2001). Oscar Micheaux & His Circle: African American Filmmaking and Race Cinema of the Silent Era, Indianan University Press, Bloomington, Indiana.

[4]Miller, Paul D. a.k.a D.J. Spooky. (January 2021). Race Films: The Black Film Industry That Told Black Stories in Cinema’s Earliest Days. Retrieved from https://editorial.rottentomatoes.com/article/race-movies/

[5] VanEpps-Taylor, B. C. (1999). Oscar Micheaux, A Biography: Dakota Homesteader, Author, Pioneer Film Maker [May 28, 1999]. Dakota West Books, Rapid City, SD.

[6]McGilligan, P. (2009). Oscar Micheaux: The Great and Only: The Life of America’s First Black Filmmaker. United Kingdom: HarperCollins. pp. 2-3.

 

Bearing Our Cross

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

During your life’s journey, have you been able to identify a cross Our Father, God, has intended you bear? I understand you are upset, depressed, and distressed about a situation? Under your breath or aloud, you’re still cursing, screaming, and walking around in a huff over a predicament you’re in. But have you ever stopped to consider, this may be a cross Christ is asking you to bear for His glory?

Sometimes, cross-bearing is brief. An illness has landed you a stay in the hospital for surgery or treatment of some kind. For this brief period, you’re in tumultuous pain, stagnant, and unable to work to pay the bills; everything halts. Other times, it’s a similar scenario or personality type you don’t like but continuously encounter. “This again,” you think, “I hate these people!” Lastly, some crosses leave a life-long painful imprint on us, and we carry its scars every day.  No prayer, life activity, or changes we’ve made erases the memory. The Apostle Paul experienced this. It is not identified as a cross but as a thorn that he was given. “I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:7-9). Paul had scars to live with. He tells us, they were given to keep him from becoming conceited. Hmmm! Do crosses, thorns, and pain help with this human malady?

We find in Matthew 16:21-26 dialogue specifically about cross-bearing. What is it? And, who’s it for? According to this text, those who ascribe to being a Christ-follower must take and bear a cross; it’s a part of being united with Christ and sharing in His suffering. I remember having this discussion with an old friend of mine. He completely rejected this idea. Any notion of suffering was a result of negative thinking on others’ part.  When discussing various unpleasant experiences he faced, I would offer him a cross-bearing perspective to help him try to recognize possibly a lesson God was teaching him or character development He was building in him. His response was always the same, “Look, that was Jesus; I’m not Jesus.”

In our text this month, we find Peter also rejecting such negative ideas about suffering. Jesus foretells His suffering and death to his disciples. The text states, “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”

Doesn’t Peter sound like us? During tough times and in challenging conversations, we tell our loved ones, “Stop being so negative. I rebuke that depressing spirit off you.” Peter was possibly trying to console the Lord, lift Him out of despair, or maybe change His perspective. In a sidebar conversation, I imagine Peter saying, “Come on, Lord, you’re the Messiah. You’re a great man doing all these wonderful things for people. And, we’ve been waiting for you all these years, you finally appear, and now you’re going to tell us this? Look, nothing like this is going to happen to you, especially while I’m here. Trust me!” Society tells us to stop being so negative and focus on the positive. We tell family and friends, “You’ll be fine; don’t worry about it!” Satan is usually the culprit for our negative feelings. Not always so, as we see here. Despite Peter’s well-meaning intentions, he was wrong. Jesus rebukes him. “But he (Jesus) turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Ha! Now, how about that? Peter’s kind words are coming straight from hell, and Jesus recognized this because He knew He had to bear a cross.

I don’t think it is happening this way today in our “name it, claim it” prophetic Christian subculture. We actually are accused of and rebuked for “speaking it into existence.” Have you received one of those “just claim it” words during your Christian journey that did not happen as it was proclaimed? Unfortunately, this ideology is running rampant now. People are disheartening individuals by telling them untruths to appease them.

Jesus’ somber, troublesome news to His followers was necessary and true. The disciples would later see it happened just as He said. Jesus uses this blunder by Peter to drive home a point for them and us. “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 

Cross-bearing involves:

  • Conforming to Christ’s image
  • Denying yourself
  • Taking (accepting) the cross while continuously following Him
  • Losing one’s life for Christ’s life
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Conforming to Christ’s image involves sharing in His suffering too. Cross-bearing will challenge our ideals, worldviews, perspectives, dreams, hopes, and desires. It will involve taking actions, making decisions, and/or expressing views, etc. that are counterintuitive to who we are. As we take up our cross and continue to follow Christ, at some point, any ill feelings, ill will, dislike, anger, resentment, and/or grumbling, complaining, and blaming should end. It’s an exchange Christ has called us to make for Himself. We can, however, choose to reject our cross in order to gain the world.

My fellow believers, from a human perspective, our cross may be difficult, as it was for Jesus Christ. We may want to say at times, “Oh no, not this,” or pray, as Paul did, for a problem to be removed. Don’t, however, discount or not recognize your cross because of erroneous satanic teaching happening in the Church today. Understand that, while bearing a cross, sometimes: it will not be fine. It will hurt. It will be painful. It will drive you to despair. It will cause you to cry. It will involve blood, sweat, and tears.  It will baffle your mind. It will make you sad. It will anger and frustrate you. It will be tiresome. It will cost you a lot of money. It will be risky and make you feel uncomfortable. It may require you to take medication or an infusion. It may mean, let it go. It may mean changing your perspective about a race or culture of people. You may have to embrace, live among, or help those you don’t like. It may be, no, it’s not that one; it’s this one over here. It may be, forgive and stay. It may be, forgive and leave. It may be, marry this one, not that one. It may be, not this career, this one. It may be, give that up. It may be growing up poor. It may be, anoint this one for ministry, not that one. You may lose the job, the contest, the award, the beauty pageant, or the business deal. You may be overlooked, rejected repeatedly, unfriended, lied on, and cheated. However, whatever you discover is your cross, don’t despise it. Pick it up and keep “looking unto Jesus, the author, and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2 NKJV).

Happy New Year! 😊

Thanks Lord

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
I Thessalonians 5:18

Thanks in all circumstances God? Everything?

But you don’t understand, this Covid-19 pandemic is out of control and has wreaked havoc in my life. I lost family members I love dearly. The disease has left me now struggling to breathe, even move or walk; I’m tired. Not only this, but I already have a chronic illness, and my loved ones too; we’re sick. Trying to avoid Covid and manage my own and their disease is overwhelming, scary. Can the health system properly handle my illness and the number of Covid cases? Am I going to get Covid and die? Is my chronic illness going to worsen? Will I end up with both? These and other concerns elevate my blood pressure. Ugh! I’m fearful.

Sir, in all due respect, my livelihood is gone–in an instant. I no longer have a business. Financially, I’m strapped. I must start over at 55 years old. The work culture has changed and so has my job. I’ve gone out to work all my life; now I must work from home. I don’t know much about computers, navigating Zoom, or managing my kids around work. Their lives are in upheaval too; one week they’re in school, another week, they’re doing virtual learning because someone became sick with Covid. They’re not learning much, and their new schedule collides with mine. I don’t like this. I’m confused.

Do you see, my family has been torn apart. My husband left me. My wife has changed how she now sees me. My kids don’t even visit. I’m lonely.

I find no solace when tuning to media outlets to hear the news so that I stay abreast of what’s going on or discover what I’m supposed to be doing. In fact, I’m even more disheartened. I find myself often gasping for breaths listening to the “breaking news.” It’s sure that, isn’t it? My heart breaks reading the headlines or watching those appalling crime videos they show over and over again–another murder, mass casualty incident, missing person/rape, shooting, or a corruption case involving those in high places. I’m not so thankful to know at any place or at any time, I too could become a victim, simply while working on my job, walking my dog in the park, attending a concert, or church or school, or traveling in my car or on a plane or train. Announcements of racist and social biases and extremist groups and their ideologies run rampant in news coverage. Political leaders are not unified. They’re bashing one another. We’re told about the “left,” the “right,” the “progressives?” What is all this? What does it mean? So much divisiveness. It’s chaotic out there. I have no peace.

I’m a sociable, outgoing person. I always enjoyed freely mingling with friends, dining out, working out at the gym, hosting home parties, or catching a movie at the local theatre. Now I feel trapped in a shell, limited by what I can do, and paranoid to freely venture out to enjoy myself. I’m anxious about what I touch, who comes near me, who’s not vaccinated, and whether the restaurant has been disinfected. Wearing these masks is becoming a nuisance. I’m not free to be me. I want things to be like they were before. I miss socializing. I’m depressed.

So, Lord, are you saying in this verse, I should be thankful because these troubling things are Your will for me? Or, are you saying that what Your will is for those who follow Christ is to say “Thank you Lord” regardless of what is personally happening in their life or in the world around them?

Well, it’s reiterated in Ephesians 5:20, “…always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Everything means everything. Always means always. Hmm!

Happy Thanksgiving folks! Be blessed until next time…

God’s Message by The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is probably the most misunderstood and overlooked of the Trinity. However, He performs several essential functions. God introduced Him in Acts 1:8 as One with power who would help the apostles witness for Him. At Pentecost, He came astoundingly as told, and the men spoke in each other’s native languages and miraculously understood each other. In her article, The Unsettling Holy Spirit, Dr. Judy Siker discusses the astonishment the Holy Spirit’s presence created. Instead of an entrance that made the men feel comfortable, the Holy Spirit’s presence shook the place and transformed the entire atmosphere and the men in it (Siker, J., 2004). This is indicative of who the Holy Spirit is. He’s the One who inspired biblical authors of old to record God’s message for humankind.  Not only did the Holy Spirit inspire the writing of the Bible, but today he also interprets it for us.  As interpreter, the Holy Spirit challenges our presuppositions, manifests God’s truth to us, enables us to understand what God is saying, and then empowers us to live according to it.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

The Holy Spirit works in the Church through illumination. We’re able to know emphatically God’s word is divinely inspired. And, He tells us what God means. Can you recall times, if ever, when you read or heard the Bible taught or preached, and suddenly, a light turned on in your mind? No longer did it feel as if you were reading a fairy tale story. A sense of reality hit you like a thunderbolt. “This is true,” you suddenly realized! You had read or heard that scripture passage over and over for years, but you could never quite grasp its full meaning. It didn’t penetrate your spirit. You tried meditating on it, but nothing. This happened to me with the verse, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” found in Philippians 2:13 (KJV). It’s one often quoted or preached in church and discussed among Christian friends. For me, as often as I had read this verse, it never clicked inside me what God meant. Not until one day, while reading it, the Holy Spirit came and illuminated my mind. When the Holy Spirit works in illumination, it’s like He’s turning on a light. Your surprised! Stunned! It’s an OMG moment, where your eyes are instantly opened, and you can see! The Holy Spirit helped me understand how transformation into Christ’s image is a work God does. This scripture means the Lord works in us to even want to do His will and works in us to do it. I was one of those persons on a treadmill walk to successful Christian living (with many peaks and valleys and highs and lows, may I add). I approached my Christian walk the same as I did my job. Be on time, work hard, strive to be good at it, and toil long hours, if necessary, to get the job done. I was going to get this thing right. It was remarkable when the Holy Spirit explained this verse to me. I found so much freedom and relief from the stress I was under trying to live God’s life through my own efforts.  Contrary to some popular church teachings and beliefs today, the Christian life is living the life of God–one we know nothing about. We’re humans, with a sin nature, and a proclivity for sin. God knows this about us. It’s why the Holy Spirit must come alongside us and enlighten us in God’s word and work in us a desire to do God’s will and live for His good pleasure. It’s not in my nature to want to do this. This is what our great Father–God, the Holy Spirit–is all about. It’s why, since Pentecost, He has continuously been helping guide believers and non-believers to understand the truth about Himself (John 14:6 NIV).  

God, the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—the Trinity. They work in accord and each function in one purpose. Scripture tells how God, the Son–Jesus Christ–always did what pleased the Father (John 8:29 NIV). It makes sense then how it’s only through the Holy Spirit’s work in illumination that we gain a proper understanding of scripture, which helps us become like Christ. He only acts in accord with what is written in God’s word. His interpretation will be consistent in revealing what is written about God’s nature, His ways, and what pleases Him. The Holy Spirit will not alter the written word to appease our lifestyles or desires, to make us feel comfortable, or to make us be right. People do that. At the same time, however, The Holy Spirit does not do all the work for us in interpreting God’s word. “The Lord expects us to use the available Bible tools to discover God’s message” (Duvall & Hays. 2012, pp.229-230). Second Timothy 2:15 (NIV) supports this idea, where it states, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God…”

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” Romans 12:17 tells us. By hearing God’s word, we become convinced about what God has said. Next, it takes root in our hearts and becomes our way of being and thinking. Finally, as we go about our daily life activities and encounter various type situations and people, we then do (or put into practice) what the Holy Spirit has made known to us. How do you know this to be true, you may ask? Well, in John 14:26, when Jesus was preparing His disciples for His departure, He told them, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have told you.” An advocate speaks up boldly to defend someone’s cause. We can rely on the Holy Spirit to come alongside us in our situations in life to boldly speak for God, reminding us of what He said and strengthening us to carry it out. He’ll be championing us on–assuring us “we can do all things through Christ.” I don’t know about you, but this is inspiring for me to know we have a Holy Spirit who equips and prepares us for all things that pertain to life and godliness.

Put a praise on it with me for Our God, The Holy Spirit! Inspiration by Ellie does not own the rights to this song.

So, in closing, I admonish you today to continue reading, studying, and meditating on God’s word, even when it makes no sense to you at all. Don’t become discouraged or disappointed because you’re not “getting it” and put it down, because you don’t know at which time you’re reading or listening to God’s word, when the Holy Spirit is going to show up to shake your world and change your life by turning the lights on to what God’s message is to you. If anyone is reading this who has never pursued the life of God or read the Bible, you can start today. Try it! Begin reading God’s words in the Bible today and watch! 😊

Be blessed until next time.


References

Duvall, J.S., & Hays, J.D. (2012). Grasping God’s Word. Zondervan. Grand Rapids, MI.

Siker, J. Y. (2004). The Unsettling Holy Spirit. The Living Pulpit (Online)19.

God Created Me – Psalm 139:13-18

My Beef about Creation

“Wow, your feet are big! What size shoe do you wear?” This exclamation I’ve heard quite often throughout my life, as a young kid and even into my adulthood. Wherever I may have been, I never knew when that question, which was the abominable sin to me, was coming. It always startled me because I never wanted people to notice my feet or know my shoe size, (not even the shoe salesperson). The person yelled it loud enough (it seemed) for bystanders to do what comes naturally—look down at my feet. They said it as if they had just made a significant scientific discovery or were announcing some breaking news. Ugh! How embarrassed I felt. Everything inside me would cringe in utter shame and humiliation. I loathed my feet and worked extremely hard trying to hide them. They were unordinary and did not look like other females’ feet. When sitting, I wouldn’t extend my legs out. I’d deliberately tucked them securely underneath my chair so no one would notice my feet. I dared not wear open toed shoes. Sandals? Are you kidding? No way. My feet were not only big, but they were also ugly. My foot is long and flat. I have no arch, long toes, and a fat big toe. Yuk! No one would ever get sight of these repulsive, unladylike feet. I cannot tell you how often I sat on the side of my bed, perusing my feet, and hating everything about them. My mother and sisters, female friends in the neighborhood, classmates at school, or females I noticed at the pool did not have feet like mine. My female supervisors and co-workers did not have feet as big as mine. Every female I encountered had nice, “normal,” dainty feet. Something was terribly wrong with me. “I’m a weirdo,” I thought. The more I noticed the difference in my feet from my counterparts, I began to think I was not appropriately fitted in this group. This was my thinking for a long portion of my life.

God’s Thoughts on the Matter

In this month’s blog, we come to a section in Psalms 139 that is very appropriate to this story. It’s actually my favorite part of this chapter. I love these verses and periodically repeat them to myself. The words brought clarity to my life and helped reshape my thinking on how I felt about myself. God spoke to those dark places in my life where I always felt kind of weird, different, and unaccepted, or where I had a low self-esteem. Verses13-18 say:

13For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

In an Insight Today daily devotional reading entitled, We Are Wonderfully Made, by Insight for Living Ministries Pastor, Chuck Swindoll, he writes, “While the Bible was not written to be a scientific journal on the human body, it is amazing how much is included in the Scriptures that has to do with this subject. Frequently, we come across statements that specifically mention how God designed our anatomy and put us together emotionally. One of the most phenomenal revelations of His workmanship is found in Psalm 139, where we read of how closely and carefully God watched over our being formed while we were still in our mothers’ wombs.”1

Pastor Swindoll is right on point. The beautiful words here accurately reveal the astounding workmanship of our Creator-God in putting us together. By His mighty power, extraordinary wisdom, and masterful hand, He constructed us. We learn how, while inside our mother’s womb, God: formed our inward parts; knit us together; and saw (or envisioned) our frame. In verse 14, King David offers praise (not criticism) to God for being “fearfully and wonderfully made.” The word fearfully here denotes being done in reverence and with a heart-felt interest. Wonderfully suggests God applied a unique element to everyone He has created. This is evident as we move throughout the world. We recognize and interact with various races of people, who all have different looks and personalities, and are different colors, shapes, and sizes. Each of us has a unique imprint that distinguishes us from one another. David doesn’t berate himself because he knows God doesn’t berate Himself, His creative work, or human beings. After creating the heavens and earth and everything in it, Genesis 1:31a says, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” So too, God thinks this way when He sees you and me. You’re good!

It’s important to understand it is the Creator-God at work immediately after a male’s sperm cell travels through the woman’s vagina and joins with her egg cells to produce a baby, and during the 9 months she carries the child.2 We can speak confidently about this as followers of Christ because it adequately refutes Darwin’s theory of evolution. Through each trimester a baby is in its mothers’ womb, he/she is being formed by God until fully developed to enter the world. It’s exciting yet humbling how God included men and women to play a part in His human creative process. We plant, conceive, carry, and bring forth life. But, we are not the architects of the child’s sex or identity. God decides that. The text goes on to show how it is also at this time where our length of days on the earth is decided and recorded—before we even begin living them (vs. 16).

Help on the Way!

My belief that something was wrong with me, that I was not appropriately put together as other females needed to change.  My mother helped start this process for me. She felt my agony, watched my frustration about my feet, and heard my complaints. I noticed her compassion when we shopped for shoes. We couldn’t afford to shop the quality shoe stores, where the shoe’s construction would be what I needed and a better fit. No, we had to go where prices were affordable. I rarely found a nice, cute, fashionable pair of shoes there in my size. So, I had to settle. Mom would just quietly sit there, not offering any criticism or harsh judgements. She understood a girl’s need to be beautiful and look pretty like a princess. I’m sure it was hurtful for her as well. Nonetheless, she loved my height and often complemented it. She told me to walk tall. I do. Today, I stand 5’9” tall and wear a size 12 shoe. Ironically, my mother was only about 5’3” tall, had a nice frame and “normal” feet. My anatomy was nothing like hers or my three sisters, whose structure is closer to hers. I was the only female in the family who seemed to have inherited more of my dad’s genes, who was over 6’ tall.

One day, after hearing me complain and deride my feet, it was as if my mother had heard enough. With the same intensity as the people who’d yell “You have really big feet,” my mom yelled, “Look, those are your feet; there’s nothing you can do about it. You’re going to have to accept that and that’s it!” Her pitch was high and her tone strong. Possibly to make me feel better, she added, “And, you’re tall; you probably wouldn’t look right anyway in a tall body with small feet.” My mom’s words penetrated my psyche that day. I started agreeing with her in my mind, “Yeah, these are my feet. I probably wouldn’t look right with little feet,” I thought. Slowly, the shift began to happen to accepting my feet. Hearing God’s words in the scriptures also began to come alive in my life. I understood what God was revealing and trying to get me to see. He cared about me.

After reading Psalms 139:13-18, I hope you’re inspired. Maybe you’re now able to see how God feels about you when he looks at you, and how intimately He was involved in your existence today. You’re not a mistake, nor were you formed incorrectly. God did not forget and need to come back to fix a mistake he found on you, or complete a detail He missed. If, as me, you feel you don’t quite fit in with the social or cultural norms of society, your family, yes, even your gender, God says to you today, you do. Our inward parts, which include our basic character make-up, is good. The sex we are at birth is the sex God determined for us, and it’s good–regardless of traits we may manifest that appear more compatible with the opposite sex. Science takes it further to inform us how our genetic make-up, including sex, was complete at the moment of fertilization.2 Although my feet, by comparison, look more masculine than feminine, I’m not male. I am the female I was designated to be at birth, with feet designed, shaped, and attached to my legs by the Creator-God–feet that do not appear to match the female gender. Now, what can we say about that? I’m very aware of and sensitive to the varied opinions and discussions on this today. It’s constantly evolving. Science and society now encourage us to read more, search deeper, explore further to understand our eccententricities, and, possibly, consider an alternative.

My grandfather, too, admonished us to read everything. I did read more and searched within myself. My discovery led me to recognize and piece together the several unique imprints God made on me. I realized, not only do my feet not align with the female gender, but naturally, I also tend to think analytically and work methodically–traits often associated to males. Naturally, I’m assertive, independent, a go-getter, work very hard, and ask a lot of questions.  I’m not as florid, in my use of words, décor, or style, as the female gender tends to be; decorating, hanging pictures and curtains is my least concern when I move into a new home.  In discussions, I rarely make customary comments or share typical opinions as the group. Lastly, I have a big, black, unique birthmark on the front of my neck (that a few docs wanted removed); you can’t miss it. As I focused on me and put together these atypical aspects about me, it became very apparent that God wanted me to stand out from the rest. My unusual feet actually correlate with the rest of me! 😊

Final Thoughts

I’ve shared this life-long battle over my feet and publicly mentioned my shoe size for the first time in my life; I’m 59 years old. Yes, I had moments of sadness, felt depressed, and experienced anxiety about my feet because (culturally) they were not typical of how a female’s/a girl’s/a young lady’s/a woman’s feet should look. I’m not the only person who has struggled with negative body image or low self-esteem issues. I’m not the only one who has sensed a disconnect from or lack of acceptance by one’s gender group. I’m not the only one in life who was teased, rejected, excluded, uninvited, or overlooked because of an apparent difference. Maybe you’re a male reading this and can relate; you too recognize traits/features in yourself that appear more feminine than masculine–you’re gentle-natured, not as rough/tough as other guys. Members of your gender have made cracks about this to you. If you’re not aware, these words–“gender,” “body image,” “social acceptance”–are hot buzz words circling the internet, social media, books/articles, and news headlines. In this information age, a lot is being discussed, expressed, published and consumed on these topics. So, this month, I decided to share my never-before-told personal experience and contribute my thoughts to the conversation.

I made it through my despair because of a wise mother who recognized and felt the pain of my struggle, yet loved, accepted, and uplifted me with grace; by God’s truthful messages in the Bible; and by God’s Spirit close by my side, whispering His good thoughts in my ear. I can confidently tell you what did NOT happen with me during this time. I never believed I was NOT a female. I was never confused about being two sexes. Internally, I knew I was a female, and identified, acted, and expressed myself as such.  I never explored any ideology that I was a blend of both male and female. I did not wish to be a male. I never attempted to injure or cut myself to make my feet smaller or to punish myself because of my difference.

Opening one’s heart and inviting God to take a closer seat in your life will change it.  Learning about His ways, His nature, and gaining His viewpoint from the Bible regarding life and human relationships helps us distinguish what is true from what is false. Over time, His truth becomes your truth. His way of being is the way you now aspire to be.  Ultimately, His viewpoint takes precedence over any familial, societal, or cultural views—even your own. That’s precisely why God created us and how He desires us to be–to bring Him glory. Does this mean I finally reach a point of perfection, where I no longer have struggles, suffer, or commit wrong?  Nope. Life with God is a process He initiates, He grows and builds in you, and He continues into eternity.

Listen. This song helps me tell this story!
Inspiration by Ellie does not own the rights to this song.

As a biologically born female, with feet and other aspects about my makeup that are atypical of the roles and characteristics of the female gender, I declare, I’m fearfully and wonderfully constructed by God. With all my dislikes, perceived flaws, pet peeves, quirks, bad posture, sometimes politically incorrect behaviors, and/or misnomers, God created me in love. Despite how things may appear, what others have said or how they treated me, or how I may think or feel, I am okay. I praise God now for this awareness about myself. I stopped comparing myself with others and putting myself down. I fully embrace who I am, with my “perceived” flaws and unconventional ways. It’s how God made me. I’m happy and feel content. I’ve settled the fact that, while God has given me things I like while creating me, there are also some things I wanted that He did not give me (pretty girlie feet. Lol). That’s out of my control. And, personally, I will never attempt to alter His truth on this matter to appease myself or another. Why? Because I understand now that if He says, it’s good, then it really is. And that settles things for me!

Be blessed until next time.

God is With Me (Psalm 139:7-12)

God–with a person like me? After what I did last night, last week, last year? Are you kidding? He doesn’t want to be around a person like me! Not so.

Whether or not you read the Bible, many may have heard the term, Emmanuel, promulgated during the Christmas season when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, who came as Savior of the world. It’s a Hebrew name meaning “God with us” and speaks specifically of Jesus Christ. Before Christ came into the physical world, however, God’s presence has always dwelt among humanity. We’ll see as we continue our discussion of Psalm 139. In verses 7-12, David shifts his focus from God’s omniscience (vss.1-6) to God’s omnipresence. He begins vs. 7 asking a rhetorical question, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?”  I don’t personally believe David wanted to get away from God; he was stressing a point for the congregation. The revelation how God knew all things possibly helped him understand the magnitude of God’s presence. After all, think of your most cherished relationships. How could you know your loved ones so intimately without often being in their presence? This is what is true about God. His being omnipresent means He is always everywhere in the universe and beyond. There’s no place we are that God is not. David makes his case by presenting us a few “what-if” scenarios he may find himself going, and concludes, in each, God would be there.

Where?

  • Eternal places (vs. 8)

If, before our death, we choose to make our eternal destiny in heaven above with God or in a descent to hell, God’s Spirit would be there and be aware that we’re there. Contrary to one’s belief, we do have a choice in this matter.

  • Remote places and times (vss.9-10)

Time and place are of no significance for God’s presence. David says, “If I were to fly away on the wings of the dawn or settle down on the other side of the sea, even there your hand would guide me, your right hand would grab hold of me.” This statement suggests a time of day or speed at which one might travel.  During Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos’, space excavation on The Blue Origin capsule, God was there, whether they knew or not. From the rocket’s launch at a site in rural West Texas, to takeoff, and while ascending into space and descending back to earth, God was with them. As we’re moving throughout our day—doing laundry, dropping off kids, working, watching a movie, sleeping, lying sick in the hospital with Covid or another disease, or whatever—the Lord’s presence is with you. Whether late in the evening when most are asleep or five o’clock in the morning before the sun has risen, God is present. Even the most remote places in our world are not off God’s radar. I think of these places when I read in this verse, “the other side of the sea,” Remote places are where Christian missionaries often travel spreading the message of Christ in towns and villages we’re unaware of.  While unknown to us, they aren’t to God; He’s there. There’s no time when or place where we can escape God’s watchful eye.

  • Dark atmospheres (physical or spiritual) – (vss. 11-12)

Finally, the absence of light does not thwart God’s view. “If we say, Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me…” God’s presence could locate me when it’s completely dark outside, if there was no moon lighting the earth. In fact, there’s no difference between darkness and light to God, David informs us. How profound! He does not need prescription glasses to see better, as we do, or a flashlight to help navigate a path He’s taking. God’s presence supersedes darkness. Venturing past the literal interpretation here, I believe God is present even in the dark moments we sometimes find ourselves. They come upon us unaware, sometimes through no-fault of our own, or perhaps by our own neglect. As difficult as it may be to grasp, even in these, God is aware we’re in this dark place and is with us. This may be a solace for some but distressing to know for others. Regardless of your lifestyle, the Lord is there and sees; you don’t need to hide from Him, and can’t.

Consider Adam and Eve

I’m reminded of the story about Adam and Eve in Genesis, chapters 1-3. Read it if you haven’t. After creating heaven and earth and filling it with all things one would need for nourishment, sustenance, and pleasure, God creates the first man, Adam, and places him in His garden (Eden) to work and replenish it. He next forms the first woman, Eve, to be with him.  Both had all they needed and were at liberty to enjoy the Garden and eat as they pleased. They were given only one instruction, “And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die” (Gen 2:16-17). Satan comes along, incites Eve, and engages her in discussion. She begins to reason (oh, yeah, how about that!) and eats from the tree and gives to Adam to eat. Suddenly, they realize their mistake, feel guilt, and try to cover themselves. God is walking, they’re afraid and run to hide. God calls, “Where are you?” (Has God ever called you?) Adam tells God he was afraid because he was naked, so he hid. Their nakedness was not an issue before. God asks two questions, “Who told you, you were naked?” and “Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” (Oops…there it is!)  They did. The blame game starts. He blames her, she blames the serpent, and the serpent went on his usual way probably delighted he conquered, until God dealt with him.

We see how from the beginning, people attempted to hide from God and couldn’t, and neither should we. Actually, now, with our understanding about God’s omnipresence, we should humbly submit ourselves to this aspect of His nature and refute any attempts at hiding. As God is everywhere, He’s also all-knowing; it’s futile then to try and hide. Unfortunately, though, this is what sin and dark living produces—fear, guilt, shame, and spiritual separation from God. While God is not visible to us, He can be known and experienced through faith. He wants to be found; it’s why He’s been hanging out among us! (Lol)

How?

You may wonder, how can God be everywhere that I am along with all the other billions of people on earth? Glad you asked.  David ascribes God as being a Spirit (vs.7). This idea is also recorded in John 4:24 where it states, God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship Him in spirit and in truth. His presence is immanent—meaning it’s near and fully present in the physical world and accessible to us in various ways (Acts 17:27). However, His Spirit also transcends the material universe and functions wholly independent of it. There’s nothing in the physical world that God is relying upon to sustain Himself, as we need to.

Why?

In his book, Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer writes, “God dwells in His creation and is everywhere indivisibly present in all His works. This is boldly taught by prophet and apostle and is accepted by Christian theology generally. That is, it appears in books, but for some reason, it has not sunk into the average Christian’s heart to become a part of his believing self…These are truths believed by every instructed Christian. It remains for us to think on them and pray over them until they begin to glow in us.” (Tozer. A.W. n.d. Chpt.5)

You heard me frequently refer to God’s awareness of us, in the places we go or situations we’re in. This is a good enough reason to stop trying to hide from Him. I suggest this for two reasons. First, David realized, and we should too, that there’s no physical place where God’s Spirit is not. Imagine a game of Hide and Seek with a group of pre-school children; many would return home pouting to their parents, “It’s not fair mommy, God always wins.” (Lol) God pays attention to you. His attention is not predicated by your race, how special you are, look, act, or even how you feel about Him. You know, our culture raves over individuals who wear the latest fashions, keep up with trends, or look a certain way. Even our presence on social media platforms can afford us a lot of attention or notoriety. God’s presence with us has no requirement we have to meet. He simply wants us to believe that He exists.

It’s also futile to hide from God’s presence because we learn from the Bible how God has always been working for and toward the good of humanity. He desires to find us and be found by us. In this text, we see God is not just simply being among us, walking around showing off His power and might.  No. Once again, David shows us a God at work, extending His hand to help guide us, his right hand to keep us strong and stable in these “what-if” situations we may go. (See verse 10). References to God’s right arm in scripture usually denotes His powerful ability.  David doesn’t say God is shaking His finger in our face saying, “No, no, you shouldn’t have done that.” There’s no mention either of God holding a club to bash us every time we falter. God’s hand is there to help. As Light, God lights our way and makes our path clear because there’s no darkness in Him and darkness does not affect Him.

Listen to Brandon Lake & Eniola Abioye by Maverick City Music and UPPERROOM who sing about God’s wonderful Spirit. Inspiration by Ellie does not own the rights to this song.

God’s presence does not always mean that bad things will not happen, or that it will prevent calamity. It does mean our Heavenly Father, God one day, left His glorious throne and wrapped himself in human flesh to come and dwell among mankind. He is Emmanuel, “God with us.” God incarnate, Jesus Christ, became flesh in order to identify with our weaknesses. He was despised and rejected as we’ve been. He felt pain just as we feel. He suffered physical traumas and the grief of losing loved ones to death, just as we do. Every kind of temptation came His way as it does to us. Betrayed by His closest friends and misunderstood by the religious establishment who should have known. Jesus, the man, familiar with sorrow and pain, is our God. Because of this, the Bible says about Jesus in Hebrews 4:15,

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Heb. 5:15-16 (NIV)

God is with you, my friend. He sees. He knows. And, He really has “been there, experienced that.” Call on Him!

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great

and hidden things that you have not known. Jeremiah 33:3 (ESV)

Be blessed until next time…


References

Tozer, A. (n.d.). The Pursuit of God (1443448650 1047447034 J. L. Snyder, Ed.).