From Introspection to Action

So recently I have been reading “The Joy Plan” from the You Bible App. I have learned so much from it, as is the case with many of the plans I do, and I just want to share something specific that I learned.

In my last post The Wilderness I spoke about really being lost and without vision. How we search for clarity and continue to follow God even when we don’t know where we’re going or who we even are. I then stumble upon this plan and began reading it. When I started reading it the first thing it said was “be careful not to get stuck in introspective mode”. This was a not so subtle smack in the face as I often pride myself on being so self-aware. However it was exactly what I needed to be reminded of; what I believe we all need to hear at some point.

I want to go ahead and believe that many of us, we honestly don’t know what we are doing so we go,” if I can just BE better….” We begin to focus on who we are and what we are being that we forgot to finish the sentence with “…I will DO (insert greatness here)”. We begin to have a strong awareness of self for way too long that we don’t actually put that new self into action. The ability to learn about ourselves and grow, discover new gifts & talents is not just for our own satisfaction but it is to truly understand who we are meant to be and to begin to plant the seeds that God has placed in us so we may blossom fully.

10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

When we go from a place of introspection to action we truly discover our passions. The idea of a new self is no longer sitting in our mind for imagination sake, but it is now living a new life; we are living a new life! So maybe we have to step out a little in order to get to that point, but let’s do it. I know I get scared at times to step out and do things,  but I can’t say I know who I am and then not truly be that person or do what is expected. I cannot waste in search of full clarity.

THE IS NO SUCH THING AS FULL CLARITY!

I must show my action on a spiritual and a practical level, not for clarity sake. We must do both in order to truly live. So I encourage you, “do not just let a dream be a dream” as they say. You think you are self-aware that’s great! You think you are not yet self-aware, that’s still great! Remember that God doesn’t need you to fully know yourself to do a work in you, but that’s another post for another day. Begin to put introspection into action, and begin to blossom.

 

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The Wilderness

Things are not going the way that I desire, but what do I desire? How can I say things aren't what they should be when I don't know how they should be? I have no power to predict my future from my past but to only assume and to feel right. Well how do I feel? Imagine being in a desert surrounded by nothing but sand and the wind has now got sand in your eyes. I know where I want to go, where I think I should go but I can't see how to get there clearly. My vision has been disrupted and I don't even have water to wash the sand out so my eyes are burning. I can most likely backtrack and find a past source of water because I haven't come far right? Who needs fresh water anyways?

Think of it another way, we want to turn back to Egypt and get water there because it's closer than just waiting to get fresh new water from what's been promised so we often forfeit our promised blessings for "water" or the continuous thought of going back to what is now really a mirage. We are further from where we started but not yet where we want to be. Enough metaphors, simply put we get frustrated, stuck, and our vision is still not clear! We think we are blinder and now further from the destination God has in store for us, but it's just over that hill!

We just need to get over the hill!

How do we find the strength to keep going even when we can't see over the hill? What if the hill leads to more hills and there is no clarity? I sometimes hear quotes like "it's not the destination it's the journey" and I go, FORGET THE STUPID JOURNEY!! But that's when my heart isn't in the right place. That's the beauty of the wilderness; it can set your heart in alignment with God. The Israelites got out of Egypt and went through the wilderness to go in the Promised Land. They didn't just get their blessing right away. God led them through a process in order to firmly establish their identities (Deut 8:2). They had to have an understanding of the blessing and of Who the provider of said blessing was.

I thought as I got out of college, or even what I would call a rough time period I was finally closer and back on the right road towards God's purpose for me but all I saw was sand, I still see sand. However it is my understanding that although I may feel like I am surrounded by sand I am actually surrounded by God and His protection, His love, His grace. There may be no sudden clarity in vision but there is clarity that His words and promises light our path (Psalm 119:105). There is clarity that I cannot fear the unknown but will walk in power looking above and not ahead (1 Tim 1:7). Moreover there is clarity in faith, understanding that things won't always be clear, our eyes may burn for a bit until we get that fresh water, but we won't go blind…

"….The evidence of things not seen" – Heb 11:1

Faith will quench our thirst, will brighten my vision.

Could it be that sometimes we arrive in the wilderness so that we have no choice but to be available to him? So that He alone can provide us what we need to get to the next step.

-A

 

Don’t sink but swim

I’ll be honest and say that sometimes I just feel like throwing in the towel. However in the literal sense I don’t actually like to throw stuff anywhere. I would much rather put it neatly away until I need it again. The issue is you can’t pick up and put down faith. I would like to sometimes just throw away my obedience and come back to it later, but it doesn’t work that way. I dare say I would like to kick rocks to obedience and do what I want because I know there is grace. I dare say that before I knew better I abused grace because why not? Right?

The truth of the matter is that we have all had these thought these urges to just, if but for an hour , simply fly off the handle and surf a different wave on our own terms and not caring whether we sink or swim. We call that “living life”. But for how long are we going to live without actually living? To truly live we have to be obedient, and to be obedient we have to have faith. We have to know God and obedience, they go hand in hand. There’s a song I used to sing in kindergarten and I just wanted to share it before you surf your next wave —

“Obedience is the very best way,

To show that you believe.

 Doing exactly what the Lord commands,

Doing it happily.

Action is the key – do it immediately, Joy you will receive.

Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe.

O-B-E-D-I-E-N-C-E

Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe.”

If you have faith in the Lord you will do as He says, you will obey his commands. God is very aware that we were once sinners and are still to overcome. But the thing is we have overcome by faith and will continue to overcome by obedience! I keep it short and sweet today to tell you don’t sink, but swim. He is very much worth it.

– A

More than a Proverbs 31 woman

For the most part of my life I honestly only knew the book of Proverbs in different statements, I didn’t actually know that they came from the book of Proverbs, such as “iron sharpens iron” or “train up a child…”. I knew Proverbs simply as the book that talks about how to be a woman, mainly Proverbs 31. I knew Proverbs as the book after Psalms honestly. As I grew older I often heard Proverbs mentioned as the book of wisdom. Basically everything you questioned and any advice needed would be in Proverbs, so I finally took time to study it and my mind has since been opened!

I recently spent the month of May studying this book full of so much wisdom. Literally, Proverbs is packed with wisdom.  Proverbs has 31 chapters and May has 31 days, so it worked out that I was able to really take it day by day and gain a true understanding of the book.  I didn’t want to read it like a book and I don’t want to explain it like a book either, reading Proverbs or any book in the Bible for that matter is something you have to experience for yourself in order to truly develop and build a relationship with the Lord.

Sometimes we feel lost, misguided, led astray, or on pause. We feel things good and bad, we go through life experiences and we don’t often know what to do during those time periods. When I had started reading Proverbs I was at a point where I was uneasy, I was lost, I was thinking thoughts and feeling things that I knew were not reflective of the true person I was becoming. I was starting to fall off track, and though I had people to speak to, it wasn’t enough, yet decided to read Proverbs was.

In Proverbs 31 I was reminded of what it means to be a woman of virtue, to be a woman who honors her husband who also has full confidence in her; a woman who lives a life of service. I was also reminded in Proverbs 3 to trust in the Lord from the bottom of my heart because such wisdom enhances our well-being. I was reminded in chapter 24 that laziness is the mindset of a fool as well as other sayings from the wise.

Proverbs 27:2 – As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.

Proverbs 14 examined the difference between a wise man and a fool, while reminding me that the life I live and the decisions I make are my own:

10 “Your joy is your own; your bitterness is your own. no one can share them with you.”

In Proverbs 29 I understood leadership and God’s guidance. In several different chapters of Proverbs I came across a verse that said “better to live on the corner of a roof than with a nagging wife” Ladies we are told 3 times to basically calm down!!!

As I was reading each chapter, I was filled each day with more wisdom and understanding in regards to my relationships, my role as a woman, my role for the kingdom, in leadership, my parents, my finances, contentment, my act of worship, the intent of my heart, and just every area of life known and yet to be discovered. I had a better peace of the direction I was headed because I was making sure I was being led by wisdom and that comes from giving God total control! Godly wisdom is more important and a greater pursuit than anything else in the world. I understand what it means to be a Proverbs 31 woman. However I hold more value to be a woman of Proverbs, the entire book. I choose to embrace wisdom in every way, not just for a few weeks because I finished this book of the Bible, but for life because:

  1. I can always open it and remind myself when I get stuck.

2. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7

 

 

 

I am not my sin

I suppose you can call this a continuation of my previous post Cut the Act but a thought popped into my head while at work not working. Is there a particular reason why so many people are afraid to take the plunge? What’s with all the lukewarm, not yet, not now nonsense, those generations of people get into when it comes to a discussion about entering into a relationship with God? The answer has resurfaced many times and it goes: our circumstance. Many, me included, blame our circumstances, our past, and our actions and use them to stall. We think we are not yet good enough, not deserving of such love and peace and blessing. We mask it as freedom, call it lack of self-control, and call it experimentation, a mistake. We blame our sin.

“19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.” Romans 7:19-20

I got baptized May 1st 2016, prior to that moment I was just not living the life I knew I should be living. Don’t go thinking I was a horrible person, I just didn’t consider myself to having the cleanest record on hand. I knew I should get baptized, but I just wasn’t ready. I didn’t want to take the plunge in public and then end up still living a life of sin; I thought it would just defeat the purpose. I wasn’t thinking of God’s grace but just my sins. Every time baptism time came around I would look at all the people taking the plunge and just feel so happy like “wow, their lives are about to change!” I would float around in the back and watch in wonder and just feel so drawn to the whole atmosphere that was basically a new life. I really wanted it, just not yet. In my head I still had loose strings I had to tie up before I went all in.  I wanted to make sure I was going to be like absolutely righteous so that I would not disappoint God you know. In my head I was better off living not yet baptized because if I make a mistake I wouldn’t be as hard on myself than if I did after I just told God and the world that I’m all in. In my head that decision meant you had to be ready to be perfect! I just wasn’t ready, I was missing the point.  May 1st came and once again I was floating around during first service in amazement as people were getting baptized. A friend of mine came to me and was like “What’s stopping you?” I told her I wasn’t ready, I wasn’t prepared. She was like, “What do you have to be prepared for? You will never be prepared” I just looked at her like I’m not ready and started making up every excuse I could think of about my hair, my clothes, and my family not being here. She looked at me and simply said “Ok, you’re getting baptized today”, and then walked away. I went to the next service and as the service was going on I just knew today was the day, I felt God say “be obedient, don’t look at the past; you are not your sin.”  On May 1st 2016 I made the best spontaneous decision ever because I chose to be obedient and separate myself from my circumstances.

In no way shape or form did I become an angel like I assumed to, but every day brought clearer perspective, peace, and more joy than ever imaginable. In no way shape or form will your actions change 360 (although it has happened), but there is so much more to gain, to live for when you just take the plunge. We have sinned and burdened ourselves but our sins do not define us.

“23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.” Romans 3:23-24

We are human for a reason and we are not made perfect. It took me a long time, even after I got baptized to not allow my sins to define me. I had to come to understand that I am not my sin. I followed in obedience because I recognized who I was following. I understood what He did for me when He died and that He already took my punishments, my sins and gave me true freedom.

25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus. Romans 3: 25-26

 

Cut the Act

My mom says that when she gets back from her trip she will stock up on different types of food because we are headed towards World War III. I laughed at her statement. I laughed at my mother’s statement and she not only called me rude but also said that I am taking things too lightly, that I should look around. To be honest, it may have been rude in some sense that I was laughing, but I was not laughing at her rather at her idea that stocking up on food would save us from a war. I am very sure that it would not be that easy. However, I don’t agree on the fact that I take anything lightly at all. I am constantly looking around, and observing where the world is headed. My heart breaks because I see where we are from where we used to be. I understand it is not pretty, and so because of that I understand that just as she has an urgency to clear out our local grocery store, I feel an urgency to do more, be more, show more of who God has called me to be.

Now is not the time to “play Christian”. Now is not the time to pray “when we feel like it”. It’s time to honestly be bold. If we are going to be about the Gospel then we need to be about it! If we don’t then well… Cut the acting and take the mask off, who are we truly living for? What are we truly living for? My mother expects me to hear such news and worry, carry her sense of urgency because of course “mothers always know best”. I love my mother to death but if I worried about everything then what am I praying for? I can’t do both. My believing in God and who He is means that I am going to have peace and believe that whether we go to war today or 10 years later my hope and joy and PEACE is set on Him. I have a vertical outlook on life and not a horizontal outlook on life. I look to who is above me and not the circumstances that are in front of me.

Many people, me included, have grown up with a horizontal outlook on life, planning, preparing, relying on others, all of the above. Am I noticing now that all of that is starting to fail. We feel sad, incomplete, or lonely.  Yet we are still playing lukewarm? Our plans, ideas, friends, they all fail us and then we turn to God…they get better and then we turn away. Question, who made them better?

“Help us against the enemy; human help is worthless” – Psalms 60:11

I am not calling your family or the saying plans you make are from the enemy. I am saying PICK A SIDE!!! Who are you asking for help? How are you asking for help? I respect this country and our military and yes I pray for those in government, but THEY CAN NOT SAVE YOU! Look around you and realize that it is time to TAKE GOD SERIOUSLY! Spend time with Him, get to know Him, and deliver as His child. I am soooooo over the games. You can’t just tap in and tap out of this type of relationship. Let Him use you and really really really use you.

If we go to war tomorrow that is perfectly fine. This will not be the first, nor will it be the last. We are at war even when it seems peaceful, many things happen in the spiritual before we even see them. I can choose to worry about the future and all responsibilities or I can give it God and then walk away. Pray or worry, but it can’t be both. From experience I am saying it now, it’s time to cut the act. The show is over, what are you doing next?

I don’t think I can be good anymore

I’ve been trying to figured out all week what exactly I want to write and how I was going to get this message out there. Let me start by saying it’s so very, so very, so very, hard to be good! It’s so hard to stay positive and fight temptations and just live righteously. If I may be vulnerable, there are times when I just want to do things I know I shouldn’t do. I want to go to that party and be “turnt”, I want to try this thing, I want to see that boy, I want to complain about everything, I want to throw a tantrum, I want to tell someone off, I want to wish bad on people who are doing bad. Sometimes I don’t want to actually read my bible because I would rather listen to music that isn’t glorifying Him. Sometimes I want to do those things…but I don’t. I remember doing some of those and look at where I am now and cannot go back. I remember vengeance to be the Lord’s, and I remember anger lies in the bosom of a fool, and I definitely remember:

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one Matt 6:13.

 At time’s I feel like I am missing out on life, missing my youth, but I am not. I suppose to look in the past is just a mind thing that with time ends. We are running a race and when you get close to the end you get tired, maybe even burnt out. If I could just take a 5 minute rest then I could finish, right?

I ran track when I was in high school, and whenever I would run the 400m I would be tired with just 100m left.  I couldn’t just stop, nap, and then finish, it didn’t work that way. Also, my coach would kick my butt off the team! We can’t just stop living righteously, go get drunk at the club, spend a night with some guy, curse the world, and then try to continue the race. The burdens of guilt that many of us may encounter would drag us down. There is mercy but no gifts for ignorance. I understand its hard, TRUST MEEEE I UNDERSTAND, but our race is so much bigger than that. The finish line that we are headed towards is much bigger than we see, closer in fact.  This week I came to the realization that I honestly have to keep running. I can’t let anything derail me from the goal I am aiming towards.  We get tired when we are close to the end but that’s how you know your close right? We have to keep pushing, keep fighting.

In this same mindset of keeping on I have also been really really upset with what’s going on in the world. By being upset with the world my head goes “WHATS THE POINT OF LIVING RIGHT AND BEING POSITIVE WHEN EVERYONE IS STILL LIVING WRONG!” and my heart goes “YOU WERE MADE FOR MORE!” It is so hard to stay positive and live right when every day, every single day you get a notification or a trending topic or a news story about #MISSINGDCGIRLS #FLINTWATERCRISIS #REFUGEECRISIS #ICANTBREATHE #POLARVORTEX  and the list goes on and on and on much of it being unreported! It is disheartening how this has become “the norm”. Why in the world have we come to let bad news become so numbing and normal?

“They’re shooting, lay low”….life goes on as another has just ended on a playground, which is not even being used as a playground.

This is the heartbreaking world we live in.

“Love like I’m not scared/ Give when it’s not fair/ Live life for another/ Take time for a brother/ Fight for the weak ones/ Speak out for freedom/ Find faith in the battle/ Stand tall but above it all/ Fix my eyes on You On You – “King and Country”

This song came on the radio this morning as I was thinking about recent news and getting angry, then things were put in perspective. I need to fix my eyes on He that does all and knows all. I remember the story when Jesus was walking on water and called Peter to meet Him. As Peter began to walk on water he got scared and began to sink, he lost faith for a moment. That story was me earlier in the week. Reading everything that is going on and all in my head I began to sink. I was starting to lose focus, starting to slow down on the race. Don’t let that be the case, it’s hard things we go through but we have to GO THROUGH them to get to the finish. In the midst of everything I have come to understand the role that God wants me to play and so because of that I cannot live in fear, anger, or temptation. I can’t sink no matter how strong the waves throw me. It’s definitely a hard race I am running but I will be pump my arms all the way to the end.

Now, what about those of your reading this who have yet to start? You possibly hate running, would rather just wait till it all passes and we all go out for ice cream after. Yea? No! Probably you’re so upset with everything or enjoying the “life” you are living and are thinking, “I can’t, not yet anyways” “I can’t be bothered” or “where is God when all this is happening?” I used to be the same way and trust me when I say, your enjoyment is temporary, God is not a bother, and He is definitely with you, and preparing you for more. 

 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding”. Proverbs 3:5

Right now is not the time to try to understand anything; you will give yourself a headache. TRUST IN HIM. It’s hard to see what is being seen and to avoid feeding the flesh. Honestly to just live a positive life. A righteous life is hard, but I wouldn’t be writing this if I haven’t experienced it and benefited. No I am not perfect, far from it, but I have peace. Even in the midst of it all I have peace, because my eyes have been fixed on the  Prince of Peace, and when I forget for a moment, because yes I am human:

The Lord gives strength to his people: the Lord blesses his people with peace “Psalm 29:11”