Spiritual Feast

All the fullness without the itis

Spiritual Journey

The Journey Begins

Are you insane? I was.

What did the trick you ask?… prozac? zoloft? fukitol?

Read and learn about my journey.

The definition of insanity, as many of us know is to repeat the same process and expect different results.  We pray for answers and action but what do we do? We continue to ignore what God has already commanded of us.  I, to all who know me well, am considered a stubborn person. I prefer determined. But regardless, I made the mistake of continuing to wake each day and determine what I should do according to my worldly views. It was only when I spoke with Que that it really hit me, I am stubborn. I pray for change, but what have I done to merit it? I must create change if I want a different result. The world isn’t going to change and if I continue to live my life with such jaded priorities, I will surely end up miserable.   So, how to change…that’s the question isn’t it? Should I change my beliefs, my routines, my actions, my mind, my heart? Where to start? Well, I started here.

So, enough about me for the moment. Where am I going with this stuff?  Seek and follow  God. What is more important? I know life can throw crazy things at you and try to distract you from what is really important. I am not saying ignore the eviction notice on your door or don’t pay your light bill and pray instead. No, I am saying investigate your priorities, are they really that important? Within your daily routine, are you making time to – read the bible, pray, listen to God? No time? Really? But you found time to check and update your Facebook status, shop online, watch tv, listen to music, smoke a blunt, drink a beer, shop in the mall, play PS3 and the list goes on. Which of these were necessary? Which of these is more important than your relationship with God?  Don’t allow the things “we have to do”  or “want to do” deter us from the things we need to do. Examine your self and your life and seek guidance on how to change whatever you need to get back on track with what God has in store for you.

Joshua 1:7-9 (NIV)

Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn to the right or to the left that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you! Be Strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

I don’t pretend to be an expert or to even know where this blog is going. But I know that God is in me. I know that I listen to my spirit and instead of just continuing to ignore these thoughts, I am going to share them. So, among many things I need to change, I am crossing refusal to spread God’s love off my list. What are you crossing off yours?

I invite you to start this journey with me, subscribe to the blog and  join me for seconds of this Spiritual Feast. All the fullness without the itis.

Second Helping of Spiritual Feast

Once upon a time there was a little boy named Jamal. Jamal is like any typical 18 month old boy, busy and curious. One sunny day, Jamal went to school and met a new teacher. The teacher was nice and Jamal liked her smile. Not long after Jamal got to school it was time for a diaper change.  When the new teacher got to Jamal’s diaper change, she noticed Jamal’s hand was dirty.  Upon wiping his hand, Jamal screamed out.  “What’s wrong Jamal?”  asked the teacher. “Hurt” whimpered Jamal.  The teacher looked at Jamal with a bit of confusion and asked, “What hurts, your hand?” “Uhh huh”, he answered. Carefully the teacher took Jamal’s arm to examined his hand. The moment the teacher’s hand contacted him arm, Jamal jerked and screamed in pain.  Looking closer, she realized that the Jamal’s whole arm seemed to be dangling along his side.  The teacher pulled out a lollipop and offered it to Jamal’s dangling hand.  Jamal grabbed the lollipop but cried as he struggled to attempt to lift it to his mouth. Seeing that Jamal was unable to lift the lollipop to his mouth, dread filled the teachers heart.  Jamal’s tear filled eyes looked at her with such pain and longing for help.

The teacher then called the administration in to discuss her findings with Jamal. After the administration witnessed the state of Jamal’s arm, they did nothing but send the child home.  Apparently, Jamal regularly comes to school hungry, dirty and smelling of urine. He often has behavioral problems and is disruptive at school.  The staff also shared that this is not the first “odd” injury that Jamal has had. Previously, he had been severely cut and his mother refused to take him to the hospital for stitches and a tetanus shot.  Although each person working there is mandated by law to report such obvious indications of child abuse (neglect counts), they felt it was in the better interest of those involved(the business) that it would be inappropriate to report the incident to DFACS. Jamal’s weekly tuition is more important than his safety. The people charged with the care of hundreds of children failed that day.

The desperation of Jamal’s eyes haunt me to this day.

Philippians 2:3-7

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

What motivates you? I once was motivated by money and success, then by security and comfort. But now, I find motivation in God. What situations will I be faced with where I am tested? Will I be brave enough to impact others? What good can I do? What if the opportunity to do good doesn’t present itself?

We are all an individual extension of God. As with all of His creations, each of us serves our purpose for the greater good. God has created each and every one of us for our individual and specific purpose. Many of us think that there is one large objective at the end of the rainbow in which our purpose lies. Rather, it is the accumulation of each small act of kindness we are faced with daily that our true purpose lies.  Luckily, we do not face tests of Jamal’s magnitude on a daily basis. As an individual, it is a challenge to feel as if the small things you do on a daily basis really matter. Yet, it is not within our knowledge to understand what a catalyst we can be for the people we encounter day-to-day.  The random act of kindness you showed a stranger yesterday could have been the life altering difference for him today.

I know, I know…many of you are like, “What if out of kindness I give money to a  person who asked for it, and they use it to buy drugs?” If you feel your “help” may do more harm, then there are always alternatives. Say a prayer for the person, ask them if you can pray with them, ask them if the money is for food and give them something to eat. There are always ways were you can improve a person’s situation simply by trying. Maybe you can’t help, but the fact that you tried touched their heart. Maybe your purpose wasn’t to actually help in the way you thought. The simple gesture of kindness has more power than you may realize. One day when you are in need, you may actually be blessed to be on the receiving side of random kindness from a stranger.

And for all those who wonder, yes I jeopardized my job, the money I use to feed my son and helped the child.

 

Aftermath of the Storm

Jessica is a modern-day super woman. She is a wife, mother and very successful business owner.  Her everyday life involved rising with the sun, preparing breakfast and her family for the day, driving herself and son to preschool/work, dealing with all the little emergencies at work, running errands before picking her son up from aftercare and getting home to get the family settled before beginning all over again.  Each day dealt its own version of obstacles and trials, triumphs and victories.  Jessica had reached the point where her life made sense and that was comforting to her.

In the coolness of a fall afternoon, Jessica welcomed the unusual breeze especially since her son was accompanying her for the errand run.  As most parents of young children know, getting him in and out of the car, along with packages and bundles was quite the workout.  While departing her final store, it began to rain.  With packages and child in hand, Jessica ran to the car to get everything out of the cold fall shower.  Putting her son in first, Jessica hurriedly put everything away in her vehicle.

With so much to do, Jessica recited her to-do list in her head as she drove home.  Nearly there, Jessica turned onto her street. Before she could see her home, a SUV collided with her vehicle. Stunned by the impact, Jessica took a second to interpret what had just occurred.  Moments later, lights were flashing and sirens blaring while Jessica’s son took his last breath on this earth.

Filled with confusion and doubt Jessica struggled to see God in that day. She battled herself and her failure in protecting her son from danger. She was challenged with dealing with her feelings of hopelessness and confusion about what had happened in her life. The feeling of comfort she once knew had been replaced with regret and anger. The regret and anger fueled her resentment towards God and she allowed her pain to push her from Him. She always returned to the same question…How could God allow this to happen?

Our lives can change in the blink of an eye, literally. Each storm washes away the person we once were, sometimes leaving us feeling empty.  It is at this time, we determine which path to take. Our natural response to loss is pain, and to pain, anger  but once we can begin to see beyond our selfish feelings our real opportunity for growth is presented.

James 1:2-4

2 Count it all joy, my brothers,  when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

The opportunity presented is to look beyond your own suffering and trust God.  It is in times of pain and anger, the most challenging obstacle is often to keep faith and love for God. Resist the temptation to move further from God during times of hurt. Use your experience to become closer to Him, as fuel for your faith in God. Despite the amount of pain and hurt you feel, God still continues to bless you.  This is difficult but we must remember many of us asked for this. How? Asked for pain and suffering? No, I didn’t, especially not like this.

You did, sorry to say. There are two ways/reasons….

Isaiah 3:2-4

2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.

As Christians, we model our lives after Christ Jesus. In trying to please God and live according to His will, we were charged to model our lives after that of Christ.  Do you think that we are exempt from the suffering like that endured by Christ? Or that we should strive in being like Christ without understanding the difficulties he faced? Are we more or better than Christ Jesus? No. Does God love us more or less than Christ Jesus? No. Therefore, we should not expect that our lives will be filled with joy and love without suffering. Especially as we grow closer to God. As a believer, you are subjected to trials. We know and accept this as believers in God. Yet, the greatest question is why?

Suffering is not designed for enjoyment or wrath. Betrayal, persecution, loss …all are designed not to push us away, but to bring us closer to Him. It is at these times the true test of our faithfulness is assessed.

It is difficult to think that the reason we suffer so is that we can be closer to God but it is through the trials and renewal/strengthening of faith that our intimate relationship with God grows.  When we seek God, especially during our times of hardship, we feel connected to Him, we are bonding with him and our closeness to Him is growing. We ask for the closeness and intimacy with God without realizing just how much we must endure to get it. The wonderful thing about this, is that the more you move toward God the stronger your bond with Him becomes. This bond will be between you and God throughout eternity and nothing done on earth can ever take it away. May I(and all that seek God’s Kingdom) look at this struggle with the wisdom and faith that Paul demonstrated when he wrote(especially the bold)…

Philippians 3:7-11

7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

So, fellow believers do not become bitter or angry when you suffer. Yet, instead thank God. We have heard and read this so many times before and never understood that we are thanking Him for more than His comfort and mercy. We are thanking Him for the opportunity to become closer to Him. Realizing now, that it is through these sufferings that our bond with God is strengthened, be renewed in your faith and love.

*The picture used in Aftermath of the storm was taken in Alabama after the April 27, 2011 tornadoes.

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