Parting the Clouds of Your Soul

Photographer: Jay Brazel

I’ve been feeling so blue for the past few months. It has been an unexpectedly hard year. I suppose most hard times are unexpected. We’ve dealt with serious illness, lost income, ministry challenges, car accidents, injury, etc. Stuff that everyone deals with. It’s just that we haven’t had a break and it started to really get to me. It was getting to my mind, my thoughts, my outlook on life, confidence in myself and my daily attitude. I was frustrated because I generally do struggle with feeling down alot and I didn’t need these extra stressors in my life.

A few weeks ago I just broke down. I couldn’t take the stress. I’ll admit. I threw a HUGE pity party! Attendance: me. Games: BYOT (Bring your own Tissue)

That Sunday when we woke up late for church and decided to head to our sister church’s service instead since we could make that one relatively on time. Boy was it a blessing! I felt like the message was for me. The pastor spoke about dealing with the twin realities of God’s goodness and life’s troubles. Ever struggle with that one?

What I learned was that I was focusing too much on my circumstances and less on who God is. I KNEW that we’re not supposed to do that. I KNEW that God is good not matter what… but why was it so hard in the midst of these trials to trust Him? I have to admit I was asking God “why this was happening?” a lot. Along with the good ole’ “What was He trying to teach me?”. I happen to think that it’s okay to ask God “why” as long as you really want to learn from the answer.

Here’s the thing I learned:

1. Who God is IS NOT DEFINED by Life’s Circumstances

in other words…

2. God is who He says He is, not who we think He is
3. We can bless God in the midst of challenges because we are enthralled with the beauty of who God is and not because of what is happening around us. He never changes.

So I got my answer and I’m thus (yes I said thus) grateful for these past challenges. It showed me that even though the rainstorm and the clouds hover over us, the secret to keeping Sonshine in our hearts is to bless God for who He is and not not focus on the ever changing circumstances of life.

I still have to remind myself every day (every hour of the day) to bless God when my feelings dip, but it is freeing to know I can coax a lighter heart into my chest by refocusing on who God is.

Here is the link to that sermon.

God Bless

Impact 11

Happy New Year!

I’m back from one of the most tiring but rewarding weeks of my life! From the 26th of December to January 3rd I spent with the Impact Ministry in New Orleans, LA. And wow!! What a city! Full of life and vibrancy, tradition and artistic expression! While New Orleans is a hopping city, the effects of Katrina are still evident in certain areas. With crumbling architecture and struggling youth. On the day of outreach we partnered with a local church to do an outdoor concert  coupled with sharing the gospel with the local community. All around us were young men mostly riding around off to do no good so we were told by the older community members. At one of the testimonials after the day of outreach a young lady shared how a young man she witnessed to decided not to shoot someone like he had originally planned after hearing the gospel! What I really appreciated was the fact that we partnered with a bible teaching church that we could send people to after we shared Jesus with them so they could continue to grow spiritually. This church was so gracious to support us and provide us with a delicious lunch of authentic red beans and rice!

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God has done so much in my life this week through the amazing speakers, seminars and relationships that I was able to build. He has taught me to let go and let Him work things out when I was feeling stressed. He has taught me to not look to others for validation of what I know He has called me in and also that together we can accomplish so much more than alone.

Please go to my youtube channel for more videos on the journey to Impact 11!

Are you teachable?

 

Last time we were together…here on the internet… we looked at humility. The next characteristic I studied today in Living Beyond Ourselves by Beth Moore was being teachable. In order to be teachable we need to be humble.

Many of us at times have tried to share advice or correction sincerely and genuinely only to be met with an “I know it all” attitude. I used to get angry when I was met with this attitude. But now I just understand that sometimes the timing for that individual is not right or they just do not have a teachable attitude.

Let’s look in the bible at what happens when people have teachable spirits.

Acts 18 talks about a couple named Aquila and Priscilla who were tentmakers from Italy. The Apostle Paul ended up connecting with this God-fearing couple and they worked together for some time since Paul was also a tentmaker by trade. No doubt during that time Paul was able to teach Aquila and Priscilla more about God as they spent time together working and living. Eventually Paul went on to Ephesus to  share the gospel with the gentiles. Soon after an Alexandrite named Apollos entered the city and the bible describes him as eloquent, mighty in the scriptures and had a fervent spirit (Acts 18:24). The couple heard him preaching in the synagogue and saw that he was doing well but needed to know more in order to grow in his ministry. So Priscilla and Aquila took him aside and taught him the way of God more accurately. Afterwards Apollos went on to become a greater speaker able to refute the Jews publicly. In the end some even equated him with Peter and Paul (found in 1 Corinthians 1:12).

This is a beautiful example of what happens when we are teachable. The disciples were able to teach Paul and Paul was able to teach Aquila and Priscilla and they were able to teach Apollos who was able to go on to teach many more. Do you see how God is able to multiply the ministry through teachable spirits? Each persons’ ministry was blessed through humility and receiving teaching in love.

I do believe that we can learn something from other saints in the body of Christ. That is the beauty of how God created us. We all have different gifts and different talents that are meant to edify the whole body and to minister to others. If Aquila and Priscilla acted jealous of Apollos ability to speak and lead and refused to teach they would have robbed many people of hearing the truth.

I liked how the bible notes that the couple took Apollos aside to teach him. They did not correct him in public in front of the one’s he was preaching to. They lovingly took him and poured into him so that he could flourish. There is always a larger purpose in learning and teaching when it comes to the things of God. There might be a young person out there who needs you to pour into them. Let us keep our eyes on Him and receive His teaching with a humble heart. God cam and wants to do more than we can imagine in our lives when we submit to what He wants to teach us!

Have a blessed day!

He is Faithful

This morning I was reading out of my sutdy “Living Beyond Yourself” by Kay Arthur and the topic we are discussing is Faith. We began by looking at an account found in Mark 9:14-32 about father who’s son was having seizures and being tormented by an evil spirit. When Jesus came onto the scene, the father said to Jesus “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus said to Him “If you can believe all things are possible to him who believes”.

The father uses the words “but” and “if” in his request to Jesus. I can imagine that this father was tired, desperate, scared and probably had tried everything he knew he could do possible to help his son. Maybe his journey made him use the words “but” and “if” with Jesus. I’ve been there for sure. Have you ever tried every other solution you could possibly think of but went to Jesus last? So that by the time you kneel down your spirit has been worn down and you don’t know if even any solution is even possible for God? However, our next text looked at three friends who were looking in the face of death and still demonstrated great faith.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego were about to be thrown into a firey furnace for refusing to worship the golden image of King Nebuchadnezzar. In response to the king they said “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand O King. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” WOAH! You mean to tell me that these dudes hadn’t even seen Jesus and were talking with this kind of faith! Even to the point of dying a very scary death?  Faith sometimes means knowing God can, whether or not He does. If He chooses not to He has a greater glory in mind (Kay Arthur). In case you don’t know the conclusion of this story, they were thrown into the flames but they were not consumed. Jesus saved them and they were brought out of the flames not even smelling like smoke! (we will save that for another day!)

I felt convicted by this portion of the study. I do believe that Jesus came to this earth, I believe that Jesus is God, that He died for my sins, rose the third day and I believe that He is coming back again. But many times I have trouble believing that my personal requests to God will not be answered...almost like the father in Mark 9. However Jesus answered the father by saying anything is possible to them that believe. So I will mimic what the father said to Jesus “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.”

I think that when we doubt that God can do something it’s because we are forgetting who He is and who His Son is. If you wanted to get some Michael Jordan sneakers and you told Michael himself to get you some Jordans you wouldn’t doubt that he could get a pair of his newest, freshest, flyest, shoes would you? In the same way we go to the King of the Universe the one who created all things ask Him to move a mountain in our life and turn around to doubt his abilities. Look at what this scripture says about Jesus.(I paraphrased)

Jesus Christ is the faithful witness, the first born from the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth, the one who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood and made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father. (Rev. 1:5-6)

When I read this scripture I’m reminded about how AWESOME HE IS and how not awesome I am. Jesus is able to do anything. Let’s not forget who HE IS and maybe it will be easier to believe that He can do anything if we just believe.