Have you ever come across someone who was really accomplished and wished you could be like that person? I do this a lot! I find myself especially envious of people who have been given an artistic talent of some sort. (You know, people who can draw, paint, sing, dance, write, play an instrument, act—that sort of thing.) I can draw and paint a little, but I am not especially good at either. (And, I cannot sing, dance, act, or play an instrument-- much to my dismay.) And, while I realize that these things can be learned, I also feel like it takes something special inside to really be good at them.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting a gentleman named Edward who has a gift of another sort that I would love to have. I had lunch with Edward, another new acquaintance, and a friend. And, within just a few minutes, I could tell that Edward looks at people through the eyes of Jesus. He led with prayer before we ate lunch and shared some Bible verses with us as we ate. At one point, he pulled out a pocket version of the New Testament, handed it over to me and asked me to read Acts 26:18. I did. It says, “to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.” Edward said that that verse summed up the work of God for him. And, then he told me to mark that page and keep the book. And, I did. It was a touching gift.
Edward’s love for the Lord and people was so powerful that I got teary-eyed. My friend Jenni just smiled and said something along the lines of, “This is just Edward, this is just who he is.” I then looked at Edward and said, “You see others the way Jesus sees them. I want to be like that.” And, I meant it. I want to be like that.
As you read the New Testament of the Bible and learn about Jesus and who He is, you realize that He is the most loving and kind person there is. He has this special gift of seeing past our sins and ugliness. When He looks at us He sees our beauty, our potential. Jesus actually sees us. He. Sees. Us. And, I so desperately want to see people the same way, with those same eyes. With love and kindness. I want to see the true person and their heart---not just the outside cover.
I don’t know about you, but I, for one, think this is probably one of the most worthy goals I, or anyone, can achieve in this life. And, I believe that it is a goal that you or I can strive for and one day, reach. Will it be easy? No. Will it happen quickly? I doubt it. Even if we do achieve it at some point, will it be something that we can sustain for the rest of our lives? Who knows? We may finally get it one day, but the next day, it will slip our minds. I mean, we are only human, after all.
So, where do we start? How do we reach this worthy goal? I think the best first step we can take is to pray and ask God to open our eyes so that we can truly see. We can pray that He gives us His eyes. We can pray and ask God for His help in this endeavor.
And, if we take it one day at a time and remind ourselves to look at others with the eyes of Jesus, our focus can start to shift. Our vision can change. And, that in turn, can change lives. Both ours and others. Meeting Edward the other day, well, he is my proof of this.
We have a huge flower bed on the side of our yard. (We live on a corner lot and this flower bed runs alongside one of the streets we sit on.) My hubby and I planted lots of nice flowers and plants so that we, and our neighbors, can enjoy them. The problem with having a flower bed as big as ours, is that it requires a lot of upkeep. We created it initially thinking that it would be less grass for us to cut, and thus less work. Boy, were we wrong! We should have just put sod there. Oh well, live and learn.
This flower bed is so big that we must have a truckload of mulch brought in to cover it all. (Otherwise, it would take us 50 trips to Home Depot and back to get enough bags to fill it in.) And, buying mulch by the truckload is not cheap. And, next we spend most of the day spreading said mulch.
Then, there is the chore of keeping out the grass and weeds. We have Bermuda grass, which I really like because it is nice and soft and green most of the year. But, man, does it spread! If you don’t stay on top of it, it can quickly take over and get into places where you do not want it.
Well, I have been remiss in keeping out that Bermuda grass this year. I have been watching it spread through our flower bed for a while now. I kept telling myself that I would get up early, when it was nice and cool out, and then I would pull up the grass and weeds. But, weekend after weekend passed and I didn’t do it.
Finally, this past weekend, I decided to get out there and do some work before I really regretted it. So, I got up and got out there while it was still cool and I got to work. I worked for a good while. I got a lot done and felt good about what I did, but I still have a good bit left to do. (Le sigh…)
So, while I was in my flower bed cleaning out the encroaching grass, I got some quality time in with the Lord as well. The Holy Spirit shared some good insight with me.
As I was pulling up that grass, I couldn’t help but think about how our lives are a lot like gardens. Having a fruitful garden and a fruitful life is a lot of hard work. Pulling up grass and weeds can be tough. If we want to have a garden full of beautiful flowers and plants, we must be diligent about keeping the grass and weeds at bay. Likewise, to have a happy and healthy life, we must keep all the bad thoughts and negativity at bay. It is something that I often find myself struggling with, as I am sure you do too at times.
With each clump of Bermuda I plucked from our flower bed, I kept thinking about how I also needed to be plucking out every negative thought as soon as it popped into my head. Wouldn’t it be so much better for us to rid ourselves of anything ugly immediately, rather than letting it linger and take root in our hearts and minds? Wouldn’t it be so much easier to do this as they pop up, rather than just waiting and trying to get rid of a ton of them later? I think so! Because, just like that Bermuda grass, negative thoughts spread quickly and before you know it, they have taken over.
Cleaning out of the bad and negative thoughts in our minds will allow us to focus on the good and positive thoughts. And, those will grow and thrive. This will bring us peace and contentment. Keeping the unwanted grass and weeds from our flower beds allows the flowers and plants to grow and thrive. This will bring about the beautiful flowers and good fruit that we seek.
A topic has been popping up in various places in my life the last few months and it is one that I have been contemplating writing about for a while now. And, I am feeling a strong pull to make it this week’s blog post. So, today I want to talk about, and explore, being a part of “God’s Family.”
Once we accept God into our hearts, truly believing in Him, trusting in Him, and repenting of our sins, we become saved--we become a Child of God. God is often referred to in the Bible as Father. Ephesians 3:14-15 states, “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.” Through the creation of this world, God, who is our creator, is also our Father. God is responsible for everything that exists. It just makes sense that we would refer to Him as our Father. After all, He is the one who gave us life.
As I have been growing spiritually, I have noticed that many believers refer to each other as brother and sister. At first I was a little taken-aback by this. But, now, seeing as God is our Father, I understand this reference a lot better. If God is our Father, and all of us are His children, then it is an obvious leap that we would call each other brothers and sisters in Christ. And, the more I think about it, the more I really like that thought. This means that we have all kinds of brothers and sisters all over the world! Our brothers and sisters in Christ are of all different backgrounds, races, and nationalities. Wow, even think of this—they are from different time periods as well! While we will never to get meet to most of our brothers and sisters in person, one day we will get to meet them all in heaven. I think that is pretty cool!
All of us who love God are a part of one big, giant family. We have a common Father who binds us together as family. We are God’s family. We have a loving Father who walks with us, talks to us, guides us, and corrects us when we need it. He wants us to seek Him and have a good relationship with Him. Once we do these things, i.e. seek Him and enter a real relationship with Him, our world will start to change for the better. That is what a good Father does, He changes you and your life for the better. And, if you will let Him be a part of your everyday life, you will see what a truly good Father He is!
If you are not yet a part of our family--God’s family--I would love for you to join us. This is your open invitation. Come on in. There is plenty of room at our dining table. Pull up a chair, we have a seat saved especially for you. If you don’t yet understand how to became a child of God, please allow me to help you. Click this link to go to Joyce Meyer Ministries. There you will find a guide that is simple and easy to follow that teaches you “How to Know Jesus.” I pray that I can soon add you to the list of my brothers and sisters. Allow me to be the first to say, “Welcome to the family!”
Do you ever feel like a small fish in a big pond? Swimming around unnoticed? Maybe you feel almost invisible; like what you are doing in life is not important? (The theatre nerd in me is now singing “Mr. Cellophane” from Chicago. Lol)
I know I have often felt this way in my life. And, I have a feeling you have too. Why? Because, I have come to realize that that is just a part of being human. I feel especially paltry when I am outside at night, looking up at all the stars. There are a gazillion stars out there. And, they are beautiful and wondrous to behold. But, looking up at all those stars can really make you feel very, well, insignificant. And, I also automatically start singing “It’s A Great Big Universe” from Animaniacs. (I told you, I am definitely a nerd. Also, if you have never watched Animaniacs, do yourself a favor and check it out. You will be so glad you did! But, I digress…)
So, my point is that sometimes we all feel small. Or undervalued. Or unimportant. And, I am here to tell you that you are NOT small, or undervalued, or unimportant! Why? Because while we may feel miniscule in the grand scheme of things, in God’s eyes we each play a critical role in this world. And, that is a big deal! WE are a BIG deal to God. So, you see, small is BIG!
After all, God created each of us to be uniquely us, and we are His children. You are uniquely you and I am uniquely me. And, He loves each and every one of us. And, we each have a significant role to play while we are here on earth. How do I know these things, you ask? Because the Bible tells us so! (See 1 Peter 5:7, Zephaniah 3:17, Psalm 139:13-16, 1 Corinthians 12:25-28, and 1 Peter 4:10-11.)
Being the music lover that I am, I like to think that this world is like one, great, big, giant symphony. We each play a different instrument in the orchestra of life and God is our conductor. Some people play the flutes, some play the violins, some play the trumpets, some play the piano. There are even some of us who do things like make the instruments, clean the theatre, or design and print the programs. It takes a lot of work to put a symphony together.
Then, when our symphony plays, and we each perform our part, it is a magnanimously glorious thing. All of us do our parts, we each execute our role, and the result is stunning. It is truly stunning. And, we could not pull this off without each other. Could you imagine how lackluster a symphony would be it there were only a few people playing the drums and the oboe? That would be horrible.
The magic happens when we all come together and do our parts.
So, while you may feel small, unseen, or imperceptible in your life, you are NOT small. The part you play in this life is NOT small. You are a vital part of this symphony of life. To God you play a very big, very important role. What may seem like a mundane job to you, means a lot to God. Maybe you wash dishes, maybe you teach, maybe you are a mom raising kids, maybe you are truck driver, maybe you are a dentist, maybe you are a structural engineer. Whatever “title” you have, it doesn’t matter.
What does matter, is that you embrace the role God gave you to play. If you embrace it, you are embracing God’s work for you. If you do your work as if you are doing it for God, you will gain much more satisfaction from it. Colossians 3:23 tells us, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters." That is a huge and dazzling thing!
(Also, I feel like I would be remiss if I did not mention that your role can and will change during your life. We will each go through different seasons in life. That is just how it works. One season you may playing the harp and a few years from now you may be playing the triangle!)
So, I urge you to grasp hold of your “small” part and perform it with gusto! As Stanislavski, the famous Russian theatre practitioner once remarked, “There are no small parts, only small actors.” And, again, being a theatre nerd, I heard this quote a thousand times. And, while I never really believed it when I worked in theatre, I can tell you that I honestly do believe it now. If we do our work for the Lord, there are no small parts. That is what spiritual growth is all about!
In our every day, Christian walk we face many trials and obstacles. Once you give your life over to Christ, the devil will work overtime to cause you as much trouble as he possibly can. Satan is a supernatural enemy that will do whatever he can to rob us of anything and everything that we hold dear. In 1 Peter 5:8, we learn that Satan is our “adversary who prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” That is also why the first part of this Bible verse tells us to “be sober-minded and watchful.” We must always be on the lookout for the devil and his underhanded schemes.
We are at war. It is spiritual warfare that we fight against the devil and evil that is both within us and in the world around us. And, sadly, because of our sinful nature, it can be easy to fall into the devil’s traps. The true enemy that we fight every day is sin and Satan and our own hearts that hold fast to our sinful ways. Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Being the music lover that I am, I can’t help but think of the INXS song “Devil Inside.” The chorus of that song goes, “the devil inside, the devil inside, every single one of us, the devil inside.” Truer words were never spoken. (Or sung, as the case may be.)
I am not going to lie, I fight this devil inside me often. (More often than I would like, or even care to admit.) However, as I grow in my Christian faith, I feel like I am doing a better and better job against him. But, man, sometimes he gets inside my head and he can really do a number on me. I over-think and worry. I say the wrong things and then dwell on those words. I let what other people say bother me. I don’t let things go. And, I can do these things to the point where I make myself sick. And, trust me, it is not a good place to be. But, it is exactly where the devil wants me.
I know I am not alone in this. I know that each one of you reading this is facing the same types of things. We are all facing spiritual warfare in our lives every day. That is why it is vital for us to grow spiritually, to read our Bibles avidly, and to pray without ceasing. It is important that we have fun too. We can and should gather together and praise and worship God often. (See Hebrews 10:24-25)
We must learn to suit up for battle every day and have our weapons close at hand. Chief among these, in my mind, is being knowledgeable in the word of Christ. When we read and study the Word, we start committing to memory verses that we can recall and use when needed when we find ourselves at war. As the Bible tells us in Ephesians 6:10-18, we need to put on the armor of God.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
God equips us with everything we need to not only fight the devil, but to be victorious against him. As a matter-of-fact, our victory was already won by Jesus at Calvary. Isn’t that the best news ever? I think so!
But, unfortunately, we still have battles to fight. So, let us all be vigilant and stand fast with the Lord. He will stand by us and with us through every trial we face. Let us learn to hide His word in our hearts and use them when they are needed. Pray them. Whisper them. Speak them aloud. Shout them out. And, fight the good fight.
I will leave you with ten Bible verses that are powerful and empowering to help you get started.
As a Christian growing in my faith and spiritual life, I have reached a point where I am actively looking for God in anything and everything around me. Even in music.
Did you play Hide and Seek as a kid? I used to play it with my cousins and friends sometimes. I enjoyed hiding much more than seeking. Now as an adult who is working hard to grow my relationship with Christ, I sometimes feel like I am playing a game of Hide and Seek with Him. How about you? I know that God is definitely seeking me. I couldn’t be more grateful and thankful for that fact. And, I am desperately seeking Him too.
I know you are asking yourself, what does music have to do with Hide and Seek? Stick with me and I will get there. I thought I would share with you a game that I came up with that helps me to seek and find God in music.
I am a lover of music. I think I love just about every type of music you can imagine. Bluegrass, classical, pop, Christian, country, opera, jazz, hip-hop, rap, musical theatre, classic rock, alternative—I love them all. (And more.) Each and every type of music has it’s time and place in our lives. Music is medicine to the soul. It can make you happy or sad—it has this amazing ability to fit whatever need you have. It is also a real-life time machine; taking you back in time to places, events, and people in your life. It is one of the few things that I need in my life. (Along with food, water, shelter, clothing, love, and books!)
Lately, my music staple has been contemporary Christian music. I listen to it more than anything in this current season of my life. I love it so much, because it puts my mind and heart and my focus on God. When I listen to it in the mornings, it truly helps me set the tone for my day. And, oddly enough, as my hubby pointed out, a lot of it doesn’t even necessarily sound “Christian” per say. Many of the songs sound like they could be played on any pop music station. They are upbeat and have great hooks. But, the key is to listen closely to the lyrics of these songs. It is the lyrics that tell you that these songs are for or about God and His love. The magic of these songs is in their lyrics. (At least, I think so.) But I digress…
So, back to my music game. I tend to flip through all the local radio stations when my favorite contemporary Christian station is playing commercials. You do this too, don’t you? Come on…I know you do! Well, now when I do this, I listen to the lyrics of any song that I come across to see if I can find anything “godly” in them. And, very often, I do! It is just a new way I came up with to seek out God.
To give you some examples, I am going to flip through some of our local stations now and see what I come across.
Oddly enough, the first song I hit upon is “God’s Plan” by Drake. I hear the lyrics, “God’s plan, God’s plan. I can’t do this on my own.” Yup, easy to find God in this song. I have no idea what Drake’s religious beliefs are, but just the fact that an artist as well-known as Drake is singing these lyrics, makes me happy.
Next up, “My House” by Flo Rida. Now, don’t forget this is a game. And, I can just picture getting up to heaven and God telling us, “Welcome to my house!” in a big booming voice, can’t you?
Third, is “Pink Houses” by John Mellencamp. (Or is it John Cougar Mellencamp?) Anyway, some of the lyrics to this song go, “Little pink houses for you and me, oh for you and me.” This reminds of John 14:2, “In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” Pink houses remind me of the mansions in this verse. Houses and mansions are both dwelling places. See the connection? Yes, maybe it’s a stretch, but this is how my mind works!
Finally, let’s check the country music station. “Broken Halos” by Chris Stapleton is playing. Another easy one. Halos are worn by angels. There are many angels in the Bible. (And, I believe that angels are all around us every day, helping to keep us safe.)
Obviously, this game doesn’t work with all songs. But, it is still fun to try and find little pieces of God in them. Some might only be one word that makes you think of God, others can be the whole song. You should give it a try. The next time you are in the car scrolling around your local stations, see how you do. I would love for you to share with me what songs you found God in and how you found Him.
In closing, I thought I would go to billboard.com and look at the top 100 songs in the country. As of today, Thursday, May 17, 2018, there are 12 songs in the top 100 that remind me of God, with just their title alone. That is 12 percent. Not too bad. They are as follows:
1. God’s Plan – Drake – ranked #3
2. Never Be The Same – Camila Cabello – ranked #8 (Because with God’s love,
you will never be the same.)
3. Perfect – Ed Sheeran – ranked #9 (Because God is perfect)
4. Heaven – Kane Brown – ranked #20
5. Pray For Me – The Weeknd & Kendrick Lamar – ranked #22
6. In My Blood – Shawn Mendes – ranked #27 (This reminds me of the blood of Jesus.)
7. King’s Dead – Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, Future & James Blake – ranked #60 (Because God is our King, but He isn’t dead.)
8. Most People Are Good – Luke Bryan – ranked #73 (Because God is good.)
9. Woman, Amen – Dierks Bentley – ranked #86
10. Everything’s Gonna Be Alright – David Lee Murphy & Kenny Chesney – ranked #87 (Because with God, everything will be alright.)
11. Mercy – Brett Young – ranked #97
12. Preach – YoungBoy Never Broke Again – ranked #98
So many people in this world don’t feel any love in their lives. They grew up in homes that were broken in some form or another. Or, they grew up in the home of a grandparent or other relative, rather than with their birth parent or parents. Or, their parents didn’t know how to show their love or declare their love. Oftentimes, the parents were never shown love either. It seems to be this vicious cycle, passed on from one generation to the next.
The older I get and the more people I meet, the more I realize that we are all hurting from something. Therefore, it really is important to be kind to everyone. We need to look at each other through the eyes of Jesus. Jesus looked at everyone with love. We need to love and pray for each other, even those who we consider our enemies. (See Mark 12:31 and Matthew 5:44)
Our world is hurting and everyone in this world desperately needs to know about God and His love for us. I want each one of you out there to know that you are loved very much by God. As a matter of fact, you are His beloved.
If you look beloved up in the dictionary, you will see that as an adjective it means greatly loved or dear to the heart. As a noun, it is a person who is greatly loved. And, that my friends, is what you are to God.
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:1-2)
God’s love for us is unconditional. This means that we do NOT have to do or say or be anything in particular. We do NOT have to do or say anything special. We do NOT change who we are in any way, shape, or form. We do NOT have to do anything at all. We just need to accept His love. That’s all. Accept it. Beloved is a word that indicates an action on the part of the one doing the loving. And, the one doing the loving on us is God. So, allow yourself to be-loved by God. Be-loved.
As I so often do when I am typing up a blog post, a song comes into my mind. "Beloved" by Jordan Feliz is a great little song to get stuck in your head. It is the perfect way to be reminded that you are God's beloved. Take a listen to it.
You are beloved
I wanted you to know
You are beloved
Let it soak into your soul
Oh, forget the lies you heard
Rise above the hurt
And listen to these words
You are beloved
I am a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light and any good thing that I come across.