Beyond Belief, Living to Serve

In all honesty, this should have been my first post but I waited because I was nervous and a tad lazy. It took a lot of time choosing the scriptures and the right translation but I knew I could not procrastinate any longer because God was calling me to write this. (It is important to click the links to read the bible narrative to understand this post in its entirety, it is long but so worth it). Let begin…

Matthew 16:13-18 tells us of the conversation Jesus had with the disciples about his identity. (Did you click the link?) Here is when I ask you:

Who do you say Jesus is?

When you define Jesus in your life, it is also important to acknowledge His father as the source and creator of the universe. (Matthew 25:14-30 and Luke 19:11-27) This parable gives insight into doing work for Christ. Some have been blessed with many gifts and some just a few but the key is to work your gift to so it will increase. The servant with one wasted his time and his talent. There are so many things he could have done with it beside bury it. 

 “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

What gift/ talent have you been given by God? How are you sharing it with others?

Luke 12:35-48 tells us to stay prepared for the Lord’s return. Identifying and sharing your gift needs to be a top priority in your life! “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

I encourage you to take time to learn about yourself. What are you naturally good at, do you receive compliments on anything you do or say? You must prepared to share your gifts because one day Jesus went seeking to be fed from a fig before it was in it’s season. Mark 11:12-14 NEWS FLASH: He can come at any time!

In John 21:15-18, Jesus visits the disciples and speaks with Peter. Here is where it is made clear that God is calling his followers to contribute to His kingdom. He gives a direct command to Peter to feed his sheep. This means we can no longer walk through life believing Jesus came, died and rose again but going to work, the store and on vacation never sharing with others who and what we know. We need to tell everyone about it, we are called to serve.

Galatians 5:13 “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.”

Hebrews 6:10 “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”

Romans 7:6 “But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.”

Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

John 12:26 “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”

Deuteronomy 28:1-14 If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God: You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed. You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out. The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven. The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you. The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the Lord your God and walk in obedience to him. 10 Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will fear you. 11 The Lord will grant you abundant prosperity—in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground—in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you. 12 The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.13 The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. 14 Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them.

Remember, serving is not in vain. “For in due season you shall reap if you faint not!” Galatians 6:9

May you live a life of serving and be blessed beyond your dreams.

 

 

 

 

 

Spotlight: Gratitude Journals

GratitudeJournal600px

Photo courtesy of http://www.lifepowertip.com

Today I am really excited to share with you the idea of “Targeted Journaling”. You may already be a a faithful writer or you may want to begin writing but are not sure what to write about.  Sometimes the idea of writing can sound boring or scary but I’m here to tell you, it does not have to be a bad experience. Writing is such an awesome way to communicate your thoughts with God and to clarify what you are thinking. I love to journal because I have so many thoughts, ideas, and plans that writing them down helps me see if I am really interested in following through or if it was just a passing thought. The good thing about having a journal is that you can choose the topic, the utensil, the colors and what you write about. Having a personal journal is very different from writing class, there is no grade, no time limit and best of all, you do not have anyone who will read it. This is solely for you!”Journaling “is different than a diary, this is your way to communicate to God and express yourself. Targeted journaling is even more different because it allows your book to have one main focus. The type of targeted journaling I am going to talk to you about today is having a gratitude journal. A gratitude journal is not a “woe is me”, “my life is crazy”, “LORD please help me!”, a gratitude journal has one purpose, it is to highlight the blessings in your life. It is your way to live out Philippians 4:8 which tells us to focus on the good things. Life can flash so many advertisements, posts, and chaos that it can become easy to focus on the negative and to feel life you are Eeyore but you must realize the devil wants you to focus on those things. It is in these moments where we are most tempted to move away from God but stand firm and find the joy.

Image result for eeyore under rain cloud

My prayer for you is that you would be Tigger. Bounce around with infectious positivity and happiness. So whether you are an Eeyore, as curious as Baby Roo or scary like Piglet, choose to be a Tigger by having a spirit of gratitude. Here is one way you can change your mind to change your life.

Step 1: Choose a journal

Look at the images below for ideas, your journal can be as decorative or plain as you want. The idea is for you to have your own go-to space to write your thoughts.

Image result for diy gratitude journal Image result for diy gratitude journal

 

 

 

 

 

Step 2: Start writing
One way to begin each day is to start giving thanks to God. As you begin to write, other thoughts will begin to flood your mind and before you know it you will have a list of things pleasing to you. I have also included some gratitude journal writing prompts that will help you.

  

Be encouraged to make this a family, team, group or church project. Encourage one another to focus on the positive things for a 30 day of gratitude challenge (feel free to make it longer). Your mind and spirit will be renewed as you focus more on what you have than on what is missing. This keeps negative thoughts from flooding your mind causing doubt, desire and the feeling that God is not moving because He has and is moving. You will notice the more you write the more  you see how blessed your life. A gratitude journal will put things into perspective of how much you have whether they are experiences or things, God has done so much for you, there is never a time when you can make a complete list. So resist the devil’s temptation to make you feel you are lacking, you have been blessed abundantly so start living it every day.

 

Be blessed, be positive, and most importantly, be a blessing!

Slow Down and See His Glory

Jeremiah 2:25
“Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway? But you say, ‘I can’t help it. I’m addicted to alien gods. I can’t quit.”
 In the 21st century idols no longer are hand -made sculptures of animals in place of God (well not everywhere) but mankind is still making their own Gods. The DVR list-God did not make that, you did! What about that long to-do list that is longer than your grocery list, how much on there involves worshiping, praising and serving God? Are you more eager in the morning to jump in the drive-thru and more anxious to get to work or go hang out with your friends than you are to read your bible and pray? Are you willing to fly across the country for work and drive across town for a relationship but have never visited the church you pass every day on the way to work? These things are alien gods, they give you something to do but never really grow you.

But God is so good, you can choose today to let Him come in and change you for the better. Be encouraged this morning to give God control over your time, allow Him to lead your life each and everyday. You will feel better, more productive and be transform into His likeness Satan is busy filling hearts and minds with thoughts of becoming richer, better, stronger, and faster but it is a trick. He does not want you to succeed, anytime you have the thought you want to volunteer, call a friend, donate to charity and then the immediate doubts of all the reasons why you should not go begin to stir inside of you THAT IS SATAN! He wants to cause you to doubt, fear, be lazy, get distracted so you will not help others. When you do only for yourself, you alone are impacted but when you do for others, there is a double blessing. Pray, let God lead you to where He has planned for you and trust His plan is to prosper you and not to harm you.

Now is the time to get up, smile and go BE a blessing!

 

Counting My Blessings

john 1 16

One assignment I had at the beginning of my program was to count my blessings. I generally was a person who thanked God for things in the moment but this was the first time I had just sat and taken time to consistently thank God for all the things He had done. By thinking of the blessings God had given me, it was easy to feel joy. The goal was to get to 50 and that I did.

(I will preface the list below by sharing this was the first time I had ever sat down to write down a list of things I am thankful for. My maturity and appreciation have grown since this was originally done. Check back soon for a new “Counting My Blessings” post.)

Below is my list of what I am grateful for, this list is a lot shorter than how blessed I really am!

  1. Knowing God
  2. My family
  3. Friends
  4. Education
  5. Teach for America
  6. Sunsets
  7. Visiting the Eiffel Tower twice
  8. Relaxing on Venezuela’s beaches
  9. Passport
  10. Learning Spanish
  11. My students and their families
  12. Ability to read, write and do math
  13. BBQ
  14. Lived in NYC (Brooklyn)
  15. Be bi-cultural
  16. Trip to Brazil
  17. Athleticism
  18. Singers
  19. My church homes (here and away)
  20. Love songs
  21. Gospel Music
  22. Mobility of my limbs
  23. Skype
  24. Rolling chairs and floor mats
  25. Fluffy cold pillow
  26. NY Pepperoni Pizza
  27. Mexican/ Venezuelan Food
  28. Avocados
  29. My sorority: Alpha Xi Delta
  30. My car
  31. My home
  32. India Arie
  33. Stevie Wonder
  34. Basketball
  35. Prayer Life
  36. Jesus
  37. Inspirational Quotes
  38. People who send inspirational quotes
  39. Motivational songs
  40. Love
  41. NY transit system
  42. Sunglasses
  43. A determined mind
  44. A curious mind
  45. Passion for success
  46. Having been in love
  47. Sunday School
  48. My mom’s job
  49. Curly hair moisturizer
  50. Curly hair detangling brushes

Chronicle: Sleep

This week was a great week of dreams.  I have been going through a major life change, I gave up my life of international travel and independence to move home and eventually, enroll in school. This decision has had more of an impact on me emotionally than I expected and it was affecting my sleep. Since I have been more active and have decided to embrace this new opportunity in my life, my dreams returned to me. My lack of sleep and awkward sleep pattern blocked my head with worries and regrets. But now I am able to embrace the new changes in my life and I am filled with all the wonders of my future. Now, my thoughts encourage and inspire me instead of depressing me.  God has room now to  show to me plans for my life through my dreams. This past week, I dreamed about old friends from college, special family members and just other visions that when I reflect on them, bring me to smile.
This assignment taught me to make sleep a priority. I did not let my sleep time become based on whatever time was left after I did all my other things on my to-do list. I set a goal for myself and, no matter what I was doing or still needed to do, I was going to be sleep at 10 p.m. By doing setting a goal for myself this week, my first thoughts in the mornings were thoughts of happiness and not grouchiness due to lack of sleep. Three times this past week, I woke up before my alarm, with time to relax before jumping into the day and I woke up glad to be awake. In the past, without adequate sleep, my first thought was “No! I want to go back to sleep.” My first thoughts were not toward God and I was not thankful to be alive and awake, instead I was beginning each day complaining and grumbling. This week taught me to have a gracious attitude because blessings are upon us as soon as I wake up and it is up to me to notice how blessed I am from the beginning of my day until the end.