Roots

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“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.”

-Nelson Mandela

Have you ever returned to a place and felt like you didn’t belong? As if the memories you share could easily have been someone else’s?

The truth is, that feeling isn’t unfounded, those memories were someone else’s. You see, we never return to the same place the same way or as the same person. As time changes, so do you, and that is why it feels strange visiting a place that has stood the test of time.

Returning to our Roots

Lately, in America, there has been a fascination with family history and DNA. It seems like almost everyone has tried Ancestry.com out of curiosity and the inner desire to discover more, not about their families, but about themselves. As if knowing that your great-great-grandfather was a barber will make any difference in better understanding your own purpose or destiny.

Roots are important, and it is wise to better understand your family’s generational sins, patterns, giftings, etc. However, they don’t necessarily have to play a significant role in your own life and walk. Knowing my family past, I can assure you that I am quite different from many of them, as my life can attest. At the same time, I do share some qualities they possessed, likes and dislikes, personality traits, and so on.

But as many in my family were loosely Catholic or Jehovah Witness, I am a Christian. And that in and of itself has changed me. Perhaps, being grafted into God’s family tree will lead to me reflecting more of Him, and less of my earthly heritage.

Deep and Shallow Roots

Another thought comes to mind when I think about “roots.” As the image above illustrates, plants can either be deeply rooted or shallow-rooted. In nature, both have their pros and cons. A shallow-rooted plant grows very quickly, but a strong gust of wind can rip it from the ground. A deep-rooted plant takes a long time to grow, but once it has, it will withstand the strongest of storms and will also survive drought, reaching deep into the earth for water.

As Christians, we fall into one of these categories. Is our faith shallow or deep-reaching? Are we full of passion but lacking relationship or depth? Do we stand strong when storms come or are we easily swayed and overcome by fear? Are we rushing toward the destination and forgetting to savor the journey, the personal walk with God that can’t be rushed through?

Deep wisdom and faith take time to acquire as more often than not, in order to really learn something, we must believe it, and to believe it, we must live it. The greatest lessons are learned by doing and failing. Like a child learning to ride their bike, it takes many times, falls and scraped knees, before they are truly riding.

Seek deep roots. Let God do a work within you, peeling back the layers of your heart. It’s painful, it takes time, it takes humility and submission…but it is all part of the journey. That is how you survive the storms of life and the times of drought when you must press deeper and farther for truth and guidance.

We are not creatures of the desert, whose plants naturally are tough. We are creatures of the garden, whose plants needed to be tended and nourished by the love of God. Without Him, His light, and His rain…we cannot hope to grow and change.

My childhood home, the old school, even the church of my youth…are strangely distant and blurry. Not that I have forgotten, but that, they have forgotten me. I’m out of place, and I long to be more so…because my true home is not of this world.

That is who I am becoming, are you?

The Altar and the Table

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“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” 

For many years, sin had stained us. Altars were built and sacrifices made to cover our many sins. No amount of blood was sufficient, and God remained, separated from man’s heart. For how could something so righteous and pure ever mix with something so wicked and dark?

And then Jesus came.

Where the altar covered our sins (temporarily), Jesus erased our sin FOREVER! He destroyed the altar, and by his carpenter hands, had crafted the table.

We no longer have to present a sacrifice, bowing lowly to the ground in fervent prayer for forgiveness…now, we need only pull up a seat at the table and be with God. Like the prodigal son, our Father has prepared a feast for us, overjoyed because we once were lost and now we are found!

The religious spirit doesn’t understand this, much like the brother of the prodigal son who had followed his father’s rules faithfully and had never wavered. He couldn’t fathom such an everlasting love, nor did he see that his father loved him just the same. You see, he had worked for his father but never knew him.

Though Jesus shared many tender moments with the 12 disciples, none stands out so clearly as the Last Supper. It was a somber moment, but it also was full of compassionate love. As they ate, gathered around the table, talking and laughing, I’m sure Jesus watched and savored every moment, remembering the deep love he had for each of them and why he had to sacrifice himself to save them.

He washed their feet, like a servant, and passed the bread and wine, commanding them to do this as often as they come together like this, in remembrance of him. That way, Jesus would always have a seat at the table, surrounded by his friends. And we would honor and remember that without Jesus, we would not be sitting here, but still sacrificing and pleading before an altar. Reaching for what we could never attain, and what Jesus had freely given.

I believe there is a table in heaven, and that we each have a seat around it. Every child of God is welcome at the Father’s table, and He has prepared more than enough for those who love Him.

Will you leave the altar and come to the table?

 

The Busy Scheme

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Time is money…

Every day I wake up at 5am, eat a quick breakfast, get dressed and ready, half asleep as I stumble around in the dark. I drive to work and quickly check-in with the swipe of my badge and then I rush to my station, ready to spend 8 hours welding windows.

Many around me work two or three part-time jobs along with the factory one. They figure that the more time they put in, whether it’s factory work, retail, or other, the more money they will acquire…and then…..

There never really is an end goal. Sure, we all want our debts paid and family provided for. If we are really lucky (put in enough time) we might even save up enough to go on vacation or buy a new car.

But at the end of the day, we return begrudgingly and dependently, to that steady job. It pays the bills, it makes you feel secure, it takes up all your time…is there really anything else for me?

Maybe…there is something more.

God made each of you with specific abilities, passions, gifts, callings, and anointings. Sadly, all of these often take a back seat in our lives simply because we don’t have the time for them. Work drains us and we become reliant instead of using the job as a launching pad to greater things.

We must be proactive about our dreams. Otherwise, we will run out of time…

satan knows when he can’t lead you astray spiritually, for those rooted in Christ don’t budge easily. What he then does is keep you busy, too busy and distracted to make a difference, fulfill your calling, or even notice the sand of time passing between your fingers.

It is very easy to keep on saying, “later”, or “someday”, until there isn’t a later or someday to fall back on. And so we all stand at a fork in the road; one way is comfortable and less impactful, it involves laying aside your dreams and aspirations. The other path looks like a sheer drop at first, into the dark unknown called risk. But can you walk away from its edge without wondering what lies at its bottom?

Maybe…everything you ever wanted lies on the other side of fear. And the reason you fear it so deeply is because satan doesn’t dare want you to go that route and become who God created you to be.

I’m not saying to quit your jobs or to be ungrateful for them as God may just have put you there for a season. But what I am saying is, don’t give up on your dreams, set goals, recognize your giftings and passions, and take a risk. Cling to your decision to jump and follow through with it, if God is for you who can be against you?

I honestly believe that we are all created for a specific purpose, for a specific time and place. God has laid his cards on the table for his next move and guess what? Your names are on those cards! It’s our turn to make a move and we only have so much time to do it.

This video by Steve Harvey really puts things in perspective:

 

The Mind Fight

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People don’t see the fight within, that is the greatest battle we all face.

We enter the ring of our innermost thoughts and desires. Good vs. evil.  And though we stand at the center, with boxing gloves held high and ready, the enemy is smart and wants nothing more than to throw you out of the ring and take that center position in your mind.

His words are like punches to the gut. We block as best as we can but we’re bound to crumble without help. The Word of God gives us that fighting spirit, we no longer take a defensive position but one of attack. Dealing the enemy more powerful blows with God’s Word and Truth.

The battle sounds something like this:

Me: There is an opportunity in front of me, should I take it?

Enemy: Is it really an opportunity? Can you even handle it?

Me: Yes and I don’t know.

Enemy: You aren’t deserving of it, you aren’t qualified for it.

Me: They think I am.

Enemy: Do you?

Me: I don’t know…

Enemy: I know, you aren’t. Look at your past, your mistakes, your flaws…I know them best and I can replay them for you if you need the reminder.

Me: Please don’t…

Enemy: Remember when they laughed at you? remember that time you felt so small that you just wanted to lay down and cry?

Me: Yes..of course.

Enemy: No one believes in you, you are pathetic. And if you take this opportunity you will just add to the list of failures in your worthless life.

Me: Shut up.

Enemy: What did you say? Need more reminders? [bombards with memories of times when I felt powerless, embarrassment, and depression]

Me: I said ENOUGH!

Enemy: You think you’re free from depression and pain? I promise to fill your life with it, every waking moment…

Me: God liberated me and I won’t go back into that cell! He has given me a sound mind and my hope is unshakable!

Enemy: Do you believe this hope? When has it come through for you?

Me: Right here. Right now. I choose faith and I choose to fight you, and I won’t stop fighting you, or should I remind you that you are already defeated?

Enemy: Oh I see, so you think you are powerful now? You think you can change?

Me: I already have…the only one that won’t change is you.

Enemy (backing away): Fine…fine…but I will return. The battle doesn’t end here.

Me: I’ll be waiting. And I will defeat you as many times as it takes.

Enemy: [shaking in rage] Watch your step little girl…you may get bitten by a snake yet.

Me: I will crush it underfoot, God is bigger than you and He holds the power over you.

Enemy: He does…how long will you?

Me: Till the end of time, I won’t give up my authority. The same authority Jesus died to return to us.

Enemy: [shrinks back into the shadows, away from the blinding light of Jesus’ name]

Jesus’ name and God’s Word are powerful weapons, without them the battle will go on in circles. That is why we must speak what is true, not just to others but to ourselves.

Sometimes I think Christians are better at waving a white flag than sharpening a sword. We are taught that peace is passivity, that love is tolerance, submission is slavery, and that righteousness is perfection.

Take back your mind! How can we advance the kingdom of God on earth if our minds are still held captive? Don’t let satan throttle you, it’s your ring and your mind, throw him out! Jesus already beat him to a pulp, all you have to do is knock him out.

The battle example above is just one of millions we can and will face. Life will deal us a blow now and again, but our minds endure constant onslaught. No one can fight those battles for us, but that doesn’t mean you are alone.

Jesus is watching. He is with you and cheering you on! Why? because no one knows what you’re capable of more than he does. He sees nothing but victory in your future, a future that the devil you’re fighting knows nothing about.

Amen!!