Monday, February 6, 2017

When Being Called Doesn't Equal Being Formed

A word to the wise: 
Just because we've been "called" doesn't mean we've been formed. 

God told Jeremiah, "BEFORE I formed you in the womb, I knew you, BEFORE you were born, I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." 
(1:5 NIV).

In this day and age, it isn't enough just to be 'known,' 'sanctified,' [set a part] or even 'ordained' [appointed]. 
It isn't enough to just be called. 
Or just have a gift. 
Or just have talent.

We must be formed: 
Molded and Shaped 
so that we may authentically bear the image of Christ to a lost and dying world. 
{the imago dei}

And the reality is most of us aren't willing. 
We want the "instant accoutrements" of ministry without suffering long through a process. 

Not a religious one but a refining one. 
Not a legalistic one but one that's laced with truth in love. 
Not a pledging one but a purposeful one. 
Not one that hazes but one that draws helpful attention to our blind spots. 
Not one that de-humanizes but one that invites and encourages discipleship.

Truth is, many of us have become deformed by the 'call to ministry' because we haven't been formed correctly by its preceding painful but purposeful process. 

But correct formation in God is an active preventative measure against spiritual, emotional and moral deformity, which can lead to consequential defamation of a Holy God.

Correct formation can prevent us from being overtaken by a spirit of error. 
It can prevent us from being seduced by every wind of doctrine. 
It can prevent us from perpetrating as sons and daughters though really acting like hirelings. 
It can prevent us from believing our own hype. 
And it can prevent us from claiming to make the name of Jesus famous while secretly trying to become famous ourselves.

So yes, we can very well be chosen and set apart. 
Yes, we can have a known calling and appointment upon our lives, as the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable. 

But after we've been called, let's make sure we surrender to the process of being formed so that the world doesn't become confused when they look at us, claiming to be image bearers of Jesus Christ.

Real formation lends itself to real surrender 
...surrender to the process of becoming like Jesus
...with fumbles, foibles, failures and all.

Friday, February 3, 2017

!Warning: Loose Fuel Cap

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Several weeks ago this notification popped up on my dashboard in my car. It was telling me that I hadn't secured the fuel cap after getting gas the previous day. In the moment, I felt it had profound spiritual symbolism and so I snapped a picture to archive for a blog post. 

Well, with a busy schedule and myriad of things on my “To Do” lists, I never got around to writing the blog post. 

However, this past Sunday I was in another person's car. We were about to take a small road trip and had stopped to get gas before getting on the road. 

Others in the car went into the store to get some items and I remained in the car with the driver. While waiting for the other passengers, a stranger who happened to be walking by got the driver's attention and told them that the gas tank door on our car was still ajar. 

Immediately, my mind went back to several weeks ago when the same thing happened to me. In my situation however, my gas tank door was closed, but the fuel cap wasn't secure. Thankfully, my car is designed with ultra sensitivity to notify me of such occurrences otherwise I wouldn't have even realized it.

What am I saying? 

Well, it is important to stop for gas. Just like a car can't run on empty fumes for very long, so we cannot continue to run on spiritual, emotional, mental and physical Empty. 

We need to take necessary time to re-fuel. 
To be re-plenished. To be re-stored. 
God is our Source. Rest. Retreat. 
Nourishing relationships. 
Healthy hobbies and habits are our re-sources. 

And it is vital to our spiritual and emotional well-beings that we pause and refuel from our Source and other healthy resources. Our lives and the assignments God has entrusted us with depend on it.

So, it is important to get gas. And it is necessary to refuel. But not only that. 

Once we have engaged in the necessary things that replenish our minds, bodies, souls and spirits, we must also ensure that our gas tank doors and fuel caps are FULLY secure so that we don't leak out what just filled us up. Or so that we don't mislead our fuel in the wrong direction.

What do I mean? 

We must pay attention, be sensitive and be intentional to set boundaries to secure ourselves from anything, anyone or any place that will cause unnecessary drainage. That will cause us to leak our life source in unprofitable and unproductive ways.

Intentional giving is one thing. Unintentional leakage is another. 
Truth is, sometimes we get filled up but then we mislead our energies, including our time, talents and treasure. 

We replenish but then we (perhaps unintentionally) misdirect our fuel to people, places and things that end up causing more drain, reinstating the need to refuel again and again. 

And this can become costly and taxing to our spiritual and emotional health and exponential growth in God.

Know this: 
Some people, places and things that pose as faucets are really drains in disguise.

We must be keenly aware of the difference between who and what we are drawn to by God's leading versus who and what is driving us, even if it's our own fleshly desires and pursuits. ‪

Sometimes our OWN need to be needed drives or enslaves us and keeps us from experiencing the freedom and joy that awaits us in 'just being.' 

And secretly trying to garner our internal sense of worth and value this way will undoubtedly flat-line us. Literally. Why? 

Because being drawn and being driven are two different things. 

And one has the potential to zap us of our spiritual, emotional, mental and physical energies more quickly. 

Perhaps Jesus knew this when He said, "...with loving kindness have I drawn thee."

As a pastoral counselor, mental health advocate and curator of soul care, the fact that I encountered this experience in two separate settings on two separate occasions, several weeks apart is not a coincidence to me at all. 

Two warnings. One message. 
And the take away is this: 

Getting gas is one thing. 
Securing the fuel cap so that your gas doesn't leak out is another. 

He or she that has an ear to hear, let them hear what the Spirit is saying.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Resistance Through Rest: A Lesson in Resilient Soul Care

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Exodus 11:8-9 NIV from my devotion today reveals that there is nothing new under the sun. Hundreds of years ago, God allowed the heart of Pharaoh to be hardened so that God's wonders could be multiplied in Egypt.

I think a lot of us would agree that the same spirit of a hardened heart rests upon the political powers of our government today: 

Alienation of refugees. 
Political agendas and policies driven by fears of all kind. 
Incompetence and insecurity masquerading as power and all of the hungers that come along with it.
All of these many layers that compile and compound to form a hard-hearted, non-listening "Pharaoh." 

But instead of just being upset or throwing temporary temper tantrums on social media, I am choosing resistance in the form of rest.

Resistance can come in many forms and this is at best, at least in these present moments, the kind of resistance that my soul and spirit chooses. 

As a mental health advocate, pastoral counselor and curator of soul care, I am alarmingly aware of what has happened and what is happening to our souls and the collective soul of this nation. 

But I am also assured by another awareness that as we embrace the revelation of Resistance Through Rest, we experience the birthing of our own soul's resilience. 

Yes, resistance through rest gives birth to a resilient soul. 
A soul that doesn't shrink back or shatter in silence. 
A soul that doesn't flake or flinch in the face of evil. 
But a soul that sober and vigilant. 
A soul that is set like flint to endure until the end.

Resistance through rest is not to be confused with being passive or complacent. 
Turning a blind eye or a deaf ear. 
Being aloof or unaware. 
Deflective, numb or apathetic. 
But rather, it is being fully aware that my help, our help--even the help TO resist, comes from resting in God. 

It is being conscious but NOT consumed by what is seen or heard. 

It is becoming un-distracted by the dysfunction long enough to create healthy strategies for sustainable change. 

It is knowing that -- any strategy, any resources, any active stance to help the marginalized, the alienated, the victimized and the oppressed -- stems from a choice that is rooted in resting in the knowledge of God's supremacy. 

That God is still at work. 
That God has not vacated the throne. 
And that nothing takes God by surprise. 
These are no 'alternative facts.'

So from this rooted and grounded stance of rest, I choose not to engage in vain and meaningless striving of my own accord. 

Instead, I choose to listen beyond and look higher than the Pharaoh of our day to the One who will use it ALL to multiply God's wonders in the earth.

I choose to be available for God's use as an active intercessor, as Moses was. 
And I encourage you to do the same.

Active intercession in this season for me means: prioritizing a position before an audience of One over an audience of many to:
and know God's mind, God's heart and God's will on behalf of God's people. 

But be clear, active intercession isn't just in praying to God alone. 

It is also standing in between light and darkness. 
It is also speaking truth to power. 
It is also being a voice on behalf of those trapped in systemic forms of bondage and oppression. 

It is also voting for moral and sane individuals to be elected for congressional, senate and representative seats. 

It is doing whatever is necessary to push back the powers of white supremacy, patriarchy, misogyny, and racial, political and even religious divisions alike. 

And it is allowing my own heart to remain pliable, palatable and poison free while God does God's work so that I don't become like those who hurt and oppress. 

It is resistance through resting in the sovereignty and supremacy of God. 
On a personal level. 
On a local level. 
On a national level. 
And on a global level. 

For "Pharaoh" and his officials will bow. 
One way or another. 
Yes, his heart is hardened. 
Exceedingly hardened. 

But God's wonders will be multiplied in the earth.

I'm choosing to rest in that truth. And I invite you to do the same. 
If you don't take anything else away from this post, just remember to take care of your soul even in the resistance. 

Doing this IS perhaps the greatest form of it. 
For you will need your resilience for the long haul. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Curating Space for Consecrated Conception

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Being intentional to create space for the Divine to daily enter our lives
 is so vitally important and essential to the nourishment and sustainability 
of our love walk with God.

Divine inspiration is the fruit of devoted love. 

It is the public birth of private intercourse.

Inspiration that is of Divine descent is quietly conceived in the womb of each morning: we curate quality time and uncluttered space. we watch and wait. we listen beyond our fleshly limitations. we stoke the embers of stillness. we patiently practice pausing in God's presence. we yield all of who we are to all of who God is and consent to God's entry in us.

This is holy devotion. 

This is the art of consecrated conception; 

of engaging the Holy in earnest desire and 

becoming impregnated with seeds of Divine Inspiration.

This is the fruit of devoted love in the womb of morning. 

The only fruit of its kind that shall remain.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

When Life Re-Routes {A Birthday Gift}

Welp! I just wanted to say thank you for all the birthday love thus far!

See what had happened was: I had a 7am flight to NYC to see my family and friends.                                     
The plan was to fly in and celebrate at a fabulous party my good girlfriend Kylie planned to host at her lovely home. BUT! My aircraft was re-routed in mid-flight due inclement weather (snow storm) and now I'm sitting in an airport waiting for another flight back to TX!

I could complain.
But I won't.
Instead, I choose to thank God for another year of life.

Instead, I choose to thank Him for allowing me to meet and minister to a mother who was
sitting next to me while accompanying her daughter on my first flight to Dallas from just having a kidney replacement.

That could have been me living one inch away from death and in need of kidney.
Instead, I choose to thank Him for allowing me to meet and listen to the story of a
woman who is writing an amazing book of how her birth family found her after she had been adopted and never knew who her mother was because she was killed a year after giving birth to her.
That could have been me growing up without knowing or having the love of my family.

So, although I'll spend the majority of my birthday in an airport, I will take
the time to count my blessings and be grateful for my life.
I am blessed to be alive.
I'm blessed to have my health and strength.
I'm blessed to know and have a relationship with Jesus.
I'm blessed by His protection as so many people get on planes and it ends up being their last.
I'm blessed by His re-direction in my life as I'm finally coming to accept that some closed doors and unanswered prayers were/are indeed the provision of His protection.
That just like the plane, instead of allowing me to go through certain storms, His grace and mercy re-routed me altogether to safer landing.
And finally, I'm blessed to have been given the gifts of other people's stories today.
So again, thank you for all the love!

It warms my heart while sitting here waiting patiently to board to see how blessed of a woman I am and how rich of a life I have because of all of you being in it.

Special Thank you to those of you who have made personal calls and sent texts!
I so appreciate you and will respond as soon as I can!
Love you 💜

Monday, January 2, 2017

Grace and Mercy

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"...Morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed, Thy hands have provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me. //

Great is Your mercy toward me. Your lovingkindness towards me. Your tender mercies I see, day after day. Forever faithful towards me. Always providing for me. Great is Your mercy towards me. Great is Your grace. //

I am grateful for the things that You have done. Yes, I'm grateful for the victories we've won. I could go on and on and on about Your works because I'm grateful, grateful so grateful just to praise You Lord. Flowing from heart are the issues of my heart. It's gratefulness. //

Your grace and mercy brought me through. If it wasn't for Your love, tell me what would I do? Your blood redeemed me, made be brand new. It was your grace and mercy that brought me through." #graceandmercy #morningmeditation #morningmedley #noflash #nofilter

Sunday, January 1, 2017

A Strategic 2017

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A simple but profound revelation was revealed in my quiet time the other day...

2017 is all about strategy!

This year, I'm looking forward to strategically simplifying my life
by consciously and continuously reflecting on three qualifying questions:

Does it have a purpose? Does it have a place? Does it bring me joy?

If I can honestly answer these questions...
regardless to whether it is
a person. place. or thing
 in my life
then it stays...

But if not, it goes. 
Simple but also Strategic.

So here are some of my goals for personal growth and development in 2017:

More praying
Less assuming.

More journaling.
Less talking.

More clarity.
Less confusion.

More love.
Less indifference.

More patience.
Less tolerance.

More expectation of God.
Less expectation of people.

More focus.
Less distractions.

More humility.
Less pride.

More God-dependent.
Less co-dependent.

More studying.
Less procrastinating.

 More honest truth-telling.
Less approval addiction.

More standing.
Less crouching.

More joy.
Less drama.

More memory making.
Less wasted moments.

More birthing of purpose.
Less miscarried dream-seeds.

More investing of money, time and energy on purposeful relationships.
Less spending of money, time and energy on purposeless relationships.

What about you? 
How will you strategically enter and engage this new year? 
What are your goals for personal growth and development?

May this new year bring in not only new resolutions, 
but a strategic plan and spirit of discipline for implementing them.

Happy New Year from my heart to yours!