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.

Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

“But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us. Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace we are saved.”Ephesians 2:4-5

Love is lacking or non-existent in our nation, communities and most importantly in our homes. Some may have felt it, yet abused it. Others long for it while others desperately search for it. Many may take it for granted while others never felt it or experienced it. But, unconditional love is something that can’t be forced.

How does a four letter word carry so much weight and complexity? It can drive someone over the edge or force another to change their personality, values or morals to please.

There are so many levels of love: Loving a parent, sibling or child as well as a husband or wife, partner and friend. We can also love our houses, cars, sports, electronic devices and other treasured possessions.

Love is a powerful emotion. It can wound us. Reject us. Control us. Destroy us. However, this is a human kind of love.

Pure, genuine love heals all wounds. It is forgiving. “Without love the most magnificent manifestations of gifts and the most heroic self-sacrifice means nothing. Love suffers long, having patience with imperfect people. Love is kind. Love does not envy since it is non-possessive and noncompetitive. Love actually wants and allows other people to get ahead. It wants the best for you. It does not parade itself. Love is self-sacrificing. Love is not puffed up or treats others arrogantly. It does not behave rudely, but displays courtesy. Love does not seek its own or demands precedence, rather it is unselfish.

Love is not provoked; it is not irritable or touchy, rough or hostile but is most graceful and merciful under life’s demands and pressures. Love thinks no evil and does not keep an account of wrong doings but instead it erases resentments. Love does not rejoice in iniquity finding satisfaction in the shortcomings of others and spreading gossip. Instead love rejoices in the truth, aggressively advertising the good in people. Love bears all things, defending and uplifting others in discouragement. It credits others with good intentions and is not suspicious Love hopes all things and never gives up on people, but continues in affirming their future and hope. Love endures all things, persevering and remaining loyal to the end.”  

We have the capacity to love because God lives within us. There is no other love on earth like God’s love. We can search for people or things to fill the void in our lives but we will continually come up short. We will never come to terms with being loved by God until we understand the capacity of God’s love for us.

Unfortunately, we often feel we are not good enough to be loved by people or by God. We live in condemnation, fear and judgment thinking that God could never love us. When things go wrong, we feel God is punishing us for our mistakes, behavior, thoughts and actions. We often blame God when things go wrong.

Some of Satan’s greatest weapons is the use of fear, doubt, shame, guilt, regret and confusion. He constantly taunts us of our faults, failures, weaknesses, circumstances and problems. The end result is a spiral of negative thoughts and emotions due to accepting defeat and failure. The devil is a liar.

The devil uses the same plots and schemes. He is not creative. Once you recognize his bag of tricks, you will understand how to defeat him through the Word of God.

God is forgiving. God loves us more than we will ever be able to comprehend. He loves us no less than He loves His Son. He actually waits for us to come to Him in prayer. God celebrates us!

Sometimes it is much easier to forgive others than ourselves. You will not have peace until you learn how to forgive. The guilt or shame can weigh you down and eventually destroy you. You must also learn to love yourself just as much as you love others.

Please don’t let shame or guilt rob you of believing that you’re in bondage. “Who the Son sets free, is free indeed.” John 8:36

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” Psalm 103:12.

The Lord will redeem your mistakes. Every evil thing that the enemy meant for your harm will be turned around for your good. Genesis 50:20.

Building a relationship with the Lord is not built on repentance only. It is based on worship and praise for who He is; not on what He can do or provide.

God understands you and knows your heart’s desires. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.” (Jeremiah 1:5).

The Lord’s characteristics is of peace and not of harm. “For I know the plans that I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm; plans for a hope and a future.” Jer 29:11

You are deserving of God’s love. It is the reason He shed His blood on the cross so we may have eternal life. “God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

His love does not have to bought, earned, manipulated or controlled. In 2014, let’s walk in love by first receiving and accepting God’s love as a prime example of His nature and honoring our bodies, minds, thoughts and actions by serving one another in love.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” Romans 8:35.

“For I am fully persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor thing to come. Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

The Unpopular Vote

Leaderboard with Voting Day

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God abides forever.” I John 2:15-17

As I watched, “The Voice,” on TV, I imagined how it must feel to shine in the spotlight among millions of people after giving a spectacular performance. It must be an exasperating experience. It must feel so good to hear the cheers and screams from so many people.

So many people desire fame and fortune. It is all over the media. We watch celebrity reality shows, dancing and singing competitions and internet sensations. We are consumed with being followed on Twitter, liked on Facebook, and shared on YouTube. We are obsessed with appearance, personalities, talent and style.

We also live in a very competitive world which creates more stress to be the best. Sometimes by striving to be the best, we sometimes lose sight of the deeper connections to ourselves. We start comparing ourselves to others and trying to be better or do better than our neighbor. In the long run, we become dissatisfied or discontented with who’ve we’ve become in the process.

After thinking about things, it just made me realize how many followers we have in this world. Some people will lose themselves just to fit in. It just doesn’t feel good to stand alone in the midst of a crowd. People are easily swayed to go along with the majority or simply ignore conflict to blend in.

Children are constantly bullied in school because they are different. Women are judged for not keeping up their appearance, so they get plastic surgery to be approved by society or to feel better about themselves. Men are criticized for not being the stereotype of what a man should be. Men often cannot show their sensitive side or express the desire to be in a committed relationship.

We all have a role or a mold to fit into to keep others comfortable. It crosses all cultural, ethnic, class and social groups. We have roles in families, we have roles in our workplace and roles in our communities. If we step outside of expectation, we may realize that we’re standing alone which is a very cold place to be. It made me realize that the lack of leaders are slim to none.

What makes a good leader? It takes courage and strength to be a leader. You must not be afraid of the opinion of others. You give direction and guidance, but also know your strengths and weaknesses which allow you to delegate tasks appropriately. You take the blame when things don’t go as planned but know when to apologize when you make a mistake. You walk with integrity and authority and let go of ego and control. It’s a place where you stand in your convictions despite what others may think or say. True leadership is a place of solitude. It’s a place where not only your character is tested and challenged, but also your intentions and motivations.

Great leadership is hard to find. There is only one true leader who was not recognized for his miraculous work. Jesus, led by example and fulfilled the great commission.

However, I also wondered how many followers Jesus would have if He was physically living in the 21st Century? By unpopular vote, He would not agree with the gay right issues and gay marriages being passed, He would not agree with abortion rights or gun laws. He would not agree with women living with men and men living with women without being married or having children outside of marriage. So, He would definitely be a man who stands alone among a few followers just like He did over 2000 years ago.

As a leader, let’s remember that we will not always be praised or honored for the work we accomplish but we should work to please the Father in all that we do.

“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world: but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:17

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” Gen 1:27-28

“But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife. And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” Mark 10:6-9

Purpose Through Pain

I need to vent. Hopefully, my writing will not come across negative, but I don’t care. I need to release my emotions. I need to be free….unexhibited without judgement or opinion. I realize my pen has a powerful voice and over the years my self-expression has been full of anger, frustration and anger, but through life experiences my pen fetish has developed into hope and inspiration.

I realize God is working in and through me for His purpose. I am human. I have struggles and face many challenges just like the best of us. I’m real and raw without fear or intimidation. There is power in exposure. There is also value in identifying and being true to yourself and your experiences.

Life has a way of forcing you in a direction that you never planned. Some call it fate while others may call it destiny but in between the past and future lies the present chaos of life. It’s the choices and decisions that sums up your journey in a nutshell. Each day is like a puzzle that sometimes fits perfectly or may not come together the way you thought it would. But, if you continue walking down the path, you will begin to see a glimpse of the full picture unfold.

At this point in my life, I never would of imagined my life to flip upside down so quickly. It has forced me in a totally different direction than I originally planned. I’m forced to re-invent and re-design a whole new life for myself. I have to admit it’s more than I could of ever imagined. Somehow, I feel I am still going in the right direction even though it may feel uncomfortable. I never realized how much strength, patience, endurance and faith I possessed.

I truly believe that’s why we are here. There is purpose through pain. When we deal with our struggles, we can heal and be a light to help others through the darkness.

We also become more sensitive to other’s circumstances and conditions. I believe that’s why God allows us to go through problems. We gain compassion, understanding, wisdom, strength, endurance and faith. We become more like God’s character. His essence is based on love. He requires us to love one another, but first you must understand how to love yourself.

Through it all, the foundation is based on love. I would of never made it through my storms without knowing the love of God. Regardless of how things may seem, the things we seek in this lifetime is vanity and chasing of the wind. It will all vanish. We ourselves are vapors passing through the sands of time.

Have you ever thought of yourself as a miracle? You are. There is something special about you. Everyone fails, stumbles and makes mistakes. Life happens regardless of race, class or gender. If you feel defeated, overwhelmed, discouraged….just flat out exhausted from life, you need to take time out to reflect and see your core — your value.

Be still and take a deep look inside. If you really don’t like what you see, you can make a change for the better. Nothing is impossible with God, but it helps to know and understand His character. You are a designer’s original. He created, molded and shaped you. Stop looking to be a clone. Just be who you are. Just be.

It’s not about gaining money and status. You have richness within. Develop your character based on integrity, respect, value and purpose. When you understand who you really are in Christ, you will find peace. The world will not shake you and you will not be defined by the world. You will realize that you can’t control things. The promises of God will stand when the world fades.