THAT JUNK IS KILLING YOU: Consecrate Yourself!

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THAT JUNK IS KILLING YOU: Consecrate Yourself!

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I’ve recently given increased attention to my personal fitness, which has included 5AM workouts and meal preps with plenty of veggies & lean meats, and it has taught me a valuable lesson!

After several consecutive weeks on this routine, last Monday I sent a friend of mine a picture of my lunch. It was baked chicken breast over a mixture of chickpeas, spinach, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and cranberries (in a lemon sauce). It was delicious, and filling. I brought more fruit and a salad to work in case I got hungry after that meal, but surprisingly, I didn’t get hungry again, and that healthy meal that seemed small filled me up for the duration of my time at work.

Then on Tuesday, I broke my regular routine since I did an airport pickup on my lunch break. Instead of eating the lunch that I brought to work (probably 500 calories), I stopped at Wendy’s and grabbed a meal (around 1200 calories). After eating it (didn’t even really enjoy it like I used to), I felt full. This time there was a difference though. I got hungry about two hours later, and was looking for snacks to get me through the rest of the work day, not to mention the itis and the 2:00PM slump it gave me.

I got full off of the Wendy’s fast food lunch, but the healthy food gave me a different kind of filling. It was a guilt-free, lasting, profitable filling that I didn’t have to worry would set me back from the progress that I’ve made in my fitness journey.

You may or may not be working towards fitness goals, but all of us fill our lives and our space with people, relationships, behaviors, choices, and habits. God has specific guidelines for what we consume and engage in, and our ability to accomplish what God has assigned to us depends on us giving careful attention to what we’re filling ourselves with!

In 1 Chronicles 15:12, David tells the heads of the Levitical families to consecrate themselves and bring up the ark of the Lord. The Ark of the Covenant represented God’s presence for the Israelites, and though the Levites were assigned to handle it, they needed specific instructions on how do it because when they attempted to before, they did not do it in the prescribed way.

For the Levites, consecration was a cleaning ritual, and for us, consecration is the intentional effort we make to remove the empty, ungodly fillers in our lives that are taking up the space that God desires to fill. Anybody or anything that God does not approve of is polluting your life and delaying your purpose! Consecrating yourself before the Lord proves to God that you are serious about your purpose and makes room in your life for God to give you what you’re asking for. We are sometimes too busy doing what we do and being who we are to realize that the ungodly things we do in the name of fun or boredom aren't just causal behaviors. That junk is killing you! It's stifling your capacity to hear God and obey God's word, and limiting the space in your life for God to occupy.

Too often in our lives, we settle for options that are as unhealthy spiritually, mentally, financially, socially, and relationally as fast food is physically. I encourage you to do what David instructed the Levites to do: CONSECRATE YOURSELF! Identify those things in your life that pollute your life and exchange them with the things of God.

You have the option to have a different kind of filling! God wants to fill our lives with a guilt-free, lasting, profitable filling that is so much better than the cheap substitutes that we think we are enjoying. God’s filling is God’s presence, God’s word, the fruit of God’s Spirit, godly relationships, and godly success. 

Consecrate yourself! Clean your spiritual diet! Clean your mental diet! Clean your physical diet! Real success is not only accomplishing a God-given assignment, but it is doing that assignment, God’s way!

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What's On Your Mind?

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What's On Your Mind?

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A man who played a pivotal role in my upbringing would randomly and periodically (annoyingly) ask me, “What’s on your mind?” I’d often respond “nothing”, either because I literally wasn’t thinking about anything in particular, or I didn’t care to share what I was thinking about. He would firmly reply “Get something on your mind”, and as a boy, those words shook me, but as a man, I cherish them. That man, Burrell Jones, recently passed away. God bless his memory.  

I find myself reminding myself of his words every now and then, and I now understand the importance of his instruction. I now strive to be conscious of the thoughts that I think, and the fact that I’m thinking. While there may be times when we give our minds a break from the tiresome and burdensome realities of our existence, the truth is that we should practice the instructions that Mr. Burrell was trying to teach me, to get and keep something on our minds.

Since we live in the information age, and there is so much to think about, it’s important to wisely choose what we think about. I encourage you to think about God’s Word and both its implications and ramifications on your life. Find scripture that you can rehearse within the corridors of your mind and soul. Let God’s Word minister to your fears, uncertainties, pains, worries, and frustrations. Give God’s Word space in your soul to encourage your dreams and enliven your faith. I’m certain that you will be pleasantly surprised by the positive effect that thinking about God’s Word has on you. Consider this: God’s word caused worlds to be created from nothing. Imagine the untapped potential in your life for the creative force of God to cause you to become what God created you to be, and how often we forfeit this potential because we concentrate on so many other things, all of which God’s Word has the power to control and change.

The act of contemplating and rehearsing God’s Word is meditation. In his book “Celebration of Discipline”, Richard Foster defines Christian meditation as “the ability to hear God’s voice and obey his word.” Simply put, when we think about scripture, it tunes our ears and our hearts to what God’s voice is so that we can differentiate between God’s voice, the voice of others, and our own voice. Naturally, the more you’re around an individual, the more familiar you are with their voice, to the point where you don’t even have to see them to recognize their voice, and so it goes spiritually. The more you meditate on God’s word, the more you will recognize God’s voice.

Psalm 1:1 says “Blessed is the one….whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on His law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, and whose leaf does not wither- whatever they do prospers.” You see that? The ones who consistently meditate on God’s Word prosper in WHATEVER THEY DO! In other words, meditation is the prerequisite for godly success. I invite you to ask for God’s help in changing what you think about by praying this short prayer: “Lord, plant me in the fruitful place where my leaves won’t wither, and all that I do prospers because I mediate on your Word day and night. Show me what you want me to think about”.

So I ask, in the midst of your daily responsibilities and routines, “What’s On Your Mind”? I encourage you to create space for God in your soul by thinking about God’s Word. Think about God’s Word more. It’s going to change your life.

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Your Wholeness Is In Your Hands!

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Your Wholeness Is In Your Hands!

We spend so much time and give so much interest to learning about other people, whether it’s distant people we consider celebrities or our next door neighbor’s personal business. Modern culture seems to be obsessed with gaining knowledge about and reflecting on the reality that others live in, but I’m concerned that personal awareness has taken a backseat and our capacity to tend to our own wellbeing has decreased as a result.  Simply put, we know too much about other people, and not enough about ourselves.

  • What makes you happy?
  • What brings a sense of fulfillment to your life?
  • Is your relationship with God healthy?
  • Are pains from your past contaminating your present?
  • Why do you continue to make choices that you know are a detriment to you, or those you love?
  • What are you doing with your life?
  • Who are you honestly trying to satisfy with the decisions you make?
  • How are you really doing?

Playing the movie and soundtrack of your life in your mind will help you to learn from your successes, your failures, your tendencies, your pit-falls, your preferences, and your habits! While you certainly can learn from other’s experiences, your growth depends on you giving attention to yourself and your needs!

YOU ARE WORTH YOUR ATTENTION! Your health, spiritual well-being, financial wellness, mental stability, emotional maturity, and every aspect of who you are deserves (and requires) your attention if you’re going to be WHOLE! Jesus asked the man in John 5 at the pool of Bethesda, “Wilt thou be made whole?”, and I like the NLT that says “Would you like to get well?” The man had been sick for 38 years and he told Jesus that he can’t get well because there were always people ahead of him. Instead of entertaining his response, Jesus told the man to get up, take up his mat, and walk. In other words, Jesus gave the man the option for wholeness, all he had to do was get up and do something!

Like the man at the pool, you have the option for wholeness! Wholeness is available to you! ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS GET UP AND DO SOMETHING!!!! Your wholeness is in your hands!

When you take the time to learn yourself, you can measure who you are today against who you were yesterday, versus comparing yourself to other people, who have their own journey of growth and development. It’s a problem if you can only feel good about yourself because you feel like you’re doing better than someone else. It’s also a problem when someone else doing well causes you to feel bad about who you are! Learn to feel good about yourself because you’re giving yourself the attention you require. In the word's of William Shakespeare, "to thine own self be true."

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God Has More For You!

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God IS Light.

God doesn't just have light or bring light, but His essence is light, so when you invite God into your space, you eliminate the power and presence of darkness in your life! Imagine trying to reach a destination in a dark rural area where there are no lights. It's hard to know direction without light. It's hard to find the right path without light. You would not see the danger that exists around you without light. 

Thats how life is without God. It's like trying to reach a destination the dark. Your destiny is depending on you to light the path with the presence of God in your life!  Ask yourself this question: Am I trying to reach my destiny without faithfully inviting God's presence in my life?

5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (‭1 John‬ ‭1:5-10‬ ‭ESV)

God IS Life! 

Everyone faces challenges and pitfalls that bring about a sense of death in life, whether it be spiritual, financial, emotional, or in any other way. Faith in God introduces the potential for the dead things in our lives to live again! Even in scripture, careful consideration of the language used to describe the resurrection of Jesus shows that Jesus did not just get up, God raised Him up!! To that end, the power of God within us can quicken the deadness that we experience and cause us to know LIFE in a new and refreshing way! 

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans‬ ‭8:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

‭It's so common for us to try to illuminate our lives with random sources of pseudo-light, like popularity or our accomplishments, and to accept the dying parts of our lives and live in the funk of death. But there are no worldy answers to darkness and deadness. Only God can bring light to your darkness, and life to your deadness.

I encourage you not to settle for a dark, dead life! God has more for you than that! 

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I'm hurting. But I'm still hoping.

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Philando Castile is a black man whose name became yet another #RIP hashtag due to his senseless murder at the hands of a police officer.

In an interview back in November 2016 when his murderer was charged with manslaughter and dangerous discharge of a firearm, Philado’s mom said that she felt that this was the “beginning to a different chapter”. Unfortunately, her feeling was wrong. I can understand the hope that she had in Philando’s case since the murderers of Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling, and others, were not even charged. Unfortunately, Jeronimo Yanez’s acquittal of all charges associated with the murder of Philando Castile proves that this may be a different story, but it’s the same chapter.

News of the monetary settlement that Philando Castile’s mother reached with St. Anthony, Minnesota was released today. In the case of senselessly taking a black life, reparation without reprimand is permission for the culprit’s behavior to continue. If a child continues to knock down glass fixtures in public, and the parents simply pay what they assume reasonably covers damages, but never punish the child for the behavior, the child has no stimulant to modify his behavior. In the same way, if settlements are given to black families whose loved ones are murdered by police officers, yet no punishment is given, there is no stimulant for this behavior to change! The storyline is all too familiar: claim a sense of danger caused by an encounter with blackness, and be innocent of the crime of taking a life.

HOW MUCH MONEY IS A BLACK LIFE WORTH? Can the pain and suffering that the Castile family has and will experience be replaced a dollar amount like a glass fixture? I think not! $2.995 million, nor any other amount of money, can pay for the plucking of a life from this world. The value of life cannot be monetarily quantified. The human race and the black community lost a brother, and the best “the system” can do in the name of justice is another settlement?

I’m sickened that the justice system in the United States can acknowledge that this death is wrong (to the tune of a $3 million dollar settlement), yet not consider it criminal enough for conviction. It’s a damned shame on American culture, and the overvaluation of the dollar and the undervaluation of black life. This further communicates the message that the taking of a black life, though irritable, is not punishable.

As a human being, this hurts.

As a black man, this hurts.

As a Christian, this hurts.

As an American, this hurts.

As I write this blog, my 2nd mom is traveling and her dog (Rosie -Shih Tzu) is in my care. I am accountable to her for the well-being of her dog when she returns. If my negligence is cause for Rosie’s untimely death, there’s going to be a major problem. I have one question: Who is accountable for the murder of Philando Castile? Apparently, no one is.  I wish I could conclude this blog with some profound instruction or theological nugget to take from this, yet in this moment, I hurt. I grieve. I mourn. Again. In Philando’s memory, I reflect on his life and that no amount of money could replace him. This sort of justice does not adequately respond to the loss of this life.

Yet, I hope anyway. Certainly not in the justice system. And not even in my fellow-man. My hope is in the God who delivered the children of Israel from the oppressive hand of Pharaoh.

May hope be our fuel for the effectual, fervent work that is ahead.

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