When pleasure is no longer derived from external factors, you are more prone to find joy. You’ll find that your closest friends were in your heart all along and love you unconditionally. No matter how bitter you may find life, you’ll remember that you’re the star of your own movie. Direct it well; guard it through faith with your life. Shine the appropriate spotlights. Surprise! You’re now in the presence of God. Do you see God smiling at you?
The following passage comes from a verse my Dad would have me memorize as a child. It would help me whenever I felt betrayed or hurt by others:
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. 45 So that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. Matt 5:44 ESV
Things to Discuss among yourselves:
How do you classify your enemies?
How practical is it to love those who intentionally do you harm?
NOTE: The King James Version has two additional clauses in verse 44: ‘bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you’.
What do you make of the phrase, “Kill them with kindness?” In what way is this benevolent? How can it be sinister?
How will you conduct yourself when faced with adversity?
Are you your worst enemy? How will you confront yourself?
God trained Moses in a palace to use him in a desert. He trained Joseph in a desert to use him in a palace. – Ravi Zacharias
We could be flying starships across galaxies and shooting hostile alien aircrafts but here we are on social media again swiping through tweets and reading blog posts. Well at least one of us have super powers! We made it to the last week of one of the hardest and unique years many of us have ever faced, and I’d like to say that if all you managed to do this year was simply survive you have done an excellent job. If all you could did was fight to maintain your sanity, I salute as one who is strong. Indeed, the forces that be have tried to manipulate many into false dilemmas and catch 22s, yet they have failed to control those who are awakened by tenors of truth.
1:01 a.m. I had the privilege of watching ‘Soul’ last night which led me to tears towards the end. More frequently than normal have I enjoyed art deeply for its resonation with me. James I really do hope you get the inside joke here: I didn’t know aliens from Mars are sporting Jerry curls. Could reality be that bizarre? Are we nothing more than microcosms of stories told by co-auteurs? True story – before I decided to become a Jazz Musician, my passion was in animation; I drew a lot with my dreams of one day developing a picture for Pixar Studios.
1Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2looking to Jesus, the founder (also ‘author’ in the Greek) and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb 12:1-2 ESV)
Why did ‘Soul’ touch me so much? Well for one I think any musician that has ever been ‘in the zone’ can relate to those experiences Joe Gardner had. Number two, the sound behind the story was familiar to me. The way Joe Gardner played and felt the music – I know that sound…
Shout out to Jamie Foxx for another stellar performance! Truly you are an underrated musician and vocalist of our day. Big props to Jon Baptiste! There must be something in the water for you to have the type of talent that you have!
From the Evil Donkeys
You know what problems biases can create? I find they tend to bring about injustices in opinions; partiality in understandings which can lead to undue indulgence in one’s convictions. There are subtle delusions in confirmation biases: just because a handful of people agree to certain facts doesn’t’ make it the actual and/or ultimate truth. I say this so that those who subscribe to certain frameworks of thinking whether be in science, philosophy, politics, or faith – yes I am talking even to Christians here – may put our worldviews in their proper place and truly scrutinize the veracity of our beliefs. Did you know that Jainism has what can be called a ‘transtheistic’ philosophy; a middle ground of sorts between theism and atheism in which god is not the highest spiritual instance? From my understanding, they also believe in reincarnation which I find interesting. What makes being a born again Christian different than reincarnation? Furthermore, can there be a higher spiritual instance than God? If these questions are startling the faith of you my brother, I question whether you know Jesus well, for Jesus is RIDDLED WITHIN THIS ENTIRE PARAGRAPH. How strange is it that a God who demands worship of Himself, would create religions antagonistic to His ways!
Going out of Order
Those who are familiar with JS, what’s wrong with the following code?
This past year, an unprecedented number of jobs were lost due to the pandemic and many jobs went out of business; all due to pre-conceived prejudices, ill-natured motives, and lack of urgency to stop a ‘bug’ from spreading. However, even if this year wasn’t stopped by Covid-19, the threat of AI taking over jobs and businesses still lingers over the Economy. If we’re not careful, we can allow these fears to bring out the worst in us, rather than use them as tools to make our world better. It is not inevitable to fall into a dystopian technocracy, nevertheless a beast-like world order seems to be on the uprise. What manner of beast is it though: NWO, BoeM, BWO, L.A.M.B, or the Anti-Christ? Try to keep an open mind so that we won’t live the rest of our lives in drudgery over eschatology.
6but when they had grazed,[a] they became full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot me. 7 So I am to them like a lion; like a leopard I will lurk beside the way. 8 I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs; I will tear open their breast, and there I will devour them like a lion, as a wild beast would rip them open.
Try to keep an open mind so that we won’t live the rest of our lives in drudgery over eschatology.
Goodbye and Pharaoh
As we approach the end of the year, I hope that we will leave certain habits and mindsets behind. I can tell you as one who is relearning what it means to love again there are things that I must cut out in 2021. If I am to love perfectly; to love purely, unconditionally; with prudence and discernment; in a way that is fair and acceptable to God and men, I must discipline myself and allow God to prune the things that is unbecoming of Agape. My wife and I have recently started journaling in a sketchbook in which we would draw anything according to our imagination. And,
If there is something that could fulfill my joy, it would be seeing your art again knowing that you enjoy doing what you love 2 do! I used to draw a lot 2 you know? If you have the heart, would you remember me and bond soul to soul? Vamos nos tornar amigos por correspondência ou não?
I must discipline myself and not overextend myself unnecessarily. Let’s not get it twisted for those who assume roles of healers yet have never healed another in their entire life: I WILL TO THE BEST OF MY ABILITY FILL IN MY BODY WHAT IS LACKING IN THE AFFLICTIONS OF CHRIST; for the sake of His body – the Church; so that even as death is at work in me, LIFE IS AT WORK IN YOU!!! TALK ABOUT TRANSFER OF ENERGY!
I must discipline myself in that old proverbial wisdom, “Do not spend your strength on women or your vigor on those who ruin kings.” Because where can you find a virtuous woman now a days? And where are the faithful men? I found it disheartening to learn about Ravi Zacharias’ legacy. Indeed, no man is perfect, and I took the confirmation of his sexual deviations as a warning to myself. As much as I desire to see Christ’s Consummation of everything in full effect; I must not step out of the bounds of his will and pacing lest the purity of my intentions be evil spoken of. Where can you find a virtuous woman now a days? There’s only one I know of, and she’s in my dreams – Christ that is. Nevertheless love, don’t be mistaken; I DO want you in your worst state…
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But in an upright way.
I must respect myself to no longer build another man’s pyramid, unless it is the city of God; that heavenly Jerusalem – where the economy is primarily spiritual and produce free; where the abundant Life eliminates all forms of scarcity.
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Is 55:1 ESV
Not exactly sure how certain Christians have convinced themselves that Capitalism is God’s Economy but I digress. That verse seems impractical until one comes in and turns capitalism against itself; playing the game well.
To take life as it comes; to be in harmony with it whether good or bad; to take strides to live life to the fullest; that’s how I want to enter 2021 – Enter in worship and awe of the One who created it all. For many of those who have entered the narrow path, you will share in the Everlasting Joy of God. For others, you will face trials but keep pushing and you’ll reach the Promised Land. And yet for some, you will face a greater sense of judgment because of your insolence. God will not be mocked. Every idle word will be taken into account May God have mercy upon your soul.
Jerry: So, what do you think you’ll do? How are you gonna spend your life?
Joe: I’m not sure, but I DO know I’m gonna live every minute of it.
You gotta appreciate the Internet. Although it can be a dark and unhealthy place at times, look hard enough and you’ll find reasons to smile – including how petty people can be.
Petty cake, petty cake
Bake me a cake
As fast as you can.
So, I didn’t know how many of you leaders have great cooking skills! (I’m not being smart here.) Have you seen this cake from T.D Jakes? Man listen! Ya’ll can say whatever you wanna say about these folks, but if I hear them preaching Christ and Him crucified, they alwrite with me! And I love bacon! So T.D Jakes and I have a connection already. I love baking because it’s an exact science; what you put in, keep out, where you store it, how long you bake it all play a part in how the food tastes. Let that marinate, because there’s a word in there somewhere.
Now in the last devotional we continued learning about the fundamentals in Hermeneutics and doctrines concerning Biblical Authority. I’ve also proved my case for advanced cultural studies. To do a recap of the main course of thought, I’ll put up a semi-controversial proposition. Test my logic:
A person cannot justly disprove the final claim in the argument without being a spiritual person, for they will have to test the spirit behind the words and not simply judge what’s on the page. Like in today’s devotional scripture:
5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Tim 4:5 ESV
Unfortunately, I haven’t had any drinks in a while, especially after having to go into urgent care. I was told it would take about two weeks to heal and I’m doing better. So thank you all who prayed for me and those who are suffering now. We are more connected than some of us would imagine. For those who may want to experience this fellowship, my charge is the same…
As for you, always be sober-minded… 2 Tim 4:5a
When I was in my twenties, I didn’t drink coffee that much because it had the opposite effect on me. Here I am trying to pull an all-nighter and coffee would put me right to sleep. Now it works like a charm, although I try to avoid drinking it to stay awake. I like natural grace.
Did you know that the effects of losing days of sleep can have the same affect as being buzzed? The disciplines of watching is not for the faint of heart. It’s going against a lot of conventional wisdom as you’re intentionally imposing on yourself bouts of insomnia. And for what purpose? Well at least for the following:
3I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. 2 Tim 1:3 ESV
Not exactly sure why the woke community call themselves ‘woke’ for. At best, they are only conscious of the social ills that are plaguing our neighborhoods. Yet when it comes to experiencing what it’s like to be united to the God who never sleeps nor slumbers, there tends to be ignorance of the traumas many are experiencing. Additionally none are aware of how transcendence begets freedom and reconciliation, so they are ignorant of any real solutions beneficial for future generations. Great skill is required for those builders who receive criticism from misunderstandings, impatience, and prevailing opinions. To put trust in anything other than the sacred Godhead is begging to be out of the frying pan and into the fire.
And now for Final Jeopardy: This character won an Academy Award as the star in the toon “Tweetie Pie”.
Isn’t it fascinating what hell people are willing to go through in chasing after something? You know how much hell I went through even though I wasn’t running? Man let me give it to you straight.
Endure suffering…2 Tim 4:5b
Hopefully, that was forward enough. There’s no way around it. Godliness in this life comes with pleasures and pain; prosperity and poverty, sickness and health although many people may have experienced an unbalance of one of the two. Nevertheless, every man has to bear his own cross, and if he will be benevolent, he will also bear the cross of others. Now just a small word out there for our eager martyrs: 1.) Don’t be throwing yourself in situations you weren’t trained for and 2.) Don’t put yourself in a position where you are a risk to yourself and others. Listen if you are watching for days on end and you need to go out to get from point A to point B, take an Uber. There are plenty of ways you can die on a hill without committing suicide. True love doesn’t do harm to their neighbor.
Have you ever had shrimp deviled eggs? Man let me tell you sumthin’, those jokers are fire! A whole lot can be said through cooking. Just so we’re on the same page, I don’t discriminate. I’m an Equal Opportunity Eater; vegan or non-vegan, I be eating. I fast too though… Balance.
Do the work of an evangelist…2 Tim 4:5c
To which we explained in our previous devotional that evangelizing is not bound to open air preaching, neither does it need to be relevant, focused, or fiery. The Word of God is free and will do it’s work in advancing the Kingdom, whether Jesus is openly proclaimed or not.
The Final Dessert
And so we come to an unspoken rule in Hermeneutics in which I’ve hinted at plenty of times although it isn’t apparent; keep interpreting, break it down, and then break it down again; expound on it, and expound some more.
Fulfill your ministry….2 Tim 4:5d
__________________________, because there is infinitely more things one can do with their life. All things are certainly possible with God, except for many it is less probable because we are either unwilling or doubting what is possible. Keep believing.
By the word keep I mean to maintain a state of being, whether that is actively open or more reserved.
You shall not add to the word that ___________, nor take from it, that you may __________ the commandments of the Lord your God that _________ command you. Deut 4:2 ESV
Just like a scientist
would test and experiment
and discover new things
even at atomic levels,
a man of faith would seek out the glory of God in the world and beyond. There are many things that I am grateful for this year; Life, family, friends, health. Thank you again for those who kept me in your prayers.
So in closing this devotional I hope we can leave behind dogmas keeping us from understanding people and the world we live in. May we be more ready to speed up the return of Christ; in unity of faith looking for the Final Consummation of Everything. Even as I work to renovate my own marriage to my sweetest caramel of a spouse; Shandra. Remember our covenantal bond, for the word is suffe’ring’ for a reason. I love you dearly and always. Happy Thanksgiving!
Relationships everywhere in every space and every form are under pressure. The very essence of what keeps humans committed to one another, the basic level of respect and commonality, and purpose are being tested. Welcome to 2020, my friends. I could throw out a statistic to prove my point, but you need to look no further than the words plastered on the one thing we all seem to show complete devotion to nowadays- our technological devices. Newsfeeds, blogs, social media, op-eds, etc. by the nanosecond prove just how divisive our world is. And in many cases, this pandemic has revealed to us just how divided we are with our own families and even within our souls as we face limitations unlike any other time in recent years.
But it does not have to be this way. I am confident that the Creator of the Universe, who I recognize as Jesus has designed a blueprint within the fiber of our beings for us to be reconciled to God and one another. This is why we so yearn and hope for a better way, a better space, and a better experience no matter how bad it gets. I am living proof of this resilient hope and over the next several blogs I am going to present a series of writings that share deep insights I’ve gleaned about journeying towards unity through hardship.
The Backstory: I am a soon to be 36-year-old Christian wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, colleague, and lover of justice and people. There are many dimensions to who I am that you either know or will discover as you read these blogs. One thing I will start with is my marriage. Throughout the marriage, I’ve experienced some of the deepest pains and yet deepest joys of coming to understand the true essence of what unity is. I came into this union over 8.5 years ago with my goals, objectives, strategies, and game plan to accomplish the fantasy of what our marriage would and should be. While this ambition was fire, it was the wrong type of fire. It did not help to fuel our common purpose or even passion. The last few years have been a burning away of this me-centric perspective and a slow but powerful revelation of who I am, who my husband is, and who we are destined to become as what I like to call “Jameshan” a unionization of the two.
And that brings me to my first recognition:
Unity is oneness of heart, mind, and purpose.
What I have learned is that purpose for two isn’t a simple merging of two lives, two pathways, it is the birthing of something entirely new that yes includes elements of the two separate entities but it for sure is a new creation. This is why marriage my friends is so hard, because it is a letting go of your purpose for your marriage and a surrender to something that transcends both you and your spouse. I’ve already mentioned and will say so again that I believe God the Creator through Jesus is the binding force of this creation. And to be clear, I also believe marriage is His divine institution created to display the larger scope of His Glory. This is to say Jameshan is one person displaying one part of His glorious plan.
James and I have begun this blog to cultivate unity, to learn how to “move” in concert with one another. No doubt, over the course of 8.5 years of marriage, we have experienced joys, primarily our youthful daughter. And yet we know that if we want to fully realize the potential of our common purpose here on earth as a unit, there are so many things that will need to be mended, addressed, and reconciled. And while that thought alone often fast paces my mind to a place of “giving up”, the endurance that has kept me in this race is fueled by the recognition that common purpose can foster soil to produce oneness.
Until next time, would you join us as we ponder?
Is it possible to have a common purpose with someone while also having vastly different approaches towards the shared mission? If so, how? Leave us a comment, drop a line, and welcome to our journey towards perfect love.