Friday, May 21, 2010

Sober Minded

It is a phrase that one seasoned believer would think that he has a handle on, only unless the term is well defined and understanding takes place then we would all know that there are some things we all have to clean up in our closets. So lets see this term for what it really is and not continually be fooled with a bunch of assumptions which leaves room for error.

Sober by itself we know as not being intoxicated. In fact the Word tells us to stay from strong drink (Proverbs 20:1 and Proverbs 31:6). In putting the two scriptures together, we then conclude as long as we are not drinkers (casual or otherwise), we have this sober thing down pat. However, when we see how the sober is truely define, then we have to scrutinize our actions of the past to see if we developed undesireable habits unaware.

Excluding strong drink and the next obvious, drugs, there is still a means by which one can lose sobriety. Take for instance a zealot in Christ. Zealots are usually placed in children's ministry to redirect all of the excitement to do something productive in Christ. Zealots are at the ready to win lost souls at all costs. Pastors love zealots because they are the first to volunteer whenever there is a need in the church or with anyone. The problem is with a zealot, there is a small window to keep his attention. When he comes to church, the best time for him is during worship and praise. To actually sit and hear the Word for more than 20 minutes is far too much for him. So Wisodm places him with other rambunctious children no matter the age. He sees that he is a role model and through this redirection, he becomes sober so not to lead the children astray. In the world, zealots are medicated, called bi-polar, having ADD or ADHD,and usually avoided completely. But we are not of the world.

Having stability is also being sober. When procrastinating knowing that there are things that have to be done, one might call lazy or even evil but the truth is the sobriety is in question. Financial, residential, emotional, recreational, psychological, physiological, and spiritual stabilization shows one as being sober. Hills and valleys in any of these areas are reason to be stressed. The Word tells us what is it that we have to be anxious about (Matthew 6:25-34 AMP). To decide to be anxious anyway when you know that there is a God over all, is opposition to the Word. The world does that, yet we are not of the world.

Insecurity is not a term we like in describing ourselves. When we hear such a term we immediately make note and certain changes knowing that God did not give us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7 KJV) - so where else could that have come from? Although, some of us do accept and count it almost as a compliment to be called shy. Shy is just a euphemism for fear. So why be pleased. When called shy see that word as if someone called you the friend of the world. For we know to be friends with the world is as of being an enemy to God (James 4:4 NIV). To embrace such a term as shy or timid having no identity crisis in God would be someone who was not thinking soberly. I will refer to the reinforcing scripture with the amplified version who gives a full definition of the Word fear. Timid and shy is not cute. Watch what you hold dear to you.

There is also a behavior that when asked the offending person calls himself confident. This person who claims to be confident, I will not nullify what you believe to be true. However, ask yourself, with all that you have and all that you claim to be in the future, how often do you give thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:18 AMP). We are to give thanks in all things. Though it would seem once we become comfortable with who we are, it is as if we had this knowledge all along. This would not be so. Because the Word is alive and we chose life, that which is dead (the evil nature)is gone and behold all things become anew. Even when you didn't think that you were changing because of that life altering decision to be a Christian, some changes were more subtle than others. Be as it may, it still could not have been done without Christ. Did you thank Him today? Yesterday? Three days ago? For you are nothing without Him. The Word says we are but a vapor (James 4:14 AMP). How could you see yourself so much greater than anyone else. Jesus didn't do it. Would you call yourself better, greater, holier? To pause and wonder how often do you give thanks could question the sobriety you claim to have. There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. In righteousness, we can be confident and assured (Isaiah 32:17 AMP). With arrogance, it will leave before the fall(Proverbs 16:18). Meaning, it can cause one to stumble. That sounds pretty inebriated to me.

And finally, being loaded down with baggage. Why would anyone do such a thing? I know of a person that would carry a book bag where ever he went. There would be nothing in the bookbag, he just felt like he had to carry it. Though he didn't say it, but it became a means of security to him. Another felt like no matter where he went he needed to wear a winter coat and galloshes. It didn't make sense to no one but him, and he continued to do so, even when the weather didn't call for such outer garments. Others do this same sort of thing but no one can see the baggage because it is internal. When someone has been mistreated for so long, that person can become jaded with relationships, yet takes a chance without cleaning the skeletal closet. That person continues to wait for the shoe to drop and be cheated on, rejected, lied to, neglected, abused, or all of it. This person misses out on the blessing a marriage can be because he/she thinks it not worthy of them to have. And because of the thought, the blessing doesn't manifest (Proverbs 23:7 KJV).

The Word tells us to renew our minds (Romans 12:2 AMP) daily because just as children grow physically that we can see daily, being God's spiritual children, we are also growing daily. In these last days where there is so much more to tempt a renewed child-like mind then there ever was, we must adhere to the promises of God and make every attempt to heed to the warnings. This can only be done by faith which comes from God's Word; so study and sober up.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Is This For Me?

How many of you has God blessed? I mean you have all of these things to do and can even be slightly overwhelmed with gifts, talents, and witty inventions? Like the parable of talents when the Master gave one man 3 talents and the man returned back for the Master five; so when the one talent wasn't used, the Master gave that talent to the one who knew what to do with it (Matthew 25:14-30 AMP). So how many do you have so far and why haven't the rest of us heard more about you?

Fantasia Barino allowed a depiction of her true story on T.V. She had absolutely no interest to do much of anything but sing. While any of us would judge why she did this or that, or the other, the one thing she did do was according to the Word. Her gift made room for her and placed her before great men. She sang in church., She sang at other places but what did that do? Did some producer come along and offer her a deal the way they use to write in old movies? No, she saw an opportunity, planned for the vision, then made the effort to put the vision in effect. All of the singing in churches and other places, if nothing else helped her get over those jitters, took any cracking out of her voice but most of all, it had to please God. That one talent.

The movie, Julie/Julia was about a woman with a mundane job who could write but didn't know about what. So she blogged her experiences in using Julia Child's cookbook. According to her, Julia Child didn't acknowledge her efforts which could have discouraged her to quit, but God made the way that everyone else kept reading to the point of making that blog into a book which became a movie. That one gift.

God blessed me. I know this but didn't know what to do with all He had given me. I liked to sew and for some time I designed and tailored clothes for people. It was a task that didn't seem to go anywhere. I went to school to better my skills and still people tried to get something for nothing to the point of me sewing only for my family. My mother taught me how to crochet. So I practiced, got books to further what I know and even had an account at a gift shop. But then I learned that people may have allergies and if I worked near any pets or certain foods, it could be fatal to some. Then the love I have to cook. I believed I could open a catering service or maybe just sell baked goods. I wrote the plan then realized how much work it would take to get a business off the ground not to mention the money. Where was all of that money going to come from? Still, I had to do something with it.

So I made the move on the two things I like doing the most: writing and drawing. Once I made up my mind to write, I couldn't stop. A program for teens took only a few months to do. A manuscript for Christian babes just starting into the life. Another for those seeking righteousness to go with Kingdom Living. Another for Christian singles. A pocket book with testimonials. Altogether there must be about eight. There they were sitting there collectintg dust which made me a little anxious. So I searched how to get them published. I asked published authors and even found a publicist to help me. No matter how much I tried, the money wasn't there, the publicist flaked, and I was starting not to trust that my works wouldn't be stolen.

Doing some research on the computer, I kept bumping into new things I didn't know was available. I knew about blogging (after asking) but I didn't know I could do it for free. I knew about designing a website but I didn't know I could do it for free. So I submitted and wrote. I was so happy that finally I got something published.

Now for that artwork. Again, I was just looking up some stuff and happened on this portrait. It got my attention because it was an illustration and the hair was drawn so differently. I looked for the artist's name and the website she was using, Redbubble. It was an odd name and there were many other artists using the site. This was an opportunity for me as well. I submitted the work and also found a link for my blog page. That's when I discovered facebook and linked all three. That was some widgets, redesigning and months ago. While I get good feedback for my artwork, I wasn't getting as much for the writing. I wondered if anyone was bothering to read. That's when I found another widget counter on all of the websites I created. The numbers were steadily increasing. I got viewed but no hits. Still, I made the effort.

I woke one morning and God reminded me of an idea he gave some time ago. I wasn't scared to do it, its just men haven't been trustworthy to me in the past.

I had an idea to build on a business idea at a hospital. I called one who referred me to another and was finally in contact with the right person. I sold my idea to him (in a manner of speaking) and we made an appointment to meet. The next day while watching the news, the very man I spoke with used my idea as Public Relations for the hospital which was the human interest story for the local news circuit.

Another incident when I was sewing for clients. I made a wedding dress for someone I barely knew. I didn't charge her much, in fact because we attended the same church, I charged her $50.00. I stayed up all night to finish all of the alterations. Her mother was traveling in the next day for the wedding and the bride was nervous about her mother seeing the dress. Once the mother arrived she asked to see the dress. According to the bride, her mother didn't like the design. The daughter, with the dress in her possession, decided to go buy another dress that her mother would approve of and not pay me seeing she wasn't going to wear the dress I made for her anyway.

That was one too many times, so I stopped doing for people altogether (Psalms 146:3 NIV). I wasn't going to make anything for anyone. When I had the urge to do something creative, I just gave it away as a gift. I did this for years. That all changed when I came to work in a geriatric community. I made an afghan for a couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. None of their children did anything for them. When I gave them the gift they were surprised but not in the good way. They kept asking me why would I do this? Weeks later they would ask me but not in front of others. I didn't understand this behavior especially when she'd see me work on it with such glowing compliments. I almost wished that I charged her. But then there was someone I drew a portrait for and his girlfriend didn't like it. I didn't charge him because I needed the practice. When I saw him roll the card stock that it was drawn on, knowing the next move was to put it in the garbage, I protested and took my work back and posted it on my website. How dare he!

I value the gifts God has given me and the work I do. I understand that He didn't give just for the sake of me calling myself blessed but for the edification, exhortation, and comfort of the saints (1 Corinthians 14:3 AMP). The truely annointed also has their steps ordered to touch the hearts of the lost whether they know it or not. It doesn't take as much as one thinks to win someone to Christ. You have the desire to do so more than others because you have that talent to do so; just use it.

The gifts, talents and witty inventions God has given is for one of three or all three things depending on how mature you are in Him:
1. An answer to your prayer. Knowing that the kingdom of God is joy and peace in the Holy Spirit gives you the answer as to why He gave you that specific gift. You now know what your purpose is. You can do that talent better than anyone else because you were created for a time such as this to use it!

2. Seeing that God is our source, He has provided us a means of income with those gifts. What you do with them will determine your next step. Wisdom tells us to seek her early while we still can (Proverbs 8:17 KJV). God supplied where righteousness was applied.

3. Some have more than others deliberately. If one has used what God has given with such skill and finess, of course He is going to give her more. Her gift made room for her (Proverbs 18:16 KJV). Now people see what she can do and make requests to teach them or the demand is more than she can supply. That sounds like a booming business.

I found this parable to be more important than the others because it was the only one that shows the outcome of not using what He gave. The result is to experience damnation. The world uses the phrase, "if you don't use it, you will lose it." That phrase couldn't come from any place else but the parable of talents.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Peculiar People

Having to move through out my childhood, it was increasingly hard to fit in. Both of my parents were in the service and every three years there was a new state or country to be introduced to. Being known as the new one on the block was one thing but weird because we didn't talk like everyone else was something different. Once a handful of people got use to us, my father received his orders to be stationed elsewhere and it started all over again. Mom was finished with her military career after a couple of years but it seemed like Dad was going to stay for a lifetime. People were envious of us because of the traveling all over the world and the United States, but there is always a side that others don't see and could never see because of the envy.

In all of the travel we were a sheltered bunch. My father put himself out there as the provider and took all of the pressure that was sent our way. We, the children, didn't feel anything. Then when the split of my parents occured we could see it in my mother's face what my father seemed to take with ease. She still did her part in sheltering us from the harsh cruel world though Dad did it with such finese. By the time we were independent enough to stand on our own, not only did we have to recuperate from culture shock, never being in the same residence with our own ethnicity, but how our own ethnicity treated each other in general. Societal norms were nothing what we thought they were.

Once we became stable for more than three years for the first time in our lives, we realized that we could develop friendships. We didn't know how hard that would be until we actually tried to do it. When getting some advice from Mom, she had her own issues to deal with having to provide for a family of five for the first time. Her answer was to be happy that we have siblings close to our age and we could be friends to each other. Great, a means to be even weirder. But to Mom it was a means to keep each other safe while she was at work.

Looking at our situation now as a grown woman with grown children of my own, I can see that wolves were everywhere. Mom had three young daughters and seemed to be scared all of the time. Men were constantly coming around pretending to be interested when the prospects were more than a middle aged woman and a son didn't seem to be much of a threat. Mom would come home at night using public transportation. She was mugged twice but never physically harmed. My brother tried to help make ends meet with a paper route and was mugged twice as well but not physically harmed. Though it seemed to be rough, I know now other people had it much worse.

It took awhile for us to realize that Mayberry was a ficticiuos place that some writer made up. The village that it took to raise a child was somewhere that most people don't know about. Villages these days had wrought ironed window sills with hiddened loaded weapons and hints of road rage against pedestrians much less caring about the welfare of some wayward child.

About 20 years ago I recalled trying to hold back tears thinking that some day people would become so callous that if someone fainted off the side of the road on a busy sidewalk, bystanders would walk over the person thinking that their agenda was more important and someone else will call 911. I reconciled myself by thinking that because of the Holy Spirit, it would never get that way. Then my baby sister decided to do a social experiment in college (before it became popular to do). She dressed up as a homeless person just to see who would help her if she really needed it. It wasn't as bad as she thought it would be though it was bad. She received an A. 10 years later my son contemplated giving a homeless man any money when asked. He gave, but couldn't shake the feeling that he knew the homeless man from somewhere before. He watched the man for a time and when people weren't giving as much and he got tired; my son watched this man walk a distance, get into his car, and drive to his home not just a few blocks away. The next day the man was at the same place asking for money and every day afterwards.

God said that He was going to gather His treasure which would be a peculiar people that have been set apart from everyone. As you can see from this synopsis, who else could judge which is more peculiar than the other (Titus 2:14 KJV)? What use to be normal is now considered strange. Divorce, foreigners, and a single mother use to be strange. Begging for money in a public place and looking homeless use to be strange. Pretending to be homeless whether for a grade or to get some fast cash use to be strange. Stepping over someone in need was considered very strange... actually unheard of. What will the bride be made of? Which of God's people is considered peculiar. Who will be apart of that nation? Is it you who is strange or peculiar?