Tag Archives: Christianity

The Righteous May Bend, But Won’t Break

“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree.”  ~ Psalms 92:12

The imagery I have from this scripture is very vivid. I can see a palm tree bent over backwards under the pressure of strong winds from a tropical storm or hurricane. I can see the top of the tree is barely inches off the ground as the base of the tree stays firmly planted into the ground.

When the storm is over, several other types of trees have their limbs sprawled around, are snapped in half or completely ripped from the ground at the roots. Meanwhile the palm tree is standing upright and looking stronger then ever. Actually, the bending of the tree helps strengthen its roots in the ground.

The writer of this Psalm was intentional in using the palm tree as an example of a righteous person because this is what happens to us while going through the rigors of life.

People who do the right thing are often the target of vile opposition. They bear the brunt of their boss and co-workers verbal and professional attacks. Their kindness is taken advantage of by loved ones and friends. Everywhere they turn there seems to be trouble.

But people who do the right things must continue to stay on that path. Because like the Psalm says, they will flourish like the palm tree. When the storms of life and the wrath of their enemies passes, not only will the right standing be stronger, but also better prepared to handle future storms and antagonizing people.

You will learn how to better navigate through the rough moments and when they come, you’ll be better equipped because of your past experiences.

I also believe the good Lord will make your walk more appealing to those watching, thus making you a walking testimony of His greatness and care for those who remain close to Him.

Don’t stop doing what’s right. Your strength depends on it.

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Just Be There 

“You don’t have to have a pulpit and a following of hundreds to have a ministry. It can be just as simple as overcoming all the obstacles, heartache and pain, and someone being inspired by your faith through it all.” – Kavis K. Peak (am I allowed to quote myself?)

Everyone doesn’t have the gift of public speaking, small talk, singing or playing an instrument. So that would more than likely rule out being a pastor, usher, praise and worship leader, member of the choir and even a church musician. All of those are positions in the church that are revered, and dare I say highly coveted. I purposely used the word coveted. Look up the definition in the dictionary, and the Tenth Commandment in Exodus 20:17 to know why.

But even if God didn’t give you a gift that is on display on Sunday mornings, or whenever service is being held in the sanctuary you attend, it doesn’t mean what you do have isn’t as valuable.

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” ~ 1 Peter 4:10

I believe you can be blessed with the gift of availability. In sports the saying goes “the best ability is availability.” What I mean is, some people are very good at just doing the simple task of sitting in comforting silence with a person who is grieving so they don’t feel alone, or listen when a person is venting their pain and frustrations. Some are good at organization, which can help a person who feels their life is out of balance, causing them enormous amounts of stress. Others may be good at writing resumes and cover letters, and can take their time to help someone get theirs in proper order to obtain a great job. There are also those who are able to lift a person’s spirits just by saying hello and offering a friendly smile. Many are living examples of just doing the right thing.

I’ll give you a few examples from my life where my availability was used by God to help someone else. In mid 2012 to late 2013 I was in the midst of a lengthy unemployment period after leaving a career I no longer wanted to be apart of. As I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do next, both my maternal grandfather and Dad became very ill. My grandfather was in Georgia, where my mother is from, my Dad in my home state of Ohio. My mom asked me could I go stay with my Grannie while Paw-Paw was in a nursing home waiting for a life saving surgery. Of course I said “yes.” I lived in Thomaston, Georgia for a year, finishing grad school online, while staying with my grandmother and going to the hospital with her when Paw-Paw had a few late night emergency scares. I really didn’t feel like I was doing much, but my Dad told me during those days where I felt useless, that my presence was enough to keep my grandmother at peace, as well as other family members who were concerned about her being alone had I not been there. Eventually my Paw-Paw passed and I stayed with my grandmother for half a year after that before my Dad fell even more ill.

“A generous person will prosper. Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” ~ Proverbs 11:25

Then I flew back to Cleveland, Ohio where he was being treated by specialists for his condition. I was there everyday for three months, many times ten hours a day, for every surgery, medical test and doctor visit until unfortunately he passed. A couple weeks before he died, my Dad said “thanks for coming to see me everyday.” I replied “no problem, you’d do it for me.” I know being there for him provided some sort of normalcy in a scary situation, even though I couldn’t really help him with what he was going through. But in saying thanks, he assured me I was doing something helpful.

Here’s another less sad example. A while back I was at the gym working out when I saw a lady I see there often. We always speak to each other and extend pleasantries, but we never get too personal. I was walking on the track cooling off at the end of my workout and was going to be leaving in a few minutes, but I didn’t want to leave before at least saying hello. So I went by and softly tapped her on the shoulder and said “hi” while she was on the rowing machine. She smiled, waved and said “hello” in return. When I came back around the next time, she got off the machine and waved me over. She said “this may sound silly, but I was having a rough day with all my health issues and my body isn’t dealing with my mess so well… and it made my day that you would come over and say hello.” A couple days later I saw her again at the gym and she repeated how much it meant that I said hello. All I was trying to do was greet her because I hadn’t seen her in a while. I don’t say this to brag on myself, but to let you know that what you think is a simple act or small gesture, God can use to make a bigger impact.

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” ~ Matthew 25:40

My overall point is, don’t get caught up in believing you must do something grand to have a purpose or make an impact. It really is the little things as they say. Take what you do have and make a difference.

I leave you with this, one of my favorite scriptures… “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” ~ Galatians 6:2 

We Need to be More Childlike

 
Let me make this clear, this doesn’t mean be immature.

Here is an example of what I mean. When I was a child I never worried about how my parents were going to pay the mortgage, the utilities, put food on the table or clothes on my back. I TRUSTED they would do those things because they had never NOT done them before. Is that a double negative? I don’t know. But, you get what I’m trying to say. I just went to school and did the things they told me to do like obey my teachers, give great effort to make good grades, and enjoy the extra curricular activities I worked hard to be good at like basketball, football and creative writing.

We need to have this same childlike faith in terms of our relationship with the Lord, no matter how old we get biologically.

“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children.” ~ Ephesians 5:1 | NIV

Look at your life and the needs God has met consistently and where He came through, on time, with an answer or help in a situation that looked utterly helpless or bleak. He always delivers, just like my parents did, still do in the case of my mother, and to a degree my father in his death with how he allocated resources to help us in the potential of his passing.

We need to go to work, school or do whatever tasks God has given us, without worrying 24/7—and hampering those efforts by doing things our way—about all the stuff we’ve asked Him to help us with, along with the stuff we haven’t ask help with or even know we’ll need help with. When we don’t use our childlike faith and trust, we start getting our hands involved, ultimately making things messier and compromising the coming blessings.

But also, understand being childlike in this manner I’m speaking of, doesn’t mean we make bad decisions and expect our Heavenly Father to bail us out either. It just means that we go about the business we CAN handle and TRUST, as well as have FAITH, that everything will be just right (taken care of) so that we don’t have to be worried about it.

Just something to think about. I can’t always talk about sports. 

Don’t Go Back To Pharaoh 

We’ve all been there. You know the place. It’s where desperation and anxiety starts to overtake faith and hope; leaving you longing for what you once had, even though you know it was, and still is bad for you. It’s what we have in common with the Israelites.

 “That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”  ~ Numbers 14:1-4

The Israelites wanted to go back to Pharaoh and Egypt where they were slaves and badly mistreated. After escaping with the help of Moses, they wandered in the wilderness discouraged for forty years in route to the Promised Land. If you’ve spent any amount of time in church in your life, you know the story.

The journey should’ve be an eleven day trip. Several of them died out there without seeing, and receiving God’s best for them. They complained often about everything, including God’s Holy Manna He sent from Heaven when they were hungry. The reason many of them seriously contemplated going back to Egypt was because it was at least better than where they were, or so they assumed.

Many of you are in a similar situation. You have finally stepped out on faith and left a toxic job, relationship or are chasing a lifelong dream. You have become so discouraged you’re ready to go back with your tail between your legs to where you were, because it was better in your mind than where you are seemingly stuck now. You’re in your wilderness

Whatever you do, DON’T GO BACK! I believe going back to your Pharaoh gives the Lord a bad reputation. Since you rightfully stepped out on faith in Him, by going back you’re essentially saying “God wasn’t enough to help me see it through.” We all know that’s never the case.

Returning to the situation will give your oppressor greater power over you to harm, mistreat and shortchange you. They will view you as someone who can’t get along without them. Therefore the conditions will be worse than before you left, because they now know you’ll put up with anything, just to have…well, anything. Even if it’s less than you deserve.

For example: returning to work at a job where you got passed over for a promotion time after time and your work was never appreciated, will only cause them to value you less because they know you’re settling. The same goes for reuniting with a bad girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse or friend. They know you’ll accept the abuse, neglect and manipulation because now you’re signing up for it. It’s not a surprise now, you knew exactly what you’re getting and they will try to get away with doing worse.

“As a dog goes back to its vomit, so a fool repeats his stupidity.”  ~ Proverbs 26:11

More importantly, going back to Pharoah shows you have a lack of faith and trust in the Lord about the hopes and visions for your future He put in your heart. There’s a reason God gave you that dream or made a way for you to get out of that situation, relationship or job. It’s because He truly has something better for you.

It’s not happening yet because either you’re not ready, or He’s not finish readying the next stop for you. Instead of giving up and going back to the “devil you know”–as I’ve heard many say–focus on preparing yourself for what you expect the Lord to do. The time passing by isn’t to hurt you, but help you be at your best when you get to your Promised Land. Remember, the Israelites’ Promised Land was already occupied. They had to wait, and be ready to face the challenges to come with taking it over. The same goes for you. You know the saying “new level, new devil!” Take this time to get yourself ready for that.

Another VERY IMPORTANT note, don’t complain too much. Read Numbers 14: 20-45 to see how the Lord dealt with them for doing so. Just from reading, it’s clear, you don’t want those kind of problems.

Whatever you do, DON’T GO BACK to Pharaoh.

Beware, The Devil Blesses Too

But they might as well be curses.

“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.'”
~ Matthew 4:8-9 | NIV

Remember when Jesus spent forty days and nights fasting and praying in the desert while the devil tried to tempt him? As the intro scripture reads, the devil told the Messiah that he’d give him the kingdoms and riches of the world if he bowed down to him.

I don’t believe we have to literally get down on your knees to bow to our enemy. Being knowingly disobedient to what the Lord is a way of bowing to Satan.

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ ” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.”  Matthew 4:10-11 – NIV

Thank you Jesus for denying the evil one and preserving our salvation.

Many people have claimed blessings from God, when really they were from the evil one.

The Lord wouldn’t bless you with things that will cause you to go further into debt like houses, cars, clothes and others material possessions that wisdom told you not to buy. Eventually those things become a burden.

I have also heard people justify leaving relationships to be with another person who came along after they were married or deeply involved with their current love, as God bringing them their true love or soulmate. Why would He want you to be with someone else at the expense of hurting someone who loved you unconditionally and treated you good in the process? Especially if you’ve already shown you can’t do right in the first relationship. God wouldn’t do that. But who would?

You guessed it, the devil.

That’s his way of tempting you to self-destruct. He has you believing God was sending you better, only now you have to deal with all the consequences of divorce or a break-up. What you thought was a blessing has become a curse because you spend more time dealing with the ending of the past relationship then enjoying the new one. There’s also the suspicion your new mate will always have that you’ll do to them, what you did to the person you were previously with.

It happens in all facets of life. Here’s a personal example from my professional life. In 2012 I was going through a lengthy unemployment period while attending grad school. During that time I went to live with my grandmother while my grandfather was gravely ill and being taken care of in a nursing home awaiting a life saving surgery.

For a year of my unemployment period I had no job prospects. A couple of weeks before I moved to Georgia with my grandmother and while I lived with her, I had several interviews. They were for jobs I didn’t really want and in a business I walked away from that began my unemployment. But a few of the salaries offered were more then double the last position I had held. It was very tempting and I was becoming desperate. Obviously I needed and wanted a new job, but had I taken one of those positions I wouldn’t have been around for my grandmother when my grandfather eventually passed away.

My God designed purpose was to be there for her and my family who were concerned about her being alone. The enemy tried to fool me several times into thinking that these jobs were blessings to end my unemployment. Godly wisdom – which I’m still working on gaining – allowed me to see they were traps that would not only take me away from the Lord’s purpose, but also suck me back into a profession I desperately prayed to the Lord to get me away from.

Don’t get me wrong, God wants us to have nice and beautiful things, but I believe He does it through meeting a need, not a want. But also, while fulfilling His purpose for our lives.

I’ll share this final thought with you. God doesn’t show you He loves you by what He gives you, but by what He gets you through. Because we are flawed as humans, we believe in showing our love for each other by our gift giving, but we don’t always back it up with our actions of meeting needs. God backs it up with action. Satan tries to give us short-term satisfaction.

There’s Devils All Around You

“And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” ~ 2 Corinthians 11:14-15

Have you ever wondered why someone who seems so nice, charming, giving and peaceful can turn into the opposite so quickly?

You know the girlfriend that appeared to be everything you asked God for; from her relationship with Him, her attractiveness, nurturing nature, to her go-getter independent attitude, only for her to eventually turn into the most abusive, neglectful, distrustful and unfaithful person you’ve ever met. Or that boss that when he hired you was so complimentary of your skills and helpful in advancing you in your career that suddenly turns into a cantankerous and combative person that picks apart your every project. Why does this happen? Sheep become wolves very quickly.

The devil preys on their vulnerability and weaknesses to use them to try and destroy you. The enemy knows you’re prayed up, strong and less likely to fall for his foolishness, so instead he infiltrates those he views as weak and have your trust so he can work through them. It’s no different than the Lord working through you and your great qualities to bring and do good in the world. Except obviously the devil comes to destroy (John 10:10).

Peep this most important example. Judas was one of the twelve and walked beside Jesus daily witnessing His miracles and listening to His teachings, yet Judas still allowed evil to manipulate him and therefore he turned Christ over to those who eventually crucified Him. So what makes you think that friend you’ve loaned money to in their lean days and listened to their sorrows while wiping their tears through dark times is incapable of backstabbing you? Not to be negative, because I don’t want to go around thinking the worst in people, but truth is they most likely will because humans are so flawed.

The best thing for us is that Romans 8:28 tells us God will work all things out for the good of those who love Him. So if that girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse, boss or friends betray, abuse or abandon you, trust and believe that HE will first bless you by turning it into addition by subtraction. Then at some point, in His time, He will restore and replace what was broken and stolen with a better version of what was unjustly stolen from you by the enemy. Just in the meantime don’t be surprised and caught off guard when the devil starts turning folks against you.

We live in a physical world that is the setting for a spiritual war between good and evil. We can’t be naive to think there are good forces at work in this world without evil ones trying to oppose them. The devil comes to steal, kill and destroy.

God Doesn’t Give Us Struggles/Troubles….

Whenever I have had difficulties in my life, family and close friends have said to me “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.” I understand their sentiment, but I whole-heartedly believe that statement is wrong in reference to struggles. Why? Because, I don’t believe God is the one who gives us troubles. There are times when He may allow it—see the entire book of Job for example—so He can use it to teach us and those around us something valuable.

If you really think about it, it’s in the moments that we can’t handle, that we HAVE to lean more on Him. As evident by the scripture in Romans 8:28 that tells us God will work everything out for the good of those who love Him. Say He did dole out trouble, and He only gave us “what we could handle”, when would we ever learn to lean and trust in Him?

“I have told you this so that you may have peace because of me, while you are in the world you will suffer, but cheer up I have defeated the world.” ~ John 16:33b

I take the above scripture to mean the evil of this world, that entered when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Life, thus allowing sin into the Earth, is the cause of many of the unfortunate things we encounter and have struggled through. God already knows those things are going to happen, because He knows all. But, He doesn’t cause it. The evildoers of this world are the source of the problem, just like temptations.

Speaking of temptations, many times the trouble, struggles, disappointments and difficult circumstances we face is a consequence to a bad decision or action we’ve made. Can’t blame God for those right?

“You reap what you sow.” ~ Galatians 6:7b

That’s the punishment. So I don’t think you can look at God as the cause of our troubles. A good parent would not purposely hurt you to teach you a lesson (I’m excluding butt whuppins. “Spare the rod spoil the child, spoil the rod spare the child.” ~ Proverbs 13:24) but they’ll definitely use our screws ups to teach us something. I believe God is the same way. We’re all going to make mistakes, we are sinners. Doesn’t mean God doesn’t love us. We are His pride and joy.

I will say that I’ve read many scriptures on God’s wrath and punishment, but that’s a much deeper study than what I’m trying to point out here, or even qualified to breakdown. Therefore I won’t.

So, back to the saying that is the focus of my premise. What I think has happened, is people have confused or misinterpreted the scripture in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that says “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be TEMPTED beyond what you can bear.”

I do believe God won’t give you more than you can handle in terms of blessings. If you can’t handle $100 why would He trust you with $1,000? You don’t show up on time and give your best on your current, yet unfulfilling job, so why would He allow you to get a promotion or a better career only to get fired when you can’t get things done? You’re not a good partner and treat your boyfriend/girlfriend like an option not a priority, why would He allow you to get married and be an even worse spouse? These and others I haven’t mentioned, are things we’ve proven to not handle well, therefore I trust that God won’t give us more of them until we prove we can.

Lastly, and probably more importantly, what people need to understand is we live in a fallen world that is a battleground between good and evil. So some of the obstacles and struggles we face are resistance from the enemy trying to get us to self-destruct, disobey God or quit doing what we’ve been called to do. That is why we must stay reading the Bible to learn how to deal with the evil we face and how God fights our spiritual battles for and with us.

“The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.”  ~ Exodus 14:14

“People who do what is right may have many problems, but the Lord will solve them all.”  ~ Psalms 34:19

I’m not a preacher, or Biblical scholar. Just someone studying the Word for the betterment of my soul, and have absorbed some things that may help someone else. I always pray and ask God that what I’m writing and sharing isn’t leading anyone astray or misinforming them. We’re seeing a lot of vicious, heinous, and unthinkable acts happening in our world. It’s the kingdom of evil making its final push to cause as much pain and destruction as it can in these last of the last days. This topic has been on my heart for a very long while (I actually wrote the first draft of this over 480 days ago) and hopefully it helps someone in these difficult, dark days. I want to do my part. Hey, I can’t always write and talk about sports. There’s more to life.

  • Additional reading, 1 Peter 5:8-9, Ephesians 6:12-14, John 10:10