Much like my last post, I woke up this morning and something just popped into my head--seemingly out of nowhere. (Although, I am learning to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit.) And, the thought was this: hue man beings.
As you probably well know, there is a great deal of turmoil bubbling and running rampant in our country right now. The problem is racism. And, as I am now getting accustomed to doing, I decided to look in my Bible for the answer to this problem.
What does the Bible say about racism, anyway? Well, from my reading and research, nothing. Which, in turn, speaks volumes.
The first thing we need to understand as Christians, is that there is only one race--the human race. Caucasians, Africans, Asians, Arabs, and Jews are not different races. Rather, they are different ethnicities of the human race. We all have the same physical characteristics, with minor variations, of course. More importantly, we have all been created in the likeness and image of God. (Genesis 1:26-27) God so loved the world that He sent His son, Jesus, to lay down His life for us. (John 3:16). And, the "world" obviously includes all ethnic groups.
And, while I can't find any references to race or racism in the Bible, I can find plenty of verses that tell us to love one another. Jesus commands us to love one another as He loves us. (John 13:34) We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. (James 2:8) Jesus teaches us in Matthew 25 that whatever we do to the least of His brothers, we do to Him. Ephesians 4:32 tells us to be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
We are not only human beings, but we are hue man beings. The dictionary defines hue as a gradation or variety of a color. or colors, or complexion. Humans come in all different colors. Our complexions and skin tones are as varied as our personalities. Much like all the beautiful plants and flowers God created, God created us humans to be colorful and unique. Could you image a world with only red roses? Don't get me wrong, red roses are lovely, but if they were the only flower in the world--well, how boring! Instead, God not only created red roses but purple irises, yellow sunflowers, blue hydrangeas, green hellebores, orange daisies, pink tulips, white gardenias, and, well, you get the idea!
We need to end racism. All forms of racism, prejudice, and discrimination are affronts to the work of Christ on the cross. God does not show partiality or favoritism, and neither should we. No, indeed, as the children's song says, "Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight." We are the "they" in this song. And, we all belong to one race--the human race.
As I was waking up this morning, I started thinking, what day is today? Do you ever do that? Have trouble keeping up with what day it is? I know I do sometimes! Today was one of those days.
As I was gathering my thoughts right after that, I noticed the beautiful pink sunlight streaming through the blinds in our bedroom. And, it dawned on me (pun intended) that it was Sunday. Then, something odd popped into my head, "Son Day."
We can think of Sunday as Son Day. It is a day when we normally recognize the Son of God. Sundays are typically a day of worship, a day in which we Christians honor the Lord--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We love and exalt a triune God. So, why not start thinking of Sunday as Son Day? The Son of God Day!
It's just a little twist that can give you a new, fresh perspective on Sundays. And, for as much as the Lord has graciously given us, it is a very small thing that we can do to remind ourselves who this day is truly for!
Have you ever needed to do a “hard reset” on one of your electronic devices? Your mobile phone? A tablet? Maybe even your computer? You know, because it is frozen and won’t work anymore? I know I certainly have. It’s as if that device is saying, “Ok, I have had enough. I can’t take anymore. I need a break.” Thus, you have to shut it down, give it some time, and do a hard reset to get it to function again.
Well, as human beings, I believe we all need to take breaks, too. And, right now during this coronavirus pandemic, we are getting our chance. Maybe this is God’s way of giving us the ability to do a “hard reset” on our lives and ourselves.
Even though this pandemic is scary in a multitude of ways, we should be using this unexpected time at home to our advantage. If we just change our perspective a bit, we can look at this as an opportunity to better ourselves, our lives, and maybe even the world we live in. This is our moment to create some beauty out of the “ashes” of this Covid-19 mess. (See Isaiah 61:3)
Below are just a few ideas I have on using this time wisely.
Yet, more often than not, these are the first things that get pushed aside in our daily lives. We don’t necessarily mean to, but we get busy just living life. We have jobs and kids and chores. And, yes, these are all important too. But, we get so occupied with all of these other things, we forget our greatest concerns should be looking towards the Lord and then taking care of each other.
I pray that during this unforeseen season where our lives have slowed down to a snail’s pace, that we will all turn the tables to our benefit. Let’s do a hard reset on our lives and put the focus where it should be—God and others. After all, God’s commandment is to love Him first and second to love one another. (See Mark 12: 30-31)
Earlier this year, I was blessed to be able to join the Country Fried Creative family as a web designer. It is a job that allows me to do creative work and I truly love what I do. I also deeply appreciate having a boss and team-mates who care about our clients, the work we do, and each other. To me, it is an amazing example of what God can do in your life, if you just let Him. This job is an answer to prayer. (Many, many prayers, if I am honest.)
I have known for at least the last three months that this job has been a blessing, and today God sent me another huge reminder of this fact. And, it is something that I would like to share with all of you.
Today, my boss, and owner of Country Fried Creative, Joe Domaleski, made the following post on Facebook:
Hey y’all, it’s me again. So often we’re taught that you have to go out into life and get what you want by any means possible. What if I told you that sometimes you should just do the right thing without expecting a return? Two weeks ago I shared about an unprecedented act of kindness that really rocked my world and restored my faith in “sowing bountifully”. Another equally amazing thing recently happened and came to fruition yesterday. Yesterday, my SBA Paycheck Protection Program business loan was approved which is very nice, but that’s not the amazing part - how it came to pass is the real story.
Suffice it to say that these are difficult times for us all. If you’re an employee, then you’re worried about your job. If you’re an employer (particularly a small, local business like us), then you’re worried about your business and employees. I openly tell people I have a laser beam focus on two priorities right now: (1) Helping our customers, and (2) Protecting the payroll of my business family (employees). Customers trust us to help them. Employees trust me to lead the business. I trust my employees to take care of our customers.
When the government announced the SBA Paycheck Protection Program, it was designed to protect paychecks. It is not free money, it’s a loan (albeit with very favorable terms) that can only be used for one thing - making payroll. Our local business community worked through this together via workshops & webinars. The guidance given was to apply for the program through your business banker. I applied for the program on the very first day it was offered.
In a previous post I openly shared my frustration at how the first round of money was gobbled up by big “supposedly small” businesses. As was well reported in the news, that first round of money was not given to those with the greatest need or even in the order of application, but was awarded very arbitrarily based on very subjective factors. Banks were given wide latitude to loan the money (backed by all of us taxpayers) as they saw fit. Most of them gave the loans to their favorite customers. Despite having a longstanding banking relationship with a national bank for 15 years, apparently I didn’t make the cut as being a “favorite customer”. When I inquired about that, I was literally told that I didn’t have enough loan business with the bank!
A few weeks into the program, and I was notified that the SBA PPP program had run out of money - which was also widely reported in the news. The government passed a second round of funding and my bank said my application would remain on file to be considered for the second round. I heard nothing more from them.
Two weeks ago I received a text from a long-standing friend of mine who I’ve known for almost 15 years. He and I had developed a friendship through the Chamber. We got to know each other in the community, at special events, and even at the local gym. Over the years, I’ve watched his career grow in the banking business, and he’s now the President of a local bank. He has never pressured me to move my money to his bank. Quite the contrary, he’s been a steady low-maintenance friend. The text he sent me was simply “Call me when you get a chance.”
So I called my friend and after the obligatory “how’s it going” exchange, he stunned me with his next question, “Hey Joe, have you gotten approved for the PPP yet?” My heart froze and I didn’t know what to say. He went on, “If you haven’t gotten the loan yet, I would be happy to process it for you. You’ve been there for me all these years. I can do this for you.” I literally choked up... I mean, when has a banker ever gone out of their way to help? My friend is no ordinary banker. I meekly answered, “yes please help.” He went on to explain that he’s literally been working around the clock to get the PPP apps processed and that if I can turn around the paperwork quickly, he’d personally do all that he could to make it happen - and so he did. Over the past 10 days we’ve been handling paperwork and yesterday the funding arrived in my bank account. There were no strings attached to the loan, no conditions associated with his offer to help - he simply helped a friend in need.
It’s easy to get jaded in the business world. When you have something desirable (power, money, prestige) everyone wants to be your friend. When you need something (money, assistance, a favor) few are willing to help. It’s times like these you know who your true friends are. Like the previous act of kindness from my non-profit client, this one brought a tear to my eye too. I have goosebumps just sharing the story with you.
So who is this incredible banker that I’m telling you about? In due time, you’ll know who he is - some of you may already know. He has asked that I keep his identity secret for now because he’s literally overloaded with loan applications and doesn’t have the capacity to take on more. Keep the faith friends. Do the right thing. (2 Corinthians 9:6-8 ESV)
On behalf of our entire CFC team, thank you.
God is alive and well, and He hears our prayers and knows our hearts. As Joe has pointed out, keep the faith and do the right thing. Joe also shares 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, which says this, "The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work."
The Bible teaches us that we should love God and love others. (See Mark 12:30-31) It is God's will for our lives is to reflect His love and share the good news about Him with everyone we meet. As God's children, we are to be His hands and feet. It is up to us to spread goodness and light in this dark world. We should be as loving, kind, generous, and helpful to other people as we can be. When we do these things, we are showing others who God is. This is how we tell others about God without ever opening our mouths or saying a word.
When we sow bountifully, we will in-turn, reap bountifully. We should become givers; not because of any monetary or earthly possession we will gain, but because of how it will make us feel on the inside. This is how we become happy, fulfilled people. This is how we become cheerful. And this my friends, is how we become cheerful givers.
Being a giver is good for your heart and your soul. And, during this COVID-19 crisis, we need as much good as we can get. (Oh, and did you know that giving is also good for your health? To learn more, read this great article.)
It is an unprecedented time in our history. It is a time of fear and unease. We are smack dab in the middle of a global pandemic called the coronavirus. A lot of us are “social distancing” right now—or at least, I hope we are. And in response I think people are spending more time on social media.
One of the ways we are coping is by trying to focus on fun and light-hearted things. One of the ones I like that have been going around Face book is people listing songs that fit, or go along with, the COVID-19 crisis. They are naming songs like “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” by the Police, “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor, and “One is the Loneliest Number” by Three Dog Night.
For some reason, as I was lying in bed last night, another song popped into my head. One that I have not thought of in a long time, but realized would be the perfect song to be my “theme” song during this scary time. And, then I realized that it should not only be my theme song, but everyone’s theme song. The song I am referring to is “Heaven Is a Place on Earth” by Belinda Carlisle, which, by the way, hit number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 on December 5, 1987. (I was eleven years old.)
In Matthew 22:36-40, Matthew asked Jesus, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and will all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
If you listen to “Heaven Is a Place on Earth” you will note that it’s more of a romantic-type song. It's a song that sounds like Belinda is singing to her love. Well, if you read the lyrics, you can actually paint a different picture for yourself. Read the words to yourself and direct them towards our Heavenly Father. They don’t need to be romantic at all. When you read them as if towards the Lord, they fit and make so much sense--especially in this time of fear, worry, and the unknown.
When the night falls down
I wait for you and you come around
And the world's alive with the sound
Of kids on the street outside
When you walk into the room
You pull me close and we start to move
And we're spinning with the stars above
And you lift me up in a wave of love
Ooh, baby, do you know what that's worth?
Ooh, heaven is a place on earth
They say in heaven love comes first
We'll make heaven a place on earth
Ooh, heaven is a place on earth
When I feel alone, I reach for you
And you bring me home
When I'm lost at sea I hear your voice
And it carries me
In this world we're just beginning
To understand the miracle of living
Baby, I was afraid before
But I'm not afraid anymore
Once we know God as our Lord and Savior, we don’t need to be afraid of anything anymore. As Isaiah 41:10 reminds us, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” And, as we learn in Matthew, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves.
And, Mrs. Carlisle drives all of these point home with this song; "I'm not afraid anymore," “love comes first” and, “we’ll make heaven a place on earth”—just as Jesus tells us. By knowing and trusting in the Lord Jesus, we can do all of these things! What an encouraging and needed reminder in this time of the coronavirus.
We don’t need to physically be near people to love them, encourage them, and uplift them. We only need a heart that cares. So, let’s take Belinda’s advice and put love first and make heaven a place on earth.
We are smack dab in the middle of something I have never experienced before, and pray that I never experience again - a two-week quarantine. This is all thanks to the coronavirus, better known as COVID-19. And, while the quarantine in Georgia is mostly self-imposed at the moment, at the suggestion of White House officials, there are other parts of the world where they are not so fortunate. And, by fortunate, I mean that they are in a mandated quarantine.
Currently, Italy is having an extremely rough time. I would like to ask for all of you to be in prayer for this country and it's people. Of course, you should be praying for everyone here in the U.S. as well. Especially, our doctors, nurses, emergency responders, and anyone working in the medical community and nursing homes.
And, while the present situation is scary because we don't know as much about COVID-19 as we would like, I wanted to take some time today to remind you that the Bible tells us not to worry about anything. This includes COVID-19. And, yes, I know this is easier said than done.
So, to help calm our fears and worries, I thought I would share with you 18 Bible verses about NOT worrying.
As you can see, there are many verses in the Bible that we can turn to and take comfort in when it comes to worrisome situations. These are just 18 verses that I found in my initial search, I am sure there are a lot more that I am missing. But, these 18 are a good place for us to start.
And, the key is for us start--start reading our Bibles, start praying to God as often as we can, start believing in His love for us, and start trusting in His promises. He truly does love and care for us and wants the best for us.
And, once we start doing all of these things, we will realize we truly can STOP worrying--just like the Bible tells us.
Growing in the Lord can sometimes feel like a struggle. In your heart you know you want to be a good Christian and reflect God’s love and light, but you wonder if you are actually doing that. You want to learn and grow and study the Word of God, but you feel like it is time-consuming and arduous. What can you do?
Trust me, I know how hard it can be. It is a busy world. We all have a lot going on. We are parents, spouses, employees, and friends. We all have a lot of things we are responsible for and people we are accountable to. We have jobs to do, houses to clean, errands to run, laundry to wash, and food to cook. And, all of these things are never-ending. (Especially the laundry!)
While growing my relationship with the Lord is a top priority in my life, it recently dawned on me, that it doesn’t have to be complicated. Actually, if you want to, you can make it a simple process. You can grow and will see growth in your spiritual life by taking three easy steps: be thankful, and trust and believe.
Yes, that’s it.
First, be thankful. I have gotten into the habit of thanking God every day as often as I can. Before I get out of bed, I thank God for another day, for my health, for my family, my job, and my home. I sprinkle small “thank yous” to God throughout my day. It helps me stay connected to God and it works wonders on my attitude.
Next, I just trust and believe. I believe in God. I believe that He loves me and wants the best for me. I trust in God. I trust Him to take care of me. I trust His will for my life. I trust His timing. I trust that He will work all things out for my good.
In addition to the above “trusting and believing”, I have cultivated a little “special sauce” I have added to my life. I tell myself that good things will happen. I just make up my mind that good things will happen. And, you know what? They do!
It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Nothing can be that easy. I agree. Most things in life are not this simple. But, with God and your love and belief in Him, it really can be this straightforward.
How can I be so confident? Because I am living it right now.
Nonetheless, I must be completely transparent with you. Getting to this point in my life--where I love and trust and believe in God this much--has taken me years. But, each one of us is different. Just because it has taken me years to get to this stage of my spiritual growth doesn’t mean that it will take you that long. But, maybe it will. Only God knows your future and your path. But I would like to encourage you and help you along your journey as much as I can. That is why I have this blog.
So, I will finish this post by saying that this is now my life. I am thankful and I trust and believe. And, God is showing Himself to me in all sorts of amazing ways. And, I couldn’t be more grateful or thankful for it. Which, is to say, I couldn’t be more thankful and grateful to God and His love for me.
I am so glad you are here! I am Erica Strickland, a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light.