Tag Archives: Jesus

Transparent Afterthoughts of my Backwards Thinking: Part III

renewal“I woke up a few years ago and realized that I no longer had a grip on who I was…the me that I was living with was this dude who changed himself all the time to try and get other people to like him…and my entire identity was wrapped up in everyone else’s approval of me……so this is me – breaking loose of that piece of bondage and concerning myself with the approval of only One and not the many.”-David Dunn

This is a continuation from yesterday’s post (Transparent Afterthoughts of my Backwards Thinking: Part II).  If you also haven’t read the first part (Transparent Afterthoughts of my Backwards Thinking: Part I), please do so before reading this post as well, thank you!

5)   Reflect on Your Journey.  Just like anything else in life, you don’t become an expert by simply reading or scanning over it once.  The same perspective is necessary for your life and future.  We must look back on where we’ve been and where we’ve come.  Sometimes we get so caught up in the moment and where we’re presently going, that we forget about our past, we forget about the moments of hardship, the times we wanted to give up.  I found myself all too often getting through a tough moment only to put it in the back of my mind or hidden beneath many personified layers, holding it in, so no one will find out or realize I have a weakness.  How are we ever going to grow if we don’t let these things out, if we don’t ever look back on our lives to appreciate, to know, to realize everything is bigger than us.  And while we’re reflecting on our past, we can begin to discern and dissect problematic issues and circumstances, which led us into those difficult moments, empowering us to make more critical decisions later in life.  Reflecting on your journey simply creates a new perspective, conveys a position change, removing yourself from an unhealthy lifestyle into something healthy and life improving.   Sometimes we get stuck into a negative mindset of, “oh we/I had it so much better before” or “I was soo thin back then,” but look at where you’re at now, look at all the other things you can be thankful for.  God doesn’t take us down dark alleys only to be mugged and robbed, but instead guide us to safety.  It’s in the moment we step into the sunshine to realize, God was always at our side…

6)   Look Forward to the Unknown.  How scary is that word, unknown?  Don’t we have this automatic philosophy of insecurity and negativity with the unknown?  It’s like the phrase, “you need to drink water for all the health benefits;” as you read that, I’m sure you got a little thirsty or even reached for your cup of water because we always know to drink more water.  Well, it’s like that with the word, unknown.  We begin to walk on egg shells when we don’t know where we will end up for a job or how we will pay our next bill or will our loved one recover from a health issue, we don’t know, it’s obscure, it’s simply untold.  It’s so hard to think positive and recognize the silver lining in all situations and predicaments, right?!  Even though we may not know what tomorrow may bring, we should embrace the unfamiliar and mystery because as we open the curtain of the unknown, it’s all too often the reveal is surprisingly pleasant and rewarding.  Especially living a life for Jesus Christ, we have no idea where He will lead us, but I’ll confidently tell you, He’s already “been there and done that,” and there’s no need to worry or be concerned because “therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”-Matthew 6:34; so the only thing you can do is, be excited and ready because who knows what or who the Lord will bring your way!

7)   Things Happen for God’s Purpose.  Simple as that.  I’ve written about this all too often about the ups and downs of life and how God is THE orchestrator of all things.  How often is a moment so hard that we beg, “why God why, why me, what did I do to deserve this?”  In these moments, we need to reflect on the importance of giving Him all our love and attention because if He took us to this moment, He will get us through it.  As humans, we continually get stuck into a detrimental, pessimistic mindset once hardship rears its ugly face.  God never told us to do this.  There’s nowhere in the Bible does it say to sulk, regret, and dwell on what just happened.  We should embrace these moments because “count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”-James 1:2-4.  In the past year or so, I’ve quickly realized this.  As I continue to grow spiritually in my walk with God (yes, I struggle, I have my hard days too), I realize He’s in complete control, we’re simply pawns in His ultimate game of chess; if we try to move one way and get turned down or blocked out, He always provides us another move.  If a door closes, He provides another door for us.  From the obscure and odd timing of all the recent experiences in my life, I cannot simply say it was all a coincidence, the Mexico mission trip, providing loving friends and a random family to live with in Chicago during my internship, graduating grad school, my brothers wedding, the Super Bowl volunteer experience in New Orleans, and now, He has blessed me with a job; all has been provided by Him and only Him alone!  As a believer, I’m not in the business of randomness and coincidences, but rather ALL THINGS happen for God’s purpose!   “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”-Romans 8:28


AON vs. CON: What Is CON? Part II

Now that we’ve defined what an ‘all or nothing’ effort entitles, can you see these parallels in your life?  Just rethink or reread Part I and the message at hand.  Particularly, living our lives through an ‘all or nothing’ mentality and effort, only to realize, in the end, what we were striving for, is only finite accomplishments, only superficial absurdity.  So let me as you this.  If we aren’t suppose to be living this way, how should we be living?

CON is the answer.  As some of you may already have guessed, a ‘Christ or nothing’ effort is what we should be striving for.

Granted there are many, many circumstances God wants us to strive for our ultimate selves, strive for doing our best, but we simply shouldn’t be extrinsically motivated.  We shouldn’t be motivated to fill the empty space on our shelves to place a trophy or medal.  Superficial extrinsic motivation is not the answer.  Just like with our fitness and exercise goals, we shouldn’t always be focused on “feel good” pictures, but instead, much deeper, more lasting consequences of such lifestyle changes.  Exercise and a healthy diet is beneficial to not only aesthetics, but also to overall physical longevity.  In other words, because we’re (Americans) are heavily focused on the immediate, short-term, we’re not always thinking down the road, to the consequences of tomorrow, to what we choose to do today will what we be in the future.  We choose our healthy lifestyles yes maybe for aesthetics, but most importantly, we chose it to reap the future benefits, later in life.  To keep up with our children, to fend off diseases, to maintain a healthy, active body, and the list continues.

Our fitness, exercise, nutrition, or weight lifting goals and accomplishments shouldn’t be the sole purpose of why we continue to pursue these healthy choices.  Our ‘all or nothing’ effort is highly encouraged in some instances, if, and only if, we aren’t controlled by simply the results, especially the temporary, short-lived results.

I know the aforementioned may sound counterintuitive, but understand, we must live our lives to the fullest not to be continually pushed forward from one job to the next, from one city to the next, one education to the next, one certification to the next, in which these temporary highs, these “honeymoon moments” are what gets us by each day.  Instead, we need, we should be investing our time, our effort into the one and only Lord and Savior, when put first, He will provide all things we need!  Matthew 6:33 states “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Remember, I’m not saying an ‘all or nothing’ effort is a bad thing, but instead, recognizing a difference between an ‘Christ or nothing’ effort, where all things are done for Him and Him alone, or simply driven by temporary rewards.  “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus,” Philippians 3:14.

One is everlasting, one isn’t, you decide what kind of effort you’ll put forward!


What’s the Most Important Thing in Your Life? Part III

So, what’s your answer from yesterday’s post?  How do we expect to change when we don’t put in the time and effort?

Well, I’ll give you a few pointers, of which I’m also working on and always striving to achieve.

You must be anchored!  Just like in the previous post, if you aren’t securely planted in your Godly ways, your past habits and distractions around you will engulf you without any hesitation.  One way to stay anchored is to have the Word of God in your mind, always.

Second, worship in the presence of a pure heart.  Meaning, when you go to church and worship Him, do it with a clear conscious, not worrying about work, or kids, or your significant other.  Be in the light of Jesus and only Him.  Worship is a connection with Jesus and there must not be anything between you and Him.

Third, you must surround yourself with other believers.  This support system is critical to your growth in Christ.  They will accept you for who you are.  You don’t have to worry about ‘putting on a face’ or acting just to fit in.  They will pick you up in His name when you are down.  They will pray for you.  They are your brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. 

Just recently, I took part in a Friday night Bible study.  If you told me I’d be at a Friday night Bible study three years ago, rather than partying, I’d think you were crazy.  But that’s how God works.  He’s amazing.  And to think of it, I really haven’t had a group of Christian friends I could turn to.  I’ve always had secular friends.

And when I was there, in the presence of my brothers and sisters in the Lord, a light bulb came on, “where have I been for so long, not to seek out this support group myself?”

If you can do the three things mentioned above, your faith WILL develop.  It takes time of course.  It takes dedication.  It takes sacrifice.  It takes giving yourself up.  But next time someone asks you, what’s the most important thing in your life, you can truly say, my relationship with Jesus Christ!


What’s the Most Important Thing in Your Life? Part II

So what’s the answer to yesterday’s post?  What is more important to you than Jesus?

We’re all so consumed by an ever-fast, non-stop society and world, it’s easy for us to get caught up.  We can easily get swept away if our feet aren’t anchored securely.  Do not neglect or ignore your salvation.  Remember, God doesn’t want you to “barely” make it to Heaven.

It’s hard for people to stay consistent with their Faith, including myself on some days because we’re ‘slow to learn.’

Meaning, the average time spent in the Bible is equivalent to our mood, feelings, and emotional sacrifices to the Lord.

Think how long you spend your time doing everything else: reading other books (not going to mention the new craze, The Hunger Games), other books/novels, watching TV, being on Facebook, Twitter, or reading other blogs.

How do we expect to change and grow in Jesus if we aren’t spending the time with Him and in His word?

Please comment and check in tomorrow for the last part.


What’s the Most Important Thing in Your Life? Part I

Just ponder about this question for a minute or two, please.

What came to mind?  Family?  Friends?  TV?  Your enormous movie collection?  Your dog/cat?  What truly was your initial thought?

Today’s daily embrace is about what you value the most in your life.  What holds the most significance in your heart?

Whether it may be a past love, broken relationship, passed family members, and so on; all of these circumstances should be very dear to us, but it shouldn’t be the most important thing.

Each and every day, we’re tempted.  We’re tempted by our past habits, tempted by the Internet, tempted to pick up the television remote, tempted to simply procrastinate our lives away.  As a result of these temptations, and giving into these temptations, we begin to paint a picture of what’s important.

Our life’s canvass begins to be painted right in front of us, whether we’re conscious of it or not. 

Think about this, what’s more important to you than Jesus?

Please comment and tune in tomorrow for Part II.


Reciprocity

Before I get into the daily embrace, I apologize if some of the posts are similar.  I’m going to talk about reciprocity today.  This means an exchange, cooperation, or mutual effort.

Just as I’ve mentioned before, we’re torn between doing things for ourselves and doing things for others.  In effect, when we do things for other people, we expect something in return.  “I did this for you, so I should expect something in return.”  Have you ever felt like you haven’t been recognized for doing something nice?

Whether it’s for a loved one or not, have you ever felt you’re the only caring one in the relationship?  Well, I’ve experienced both sides.  First, with my egotistic behavior and background, I let my interests and needs come before family and friends.  There wasn’t any reciprocity.  There wasn’t mutual effort taking place on my side.  I wasn’t putting in the time and effort necessary for healthy relationships.  For it to work, both parties must be willing to put the time and effort in.

But now, the shoe is on the opposite foot.  I now understand and empathize with the people that were trying so hard with me before.  Receiving nothing in return isn’t a bad thing.  Rewards are nice, but aren’t necessary.  Experiencing no reciprocity has really made me grow as an individual and as a Christian.  Even if you may be the only one putting in effort and trying to make things right, we must not give up or give in simply because we aren’t getting anything in return.

Find courage.  Find strength.

Be the one that’s willing to accept whatever fate there may be, even if it’s putting yourself in a position of opening yourself up to which you’ve never before.  Rise above ones that may say it’s impossible.  Rise above yourself for a change and realize it’s much bigger than you.  Rise above everything else, just as Jesus did when He died on the cross for us.  Remember His pain, remember His suffering.


Reciprocity

Before I get into the daily embrace, I apologize if some of the posts are similar.  I’m going to talk about reciprocity today.  This means an exchange, cooperation, or mutual effort.

Just as I’ve mentioned before, we’re torn between doing things for ourselves and doing things for others.  In effect, when we do things for other people, we expect something in return.  “I did this for you, so I should expect something in return.”  Have you ever felt like you haven’t been recognized for doing something nice?

Whether it’s for a loved one or not, have you ever felt you’re the only caring one in the relationship?  Well, I’ve experienced both sides.  First, with my egotistic behavior and background, I let my interests and needs come before family and friends.  There wasn’t any reciprocity.  There wasn’t mutual effort taking place on my side.  I wasn’t putting in the time and effort necessary for healthy relationships.  For it to work, both parties must be willing to put the time and effort in.

But now, the shoe is on the opposite foot.  I now understand and empathize with the people that were trying so hard with me before.  Receiving nothing in return isn’t a bad thing.  Rewards are nice, but aren’t necessary.  Experiencing no reciprocity has really made me grow as an individual and as a Christian.  Even if you may be the only one putting in effort and trying to make things right, we must not give up or give in simply because we aren’t getting anything in return.

Find courage.  Find strength.

Be the one that’s willing to accept whatever fate there may be, even if it’s putting yourself in a position of opening yourself up to which you’ve never before.  Rise above ones that may say it’s impossible.  Rise above yourself for a change and realize it’s much bigger than you.  Rise above everything else, just as Jesus did when He died on the cross for us.  Remember His pain, remember His suffering.