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Pacified, But Not Satisfied.

Junior's Journal Blog - Pacified, But Not Satisfied

Pacifiers are often used to satisfy babies’ natural sucking reflex, and to soothe and calm them. Imagine a baby crying because he or she is hungry, and instead of getting some sort of food, the baby is only offered a pacifier. In that case, the thing that once soothed and calmed the baby is now being put in a position to fulfill a roll that it doesn’t have the capacity to fulfill.  

Just like physical pacifiers for babies, there are some habits, relationships, and behaviors that act as pacifiers in our lives, not being intrinsically bad, but sometimes used to fulfill a purpose that they cannot. Too often, in hopes of gaining the sense of being soothed, or in pursuit of satisfying a natural reflex, we settle for things in life that cannot actually meet our needs.

Even when pacifiers are used with babies, sometimes, the dependency on them becomes problematic when the child is too old to continue using it. Similarly, there are some things that might have been good for us in a previous season in life that we continue to rely on, resulting in us sustaining spiritual, emotional, mental, financial, and physical hungers that go unfilled.

In Luke 9, Jesus depicts a series of individuals who want to follow him, but the third individual Jesus references wants to tell his family goodbye before he follows Jesus, and Jesus says that “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” 

Jesus’ reply to the man is a warning about life: Jesus feeds. Everything and everyone else simply pacify. 

Jesus says “I am the bread of life” and “I am the living water”. “Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty...” (Luke 6). The filling and satiation that Jesus can give to the soul cannot be substituted. 

Here’s a word of encouragement to you: Don’t substitute fullness for a feeling. A part of maturing in life is being willing to face the reality about something you enjoy; whether it actually satisfies a need, or simply pacifies a preference. 

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Don't Get Stuck On This Level!

Junior's Journal Blog - Don't Get Stuck On This Level - Rickey Harvey, Jr.

The journey of personal growth and development is endless. It’s important to stop and reflect on this because it can be easy to settle into a level that is comfortable, not realizing that the expense of settling is to forfeit your potential to be more.

Here’s a good question to ask yourself regularly: Where is growth and development taking place in my life?

Are you spending money more wisely? Are you navigating relationships more successfully? Are you taking better care of yourself? Is your knowledge of a certain subject increasing? Are you closer to God?

These days, I’m working out 5 days a week; faithfully every morning. I’m learning so much about life and myself through consistency and faithfulness. I feel better and I’m reaching my fitness goals, but it’s taking time and commitment. One of my favorite reads has been a book by Darren Hardy called “The Compound Effect”. In it, he talks about how making small, smart choices consistently will set you up to reap huge rewards. If we’re honest, we snooze through so many pivotal choices in life, not realizing that the seemingly small, inconsequential choices can become major factors to our personal development if we would be more conscious about what we do.

What if you actually monitored how much you spend on non-essentials every week?

What if you paid attention to the kinds of food you put in your body?

What if you took 5 minutes every day to consider your goals in life?

What if you didn’t let your busyness get in the way of your purpose?

I’m really writing today to push you not to get too comfortable in life. So often, a measure of success in life becomes a source of complacency. Even with all you may have accomplished, you can get stuck on the level that you’re on if you’re not intentional about investing yourself into yourself.

Isn’t it interesting how we make it a point to invest ourselves into so many other things and people, and don’t invest enough of ourselves into ourselves? Somebody is benefiting from your energy, your intelligence, and your time; Are you? Instead of settling for your current best, why not strive for better in life? Investing time and commitment is yielding results on my fitness journey, and will yield results for you spiritually, financially, and in every way that you seek transformation.

You can achieve a better life by learning new things. You can learn new ways to manage life on the level that you’re on, and that alone will take you to another level. When you stop learning, you stop growing, and when you stop growing, you get stuck. Wherever you are in life, don’t get stuck on this level. Life has an endless road of growth and development that you can have, if you make the investment that is required.

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Keep Your Head Down.

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Keep Your Head Down.

Keep Your Head Down Blog

The ending of 2018 brings to mind the potential that 2019 has. While they’re seldom maintained, New Year’s resolutions often reflect our desire to reach our potential, but wishful thinking is not the way to do that.

Faith affirmations alone are not the way to reach potential…

Spending all your time mourning past failures is not the way to reach potential…

You’ll reach your potential when you work towards it with focus and a strong work ethic.

In this social-media crazed culture that we live in, it’s so common to judge one’s successes based on what others publish about themselves, never mind the fact that you don’t know the failures they experienced to reach where they are, or if where they show they are is really where they are. Just like the kids who didn’t study for a pop quiz in grade school and they spent time looking around to see how others answered the questions, far too many of us are so busy looking around at what others are doing that our life’s work is being neglected.

One simple key to accomplishing the goals that are ahead of you is to keep your head down. This means to focus on what you desire to accomplish with a consistency that enables you to grow towards your goal(s) without being distracted.

When encouraging the Colossian church to put off worldliness and put on newness in Christ, Paul exhorted them to “set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (Col. 3:2).” Not start believing and Abracadabra, you’re like Jesus. No! Paul says that spiritual growth requires intentional concentration.

Just like spiritual growth, all of the areas in your life that you acknowledge need growth will require intentional concentration.

Here’s something to consider as we approach the end of 2018:

How are you doing? Spiritually? Financially? Mentally? Emotionally?

In the areas that you desire to grow, which I hope are all of these and more, keep your head down.

For spiritual growth, concentrate on the things of God in place of spiritually malnourishing things.

For financial growth, create a budget and live by it. Trust God with the tithe. Be a saver, and not just a spender.

For mental growth, read; and not just social media statuses. Read books. Ask for referrals. I suggest kindle books because they can go everywhere with you (there’s an app for that).

For emotional growth, pay attention to yourself and what triggers negative emotions for you. When you identify negative triggers, premeditating responses really helps to re-shape your experiences.

None of us are perfect, and neither are our attention spans, but we will do a great service to ourselves when we intensify our focus by following Paul’s advice to “set your mind…”. May the end of 2018 and beginning of 2019 find you focusing on the goals that are ahead of you!

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Just Do It: We Need Good Wine!

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Just Do It: We Need Good Wine!

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Nike is promoting fighting for your dreams that other people think are crazy, even against inequalities based on gender, disability, nationality, and religion. The initial rollout of this ad incited an uproar; not because it promotes fighting for dreams against opposition, but because the ad features Colin Kaepernick, who’s dream includes standing against racial inequality and police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem during NFL games. Kaepernick used his platform to fight for his dream, and is the perfect athlete to discuss sacrificing for what you believe in, as he sacrificed his NFL career to take this stand.

Even Nike is demonstrating the message of this ad through sacrificing customers who hide behind the veil of supposed patriotism to ignore the realities of race in America. Racial disparities and racist ideas are as ingrained into the fabric of American culture as apple pie and baseball caps, so for Nike to promote dreaming against this reality, despite the backlash, sets an example worth following. The wide range of consequences, from the burning of apparel in a #JustBurnIt campaign, to a tweet from #45, who Michael Eric Dyson referred to as a “lugubrious leech”, have not deterred Nike from following through with the promotion of this ad.

The notion to “just do it” is not original to Nike. In John Chapter 2, Jesus was at a wedding, along with his mother and his disciples. John’s telling of this storyline goes like this:

- Jesus is at a wedding He was invited to.

- Wine ran out.

- Mary tells Jesus the wine ran out.

- Jesus tells Mary wine running out has nothing to do with them.

What happens next is fascinating to me. After Jesus basically says that the wine shortage isn’t His problem, Mary tells the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Without his agreement, Mary says when instructions come from Jesus, “just do it.

Jesus was not going to interfere with the situation until his mother interrupted Him, THEN the first miracle in His ministry took place. Jesus turned the water into wine.

Here’s the takeaway:

Sometimes, God’s interference requires our interruption!

That means that if we’re not willing to address needs by interrupting those who feel like the societal “wine shortages” aren’t their problem, we may miss miraculous transformations that can happen because of our interruptions.

Mary’s response to Jesus’ dismissal shows that she believed for something that she had never seen enough to interrupt Jesus and the servants. Jesus says “this has nothing to do with us”, and Mary replies, “do whatever He says.” This demonstrates that faith is the work we do towards seeing realities that we have not yet known.

*We have not seen racial equality in America.

*We have not seen gender equality in America.

*We have not seen equality for the disabled in America.

*We have not seen religious equality in America.

*We have not seen liberty and justice for all in America.

...but we can, by faith!

 

Mary, Nike, and Colin Kaepernick show us that when you believe in something, you’ll interrupt the unbothered to ensure that what you believe for becomes a reality.

Here’s something to note: water turning to wine is attributed to Jesus as His first miracle, but HE NEVER DIRECTLY INTERACTED WITH THE WINE. He sent the servants to fill large jars of water, and when they brought it back to the host it was “good wine.” What we see here is that GOD’S POWER was exercised through THEIR WORK!

We need “good wine” in the areas where what should be is lacking in communities, families, churches, and society at large. Let’s be committed to being like Mary who was willing to be interruptive, and like the servants who did the work to fetch the water that Jesus transformed.

Nike is doing a great thing by including Kaepernick in this ad campaign, and we see through this experience that there is a price to be paid for doing what is right in the face of complicit and comfortable supporters.

*PS: I’m writing this blog wearing a Nike tee, Nike shorts, and Nike sneakers. Selah.

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Despised & Rejected: He was. You'll Be.

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No matter how many lives God uses you impact, or how many people walk with you as you walk with God, or how much good you do...

In spite of all of the help you have given to those who are hurting...

Jesus Christ was despised and rejected, and you will be too! 

It’s nothing to complain about, or feel sorry for yourself about, but it is something to be aware of. It can be natural to expect that those who God uses you to bless would bless you in return, or at least not seek to hurt you, but there will always be mean, miserable people who seek to discredit who you are. 

Christian ministry is a continuation of the work of Jesus Christ, but we not only share in the blessings, we also share in the suffering. God allows us to be glorified by filling us with God’s power, yet God allows us to be humbled through hurtful experiences we encounter, sometimes at the hands of those we’ve been called to help.

If you’ve experienced the pain of feeling despised and rejected, know that you’re in good company. Jesus Christ, who is everything, was considered nothing! This proves that you can’t do enough for people to make them see good in you. People will forget miles of good for an inch of what they feel is bad. Even with that, we have a responsibility to stay true to who we are, and what God has called us to do. 

As it is with Christ, so it is with you and I: How people see you does not determine who you are! 

After a disagreement earlier this year, I expressed to my dad my annoyance with people who repay my kindness with meanness. My dad taught me to keep helping the people who hurt me because my nature is to help, and if I let the ones who hurt me change me, I’ve given them a power to control me that doesn’t belong to them.

Those words of wisdom remind me not to let the inevitable experience of being despised and rejected provoke me to forfeit my identity. When we experience being considered nothing by those we serve, colleagues, strangers, or anyone else, we have a perfect example in Jesus Christ that shows us how to endure suffering. 1 Peter 2:23 says: “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”

Jesus trusted God through His suffering. While that’s easier said than done, it’s our key to surviving our suffering seasons. Let your trust in God give you the encouragement that is needed to be found faithful in a work that is sometimes hurtful. 

The fact that Jesus didn’t respond is a glaring part of his experience of being despised and rejected. I encourage you not to return revile for revile. Don’t give harsh words as an answer to harsh words. Growing up my mom would call it being “low down”. Don’t be “low down”! Let your validation come from God, and not people, and you can channel the hurt we experience in life and ministry as a push towards being better versus being bitter. 

Shade is coming.

Attempts to discredit you are coming.

Hurtful lies are coming.

Gossip and rumors will carry your name.

Those you help will hurt you (or at least try to), but I leave with you words from the writer of Psalms as both a word of advice and one of encouragement:

Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” Psalms 37:1-5 ESV

You may never receive honor, respect, or appreciation from those that your life is a blessing to, and hopefully you will, but if you don't, serve as unto the Lord Jesus Christ. Give as unto the Lord Jesus Christ. Live as unto the Lord Jesus Christ, putting your trust in God in the high and low experiences, and you will qualify to experience what the psalmist declared, that "he (God) will act". I'm a witness that God will act on your behalf when you trust God, although you've experienced being despised and rejected. 

Jesus proves for us that you can overcome every word said and deed done in effort to despise who you are and reject what you're called to be. "Must Jesus bear the cross alone, and all the world go free? No, there's a cross for everyone, and there's a cross for me."

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