A Heart of Stone

Last night, I watched a man of God walk boldly into the streets of Portland, Oregon to evangelize and preach the gospel to a crowd at the Black Live Movement protest. He was sharing the word of God and preaching the message of love.

I watched with anxiety and great sadness on how the people rejected the gospel with such disrespect, anger, rage and disregard. They rejected, scoffed, and mocked him as he continued to preach the gospel.

The people blocked him from going any further into the crowd and told him to leave the area. I actually feared for his safety. As I reflected on what I witnessed through an online video, I’m reminded of how much Jesus had to endure as he walked through crowds of people who rejected his message as he traveled, preached and healed in the midst of persecution.

Unfortunately, not much has changed since then. Since we live in a fallen world, it’s too be expected, but it’s still very upsetting to see others reject a pure, genuine love. It’s an unconditional, agape love that the world is desperately searching so hard to find in people, places or things. I also realize how many people really don’t understand what love really is.

Love is a word thrown around very loosely in society, which has no substance, foundation or value. The world, in general, is void of love. 

Plain and simple, the devil is the master of confusion and the lawlessness experienced in this country is a reflection of the culture which honors and validates acts of disobedience, sin, pride and arrogance.

The world seems to be spinning out of control and erupts in chaos but God is still in control despite how we may think or feel at the present moment.

Sadly enough, society mirrors the disorder, injustice, pain, abuse and hatred that is not a stranger to the history of America.

If you look at a stone, it is unmovable and nothing can penetrate it. Depending on the size, it may be very heavy, but whether it’s a pebble, rock, stone or mountain, it’s made of the same substance. Nothing can pierce it.

After years of pain, anguish, frustration, anger and bitterness, a heart becomes hardened from life experiences, poor choices and decisions and bad situations or circumstances. Things may have happened unwillingly in your life which is not your fault but you’ve suffered the consequences, behaviors or decisions of someone else’s actions. Life is a painful journey and none of us escape life without heartache and pain. The only one who can heal the deep wounds, sickness or disease is Jesus Christ.

Ezk 36:26

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.

The Only Answer is Love

Every problem we are facing today relates to love. It’s the dominant force in life and without it humanity cannot survive.

The Lord values family and marriage. There’s a domino effect that starts in the home. The breakdown of the family has disrupted society, our communities and our nation. Whether your home is dysfunctional or operates under oppression, generational curses, domestic violence, teaches racism and bigotry in your household or have a lack of positive role models in your family, it allows children to run astray without discipline or guidance.

Prov 22:6

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

The severe neglect or abandonment of a child leads them down a road of mental, emotional or psychological anguish. As young adults, they fall prey into the world and tend to gravitate towards gang membership, crime, cults, corrupt organizations and abusive relationships. They search for anything to fill the void. Alcohol and drugs mask the pain but does not cure the original offense they faced as a child or along the path of adulthood.

The cycle continues as an adult but the devil is a liar. You can break the cycle of abuse, addiction, or rejection. You are not an outcast. You are not a failure. You are worthy. You are treasured. You are valued. You are loved.

The world is starving for love but doesn’t know or understand what love truly is, what it means or if it truly exists. The world has a perverted or distorted view or perspective on the meaning of love.

I Corth 6:19

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

It’s so disheartening to personally experience the love of God and then to witness so many people disregard or reject the truth of the gospel. The only one who saves you from the pain, discouragement, depression, anger or bitterness that you are trying to escape is Jesus. While others thrive in evil thoughts, bondages, and deeds of wickedness. The Lord is gracious and merciful to all those who desire a change of heart and mind.

What Does Love Look Like?

When you have love for yourself and others, you will not mistreat yourself or dishonor others. You will have self-control and walk with the fruits of the spirit.  You will have a desire to please God at all times. You will have integrity, morals and values that represent a Christ-like character. Even when you’re in private, you will have a desire to please the Lord while understanding that your priority is to honor the Lord regardless of your environment or surroundings. You will not be intimidated or influenced by others views or opinions. You will be truly set free from mental chains, bondage’s and worldly mindsets. This can only be accomplished through a heart transformation by the Holy Spirit. No prophet, preacher or teacher has the power to change your heart.

Acts 4:12

12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

You must come to terms with your sins and have an honest desire in your heart to open your heart to receive Christ.

Your ego, arrogance, lust of the flesh, pride, and rebellion will continue to lock you out of a relationship with the Lord but Jesus does not discriminate.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Matt 7:7-8

Rev 3:20

20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

A Nation Divided Will Not Stand

When our society can no longer appreciate and value diversity of races, ethnicity and cultures as well as the opinions, beliefs and values other than our own, we will continue to bandage the lacerations of a culture that magnifies and gratifies sin, arrogance, and injustice.

When we can no longer communicate, listen or understand each other, we will thrive on distasteful behaviors, mentalities and attitudes influenced by the world system that is embedded in our music, entertainment, work culture and social norms.

When everyone has their own agenda and fighting for their own dominance and voices to be heard, we will continue to struggle with greed, power, wealth and fame for our own selfish motives and purposes.

It’s all rooted in fear. The only voice that stands is the voice of Jesus which is the foundation of love, peace and compassion.

When you know better, you do better. Every voice is screaming right now but be watchful and consider your ways and actions. Is it a reflection of love, joy, peace and compassion? We must be able to respect each other’s opinions without judgement, anger, animosity or disrespect.

Get out of your comfort zone. Lend an ear to people who don’t sound like you do. Share your story. Release your fears and negative emotions. Embrace courage and strength and mostly, focus on spreading love and compassion in a hurting, dark world.

Bible References:

Scriptures on Love

I Corth 13

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Scriptures on Salvation

John 14:6

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 10:10

Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy, but God came to give you a life more abundantly.

John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

Scriptures on Communication

Col 4:6

Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Luke 19:40

40 And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

Scriptures on Servanthood

Rom 6:18

18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

1 Corth 7:22

22 For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant.

Matt 5:10

10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Dealing With Anger, Rage & Frustration

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These six things does the Lord hate: seven are an abomination unto Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood. A heart that devises wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaks lies and he that sows discord among the brethren.” Prov 6:16-19

We have many things in our daily lives that can make us angry: Family, our children, marriage or relationship issues, death of a loved one, work related problems, job loss, political debates, economic hardships, racism, physical or dealing with physical, sexual or verbal abuse, childhood memories, school or workplace bullying and even traffic gridlock. The list is endless. Dealing with a combination of these problems or even one of them on a regular basis can really cause mounting frustration, anger, and rage.

Taking Responsibility for Your Actions

This escalating problem is based on the neglect of an individual who does not take full responsibility for their actions and emotions. “Be not hasty in the spirit to be angry for anger rests in the bosom of fools.” Ecclesiastes 7:9

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2

“If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him.”  James 1:5

Anger is Not a Sin

As far as I know, there is no part of the Bible that states that anger is a sin. It’s how we react to anger that leads us into sin. Throughout the Bible, it warns us of the power of the tongue. “A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.” Prov 15:1

“Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of your words.” Prov 23:9

Holding onto the Fruits of the Spirit

Anger is a healthy emotion of expression as long as we understand how to handle it. However, in the Bible it states that we should walk with the fruits of the spirit which is: love, joy peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness. Gal 5:22-23

Jesus also faced conflicts and opposition on a daily basis. Throughout His travels and teachings, He confronted others with truth and revelation. Jesus revealed his anger when the Pharisees turned the temple into the den of thieves. Jesus overturned the tables in the temple to express his anger towards greed used in the church. Matt 21:12-13

Taking Authority Over Anger Through the Holy Spirit

In our flesh, it is impossible to control anger. Our nature is to become defensive or revengeful, to prove ourselves or fight back. It’s so important to gain people’s acceptance, approval and respect for what we say or do. But, it takes true character and self-control to develop a tolerance level to dismiss anger, rage and frustration which can only be administered through the Holy Spirit.

“These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-16

“I can do all things in Christ which strengthens me.” Phil 4:13

Our flesh is constantly in war with the flesh. “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would. That do I not: but what I hate. That I do.” “For I know that in me that is, in my flesh dwells no good thing; for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” Romans 7: 15 and 17

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh. 2 Corth 10:3

However, just as tempting it is to walk in the flesh. We do have the ability for control ourselves. “He who has knowledge spares his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. Even a fool, when he holds his peace, is counted wise and he that shuts his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.” Prov 17:27-28

“For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be”. Romans 8:6-7

Let God be the Contender of Your Battles

Many times, God wants to fight our battles if we will allow Him. We must not react so quickly to a negative situation before we have time to think. Many times reacting too quickly leads to a lifetime of regrets. “A wrathful man stirs up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeases strife.” Prov 15:18

“Ye shall not need to fight in this battle. Set yourselves, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you.” 2 Chron 20:17

“When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” Prov 16:7

Taking a Look at the Man in the Mirror

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We cannot continue to blame others for failure to control our tempers. Pride gets in the way of truly being able to take an honest and healthy approach to the situation we face. We never want to admit that we could be wrong, but we are not perfect beings. Sometimes people are placed in our lives to allow us to take a deeper look at ourselves and reveal negative traits that we possess. “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. Better it is to be a humble spirit with the lowly than to divide the spoil with the proud.” Prov 16:18

There is always a chance that our situation, obstacle or conflict you face may be your own fault. However, it’s not about placing blame or feeling guilty but having the maturity, heart, and wisdom to receive correction. “The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge]; but fools despise skillful and godly wisdom, instruction, and discipline.” Proverbs 1:7

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkens unto counsel is wise.” Prov 12:15

“A fool despises his father’s instruction: but he that regards reproof is prudent.” Prov 15:5

Praying for Wisdom

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In the end, all circumstances and situations that we face need to be handled with wisdom. We need to respond and react in a Godly manner. We need the ability to discern the situations we face and handle with care. Meekness is often perceived as a weakness but it takes a man of great strength to stand in the midst of trouble in silence. Let us follow the example of Christ who when beaten, whipped and mocked but answered not a word. Matt 27: 12-31

“He that walks with the wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” Prov 13:20

“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened.”  Ephesians 1:17-18

Patience

 

This thought was inspired by the scripture, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.  They shall mount up like eagles. They shall walk and not be weary and shall run and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:30)

 Do you ever wonder why we need patience? The Lord requires for us to have patience for a reason.

 The Lord has called us out of this world for His own purpose and His own will. He selected us from the womb. “Our very hairs on our heads are numbered.” Luke 12:7 He chose us even though we had no understanding. We walked in the world as blind men. We acted and indulged in our own pleasures. We chased after material things, fought over titles and positions, looked to men for approval and acceptance while denying our individuality and self worth and respect, even compromised our integrity. We ran in every direction possible without considering God.  

The Lord called on us and He waited. We lived in selfishness and greed. He waited. We told lies and gossiped about others. He waited. We made our own decision without seeking Him first. He waited. We lived in lust and pleasures. He waited. We drank, smoked and cursed. He waited. Then, we wonder why God requires us to have patience?

 Living in a fast food society and mentality, we can’t deal with traffic. We can’t wait for our spouse to get ready before going out to dinner. Children are ignored and sometimes mistreated because of lack of patience. We can’t even wait for the internet to finish downloading or move to the next page fast enough. We want to see results immediately without question; while He sits on the throne and waits patiently for us to come to Him.

 He gradually requires our attention through circumstances and situations. He whispers faintly, but we don’t hear. We are wrapped up in our own world of confusion—trying to figure out our own goals, ambitions and purpose in life. He whispers faintly; but we do not hear. We force a life that we chose due to our desires. He whispers faintly, but we do not hear. We try to fit a square peg in a round hole. He whispers faintly, but we do not hear.

 We finally get to a point where we realize we can’t do it by ourselves or depend on others. We are not fulfilled with all we tried to accomplish or who we tried to impress. We get physically, mental and emotionally exhausted before surrendering to His will.

 That’s when we are pliable for the Lord to work in our lives. He can finally mold and shape us in who He desired us to be. We are given a choice. Our hearts must be open to Him as He patiently sits waiting for us to acknowledge and worship Him.

 Choose you this day whom you will serve?

A Cheese Danish Sunday

For most of us, the first thing on our minds in the morning is breakfast.

 My alarm went off at 6:50 AM. My stomach was growling but I chose to hit the snooze button until 7:30 to get the last few precious minutes of sleep. I showered, got dressed in a hurry and prepared myself to greet church members, faculty, new members and visitors for this was my commitment to serving the Lord on every third Sunday of the month. I didn’t have time to eat so I quickly made a cup of tea, grabbed a bottle of water and stuffed a cheese Danish into a plastic baggie and headed for the door.

 I thought of the lack of eating a hearty breakfast. I imagined hot, buttered pancakes drizzled with syrup, scrambled eggs, sizzling bacon, a hot cup of hazelnut coffee and big tall glass of orange juice. As the cold air slapped me back into reality, I turned on the radio and carefully sipped hot tea while I waited for my car to heat up.

 As I waited for the red light to turn, I eyed the cheese danish. It was the perfect color— a beautiful golden brown with whipped, cream cheese filling sandwiched between the pastry. My mouth watered so I decided to take a bite. It was better than I imagined. The crust was soft and flaky and the cream cheese was soft and mildly sweet. Just the way I like it. It made my taste buds dance. The light turned green so I slid the danish back into the baggie and decided I would finish it once I got to the church parking lot.

 When I made the right turn, the cheese danish slid between the passenger car seat and the car door. As I went to clutch the bag, the danish fell out of the bag and under the seat between the car door. I was furious.  My tea was cold and I only took two bites of the flaky, soft crust.  I could hardly focus on driving and I just wanted to turn back around and go home and call it a day. Suddenly, a favorite Christian song came on the radio that calmed me down and ministered to my spirit. I started to praise God as I went on my way to church.

 Unfortunately, I was still rushing and felt a little frazzled entering the Walker Center lobby. I greeted the team leader at the Welcome Center. I was to meet a new volunteer in the Sanctuary. That is exactly where I didn’t want to greet today because I didn’t want to be around too many people. I was still hungry and a little cranky.

Once I met the other volunteer, he told me to relieve a lady working downstairs near the nursery. It was very cold because it was near the door.  In some way, I didn’t mind because it didn’t look like a busy area. I normally like to greet everyone upstairs at the entrance, but today was

different. I was hungry and cold, not a good combination in the morning. However once I started greeting people, my spirit began to change. I actually started to feel a sense of  joy enter my heart again. I smiled and welcomed everyone I met. It was awesome.

 Once I got to church, my pastor spoke about the importance of praise and worship. It was the perfect sermon I needed to hear. I felt my spirit come alive again. My spirit began to dance. I consumed the word of God and received spiritual nourishment that sustained me. I wasn’t even physically hungry anymore.  

 Just how we crave food in our daily lives, we should have the same craving for the Lord. Jesus should be the first meal of our day. Jesus is the bread of life. He is the sustainer of all things. “In him, is where we move and have our being.”  Our minds should be focused on Him as we start our day. He nourishes us with His truth, love, mercy and grace. He feeds us with the fruits of the spirit:

Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal 5:22-23).

 

Getting a Jumpstart in Selflessness

Rushing back to work from my lunch break, a lady on the side of the road flagged me over in a panic and asked if I could jumpstart her car because her battery went dead and she explained that she needed to take her baby to the doctor. 

 The car was parked further down the street and a man was standing outside of the car with the hood up. I evaluated the situation because I didn’t want to be robbed while trying to help, but I felt compelled to help her. I immediately glanced at the clock debating whether I should help her because I possibly could be late returning from lunch. 

 I turned down the street and parked the car then I dug into my trunk to find the jumper cables. While nervously waiting, the man hooked the wires onto the battery. I noticed a small child in the backseat.

 Recently, my employer was constantly threatening employees about coming in late. I was seriously putting myself in jeopardy to help a stranger. They charged their car and they thanked me deeply for taking the time to help them. I rushed back to work and I was about 15 minutes late.  It went unnoticed by my supervisor. I was fortunate and felt a great sense of gratitude to know that I helped someone in need.

 

A question to ponder….How many times are we faced with an important decision that would impact the circumstances or outcome of someone’s life while putting your own needs on the back burner?